I Don’t Really Want to Die, But…

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I don’t really want to die, But…

I’ve been fighting a war with my family for too long now. A war to feel believed, seen, valued, and considered. A war to stop the enabling of addiction and dangerous behaviors that are harming the ones I love. A war to get people the help they need so that they can recover and have lives that are peaceful. A war to bring forgiveness and closeness to our family. A war that always ends with me raging into the battlefield, losing my dignity, and feeling like a failure. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live fighting this war any longer that I never win, not even one, single battle. And my family isn’t winning either. Those struggling do not have access to quality care or to economic opportunities to empower them. This life, is becoming too heavy.

I don’t really want to die, But…

I’ve been battling a war of mental illness for far to long, with too many barriers to treatment. I continue to fall through the cracks, even though I am educated and an advocate for myself. Treatment has been interrupted over and over again by insurance being dropped when I’ve lost jobs. I’ve been told for nearly a decade now that DBT Therapy is the most effective treatment for my condition, and yet, I have not been able to access it due to costs, waitlists, or loss of insurance coverage. I am currently on a waitlist for DBT and have applied for a grant to afford the cost of the program. I have been advised by my therapist to not work until I go through the treatment which is 6 months to a year. I am likely to fail at work again if I attempt working and then treatment will be disrupted. So I wait anxiously for an answer on the funding and for my turn to come up on the waitlist so I can finally get help.

As a mental health patient, I have experienced poor treatment where I waited 36 hours to be admitted only to be forced to leave treatment the next day when I was not ready to go. I have been treated poorly in the ER and have had symptoms ignored while practitioners made inappropriate comments about my mental health status. Due to not having stability at work, I have lost insurance coverage that has inevitably disrupted care and continuity with providers and as a result I haven’t gotten the treatment needed to truly succeed at work. It is a vicious cycle that has nearly destroyed my confidence and health.

I don’t really want to die, But… 

I’ve been waging a war for years against employment discrimination that has left me unemployed and devastated. After experiencing discrimination at several workplaces when I requested accommodations for my mental illness, I have decided to throw the towel in for now. It’s not only physically and mentally draining to work with a mental illness, but it is traumatizing when individuals treat you unjustly after having disclosed significant private information about a highly stigmatized illness. I have repeatedly, in good faith, handed over my personal health information that was requested to put accommodations in place and each time it backfired. I left each job feeling more and more vulnerable and without a recommendation for employment from my supervisor. My faith was completely shaken when one of my last employers, a state agency that provides services for individuals with disabilities, actually denied me access to employment, firing me after a medical leave at my very first accommodations meeting. I was devastated. Again, it is hard enough to work through panic attacks, severe depression and anxiety, mania, etc. without the additional stress of discriminatory practices.

My quality of work was never in question at any job I held, it was the symptoms of my illness that caused concern and employers were unwilling to accommodate me. As a result, my right to work has been denied. Treatment for my illness has been interrupted over and over again due to loss of medical coverage and having to move to avoid homelessness. This has caused numerous relapses of depression and anxiety. I have even developed PTSD from losing jobs, experiencing nightmares and severe panic attacks when starting a new position. It’s been a long and difficult struggle that most dismiss because they lack awareness and understanding of what it is like to live with a mental illness.

I don’t really want to die, But… 

I am fighting a war to meet my basics needs while government programs like SSDI and SSI  reinforce to me that I am insignificant and unworthy. In the midst of severe stress and anxiety where I am having to rely on others to help me with housing and my car payment, SSDI and SSI are hanging up on me, lying to me, and blaming me for mistakes hey have made in processing my appeal for my disability benefits. They lost my paperwork of 95 pages, joked about shredding it, and once it was resubmitted at their request, did not use it in deciding my case. And even though it was not my error, they have refused to redo it.

I have been researching reviews of these programs and their behavior is common. Apparently, these agencies likes to torment those who are already on the edge. Listen up America, we pay into a system that isn’t there for us when we one day may become disabled and need the help. The process is beyond grueling and torturous,  especially since I would much rather work if only I could!! I am living with my ex-spouse out of need, am having my parents help with my car payment, am visiting the food bank, receiving food stamps and a cash benefit of $197 monthly from an Aging, Blind, and Disabled program. I’ve been deemed eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation, but I have been waitlisted for these programs as well.  Guess what America?  You can be doing everything right: trying to get treatment, trying to get training, etc. and it simply isn’t accessible in our country!!

I don’t really want to die, But…

I in a constant monthly war with my hormones that wreak havoc on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I have been struggling for years with Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I have literally sobbed in doctor offices and have explained over and over that each month for 3-4 days I am suicidal and feel like hell.  I often want to go to the ER because my whole body hurts and the anxiety is un-paralled.  No one seems to understand my sense of urgency or how bad I feel. It has destroyed jobs and relationships. And, is literally a hell of sorts every single month. I found out recently 15% of people who suffer with PMDD attempt suicide. I feel somewhat validated that I am not alone, but still no one is helping me and I am often dismissed and invalidated.

 I don’t really want to die, But…

I grieving the loss from a war I waged for nearly a decade with a Narc where dreams were dashed and faith destroyed. I was abused physically and emotionally and wish I would have had the self esteem to leave earlier. The relationship helped to carve out my self esteem, setting the stage for self love. I grieve the loss of time, loss of family I could have formed, and potentially the opportunity to have children. While others post pictures of their beautiful children on FB and social media, I’m reminded continually of a few bad choices I made which not only robbed me of potentially a family, but also nearly destroyed my trust in men and in myself. I am fearful to start over again and I’m getting older. I am not completely hopeless, but it is a hurdle to overcome.

And so, I really don’t want to die. I was serious about that. I want to live. And, I actually want to GIVE even though I have little at the moment. I still have dreams to make this world a better place despite the struggles listed above. I want to help others realize their dreams. I’m writing to bring awareness of the system failures that we have in this country from incompetence to discriminatory practices that are “breaking people”. We simply must help and love one another. We must do this for each other, You and I. Post this message if you like and share it. I earnestly want to hear other people’s stories of struggle as I know many are struggling in a system that is preventing people from recovering. The systems need to change and people need to turn towards one another, not away. I don’t have all the answers, I do have ideas…. and I have love. Love is what is needed to turn things around.  Spread it… every single day. 

“We shall overcome”

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I Will Rise, I Will Love

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I am again in the midst of leaving and letting go. This act of self-love has left me captivated in thought.  Much of what I was clinging to throughout the years and wearing in heavy layers, is shedding, leaving me unraveled, naked, and new. I would have never guessed that the process of healing would leave me in a space of solitude, and yet somehow embracing it. It’s strangely odd and yet liberating at the same time.

