WP

Giving yourself permission

I can’t remember his exact words, but my main funny-man Louis CK has this stand-up bit where he talks about aging. With his usual sarcasm, he goes on about how twenty-year-olds think they’re gonna live forever. They revel in the mystical idea of turning thirty.

“What’s it gonna be like when I’m THIRTY!?” (audience laughter fills the room).

I heard this bit in my car the other night (thanks, Louis CK Radio/Pandora) and couldn’t help slip back in time.

The thought of turning thirty was heavy on my mind and actually played a major role in what catapulted my walking away from the stripping life at 28. I talk about my last night in the strip club in Larry Smith’s book, THE MOMENT (Chapter titled Sunset Strip).

CK has it right. There’s a certain fearlessness in our 20s that navigates our choices. Stripper or not, the fuck ups can be epic. I just finished a chapter (trust me, I’m dying to finish my memoir and share it with you) that talks about this very thing. My fingers danced on the keys as my eyes were wide-eyed in amazement that I even survived. So many dangerous – ok, fine – stupid decisions that could have easily landed me in jail or worse, an early grave.

 

* * *

Kiki1988It was 1988 and I just celebrated my 20th birthday. Robert, a one-night-stand-turned live-in lover (ten years my senior) was one of the biggest coke dealers in town. He chose me!

An ex Chippendales dancer from Los Angeles with the face of a young Al Pacino, Robert made me weak in the vagina. It didn’t matter that he was using me for a place to crash, fucked around tirelessly and threw me across the room when I “gave him grief” – with Robert, I thought I hit the jackpot. Cocaine was the glamor drug and between the free supply and mind-blowing orgasms, I didn’t stand a chance.

A 500 square foot walk-up on the edge of Waikiki was my first apartment. All of my neighbors were in their 20s and loved to party as much as Robert and me. I used to joke that our little rock-and-roll apartment complex was like a college dorm, only instead of tearing through the study books, we snorted and drank our way through the days.

I didn’t care if I had to kill a couple of island roaches every now and then and I only had a thin piece of foam covering the concrete floor. At $400.00 a month, it was mine. And after Robert charmed his way in, refusing to leave – it was his now too. We’re living together!

We fucked like animals and fought just as hard. Having the cops show up at 4:00 am was typical. For us, chaos was foreplay. It was awesome in the most traumatic way.

After a couple of years, we fell into a dysfunctional groove. It was everything I thought I wanted, even though somewhere deep inside, the feeling of desperation and self-loathing for allowing myself to be treated like shit was suffocating. But that was normal. Everything was normal. Until the day it wasn’t.

Robert wasn’t just a coke dealer, he was a “mule.” Every few weeks, he flew from Honolulu to Los Angeles, then back home again with huge amounts of blow taped to his body under his clothes.

The day before Thanksgiving after boarding the plane home with four kilos in tow, Robert disappeared. He never landed in Honolulu, and his boss Rick was out for blood. I was the first person he interrogated.

In what could only be described as a scene from Miami Vice, my apartment was torn apart, my phone was bugged, and every step I took outside was followed by Rick’s shadow; he was convinced I was in on the heist. I wasn’t. After three years of abuse, the bullshit lying, cheating and ripping me off, Robert finally did me a solid. Maybe his guilt drove him to keep me out of his master plan. I’ll never know. But I’m grateful that in a very uncharacteristic way, Robert protected me from Rick and his men by keeping me completely in the dark.

KikiRobert

Drug Lords always have men. Rick and his were yoked-up Samoan body-builders who never smiled and wore neon colored Gold’s Gym tank tops and weight lifting belts – even outside the gym.

“I know you know, Christine. Where the fuck is he?” Rick meant business.

“I promise you. I have no idea.” My voice was that of a tough little girl. I suppose in a way, I still was.

“Christine. You’re fucking lying. If you’re lying…” The veins in his forearms stretched with each breath.

“I have no reason to lie to you, Rick. He bailed. I swear, I have no idea where he went. If I had a Bible, I’d lay my hand on it right now. You can keep following me. I have nothing to hide.” My eyes were burning into his with fierce intensity. My hands were steady, as I pretended to hold a Bible. Any terror I should have been feeling eluded me, because for once in my young-adult, drug induced life, I was telling the truth.

I never did hear from Robert – and Rick finally backed off. Rumor has it he was killed in Mexico after Rick tracked his ass down, but who knows. What I do know is that I’m lucky I came out of that world in once piece.

