Creative Questions 16 – Childhood Memories

CC1CQ 16:  Please share a sweet childhood memory?

All of my fondest childhood memories come from the summers I spent with my paternal grandmother between the ages of ten through fourteen. Grandma was a loving, giving woman. She enjoyed simple, yet hard-working things – gardening, milking cows, raising chickens, canning and cooking. Leisure for her was snapping beans on the back porch or listening to her favorite am radio shows in the evenings after cleaning up the kitchen. Anyone who showed up at grandma’s house would be welcomed with a hug and a cooked meal. I don’t think there was ever a moment that a kettle of something wasn’t simmering on the stove.

Grandma also made me feel important. She made my favorite dishes, saved me jars of chunky applesauce, and whipped up batches of pistachio pudding for me every single year that I stayed with her. There were no televisions in her house, but she knew I loved to read and I was always welcomed to browse my aunts’ bookshelves for something to read (two aunts lived with her). Early mornings, I’d help her with the chickens and cows. By mid-morning, we’d been in the garden weeding or picking vegetables. When it was too hot to be outside, we’d go inside, drink lemonade, listen to music on the radio and I’d read while grandma prepared food. She didn’t like anyone fussing around her stove. Evenings were spent snapping beans or peeling and coring apples. At night, we’d gather in the living room to listen to her radio shows and of course, I’d always have a book in tow.

My memory isn’t what it used to be and it fads more and more each day, so I don’t have any specific memories. Just the lingerings of my time with grandma and what we routinely did each day, because with grandma, each day was a routine. She never swayed from her daily chores, even when she was tired or ill. That’s just the kind of woman she was. Always going about the business of doing things. She taught me that and to this day, I function better when I have routines and something to always be doing.

I didn’t get to spend the last summer of her life with her. In 1981, she moved from her farm back to the small town where she raised some of her kids. That summer, her kids refused to allow her to plant a garden because they said she was too old. I did visit a few times that summer and autumn, but I saw how “wilted” she’d become. Gardening was her life’s blood and she was cut off from it. By the following April, grandma passed away in her sleep. I still cherish the values she instilled in me and I’ve missed her every day since.

The Sandbox Writing Challenge #45 — Take A Stand!

Time for another catch-up post. This one from June 28th. Calen has perplexed me with this one. Mainly because the title and the question seem to be at odds with one another. Here’s the question:

9_FeelingSmallWhat makes you feel small?

I’ve been thinking about this one for a couple of days because of the juxtaposition of the title and the question. This is not a bad thing though. Many of the things that have made me feel small throughout my lifetime have encouraged me to take a stand. I will give you some examples.

I am a middle child, and throughout my childhood and even into my young adulthood, I always felt “small” in both comparison and contrast to my older sister and younger brother. I was never perfect enough, or loud enough and often left out of opportunities within my family. Sometimes, I still feel small, unwanted, unloved and abandoned. I still feel the sting. However, I didn’t let that smallness prevent me from becoming a self-sufficient woman who went to college and earned three degrees.

I also know the smallness of being stigmatized due to mental illness, not only from society, but also from family and friends. I’ve been shunned, gossiped about, called horrible names, and even lost jobs because of my mental illness. The only way I know to stand up in this instance is to tell my story with the hope that someone out there who has mental illness will hear or read my words and know they are not alone.

And lastly, I’ve known the smallness of living with domestic violence at the hand of a Narcissist. No one can cut you down and make you feel less than human than a Narcissist. They pride themselves in shredding you of all sense of dignity. And because they see you as property to be held onto, it is difficult to get away and stay away from them. Again, only by leaving and telling my story to others, can I take a stand against domestic violence.

The Sandbox Writing Challenge #44 — Lighting Up Your World

Another catch-up post, this time for June 21st. Calen has given me a lot to consider with this question:

light-bulb-technology-and-business-by-prophotostock-d7114sxWhat inspires you?