I have often wondered if those in my life have realized that this imperfect process of anger, and even rage, is my voice growing in relevance and determination. I believe it to be lost on most of them in their continual defenses of behavior that has been damaging to me and others that I love. People become trapped by their own trauma and are often unaware that their behaviors and words communicate strongly that they do not believe you, hear you, or value you. People forget that action is truly the only litmus test for revealing someone’s true beliefs and intentions. And often, people do not act.

I spent a lifetime living in fear, paralyzed by the unpredictability of an adult who lived in the home who exploded often in anger and rage. I was only a child and was unable to escape from the situation. I recall living in a hyper-vigilant state, unable to breathe, always on guard. My small voice wavered as I reached out with courage to 2 adults in my life. I was quickly invalidated and told in so many words not to trust my own instincts and perception of reality. All of me wanted to be out of this situation and be safe. Years later, I was again invalidated by people refusing to accept accountability, and instead offering excuses that these erratic and explosive acts that I endured as a child, were never witnessed, but occurred when they were away from the home. There was an apology issued, but they didn’t express complete accountability, dismissing themselves from addressing the behaviors at the time because they weren’t really there to see them. Again, an indicator that perhaps what I experienced was fabricated somehow or less serious.

And so, I remained vigilant and ever ready to protect myself as best as possible and I often disassociated as a result. I remember times during these explosive situations that I disappeared. I recall the beginning of the event and the individual reaching to shake me, and then I recall nothing. I had faded into empty spaces, protecting myself from the assault, not only physically, but spiritually as well. I was broken and silenced as a result and did not feel protected or safe. This communicated to me on a deep level that I was not worthy to be protected by the adults in my life.

As a result of the ongoing tense and uncertain environment, I grew paranoid, depressed, and fearful. It has had a lasting impact on my life. For years, I felt expressing anger would kill me and even now when angry I feel unable to breathe. As I write now, I am severely anxious and tearful. My expression of anger now comes at a high cost. It is often explosive and leaves me feeling exhausted and anxious. I am still learning how to safely express it.

Years have passed with mental health diagnoses and medications and I’m still searching for the part of me that disappeared. I fight tooth and nail with family members regarding an addiction that has fostered loose boundaries and trauma of another sort. Deep neglect has not only destroyed the potential found in early adulthood of those I dearly love, but it’s limited their ability to have boundaries. It’s crippled their confidence to execute independently and as a result some do not have an education or a job. When asked, they are unable to articulate goals for themselves and are often absorbed in desperate activities to numb the pain stemming from their trauma. Restless and unable to often act, they engage with others who are on the same destructive path.

I often see the same patterns of enabling destructive behaviors and an throwing money at the situation which does nothing to address the underlying issues that are perpetuating the devastation. I see some of them being invalidated much like I was as a child, their voices downed out by the guilt of those not awake enough to accept accountability and truly address the trauma they endured as children. Adults in their lives that have kept them bound to inaction with behaviors of enabling and their own addictions, whether it be food, drugs, gambling, sex, etc. I do sporadically see efforts to remedy things, but these efforts are often coupled with enabling. I recognize the complexity of things, still yet, people turn away from each other, instead of towards each other in accountability and compromise. The guilt and shame associated with their mistakes impedes healthy patterns of reinforcing consequences and having expectations. This may eliminate some of the guilt, but does little to address the root problem which is the only way to truly heal and recover. The cycle continues. And not only is it heart breaking to watch, it has prevented me from connecting to my family in a normal and healthy way. It’s too hard for me to watch the pain and not address it.

I have fought alone for the past few years with no one really joining in and I’m exhausted. I recognize my own mistake of staying engaged and working harder than those who are struggling with their addictions. Often, I have been ignored and devalued by the ones I love and this results in nasty rage with abusive words. These words, expressed in anger, are what they continue to focus on instead of their destructive path. They easily forget thatI have reached out multiple times in kindness, offering support and help.

Engaging with members of my family is a continual and complete reenactment of past abuse. I am often ignored and abandoned, and my concerns are downplayed with no action taken. Many times I am told, in so many words, that I am not seeing things correctly.  People become defensive and my credibility and intentions are questioned over and over. I end up feeling devalued and misunderstood. I have walked away many times and no one knocks on my door, worried and concerned. And when I return, people expect me to nearly deny my reality and erase the past history in order to dwell in their complacency and avoidance of the issues. It’s a continual bleed that no one wants to acknowledge or treat. I am tirelessly running around alerting people of the grave injury that needs immediate attention and treatment while others ignore, flee the scene, or argue with me that treatment is not really needed. Exhausting, really.

I wonder sometimes if they realize my rage and even abusive words is my bloody, messy process of carving out my self esteem? The voice of the child that sat frozen in fear for years has shattered into a million pieces and is finally tasting freedom and self worth. Of course, I am angry. What has broken them and muted their voice, has also broken me. And yet we turn away in our pain, instead of towards one another to heal. Historical patterns I will one day be free of because they serve no purpose.  They have no space in my life. These pattens have paralyzed me and my family and are no longer effective. I am in the awkward process of letting everyone know that I am awake. My voice is strong and clear. And I’m shedding the shackles that I’ve lugged around for years.

The initial softened words that my voice shared were tolerated. But the sharper ones, full of piercing frustration, are deafened by those still clinging to the familial fabric that has been created and perpetuated by the abuse and trauma that we all experienced at one time or another. Your voices have often faded into addiction and complacency, too fearful to rock the boat.  Rocking it might mean getting truly messy and feeling too much. I get it.

I hurt physically. I am fearful, letting the waves of grief crash into me. And, yet I am relentless in my resolve to heal.

I will rise. I will love.

I have screamed enough, often becoming ineffective in delivery as my newly freed voice was clumsy in delivery due to years of hurt and anger bound by silence. I bounced around from being appropriate to being purely abusive and was awkward and uncertain. Shouting at those hurting who are hidden behind their active addictions that erode their lives and potential. I don’t want you to disappear and I’ve been tirelessly banging on your door, if only you could see me and sit with me. I have a lot to share. I know it’s not time and fear it may never be time. I have to let go in self love to become stronger. I can’t hang around watching the devastation when no one hears my cries, it re-traumatizes me. I am right back there being shaken with no one listening, validating, or caring to protect my spirit. I am strong enough now to protect myself and can leave what is hurting me. I pray all of you find your strength.