 

* * *

I’ll be turning 46 in a few days.

I’m worlds away from the frightened girl who walked away from the stripping life. Instead of wondering what’s it gonna be like when I’m thirty, I find myself tapping on the window of fifty, sneaking a peek into a world I never knew I’d belong. Part of me still wonders if I do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s, 30s or even in the thick of middle age (when the fuck did that happen?), we all have memories of being fearless.

So what happened?

Call it growing older and (hopefully) wiser, but it seems our proverbial balls somehow shrink with each birthday candle we add to the mix. Our priorities shift. We settle into our choices – stop taking chances. Or maybe we just have more to lose.

Sometimes it takes remembering how far we’ve come to realize the direction we want to go.

Still, it doesn’t mean we need to sleepwalk through the rest of our story. Every once in a while, it’s good to touch the wet paint next to the sign warning us not to.

Having balls doesn’t mean putting them up on the chopping block of recklessness. Being fearless isn’t synonymous with stupidity. If anything, our courage should be even greater as we age, not dissipated for simply knowing better. We don’t need to mirror our 20-something daredevil behavior to feel alive. We just need to give ourselves permission to make better mistakes.

BodyImage

Fat. Chance.

Most women at some point in their lives have struggled with their weight. And if you’re over 30 and have and access to social media, magazines, television, movie theaters and/or advertising (plugging anything from sports cars to carrot juice) you’re probably not down with  fat.

It’s an ugly word. It says so much in the space of three letters. If you’ve ever been called the F word, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Lazy, slob, gross, ugly, unfuck-able; these are all judgmental derivatives of the word fat.

Even if we’ve never been considered remotely fat by our friends and family, chances are we’ve obsessed over the numbers on our scale at some point between learning to shave our legs and perfecting liquid eye-liner.

I was a stripper addicted to cocaine for the better part of a decade . THIS PHOTO of me (my own words in bold) was taped to my refrigerator for YEARS.

KikiBikiniBodyDys_Page_1

 

I want to wrap my arms around her and do everything I can to make her see what I refused to believe because of my inner-bully telling me I wasn’t enough.

Enough for what? More tips on stage? More validation I was attractive? The beautiful, curvy size-12 woman I am today looks at this photo and wants to simultaneously laugh and cry.

I’m not posting this to brag about being a stripper, or show off the bikini bod I wish I still had (and never appreciated). I’m posting this photo as a reminder for us all – including the media – to help young women see the beauty in their bodies, no matter what size.

Think about it. What chance do young women have if our standards are navigated by the skewed perception that skinny equals enough?

To be fair, I was a chubby high-schooler and my stripper period took place during the waif era.  Still, I can’t help but wonder – what was I thinking (more on this later)?

Thoughts?

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 Continue reading

KikiBlogAneurysm

Shit just got real: my brain aneurysm

It’s been weeks since the docs told me about my little bubble brain. They didn’t use those exact words, but I prefer a sugary colloquialism over the actual medical diagnosis: “Intracranial Aneurysm.”

What started out as a personal quest to get to the bottom of my twelve-day migraine (landing me in the ER twice) ended up being the very beginning of a new adventure: discovering, learning about and living with this ticking time bomb.

brain%20aneurysmTruth? I thought a brain aneurysm was a stroke. But after a crash course with a couple of top-notch neurosurgeons, I now know better. I learned that an aneurysm of the brain is a weakened area of a blood vessel. If it ruptures, this causes bleeding in the brain – which is called hemorrhagic stroke. Roughly fifty percent of people will die immediately, the other half, brain-damaged.

If. Rupture. Stroke. And, scene.

If. Those two letters joined at the hip have been a storm cloud hovering above me since my diagnosis. It’s one of those words that, when on automatic replay is guaranteed to heighten anxiety, perpetuate insomnia and toss you around in a cyclone of worry and fear.

Everybody has their Ifs. If they finished college, saved more money, accepted a job offer, stayed Continue reading

Familiar

LoveLockThere is a special bridge in central Paris, the Pont des Arts. It’s a pedestrian bridge crossing the River Seine, linking the Institut de France and the central square (cour carrée) of the Palais du Louvre.

What makes this bridge so special are the countless padlocks, inscribed with initials and messages of couples in love, attached to its structure.

A clunky, dirty, heavy blanket of undeniable, unbreakable love.