These days, I can’t seem to find inspiration anywhere. It takes me hours to even write journal posts here or in my paper journal. My mind is just too foggy. I have no light-bulb moments, no sparks, no ah-has. The creative side of me is just silent. A deafening silence. When you are accustomed to hearing three distinctive voices in your head giving you inspiration and then they are silenced through medication, it’s almost like being deaf and blind. Everything I do hear or see is bland, dull, monotone. Not even my glorious mountains inspire me these days. Instead of writing or drawing all day, every day, I spend my time binging on Netflix, but even watching my favorite scifi shows doesn’t spark anything within me. I no longer watch as a writer, but now merely to entertain my fogged mind. I keep being assured that this brain-drain won’t be permanent, but I remember how long it took me the last time this happened to recover, and recovery only came once I stopped the medication. I was medicated for 5 years and it took nearly two years un-medicated to get back to my true creative self. So as I struggle with my dilemma of whether to remain medicated or not, I guess I will go back to my deafening silence as I am mentally exhausted just from these two short posts I’ve written tonight.


Circle of Friends – July Edition

For July, Raili has asked us to consider “Absent/Lost” Friends. She gives the following questions for us to consider:

As I was getting my head around the theme for July’s Circle of Friends, what kept popping into my mind was the thought of friends who I have somehow ‘lost’. Some of them have died. Some have moved to distant parts. Some have drifted away. With some, we’ve drifted apart. The question then remains, were they friends at all ?  Is there a friendship legacy left behind by those who have passed through my life? The ones who have left an imprint on my heart ? And what about the ones who unexpectedly lob back in? Or the friendship that just picks up again as if it were only yesterday we last met even though it was decades ago. Are these friends ever truly ‘lost’ ?

I’ve stated many times that I have only a very few close friends and that has remained true for the majority of my life. I’ve gone through periods of friendships. I would have two or three friends for a couple of years and then we’d drift apart or we would move on with our lives. I’d make new friends, one or two, and the same thing would happen all over again – the drifting away or new directions. This has not only happened in my personal life, but in my online life as well. I remember so well how important the people from Pagan Lake on Yahoo Chat were to me so very long ago. And those I’d met while playing Vampires: A Dark Alleyway. I spent years getting to know these people, even meeting some of them outside the internet, and now they’ve all drifted from my life as though those moments never happened.

I don’t believe that any of these weren’t real friendships. We were friends because we had so much in common at the time. Many of those friendships helped mold me into the person I am today. To say that they didn’t matter or they weren’t real is ludicrous.

There have been a few times that past friends have come back into my life. With some of them, I was able to pick right back up where we’d left off as though not even a full day had passed between us. With others, it was awkward to see or hear from them again, especially since our lives had taken such very different paths.

I think what is truly important is the memories of those friendships. I’ve written in my journals about most of my past friendships because my memory has been failing for quite some time now. Even now, I cannot remember some of their names without reading back in my journals. Those that I do not have pictures of, their faces are fading away. I write down as much of the experiences that I’ve had with them in order to remember how happy our friendships were. I have to do this on a regular basis these days with each new friend that I make because I know there will come a day when I won’t even remember who I am. This is how I save those who’ve become lost so as not to be forgotten too. It is how I preserve the legacy of those friendships.

The Sandbox Challenge #43 — A Whole in One!

Another catch-up post, this time from June 14th. Raili has given us another pondersome question to write about:

What makes you feel whole?

In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever felt whole. For my entire life, I’ve had this emptiness inside and try as I might, I haven’t been able to fill it up. I don’t even know what I am devoid of to begin to fill it. I’ve tried to fill it with love, sex, material things, education/knowledge, spiritual matters, and even through my writing and art. And yet I remain empty. Something is missing. I don’t know if it is because of my unusual circumstances (being a walk-in) or if it is my body’s genetic make-up, or even my mental illness.

Most of the time, I feel like a giant black hole that continually sucks in matter, but never gets full. This is probably why I associate so much with darkness as it is void of light, because even when I try to suck in light, only darkness remains. It is quite a conundrum for me. I’ve even thought that perhaps it is my purpose to be empty, in a Buddhist concept sense, but again, perhaps that is only me trying to be whole through a spiritual matter. I’ve even thought that maybe I just enjoy wallowing in my own misery, but being empty doesn’t really make me miserable. It doesn’t give me pleasure either. It’s more like I am neutral about the whole ordeal.