Many times people get stuck in roles: older siblings, parents, etc. I’m eager to break these molds and discover common experiences between my family members. I implore parents to release their adult children, realizing their uniqueness. Children pass through us and never truly belong to us. Often these familial connections become so enmeshed we can no longer be effective with setting boundaries because we see them as extensions of ourselves. Their realities are completely separate from the one we hold in our minds that only belongs to us on a personal level. Age and order has absolutely no relavance on maturity and spiritual growth. It is the work you are willing to do on your spirit that defines you. It is a personal journey in the end. However, clinging too tightly and enabling will keep children tide up in the story of their parents, instead of creating their own story. Having expectations is crucial in developing esteem and growth. Pain is a necessary part of life that no one can be sheltered from and the sooner a person learns how to cope with pain, the quicker they will not only be more self-sufficient, but will have a richer life. People are free when they step away with their own separate story of what took place and honor their own reality.

I’m getting help in unpacking all of this and moving forward in my life. I’m disengaging from the heaviness to learn how to engage more effectively while honoring myself in the process.

And I will rise. I will love. I see so much of the cycle and I long for others to find their voice and be free. I remain in solitude in this space, filling my spirit with self-love and validation.

I will rise. I will love. The time is now and I will aggressively pursue my health, even if alone. In this beautiful place of solitude, I will cultivate MY voice and MY strength. And I am so grateful today my voice has been found. It is a hard lonely road at times that people often do not understand, but one worth traveling.

Lighthouse List: My Guide Through Stormy Seas


I’ve been on an endless quest of forgiveness and self love. I keep getting tripped by various events that suck me into old habits and patterns. I reach clarity only to be pulled back into the fog where I am wounded, raging, and ruminating. To be fair, I am navigating some fairly choppy waters at the moment. The boat is rocking like mad and I have become paralyzed, at times, or am frantically fighting, completely entangled and entrapped.

Initially, I start off swinging, hurling insults here and there, mostly screaming into wide, empty spaces. I have every reason to be hurt and even fearful, but I keep asking myself: “What happen to my promise to disengage?” This on going struggle has been nearly impossible to completely let go of because it involves family members that I love, but continually lose. I’m on an emotional rollercoaster of peaks and valleys that include: hope, rage, self-loathing, forgiveness, despair, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. I would give anything for everyone involved to abandon the rollercoaster and never ride it again.  God, I am tired.

After all the mistakes I have made again, I have decided to write a list here to remind me what to do and not do in crisis. Writing may help me navigate more safely through the next storm, a Lighthouse List to guide me.

My Lighthouse List

  1. Do not stop breathing. Seems easy enough, right? I stopped breathing earlier today and now I am having anxiety and panic which make it even more challenging to focus and respond. Do not stop breathing, remember to take a time out to breath and focus. You will be more effective as a result of doing so.
  2. Stop and ask these three questions before getting involved. Am I in an emotional state? Is it my responsibility? If I do act, is it realistic for me to expect that it will yield a favorable result? For the record, I have never once stopped to ask these questions and I believe if I had they may have allowed me to be more skillful.
  3. If in an emotional state, do something active before responding. I tend to be a highly impulsive individual due to ADHD and Bipolar 1. I cannot count the amount of times I have gone overboard in a rage, when angry, and regretted it later. It has caused a lot of self-loathing. Often the anger is justified, the response is not. I am going to try the next time I am truly triggered to immediately engage in physical activity of some sort in order to decrease the intensity of my emotions.
  4. If it is not my responsibility to act, step back until advice or help is solicited. This can be complex, at times, given the circumstances. But, in general if you are not the one responsible for remedying the situation, then it is best distance yourself. Provide some help and advice if you like provided they are open to receiving it, but keep your distance unless it is requested. This sounds like common sense, but in a crisis, situations emerge that often challenge this reasoning. Emotions are running high making it difficult to execute logically. I believe having this reminder will help in various situations.
  5. If you are uncertain that your actions will yield a desired outcome, wait to act until you are more certain. I think this is a good strategy to have when deciding wether or not to act in a crisis situation. There are times I am so fearful or angry I react without weighing the pros and cons of my actions. Keeping the end result in mind will help me navigate more safely.
  6. Take time out to recharge and take care of you. Even in the midst of a very difficult family situation, try to take some time out for yourself to center. Take a bath (you have to anyway!) or a walk and during those times try and take a time out to give yourself a rest from the chaos and emotional upheaval.
  7. Be mindful and remain in the present moment. Often crisis and trauma will bring us right back into the past and feelings will flood and overwhelm you, making it difficult to act in logical ways. Find time to center yourself and remain grounded in the present as to not bring past habits into the situation at hand.

This is a good list to start with as I navigate the choppy seas over the next few weeks.  Maybe I can do better from this point forward. The last few years have been extremely difficult and I have reason to be upset and even devastated. I am going to be starting Dialectical Behavioral Therapy soon and am excited to learn new ways to manage my emotional state and behavior in times of crisis. Until then, I continue to learn from my mistakes and use the above list. I am hopeful that the worst is behind me as I have been keeping my eyes wide open and when mistakes are made, I make efforts to question my behaviors and intention.

In the past, I would not have been able to quickly pinpoint mistakes made. I am growing. I am trying to be patient with the process. Healing is messy and chaotic, at times, but exciting and inspiring as well. Hopeful and happy to be on the path. It feels like home to me.

Healing is Hard Work: 6 Tips for Healing

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Feeling at Home

Alone in my sanctuary

Of birds and trees

I strip of earthly blanket

Where no one can see

It’s one of those days

Of sun and of rain

I rest on a rock

My thoughts, unchained

I feel beauty in all forms

Taste it with my tongue

I let it slip though my fingers

My pinkies, My thumbs

The rain washes over me

Drenching my skin

The sun peaks out later

I go for a swim

I am not separate from anything

All at once, not alone

I am living in all things

Finally feeling at home.

I remember writing this poem nearly eleven years ago. It was roughly three years after I had separated from my husband and a few months or so before I began the ten year abusive relationship with my narcissist. I had recently lost a lot of weight and was hopeful and excited to begin dating.  I was in my mid-thirties and was relatively naive when it came to men. I also remember feeling quite vulnerable and anxious at the time because my weight had always been a form of protection for me and my recent weight loss made me feel naked and exposed. It felt exciting and unsafe at the same time.