Built in 1804, this nine-arch metallic love shack is a place couples visit from across the globe. After securing their customized lock, they toss its key into the Seine [river] below – a sign that their devotion is eternal, never to be undone.

I’d love to return to Paris one day and walk the Pont des Arts – if only to breathe in the stories. Each piece of metal, many rusted and eroded through time, so singular in their tale, yet Continue reading

Your Crazy is Showing

Narcissist self portraitSo here’s the thing, I’m crazy. Not in a Have the Lambs Stopped Crying, Clarice? crazy. But enough to warrant psychotherapy and be excused from the occasional jury duty order (my bright idea that, no doubt will kick my kharma down the road, I’m sure).

So how crazy is my Crazy?

Being an adult entertainer in my former life twenty years ago, grabbing my ankles on stage was just another day ending in “y.” You’d think unveiling my official medical diagnosis to the World Wide Web would be cake.

You’d think.

Pumping the breaks on conclusions jumping off the screen, I’ll say this: I’m happy to report this post isn’t coming from a locked down facility with padded walls. But the mere fact this scene was a vacation fantasy from my life during some of my worst depression days? There’s the rub.

One of my favorite writing tasks was to sum up my memoir in six words, thanks to friend, Larry Smith and his brilliant Six Word Memoir empire. My post was well received and actually ended up being a feature on his website. Check it:

Ex-stripper turned writer. More exposed now.

So although my comfort in performing in the buff six days a week was in check, I can’t say the same for sharing too many personal details of my mental illness. Let’s just say I have issues (mainly PTSD from childhood and trust issues with men – go figure). I’m sure your working on Continue reading

bedifferent

A lesson in Weird

Years ago in the mid-nineties when my niece was around seven years old, we passed a book store during one of our special one-on-one days. I loved hanging out with Sydney (still do) – especially since my sister and I couldn’t be more different.

My older sister Laurie is the left brain, practical, problem-solving thinker. Me? I marinate in my right-brain-ness; satiating on the creative, fanatical, finger-painted wonder that is my messy life. You want neat, tidy, brilliant, finance-managing and scary-smart logic? Laurie is your gal (I’m in awe of her brain, actually). I’ll be in the music aisle dancing to Earth Wind and Fire, swinging my unkept auburn locks while my overly-priced-candle burns away – wondering where all my money went.

When it comes to the thinkers and feelers of the world, no one is any better or worse than the other – we’re all just wired differently. It’s actually pretty great, once we get past our “my way or the highway” vibe.

Two polar opposite sisters in a dysfunctional family always makes for some interesting dinner table talks; and proved surprisingly educational when it was just my sister’s daughter and me on this particular day.

“Eeew, she’s so weird.” Sydney was referring to a magazine cover photo of Gwen Stefani in the Continue reading

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.

 

 

LookingBack

The Blind Leading the Mind

For a minute there, I lost myself.  – Karma Police (Radiohead)

As kids, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of learning your enough. Tall enough? Bring on the rollercoasters. Smart enough? I’ll take that pop-quiz. Old enough? I’ll be home before dark. Responsible enough? Thanks for the ten spot, I’ll fill the tank (I’m dating myself here).

For those of us who grew up in Dysfunction Junction (abusive, alcoholic or addict households), it’s easy to argue that while we may have physically grown into our adult bodies, our minds are another story. On any given day, we’re pretty much hovering aimlessly between recess and study hall. And if you’re an addict – I’m positive when you’re in party-mode, you’re probably in need of some daycare. Or maybe that’s just me.

Damaged

In trying to explain my world to a friend recently, it went something like this:

“It’s like my brain is being held hostage by my mind. I know what I’m doing is fucked up, crazy and beyond forgivable, but I do it anyway”

I don’t think she got it.

It’s easy to call bullshit when it comes to anyone but us. There aren’t any cobwebs of denial obstructing our view of the tangled webs anyone else weaves. It’s a totally different world when forced to turn the spotlight on our own fuck ups as a result of our choices and actions.

There’s nothing like heavy fallout to pull our heads out of our ass. We lose jobs, get into legal trouble, even lose friends who – let face it – may be as fucked up as we are, they don’t need added drama.

Everyone is in recovery from something. The hard part is remembering that no matter how much we think someone may have their shit together, that we’re all just fragile human beings floating in a sea of struggle. No one is immune to the landmines life throws our way. We just have different ideas and methods in terms of how we handle our collateral damage.

Forgiveness is powerful. Support and understanding are essential. Getting out of bed, taking a breath with the thought that each day is a new opportunity to get it right, with the support of loved ones you’ve wronged? Well that’s just everything.