I think I’d like to be whole. It sounds quite lovely and peaceful, but altogether foreign to me. I ponder what it would be like to be filled to capacity with something other than emptiness. But then, perhaps emptiness is my wholeness and I should give up trying to fill it with anything.


Creative Questions 15 – Domestic Violence

CQ15 – Domestic Violence: What can I/we do about this?

Domestic violence hits very close to home for me. I’d like to begin with a little information:

First, I think everyone needs to understand that DV (domestic violence) isn’t just physical violence. PV (physical violence) is generally the endgame of DV. DV often begins with mental and emotional abuse which can and generally does escalate into PV. Many of the abused endure years and years of mental and emotional abuse. Sometimes, the abusers will use degradation, insults, and mind games long before they raise a fist. It is easy to overlook these abuses early on in relationships because the abused is still in the honeymoon phase and deeply in love with the abuser. Many shrug off these attitudes as the abuser is just having a bad day or they didn’t mean it and move on. The abusers will even use those as excuses. There may even be moments of PV involved – a slap across the face, a push or shove, or objects thrown. And then comes the apologies and the make-ups and the wash-overs. Some of these DV moments may even be rare in the beginning, but rest assured, they will escalate. This period is known as “testing the waters” of tolerance for such things. Will the abused fight back or capitulate? The more often the capitulation, the more certain the DV will progress. (Note: some may think that this is victim-blaming, but it is not. The abused may not even realize that he/she is capitulating. He/she may just be trying to keep the peace, but this IS what the abused is watching out for in these early stages. Each give-in, regardless of how small, is all a part of their game.)

Although DV can happen in any home, there is a mindset that comes along with most chronic abusers.

  1. They were most likely abused at some point in their childhood, or saw abuse to a parent as a child.
  2. They were quite likely either a bully or the bullied as children.
  3. Some have a narcissistic personality or are sociopaths

Narcissistic abusers usually prey on anyone whom they consider to have a weak personality (whether or not they do). As a general rule, they like companions who are compromisers, introverts, easily persuaded, or who have an illness of some kind that make them vulnerable. Narcissists like to control others. Sociopaths usually seek companions who are popular, extroverted and have strong wills. They consider those types of personalities a challenge and delight in tearing them down. These are not hard and fast rules, just as not all abusers are Narcissists or Sociopaths, but the majority are one or the other, or both. Keep in mind, Narcissists generally do their abusing covertly during the early stages of relationships; Sociopaths generally do their abusing out in the open and early on, especially with PV. Neither of these have the ability to show genuine remorse for their deeds or compassion toward their victims.

My own personal story begins with a 13 year marriage to a Narcissist. When we met, I was an independent woman in my mid-thirties. I’d always worked and taken care of myself. However, I’d just been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. Keep that in mind. Our relationship began fairly well. He was a generous man and attentive. We had some ideological differences, but for the most part, we had a lot in common and got along fairly well. The abuse began slowly. He would occasionally criticized me about my weight, even as he would say that he preferred “plump” women (we had met in a BBW chatroom on AOL!). He would try to enact “rules” about how he wanted things done, even though he was a truck driver and only home 4 days a month. And he tried to dictate which friends I could have or family members I could associate with. All of this was subtle for the first 4 years of our marriage. Then he decided we needed to move 1000 miles away from all of my current friends and my family.