This poem marks the calm before the storm. Revisiting it now, it is not only bittersweet, but stirs emotions of hope and pride. Often my poems were like rays of sunshine for me, cutting through to the forest floor, scattering light on the trees and twigs, reassuring me that I was still on the path. I felt lost a lot, but looking at past poems and journals reveals that I was always “present”, questioning and searching, even though some periods were dark and miserable. The poem above brings me joy because it displays where I long to be, “home”. And “home” is something I am creating for myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing. I’ve made healing an intention of mine for nearly 4 years now. I have struggled along for years never truly thriving. I have been anxious, empty, angry, and severely depressed. Within the past two years things amplified to the point that I was no longer effective at work because I would miss due to migraines, IBS, and depression. Currently, I feel very unraveled and isolated. I don’t feel a part of things and I have chronic pain. And yet, a part of me feels that I am all unraveled because I am in the midst of an exciting and amazing opportunity to rebuild my life in self-love, giving myself stability and a sense of self-worth and empowerment.

I am in the process of carving out my self-esteem based on no one else’s expectations or ideas, but my own. I find this process daunting and challenging, but if successful, my “Decade of Darkness” will have been worth it. I feel I will have the immense blessing of possibly helping others through the “darkness”. I look back and see the people and the practices that blew open wide spaces for me, clearing the psychological debris that was entrapping me. There were living torches along my path that illuminated the way. There were voices that shouted “You are not alone” that reverberated on the walls of that dark, cold, tunnel that I sat in for a time. I hope sharing my story will reach someone, soothing them and giving them courage to keep going.

Healing is hard work.  Life is a struggle, at times, and in that struggle some often feel ashamed to reach out and ask for help. I’m sharing below 6 healing tips. These are things that are helping my now and some of them I have not mastered. If you like, feel free to add another “tip” in the comments section!  We’ve got this!

6 Healing Tips:

  1. Accept where you are currently at with compassion. Embrace your struggle.  Do not try to wish it away or try to “fight it”.  Accept it without shame and without comparing it to others. Notice how it is yours and yours alone. When the storm begins to rage, be still and don’t flee or fight, try listening to what the storm is communicating to you. We cannot always change certain circumstances, but we are able to decide how we will manage or cope given the cards dealt.
  2. Establish boundaries to protect your emotional and physical well being. It might be necessary to let go of certain people or habits to achieve healing and eventual peace. Sometimes, this seems impossible. Some of us are in abusive relationships and we want to hold on to a dream that is not longer a reality. Some of us have family members that hurt us and cause us pain. You have every right to peace and that may mean setting firm boundaries and even leaving a loved one. Ultimately, you deserve to be healthy and at peace. This may mean cutting ties and that might seem intolerable to you right now, but there may come a time when holding on becomes harder than letting go.  It is ok to “let go” and you will grieve and eventually fill the space with things and people that allow you to heal and be at peace.
  3. Put yourself as the priority. You are the most important person in your life.  Without you, where would you be? So, YES! You matter! Putting yourself as the center of your plate and filling your plate with “food” that you choose is so important to the process of healing. Often, many of us have negotiated our “food” away, leaving us scraps to the point we barely can feed ourselves. Go ahead and take a heaping helping of what you find delicious. Maybe that is a hobby of making jewelry or a sport that you used to love, but you gave it up for someone else’s needs. It might be a challenge to do, but work with others in your life to ensure that you have some things on your plate that are just for you! You deserve to have some food on your plate that you find delicious, after all it is your plate!
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone has a different journey. It’s super easy with social media to peruse your friends profiles and feel unworthy or “less than” because you did not achieve this or that! I have been guilting of doing just than and then I realize that I am being silly! None of those people have been in my shoes and what I have accomplished despite the fact I have a mental illness and experienced an abusive relationship, is amazing! We all are on a very unique and independent journey.  There truly is no comparison.
  5. Have FUN! Every day make a conscious attempt to laugh and have fun. I think we forget that it’s ok to just enjoy the moment and “let go”. Go watch some children playing to be inspired to use your imagination more. Kids just jump right in and are totally submerged in the present moment. Ever watch a baby or young kid cracking up? You can’t help but to laugh right along with them, right?  Laughter is infectious and it lifts us. Do the activities you enjoy every day and don’t feel guilty for relaxing and having fun. We are meant to laugh and be joyful.
  6. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait. You are the good thing!! When it seems to be going slow or you relapse into your old ways, be patient and kind with yourself and the process. It’s OKAY. Maybe you needed to go back again, even several times, to truly learn what you needed to learn. We all do this and it is okay. I used to beat myself up and get angry! But, now I am kind to myself and accept the process.

Hope these are helpful!! I am truly a work in progress and I am learning to use the tips above to embrace the process of healing.

Wishing you ample light to illuminate the way for your journey of healing and self love!

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Existential Angst: Three Poems Inspired by the Struggle of Life

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This Thing in the Mirror

In the mirror,

It’s me.

My reflection.

That I see.

Is that really me?

Is that really me?

I see vulnerability.

I see hope.

All my thoughts,

Come from this thing.

This thing,

Staring back at me.

I smile,


I smile, sweetly,

At the reflection,

Staring back at me.

It scares me.

In the mirror,

That thing,

Smiling back at me.

Is it beauty?

Is it sin?

Staring intensely,

I know not where to begin.

So I stare,

Until I scare,

This thing,

That is me.

Staring so sullenly,

Back at me.

Yes, I have actually stood at a mirror long enough to scare myself. I’ve always found it odd to occupy a physical being for years, only to eventually be forced to leave it. I have so many questions for why we live and why we die. Science only explains the process that can be objectively described. I’m interested in why we exist and why in the form of a physical being? I must say, however, that the physical body is a marvel of mind blowing functions, each system intrically and masterfully created that miraculously functions for years. Collectively, our systems work together with many built-in overrides to maintain homeostasis. It’s pretty incredible! But seriously, why is there pain and suffering? And why do we find ourselves engaged in such mindless pursuits much of the time? I have many hypotheses. Many times if I am laughing wildly it is because of the absurdity of it all.  I sure hope one day I get an answer!  LOL.

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Played and Caged

Ragged, Ripped,


Trapped, Cooped,


Kicked, Sucked,


Deceived, played,


Taken, Killed,


Lost, Forgiven,


Well! I went there on that one! I’m sure we have all felt this way at one time or another in our lives. It’s a bit extreme, but was written during a time when I felt betrayed by a friend and was more than likely pretty depressed abut it. For some of us, we are unlucky and experience a string of bad experiences with people or employers and it can be devastating. Often, these times can challenge us to examine our own lives. For me, it was that I needed to develop better boundaries. I am still working on doing so!