 

FaceInMud

You’re not a Pussy

I was seventeen. He was 27. A one-night-stand-turned-partner in bed, turned roommate “boyfriend”. A coke dealer who spoke with his cock and screamed with his fists.

Three years and nine months we lived together. We fucked and fought like animals, but walking hand-in-hand remained elusive.

“I’ll never walk with you because of your skin.”

The attention is better than none at all. With him, I feel alive.

I knew no other way.

It was my first day at the ad agency and the drive to a client meeting was long. My boss behind the wheel was cocky, convinced he was just being funny. Conversations of where’d you grow up? quickly morphed to, so…you boning anyone?

“I’m so glad I’m a good lover.” He boasted while turning into the parking lot.

This is a good job. Don’t say anything. Be flattered he feels comfortable enough with you to go there.

I knew no other way.

We’ve been dating for months. He left his phone unattended during one of our overnight sleep-overs. Temptation sold out to my worst fears realized – I painfully asked the question, taking a peek at his phone. So many sext messages. My stomach flipped and I was sick.

We never did say we were exclusive. Some of his time is better than none. We have such amazing chemistry.

I knew no other way.

There’s a time to shrug your shoulders at the world and give in to the daily shit of life. Someone cutting you off on the freeway? Go ahead, buddy. You’re not worth the stress.

When your self-worth is tested, especially when at a low – this is where you need to remember that YES, you may have known no other way – but that was yesterday. Today, you’re focusing on strength – finding your voice.

What is it that you WANT? If you find yourself in the throes of life not surrounding yourself with people, opportunities and challenges that don’t serve your happiness – ask yourself why.

The cinderblocks of I’m not good enough may fall deep inside your soul – but YOU have the power to stop pouring the cement. Time to stop believing that crumbs are the same as a seat at the table.

There IS another way. You’re NOT a pussy. You’re a fucking LION who’s learning.

Conquer your kingdom (you’re worth it).

“When You Hold Onto Your History, You Do It At The Expense Of Your Destiny.” – BT.D. Jakes

 

LouieBlog

The Incomparable Dr. Bigelow

Perspective is delicious. Comparison is dangerous. When you combine the two, sometimes you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Sports Guy Chest Bump with the type of nirvana only a three-legged dog and Charles Grodin can serve – Louis CK being the master chef of such delectable comedy cuisine.

It’s an acquired taste. You either satiate on the comedic texture of humanity and all her fucked up idiosyncrasies, or you don’t. For those who do, we find ourselves licking the fingertips of the rolling credits counting the days until we get another taste.

If you’re one of the millions of viewers who tuned in to the latest episode (six, season four) of Louie (Monday nights on FX), you’re picking up what Louis CK so sharply laid down.

Booya. It’s so obvious. Your life really doesn’t suck. Well, not as much as those guys. And you don’t hear them complaining, do you? Besides, as Grodin’s hilariously played apathetic Dr. Bigelow explains to a lost-boy-seaking-advice-Louie – nobody really Continue reading

Pensive

When a text becomes a blog

When it comes to texting, concise is always better. But when you’re a writer – well – sometimes editing isn’t our bag.

In texting with a friend whose turning 45 soon, I sensed he wasn’t really present (a good barometer of how tight you are is when you can peg their vibe in a word).

Sure, it’s easy to be off a little when trying to decode those annoying short text replies – and forget about trying to hear inflection. What’s sarcasm to one person, may be totally misinterpreted by the other and the next thing you know, you’re in the midst of a totally unwarranted bitchfest.

With close friends though, it’s easier to read between the texts. The subtext of their replies is rife with emotion – and we either press for answers (“what’s up?” “are you okay?”) or we let it go, giving them space to breathe.

I knew my fellow partner-in-crime was reflecting a bit especially since his birthday is looming. So when he confirmed , “I’m just in my head”, I was in no way gonna pry.

Still, the writer in me wouldn’t dare miss up on an opportunity to share my thoughts.

And just like that. A blog is born.

I realized after reading my marathon text, that I could really say this to every one of my loved ones – including myself.

Wanna read it? I was hoping you would.

“There’s a comfort of knowing we aren’t alone. Even when we wanna be left alone.

People pop up in our lives at what seems to be the worst (or some would argue perfect) timing. We take mental inventory. Ask hard questions we have no desire to know the answers to right now. We wonder if things will ever be different – will we always be fucked up with certain things or people?