During these first four years, I was dealing with my mental illness, often having numerous medication changes which altered my own personality. His subtle mental and emotional abuses were, however, beginning to impact my life. To keep the peace and my sanity, I often capitulated – a grave mistake. Giving in to his desire to move from VA to OK was the biggest capitulation that I made. After the move, the DV only escalated more. He had me isolated, often completely alone for weeks at a time, and at his mercy. He didn’t want me to work because of his paranoia that someone would break into our home with no one there, and since I was dealing with my mental illness, I agreed not to work. I had no friends and any time I tried to make one, he found reasons not to like the person and would do everything in his power to make me or  that friend break our friendship. Even the criticisms increased. By this time, I’d lost quite a bit of weight due to depression and even that didn’t please him. In fact, it only made matters worse. My body was now completely distasteful to him and he made no qualms about telling me so (he had a large breast fetish and mine had shrunk considerably due to the weight loss). The mind games came more often too. He would deliberately hide things and then put the objects back after I’d searched for days and worked myself into a frenzy over it. He’d call me crazy and erratic for my behavior and say other humiliating things to me over the incidents. If I did anything that displeased him, he would rant and rave and throw horrible screamfest tantrums. It would be nine years before the PV began. This came with pushing and shoving and throwing things at me. Thankfully, he never struck me outright, but the shoves into objects resulted in back and shoulder injuries. Those are just small examples of the abuse I endured. I will save why I stayed and how I managed to leave for another post some day.

I know this has been a long-winded reply to the question asked and I haven’t even answered the question, but I felt that some information and my own personal story were important. So, what can I/we do about Domestic Violence?

  1. We need to teach our children that violence is not the solution. This means both female and male children because not all abusers are males.
  2. We also need to teach our children that their lives have value and meaning, to give them a sense of confidence about themselves, and to ensure them that they do not deserve to be abused.
  3. If you are a parent and you see signs of narcissism and/or sociopathy in your child, get him/her and yourself psychiatric/therapy help ASAP. Although there doesn’t appear to be permanent treatments for these two disorders, there are some indications that early therapy can help.
  4. We need to educate the public more on DV, especially the police and the judiciary. Speak up and speak out about your own personal stories or those of friends and family.
  5. If you are the victim of DV, LEAVE as soon as you are able and get into programs for DV survivors – safe houses, therapy, and support groups. This involves a plan to leave – storing money and clothing somewhere safe for you and your children, finding a safe place to go, and developing an escape plan (when to safely leave).
  6. Remember, a restraining order may or may not keep you safe. The best option is to move far away from the abuser, if you are able. And, unfortunately, that may not even keep you safe. Depending on how violent the abuser, he/she will do anything to keep you his/her victim. That is why education on DV is so important!

I am sure there are other solutions to this problem, but my mind is growing foggy, so I will leave it at this for now.


Circle of Friends – June Edition

Of course I am behind, lately, when aren’t I? but this project is still important to me and thus I am compelled to complete each one. For June, Raili asked us to consider The Big Picture with Friendship. She said:

This month in Circle of Friends I invite you to consider The Big Picture of friendship –  the creation of a circle of friends that spans the world and transcends human foibles and pettiness. I know, I know – that seems a big order! Especially in the current climate of prejudice and fear.  However, as the saying goes, nothing changes if you don’t change what you do. SO let’s create some change!

Draw from this exercise that which resonates with you. Carve your slice. Garnish it with your words, images, wisdom. Consider creating a friendship that truly takes into account  The Big Picture within your Little Picture.

I admit, I began thinking about this over a week ago. I wasn’t sure how to approach it or what to say. I live in a fairly microcosmic world. I have only a few close friends locally and pretty much stick to myself as a general rule. Some of it is that I am an introvert, but that isn’t all of it. My mental illness prevents me from making close friendships and at times, even interacting with my own family. I know how bad I am when I have “flair-ups” and I don’t wish to inflict myself upon friends and family. It has become a defense mechanism to keep others at bay. More for their protection against me than for my own self-preservation.

Although my personal life is microcosmic, my world view is very much macrocosmic. My beliefs and values encourage me to be an inclusive person, not an exclusive person. I make it my goal in life to embrace those who are different than I am. So long as there is no hatred, prejudice or discrimination involved, I embrace people of other races, faiths, cultures and ideologies. Unfortunately, I do have little tolerance for racism, bigotry and discrimination, which may be one of my faults. It’s difficult to say that I am an inclusive person and still have exclusions to my world view. Somehow, it makes me feel a bit of a hypocrite. The only way I can resolve this inner conflict is to study racists and bigots and try to understand them from their standpoint. I find that I can understand them, but I still have a problem embracing their attitudes.