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The Endless Cycle





And I can’t pick it up






And I can’t fix it

So, Throw it up

Rip it up

Throw it against the wall

Tie it up

And beat it

Send it outside into the cold

Laugh at it

Lie to it

Leave it



Eat it



Accept it

Grin and bear it

And live


I wrote this many moons ago about the perpetual cycle of mood swings I experience in relation to my Bipolar I illness and my inability to ever have complete control over them. It’s enraging, at times, to suffer and not be able to truly articulate to others how it feels to have your emotions and perceptions hijacked abruptly with absolutely no warning! I feel wrangled in and drug around while bystanders call out orders for me to do better. It’s a hell I wish on no one and it is challenging, to say the least, to put into words so that people can “get it”. I feel kinda like Dorothy in Oz, except the disorienting experience happens almost every month or so and there is no place called “home” that I can click my heels to and feel at peace again. Perhaps the answer has been within me the entire time, but if so I have been searching like mad, unable to find it. Life can be a disorienting cycle for someone who suffers from a persistent and severe mental illness and I’m infinitely amazed sometimes at how much I have accomplished despite the disease that limits me. I will keep struggling forward and find the answer, or perhaps I will sit back and “accept” it all and stop fighting to find one. Maybe the answer is letting go with a smile.

Embracing the Mentally Ill in the Workplace: My Work Wish List!

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I am currently appealing the initial denial of my SSDI claim for being unable to work due to my Bipolar I disorder, ADHD, and PTSD. I fought going on SSDI for nearly a decade which led to multiple failures and a disruption of my medical care and housing, resulting in an exacerbation of my illness. In my last employment experience, a state agency separated me from my probationary period, stating that I was disqualified due to my disability.  They fired me after a medical leave for my illness, at my very first accommodations meeting.  They were not interested in accommodating me and I lost a great job as a result.  This inevitably caused a relapse and after a year of decompensation, I am just now resurfacing.

And so, I am appealing the SSDI decision as a result of being unsuccessful for the past several years. I am trying to become more stable and acquire better coping techniques prior to ever returning to work. One of my greatest problems arising from my mania and ADHD is my inability to “self pace”. I can accomplish an amazing amount of work in a short time and I learn more quickly than others. But, on the flip side, my mania causes inconsistency that stems from insomnia that eventually leads to crashing in exhaustion, often suffering with severe migraines and IBS. As a result, I miss work and to those who do not understand my illness, they are baffled by my inconsistency.  They will often attribute it to my character which upsets me. I perform remarkably well for a time and receive praise, and then inevitably begin missing work. The lack of sleep and mania often will cause me to be more sensitive and short fused. I become drained by having to “hold back” the mania and come across as short and easily agitated.  This results in conflicts with colleagues and supervisors.  I have tried very hard to prevent this from occurring, but it always occurs in the same predictable fashion: performing well with praise, becoming increasing obsessed and driven, de-compensating both mentally and physically, and eventually collapsing to include conflicts, absences, and termination. It has been a major heartache in my life to not reach my full potential in the workplace due to living with a mental illness.

Sadly, most people attribute my failures to my personality and character, instead of my illness which presents itself in a variety of ways while working. It is soul destroying to disclose an illness and be raw and vulnerable only to be continually misunderstood and devalued.  The stigma surrounding the illness and the lack of sensitivity is traumatizing and I have had multiple nightmares with the theme of working with my illness. I have had therapist stop me when discussing my work experiences because I was getting too anxious and visibly upset. It has been that difficult for me.

I feel the workplace and community needs to embrace the mentally ill working. It truly has to be a compromise of sorts for it to be successful. The benefits far outweigh the risks on either side. I acknowledge that there are some workplaces that are truly sensitive and inclusive, it just has not been my experience, yet. I hope one day once I am recovered, I will be able to be myself, open and honest, about my struggle and I will be valued for my skills, education, and experience and my illness will fade into the background. I recognize the importance of a business running efficiently, I also feel that retaining employees, even those with mental illnesses, will benefit employers in the end. Often employers do not want to take the time to accommodate a person with an illness because they feel it will be time consuming and yet, hiring and training a new employee is more involved and costly. The accommodations process might take time initially, but once accommodations are in place they are often effective, benefitting both employee and the employer.

Here is my wish list should I choose to brave the work world again once I have recovered.

  1. I want to find a place that truly exemplifies a culture of diversity and inclusivity. I want to work for an agency that sees the value in employing people of diverse backgrounds.  A place that longs to hear the voice that often isn’t represented in an organization, the voice of one who is disabled.  I want them to see that it makes their organization stronger, not weaker.
  2. I want to work for an organization that is aware that I have a disability, but also is aware of my strengths and values them.  A workplace that gets that I am often more productive than most, but I do have the risk of decompensation due to my illness. I want an employer that accepts both and works with me to minimize the risk of decompensation so that I can continue benefitting the organization and remain successfully employed.
  3. I want to work for a place that acknowledges my struggle and sees that my intention is to do a good job always.  I don’t want to work for an employer that feels my accommodations request is to get special treatment or have an excuse to do less work. I am a conscientious worker and my intentions have come into question when I was trying to get accommodations in place. My only intention was to remain successfully employed benefitting the organization.
  4. I want to work for an organization that is versed in the Americans with Disabilities Act where they enjoy and value helping those with disabilities remain employed.

On a personal note, it is important for me to find an employment opportunity that will compliment my illness. I have been working primarily in healthcare and that is already a busy, stressful environment. If I am able to work again, it has to be flexible to accommodate my issues in self pacing. I am either lighting speed fast or at home nursing a migraine. My goal will be to explore opportunities that make sense with the illness I live with every day.

I hope this post helps some of you still working and struggling. Maybe you can share in the comments section your experience and what has helped you. I still feel our world has a long way to appropriately accommodating those who are struggling. It takes education and awareness to cultivate sensitivity in the workplace. Mental illness is highly stigmatized and many myths must be debunked for progress to truly occur. I’ve always wanted to work in advocacy and education regarding these issues. I believe everyone who wants to work should have the right to do so, with the support provided to ensure success. Working is such a part of one’s identity and I support anyone who is doing their best to work while living with a mental illness. It is an arena that has immense potential to help restore and remediate one’s health if the process is supported.

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Bipolar I: The Suffering, The Stigma, and The Shame


That’s me above and my pup, Gracie.  This was about 2 years ago while I was still working.  I was living in Seattle, WA.  And, trust me, was severely anxious even in this picture!  I’m currently waiting to be approved for SSDI and hope to one day make a full recovery.  If I do not, I hope to live gracefully with my illnesses of: Bipolar I, PTSD, ADHD, and PMDD.  Just trying to accept each day as it comes and continue learning!

The suffering we endure related to our mental illness is amplified by the stigma and shame surrounding it.  Let us tease out each of these concepts and acknowledge the impact each has on our lives.