Will we ever get a break?

Our own worst saboteur is ourself. We know this. We are frustrated by this and morph our stress into anger and sorrow.

But remember all of it is normal, expected shit when it comes to our mental evolution.

I don’t believe broken hearts are meant to heal completely. We just learn to live with and allow our strength to draw from its survival.

Our stories shape us. And I don’t know about you, but I believe the most amazing, inspiring and lovely people are walking around with their own fucked up stories. Their tattered hearts are the most beautiful because they embody what’s real and raw. They beat with more passion and endurance.

Keep honoring your heart.”

Quite possibly the longest text I’ve ever written.

Happy birthday, friend. You’ll always be so cool.

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St. Elmos Crier

I just finished watching St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s been twenty years since I saw it last and boy, what a difference the decades make.

I always loved this movie because I was attracted to the tightness of the friendships. I also identified to Demi Moore’s character “Jewels”.  Back then, I thought she was the fun one. Tonight, I saw her as much more than the party gal. I saw myself in exactly the same way. It hit me by surprise and delivered much introspection.

All the signs of addiction, depression and mental instability were wrapped up in Moore’s husky voice, fire engine red hair and black lace tights. I loved the Billy Idol mural in her apartment and those hot pink walls were awesome. I started to cry a little during the scene where she locked herself in the apartment and sat on the ground shivering. I’ve totally done that.

It’s amazing how some old movie from your 20’s can make you appreciate how far you’ve come in your 40’s. Some movies just stick.

So tell me, what movie from your childhood (or 20’s) sticks with you?

KikiBeachStretch

Soon

When your lashes unlace to greet the light. Your body uncoils, unwrapping your flesh from her thread-count comfort. You discover reassurance. It’s close to normal, this sacred breadth you’ve reclaimed as your own. You stretch, allowing your lungs to expand and release within the space of familiar. What’s old is slowly new again.

You are singular but not small.

When brushing past a stranger in a crowded room, their fragrance leaves a familiar trace – something happens. You inhale detailed Technicolor memories – setting the dragon free from slaughter. There’s no use in sleighing the visions of who you were with them. You unleash the reality, welcoming their face, their hands on your body, their taste on your tongue. Falling among the trace of tears that struggle to emerge are fragments of your smile.

You are longing, but embrace living.

When driving home isn’t met with worry. Anxiety falls into the lap of acceptance. There is no one on the other side of the door. Your phone is silent. You curl up to the empty space, making peace with alone.

And a song is just a song.

Soon.

Soon you will find the familiar reflection. Your smile, unorchestrated without agenda. Free-falling within the space of your heart, you find yourself. Your laugh laces her fingers with acceptance and time.

When you slip under the covers. Your eyes slowly drift. Your thoughts aren’t far behind. They whisper. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Forgiveyourself

Forgive WHO?

We’ve all been there. Turned into that person we don’t recognize. Our brains hold our happiness hostage, giving pain where pain doesn’t need to exist. We unknowingly sabotage our hearts because our perception of reality is altered thanks to a heavy dose of What We Wish To Be The Case.

Perception is horrifying when the lens we choose to view from isn’t based in what’s real. The trick is knowing that we are choosing to stay in the clouds.

Red flags are not welcome signs waving from across the field. We aren’t bulls who need to charge at the first sign of danger. Seriously. Danger doesn’t equal excitement. Healthy doesn’t need to be boring (is this just a drug addict thing?).

I can’t speak for any other PTSD-Drug Addict-Sex Abuse Survivor-Ex-Stripper, but for me – the lessons in reality come at a lofty price.

Between planning a huge life-changing move, my story-telling series, and licking wounds from a recent breakup (talk about being in denial), it’s all I can do to keep it together.

So how do we get real with ourselves without beating our hearts up in the process? For starters, we need to forgive. Not the ones who’ve hurt us – but ourselves.

We can point the finger all we want, but let’s face it – at some point, when it comes to living through pain based on patterns we keep repeating – we need to look at our own choices. Once we realize we have more power over our happiness than we realize, the best thing to do is wrap our hearts around our loving souls and forgive us.

There are so many things I’m not proud of about myself. So many actions I’d love to take back. Tomorrow is another day. Another chance to get it right. New beginnings that shed old patterns. How lovely it would be to have a clean slate with the one person who matters the most, who we are always the hardest on – us.

So tell me – What do you forgive yourself for?