R

Emotional Roulette

The warm light piercing my eyes through the window above my bed is a familiar reminder. If I were anyone else, and it was any other day, my dog would already be outside on her wooden porch bench wrapped in her sheepskin blanket, waiting. The sound of my wheels on loose gravel just outside the gate, her cue to greet me; her little tail dancing under cotton candy clouds flirting with the southern California sky. But this is me. Its day six. I’ve yet to get out of bed, let alone make it to the office.

Pulling from the core of my lungs, I struggle to level the guilt within the walls of panic. The audacity of wanting to sleep forever when you could very well drop dead from a brain aneurysm – then realizing you don’t want to cash out this way – is nothing if not funny. Funny, ironic not funny ha-ha. Well, it’ll be hilarious – one day. Tragedy plus time. Isn’t that the comedy rule?

I wonder if normal people – people who don’t fantasize about not waking up – feel about us freaks. Fucking mental illness. Such bullshit.

Instead of hanging with the elements of the January day and kicking back on her bench, my baby Stella (a new three-legged Chihuahua mix I rescued from the pound) lies with me in love. Snuggled together next to the television remote, we’re sheltered from the late morning nuisance above by flannel sheets I quickly pull across our faces.

“How did I get so lucky? I promise I’ll take you for a walk tomorrow.” I whisper, fighting back tears of guilt.

Stella and I shift under the covers as I channel surf and mentally prepare for going back to my normal life soon. Then a buzz from under my pillow. A disturbing text.

A dear friend’s father is thousands of miles away in the Intensive Care Unit and doesn’t have much time left. My mind breaks from its prison of solitude. All I can think about is being there for my friend.

“Come over. I’m begging you.” I text in haste.

No reply.

“Where are you?”

Silence.

My heart was racing. I started to sweat. Where did he go? What can I do for him? What’s happening?

After finally hearing from him, his company wasn’t meant to be and I leveled back into myself.

Time passes and I’m left to marinate in the microscopic residue of familiar emotional patterns. A make-shift quilt of codependency.

Not that I would ever shun helping a loved one – especially someone who lives so close to my heart. But where was that strong woman – the would-be hero of his day, when I needed her the most? Why does she coil under the weight of self-doubt when it comes to her own safety?

For some of us, the hardest thing to do is to walk away from the emotional roulette table. We continually sabotage our safety – treating our own hearts with such carelessness. There’s nothing more intoxicating than a spinning wheel of chaos. So we keep playing. And what we think is shitty luck is really the odds of defeat laughing in our shadow. Of course we always lose. We’re too busy trying to make everyone else happy – never gambling on the one person who should matter most.

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, instead of wishing ‘the odds’ would throw us a bone, maybe it’s time to do what so many of many of us need to: find the strength – put us first – change the game.

 

Christine Macdonald
Shame

I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
Brené Brown

PPToxic relationships. Is it the chaos we miss, when we finally muster the strength to let them go? Maybe it’s the company that keeps us hanging on. Any company is better than no company at all, right?

My brain says NO, while my tattered heart continues to hang on; the blood from my fingers tasting of denial and persistence.

No matter how high the rush, when involved with a toxic partner, the lows always follow. Orgasms aren’t supposed to be succeeded by tears. Trust in our partners  isn’t something we wish upon like mythical stars floating above the darkness.  It should be a mutual, well-earned feeling shared equally – like the sun kissing the trees in springtime, nurturing them back to life.

My addictions have spiraled me down the rabbit hole of need, desperation and shame more times than I care to admit. And yet no matter how far I claw my way out of the darkness, with each new relationship, I dive head-first cloaked in a thick film of “this time will be different.”

Head: Zero. Heart: I don’t believe we’re in single digits anymore, Toto.

I’ve been repeating the same dysfunctional love-pattern of “I Hate you, don’t leave me” ever since slow-dancing to Earth Wind and Fire’s Reasons with my childhood crush, Mike Ruben. Even then, among the crepe paper and smelly gym lockers lining the walls, I believed true love was percolating. The reality that Mike felt his way through all the girls in the class that night eluded my desperate heart.

Damaged people always find one another; two wrongs making a right, misery loving company, that sort of thing. How we navigate our way out of the chaos without craving it boils down to self-worth.

Unless we dig deep within our stories – and re-wire our thoughts about what we deserve, the revolving door of toxic love will continue to poison our hearts.

We’re not bad people, us toxic folk. Everybody has a story. We just need to work through ours without the beautiful, chaotic and alluring distractions of land-mind relationships.

I’m really gonna miss those.