The Suffering: Those who struggle with a mental illness do so due to biological changes in the brain that are often difficult to manage and control.  No one chooses to be mentally ill, not for a certain time period, or even for a day!  Most of those who suffer were active and involved prior to the onset of their mental illness.  The illness more than likely crept along, gaining momentum, until one day it was painfully obvious to others that something was “not right”.  That something presented itself as a combination of symptoms to possibly include: obsessive & intrusive thoughts, hallucinations and/or delusions, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, disassociation, etc.  The sufferer is often aware, on some level, that his or her thought processes are not correct and may seek help due to the uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms of anxiety or depression.  Some people who suffer with a severe mental illness lack the insight needed to seek treatment.  In both cases, the person suffering has not done anything to invite the “illness” into their lives, no one intentionally wants to have their ability to control their emotions and perceptions altered or compromised in any way.  Sure, there are individuals who use recreational drugs that alter their minds, but even so, no one would want to remain on a “trip” indefinitely with their perceptions altered.

I’ve often compared my illness to someone having unwanted side effects of a drug.  Except, those struggling have never ingested a substance, nor do they have the ability to control or ceases the symptoms by removing a substance from their life.  The symptoms also differ from the following examples of “side effects” in that they are often more severe and the onset and duration of symptoms can be unpredictable and uncertain.

For example, a person having way too much caffeine may experience some symptoms comparable to mild mania in that they may be: edgy, anxious irritable, energetic, etc.  Their mind might race and they may feel overly optimistic about what they can accomplish.  Another example I give is that depression can feel somewhat like taking too much Benadryl for an allergy attack: one can feel foggy, exhausted, excessively sleepy, and withdrawn.  In drawing these comparisons, I am trying to help a person who doesn’t suffer understand that the symptoms are not only biological, like side effects that must wear off, but they are also difficult to “snap out off”.  Unfortunately, for the sufferer, it is not as easy as discontinuing a medication to stop the unwanted side effects.  Imagine, living life and all is going relatively well and then one day you get trapped in a cycle of “side effects” in which there is no escape.  Sounds like a personal hell, right?  It is.  I have lived years in the cycle of severe anxiety desperately trying any and everything to get relief.  Often it is years of trial and error, until relief arrives very slowly over months to years.  It is something one has to learn to cope and manage with and it takes time, persistence, and commitment.  This is the suffering that most people do not understand, while others do not even acknowledge.  The latter leads to another type of suffering, compounding the already difficult task of managing a mental illness.

The Stigma: Those who live with a mental illness also have to “suffer” in a world that stigmatizes and shames those struggling.  There are many people that question the validity of mental illness and have unfair and unrealistic expectations of those struggling.  Often people who have a mental illness feel that they must hide their struggle from the workplace, for fear of retaliation.  They also may not get treatment and suffer needlessly for many years because of the shame that is associated with asking for help and admitting that they are sick.  I personally have lost jobs and experienced discrimination in the workplace when I requested help in the form of accommodations.  My struggle was not viewed as credible and I was seen as a “troublemaker”.  Even though we have certain rights through the American Disabilities Act, the laws are not always enforceable and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is very slow to act.  The reality is that the stigma surrounding the mentally ill discourages people from getting help and it prevents people from disclosing their disability in order to get help in the workplace.  The effects of stigma can be devastating and can mean job losses and inadequate care.  Many of the failures stemming from those suffering are not the fault of the individual struggling, but of the inadequate and unjust system that perpetuates stigma and negative stereotypes.  The shame must be placed on a system that is inefficient when taking down barriers that would lead to progress for those struggling.

The Shame:  Many people who live with a mental illness feel ashamed of their struggle and this leads to additional struggling and depression.  I used to do a fair amount of self-loathing due to the multiple times I would start a job and then “fail” due to the increased symptoms relating to my illness.  I realized over time that I wasn’t actually failing, but was suffering under a system that would shame me to the point that I would “give up”. My work was always praised, but my attempt to work with a mental illness was harshly criticized.  I was even told at my last job that I was disqualified due to my disability.  This caused a relapse and I spent several months stewing over my life and my lack of success due to my illness.  It took a lot of soul searching to separate my illness from my identity.  In time, I could see clearly that my illness has robbed me of my potential, not my talent, motivation, experience, or passion.  It was how I decompensated during times of stress due to my illness that wrecked me.  This has prompted me to respect my illness for what it truly is, a devastating biological illness that affects my mood and perceptions and is often outwardly presented in behaviors.  I began to see the distinction between myself when I am suffering and myself when I am not.  I challenge those suffering to let go of the shame you have relating to your behavior when you are sick.  Focusing on the negative behavior that arises during an episode often will only serve to keep you hooked in a cycle of shame and regret.  Instead, give the illness the respect it deserves and spend time finding ways to aggressively fight it and keep it at bay.  If you are like me, if will more than likely rear its ugly head again, but this time I will forgive myself and instead of lamenting the mistakes made when I was chained against my will and suffering, I will get busy working to get ahead of the next episode.  I honestly want to be like a hunter and become skilled at tracking it down, intercepting it before it begins!!!

I hope this was helpful.  It is a struggle, and you deserve to know that someone out there sees your struggle, believes it, and is right there with you.  Thanks for reading!

Bipolar, You are Busted!

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Hey Bipolar!  You are busted.

I see what you have been doing and I am on to you.  For years, you have come in unannounced and unexpected, hijacking my mood and perceptions and even altering my behavior.  I never once gave you permission to rent a space in my head, wreaking havoc in every area of my life, often down to the minute details.  You came in so slyly that many around me questioned your existence, often asserting that I could easily “shake you off” if I truly wanted to by exercising or thinking positively.  They were unaware how you hung on to me, smothering me, refusing to let go.  There were even times I loathed myself due to your presence, feeling powerless, weak, and ashamed.

I would do ok for awhile and begin to make plans, only for you to come riding in on your dark horse, capturing me, and dragging me to the ground.  Days were spent in bed, numb and dissociated from the world around me.  People would call, but I was too exhausted to  do much of anything and there were days I actually dreaded walking to the bathroom.

I would force myself to get up and go to work, but was anxious and depressed often from having to expend so much energy to hide you and keep your symptoms at bay.  I was often praised for my work, but your relentless presence caused absences and this inevitably resulted in job losses.  I was angry that my talents, skills, and potential took a back seat to your ominous and foreboding presence that would not leave.  It seemed unfair, cruel.