I have found the internet especially helpful in forming a macrocosmic world for myself. Social media allows me to interact with people all across the world, to learn about them, understand them, and embrace them. WordPress has given me friendships all across the globe – multiple places in the US, Canada, the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and on and on. These friendships have become important to me. Even as I have been on my own journey for the last month and a half, I have missed these friendships and I am fighting to get back into the macrocosmic world that allows me to be with these wonderful people I’ve met.

I am not sure I came even close to what Raili proposed for this Bigger Picture theme, but these are the thoughts that came to me as I reflected on her proposal.

The Sandbox Writing Challenge #42 — Of Two Minds?

This is a catch-up from June 7th, where Calen asked the following


What divides you?

I am not even sure where to go with this question. I thought that by reading some of the others’ responses, it might help me with the question, but sadly, it did not (everyone’s answers were great though!) I guess I will just have to wing it on my own.

I guess the biggest division that I have with myself is remaining here on Earth when I long to be HOME. I won’t go into details about where HOME is, just suffice to say, it isn’t planet Earth. Maybe some day I will feel comfortable enough to give full details, but that day isn’t today. Still, the longing for HOME is powerful and real. I struggle with being here and living in this world with so much hate, bigotry, racism and cruelty. I struggle to understand why people feel the need to harm one another, even those they profess to love. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to act superior toward others. Aren’t we all born the same way? Die the same way (meaning that life ceases to exist)? Why then must there be so much division while we live? Don’t we all bleed red? This desire to leave when I know I must stay is a constant battle for me.

I’ve also been battling with another huge decision that leaves me divided – to isolate myself or remain with others. By isolation, I do not mean running off to live in a cave somewhere with no outside contact. What I do mean is that for the past 15 years, I have lived with someone else – my ex-husband and now my dad and brother. I long for the freedom of living by myself and doing my own thing whenever I wish to. I don’t do well following other people’s rules. I hate being told to do things this way or that way when the way I do things is perfectly fine. Just because their way works for them, doesn’t necessarily mean that it works for me, but because I live under their roof, I must ‘obey’ their rules. *shudders* And especially when there is no room for compromise. It’s like living under tyranny.

A last dividing issue for me has to do with my mental illness. Should I remain medicated or once again go off of the medication. When I am medicated, I cannot write. When I am non-medicated, my mind is a-buzz with tons of creative ideas, so much so, that I cannot find the time to write them all. However, when I am not medicated, I am also prone to mood swings and erratic behavior, which wouldn’t be a problem if I lived alone, but is a huge problem living with others. I wrestle with whether or not I want to be a zombie or an erratic creative being.

Well, I guess this question wasn’t as difficult as I originally thought. It only took me three hours though to write this small amount. *sighs* three hours… just months ago, I could have popped all of this out within a half an hour or less.

Back Again – Maybe? Hopefully?

It feels strange to be here again after my long absence. Almost like being an intruder on my own blog. I am not ready yet to get back to writing creatively, but I thought that perhaps I might be up to doing some kind of journal writing. I’ve mostly enjoyed doing The Sandbox Challenge, the Friendship Challenge and the Creative Questions, so I will be catching up on those in the upcoming days as I feel up to writing.

This will be slow-going as my mind is so heavily sedated these days. Unfortunately, this is one of the side-effects of psych meds for me and why I have fought for so long not to take them. I lost that battle recently and am back on the meds. Due to the medication, the voices of my muses are not only muffled, but… well, the only way to describe the feeling is that they are on the other side of a wormhole that I cannot get through. Every time I try to cross that threshold, the wormhole collapses. It isn’t merely fog. It’s a universe away. That probably makes little sense to most people, but it is the only way I can describe it.

So, in the upcoming days, I will be doing some journal writing and trying to salvage my mind. Perhaps just writing something, anything again will bridge the gap I need to get back into creative writing.