Christine Macdonald
fear

Sine Metu (Without Fear)

FEAR

 

Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.”  ~ Steve Maraboli

If we placed our fears in a petri dish and the universe asked what it needed in order to survive, we all know the short and long of it – it’s us. We’ve seen the Pinterest boards and Facebook quotes. We get it. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and we must do the things we think we cannot do. If only our understanding of fear somehow brought feeling back to the paralyzed consciousness it creates.

Just because we get why we’re afraid, doesn’t make our feelings less so. A child’s fear of monsters under the bed won’t lose validity when the lights turn on. They’re relieved when discovering the monsters don’t exist, but their fear was always real.

As we get older, the monsters morph into tangible worries like having enough money, making life changing decisions and to top off the insomnia trifecta, being in good mental and physical health.

Although fear is universal, our own struggles narrow the scope and they become much more crystallized within the walls of our story. Each of us has our path, and it’s always walked alone. Our compass is built from life experience, the realization of who we are (which only comes from letting go of who we pretend to be), and the choices we make based on how we handle fear.

Fear is fucked. No one really talks about it, because the more we talk about it, the more it exists. Also, with fear lives vulnerability. It’s a he-said-she-said trap of “I know you are, but what am I”; fear points the finger at vulnerability, while vulnerability blames its very existence on fear. It’s six of one, half-dozen of shit, making us feel weak and alone. So we bury them both, deep inside

Christine Macdonald
ClarityBlog

Unfolding as it should be

 *Photo credit: Mark W Stromberg

The Universe is a trip. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Elohim, Jehovah, Shàngdì, or Bahá’u’lláh, the raw truth of life is that most of its bullshit is out of our hands. Our hearts wrapped in passion and circumstance, we grip tightly to what we know is slipping away.

Take our own bodies, for instance. After we reach a certain age, our miraculous flesh-vessel we’ve abused so thoughtlessly in our 20s starts to break down. In what seems like almost overnight, we’re worrying about cholesterol numbers and heart rates. Of course, we’re not totally helpless to father time – we can choose lettuce over Lays chips and water over Pepsi. We do have control over how much we exercise and handle our stress. It just takes a little more effort the longer we’re walking this earth. Good times.

Outside of the inevitable aging process, there are other things we find hard to accept. Maybe you didn’t land the job that was perfect for you, or your dream home is out of reach. Disappointment is part of the ebb and flow in each of our lives – and the way we handle it is crucial to our mental health. But, it’s easier to say “go with the flow” than actualy practice such a groovy mantra in our every day lives (can I get an Amen?).

Being turned down from a great job or realizing you can’t afford your dream castle is one thing – but how about when your anguish is born from personal rejection of YOU? How do we recover from the “it’s not me, it’s you?” love scenario?

Here’s where things get tricky. When it comes to our love interests not picking up what we’re putting down, we’re basically on our own – everything relies on us – how we feel about ourselves. Our friends remind us how fabulous we are – how it’s their loss!, that everything happens for a reason! and, you are the total package! (we love them dearly and please don’t stop gushing, but pass me the barf bag while you’re at it). Jokes aside, the bottom line is that unless we truly believe their love drops of confetti, those priceless affirmations are simply clogging up deaf ears.

So how do we arrive at the Self Worth Station without derailing our effervescent Love Train? For one thing, we can stop buying the lie that only the beautiful people are immune to heartache; that if we were fill in the blank enough, we would find love. Don’t believe me? I’ll see your Jennifer Anniston and Raise you a Halle Berry.

When you realize that no one is immune to heartache, the real work begins. Accepting the reality that, as phenomenal as we are, there’s someone out there who we want that doesn’t want us (or we want who we think they are, but that’s another post entirely).

Acceptance can be brutal. So much so, that we try to navigate around it completely. We attempt to drink, drug, fuck, shop, eat, or gamble our way out of it. The problem is, we’ll never get to Oz without that goddammed road, and each brick is built with acceptance, self-worth, forgiveness and self-love.

It’s a real pain in the ass to remind ourselves how amazing we are. And a tragedy for those who never truly believe it. For some of us, self-worth is a sultry mistress cloaked in years of mental abuse of you aren’t enough. The road to finding our Awesome is long – and not without lessons in love along the way.

There’s no way around feeling the sting of disappointment – and heartache is just part of life. But there is a way to lighten the load of our suffering by grounding oursleves in some basic truths: we ARE amazing, everything DOES happen for a reason, and this TOO shall pass.

Not buying it? How about reading this poem from 1927:

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should be.

Therefore, be at peace with The Universe whatever you conceive it to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann

Unfolding as it should be.

So, let your tears build a river of acceptance. Submerge yourself in sorrow and disappointment – then take a breath – and another – and just let it be.

 

 

Christine Macdonald