There were those occasions you showed up so strongly, I was pushed into a frenzy, often manic and obsessive.  You would have me spinning and hooked so tightly on a topic, that I’d often lose track of time and space until you dropped me with no warning, back into clarity and calmness.  I was disoriented and disgruntled.  You would then leave me to pick up the pieces from the mess created by those fanciful and frenzied moods.  Often in those spaces, I was raging and could hear people in the far distance asking” “Are you ok?” and “Are you rapid cycling?”; Yet you had me in a vice so tight that I couldn’t come up to the surface to breathe.  It’s a very undignified position that you put me in, over and over again.  If I could hold you accountable somehow, you’d deserve a life sentence for robbing me of my potential and peace.

I went through this cycle for years, often absorbing what should have been attributed to you.  I had a difficult time separating myself from you and questioned where you ended and I began.  You took up an enormous space in my life.  I’m still doing my best to diminish and contain you as much as possible.

Many people in my life, from co-workers to partners, thought on some level that I could contain you if only I tried and I was seen as not credible, lazy, dramatic, etc.  I was repeatedly blamed for your presence and that alone was damaging and devastating.  Your antics colored my existence, leading people to believe that your symptoms were my personality.  I went along with this for years confused and bewildered, until one day I saw the pattern in its entirety and I said, enough.

Bipolar, you are busted.  You do not get to claim my identity or any part of my personality.  You are an only an illness, and a shitty one at that.

I realize that I still have to live with people not understanding your presence in my life.  I have spent years living with you and even I am often baffled and must search for answers.  I will find ways to wrestle you to the ground and contain you.  Lithium only goes so far.  But, I won’t let you make me feel ashamed anymore for the times I am taken against my will, spinning.  I am making a promise today and always to let you know who is the boss.  You don’t define me.  I will find ways to decrease your presence in my life and one of those ways is to not get caught up in angst and anxiety when I’m dropped by you after an episode.  I’m just going to accept it and “address it”!

Bipolar I is a lifelong, chronic illness that requires effort and persistence to manage and cope.  Shedding light on the struggle can release the shame that potentially keeps someone suffering & sick.  So many steps to the healing process, and I do not feel I was truly acknowledging how much shame has kept me trapped and stagnating.  I will keep fighting, acknowledging that I live with a severe and persistent mental illness that has known cure at this time.  And, I will not be bound to the guilt and shame of an illness I have no control over having.  It chose me, not the other way around!





The Metamorphosis Series #1: The Suffocating Cocoon!

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I won’t stay stuck here forever.  It’s a dark and suffocating place.

All of us have areas of our life that make us feel unworthy and unloved.  Some of those areas go back to a time when our esteem was first forming.  For some of us, we were stunted by abuse or neglect and now are left trying to pick up the pieces that were not given to us.  This is extremely hard work.  I wanted to write this piece because we collectively can benefit from hearing other people’s pain to learn that we truly are not alone.

There is no shame in acknowledging that certain tools were left, often unintentionally, out of our toolbox.  Many of us struggling, to no fault of our own, did not have a solid foundation in our formative years.  At times, our needs may have been overlooked resulting in poor coping mechanism and difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries.

As a result of a difficult past, I developed a host of ineffective coping strategies I utilized to try and to get my needs met.  I feel that those who have hurt me, often did so unintentionally, often without awareness of their own issues or mine.   Perhaps they would have been more empathetic, had I been coping more effectively at the time and communicated my needs in less abrasive ways. Those who harmed me with intention often had their own issues of self worth.  I feel sharing has the power to set us free from the patterns that have become deeply entrenched in our minds and thus reflected in our behavioral patterns.  Often these patterns of behavior mirror back to us what we believe about ourselves and further imprison us, committing us to an false identity that leads to the self-fulfilling prophesy of failure, resulting in low self esteem.

Clearing a path for your authentic self to emerge is difficult work that is cumbersome, requiring courage and persistence.  A lot of this work is not linear, and it can not be completed in a vacuum.  Meaning as you heal you often are still in the same environment and around the same people who will challenge the healing process, skeptical of the changes you are making.  This may even mean you have to distance yourself from certain people who are not willing to accept the person you are becoming.  Often, healing is brutally messy and even painful.  But, it is a process that I believe to be worth the endeavor, despite the chaos that can ensue for a few years while things adjust.

This has been an excruitiatingly painful year for me.  In this year, I have faced discrimination in the workplace and lost my job.  I also cut ties and went “No Contact” with my Narcissistic after having a very tumultuous and abusive relationship with him for a decade.  And, lastly, it is the year that I was scapegoated by my family and blamed for the turmoil and divisiveness that was stemming from my sister’s struggle with addiction.  All of these invalidating experiences, where I was gaslighted, devalued, and discarded, resulted in a very unstable time for me.  I relapsed with my Bipolar illness and became suicidal for the majority of the year.  I was very hurt and enraged and spent the year fighting with my Mom and sister trying to salvage the relationship, but also determined to defend my reality in the process.  This pain lead me to time spent questioning my reality, my motives, and my intentions.  This process lead me to links in my past, shedding light on places of hurt that had stunted my growth, causing self-doubt and despair.  Being so vulnerable and sharing openly, I feel, only will serve to diminish the power these myths have over me that claim: “I am not good or worthy”.  And it is possible that my reflections will resonate with someone along the path of healing, and together we will heal.

In my formative years, there were some remarkable events that caused me significant pain, influencing my world view and challenging my self esteem.  One of these events being when my biological father released his rights to me, not wanting to know me or have me as part of his life.  I won’t get into the rationale as to why this occurred.  I was too young to remember the event, but do recall the years in my life of wishing I had an affectionate father who made me feel safe, secure, and valued.  This one event had impact on my self esteem and worth that followed me throughout my life.

At age four, I was molested which left me feeling powerless, invisible, and ashamed.  I was not considered in that event, just a little girl whose only purpose was to provide pleasure for the perpetrator.  My voice was muted and I was devalued.  I absorbed the shame through this event and when I was much older, in my teen years, I felt very ashamed and guilty for having normal thoughts and feelings about boys.  I was heavy for many years in order to remain invisible to men and feel safe in my skin.  This event impacted me greatly and as a result later in life, I married a gay man to avoid feeling violated.  I did not know for certain he was gay prior to marrying him, I just knew that I did not feel threatened by him in any way.  When I lost my weight after being divorced, I became involved with a man who was a narcissist and the relationship seemed like a parallel to my molestation.  I felt used, devalued, and invisible in the relationship and it took years to finally reclaim my self worth and separate from him.

My family environment was also turbulent as well.  My step-father was intimidating and abusive at times, shaking  and pulling my hair and throwing things.  It wasn’t an every day occurrence and there were times he did try in his own way.  Our family has many good memories and my parent both have accounted and apologized for the past.  Still yet, I lived in fear and tried to be as perfect as possible.  My sister and step-father butted heads and it made for a very scary and not so pleasant upbringing.  My sister left me a lot alone with my step-dad as my mother worked, and I was terrified and often felt abandoned.  I wasn’t allowed to express anger or really have a voice.  This caused me to stuff lot of my anger and ultimately I never really learned how to express anger in healthy ways.  I still struggle with this today.

Throughout my life, I have been misunderstood and treated differently as a result of suffering with two disorders: ADHD and Bipolar I.  As a small child attending kindergarten, I often was berated by the teacher for having ADHD.  I was different from the other children and was asked often if I had “ants in my pants”?  I didn’t understand why I was getting into trouble all the time.  In my adult years, I loathed myself even more when I became sick with Bipolar illness.  I had friends who laughed in my face when I told them I had gone into a psychiatric hospital for care.  One friend told me she did not believe in mental health problems and that I needed to “buck up & get over myself”.  These sentiments were later expressed in subsequent years by employers when I attempted to get accommodations in place during an episode, so I could remain working.  I was discriminated against and let go or it became so uncomfortable that if I did stay, I eventually left on my own accord.  I’ve experienced years of frustration, often being misunderstood by friends, family, or coworkers who feel my illness is just an excuse I make up for bad behavior.  It is dehumanizing and extremely hard to not only have an illness and suffer greatly from it, but then have your credibility questioned as a result.

Lastly, My sister has struggled with addiction for years and it has caused immense strife in our family.  I confront while others often enable, defend, lie, and hide.  I would have let things go, but she had five children, all of which are young adults now, and I’ve had to watch them struggle along with their own stories of addiction.  Not one of them walked across the stage to graduate and two of them do not even hold GEDs.  Their potential was robbed without their awareness.  I longed for a better life for all of them, including my sister.  This situation has truly been difficult to navigate and I am often devalued in the process.  It has caused me to question my reality and whether or not I am a good person.  It has truly been trying, at times, and I have often lost my patience in rage and despair.

Even with all the strife in past and present relationships, I have always tried relentlessly to reconcile things.  I struggle with letting people go, even if they are not good for me.  I’ve lost a lot of trust in humanity and in others because of the way I have been treated by those close to me.  I admit all my wrongdoings and I still long for the day when I feel accepted and loved completely.

I often feel like a scared kid, just hoping someone picks me up, holds me, and helps me walk through this pain in my life.

I’ve decided that someone has to be me.  We all must manage our own pain, develop better boundaries, and love ourselves.  We must forgive ourselves.  Sadly, I can forgive everyone who has hurt me, but I have the most difficulty forgiving myself.  I often desperately continue to return to those individuals in my life that are not truly open to loving me, or even themselves.  I become angry when they devalue me and my reactions become the rationale for why they leave.  And so, I must go through the difficult task of starting over and rebuilding, learning to let people in slowly, with stronger boundaries in place.  I also have to disengage from those increasing the intensity in my life which often leads to relapses with my Bipolar illness.  This is a balancing act.  I hope sharing helps others out there who are also navigating several tough situations at one, they are not alone.  It’s messy, it’s hard, but it’s possible.

And this is my toughest lesson to learn and my greatest challenge in my lifetime: To love myself enough to develop boundaries and slowly let those people in that will enrich my life and foster my growth and maturity.  I believe they are out there.  I truly am in the middle of this metamorphosis and I hope to one day look back on my life and see that I did it, I changed.  I forgave myself, loved myself, and let go of those who are unwilling or unable to join me on this journey.  No one said love would be easy, but I do believe it is worth it.  And if you are struggling with self worth, I will say to you: WE ARE WORTH IT.  Every human being is worth the journey towards healing and wholeness.

I’m using this piece as a series and am going to follow up with posts of thoughts and progress regarding my healing process.  It helps me feel not so alone.  Happy healing!  Thanks for reading!

Steel Pieces: Drop the Armor, We are Not at War

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Amy Taylor
I’m somewhere hidden behind the conflicting angles,
In the shadow of your heart.
Growing in the darkness, expanding
With the imposing light.
My truths dance around you,
Like words reverberating, trapped in the sewer
In steel pipes, a labyrinth
Under the hard, cement streets.
Often my words are suffocated,
Choked, leaving no room for discovery.
They are lost in the void,
The space you call your soul.
Something needs to be broken,
Your love is hardened steel.
I loathe those that tempered you,
Leaving you embedded within walls,
Unchanged, impenetrable.


Are we one in the same, stitched loosely from the same flowing fabric of life, love, and immortality?

Can we stand, then, out in the light, our true selves, battered and bruised and point like children, wide-eyed in curiosity and compassion, asking gently: “Where did you get that one?”  And then gently stating. “It’s ok,  I’ll kiss your boo boo and make it better”.

Somewhere along our road of pain, we’ve chosen to seal ourselves up in steel tombs, resembling, the dead, instead of floating on open channels of water, accepting we are all part of the same ocean.

Can we begin to tell our stories, out loud, like the true soldiers we are and peel off the hardened layers we thought protected us, but only lead to stagnation, alienation, and paralysis?

This is the place, my spirit longs to be.  Present day realities keep us imprisoned with our own fears and insecurities.

I recall the last Decade of my life, I refer to it as the “Decade of Darkness”.

I was desperately seeking connection in desolate places.  And in those spaces, I made my share of mistakes.  The longer I stayed in that space, the more intolerable it became.  I felt hopeless, suicidal, and ashamed.  I refused to leave a destructive relationship, I gambled often and lost a lot of money, and I became ineffective in helping my family with their addiction issues.  I became emotionally unstable, and easily enraged.  Self-loathing became a ritual and I was not always open to change.  This past year was a time of complete devastation, while at the same time the beginning of significant growth and love.  The juxtaposition of pain and growth has served as an endless backdrop of self exploration.  I’ve learned healing isn’t what I initially thought.  I see healing now as accepting what is and cultivating compassion, rather that trying to desperately “fix” people or situations that are not in my control to change.  

It’s easier said than done, but once aware a landscape of love opens up before you and opportunities abound in the domains of your life that are yours to mold and influence.  It has cleared my plate, and has provided the space to orchestrate my life without the constant distractions that are outside of my control.  

I wish you peace on this journey towards self love.  I feel that it is the access point to heal ourselves and each other.  Every broken piece must be picked up in love and forgiven.  And one’s ability to do so is exponentially increased when love is present within.  So, go ahead, love yourself.  If you can love and forgive someone who has hurt you, you can love and forgive yourself. May self compassion enfold you today and always.  It’s an imperfect journey and that we will continually expand and grow, loving ourselves and others more and more with the passing of time.  Let the light and love in!