These Moments of Grace

I sat in the support group, glanced down at my health food store protein bar made of plant protein and zero dairy.

There was a third of it left in the wrapper.

I typically eat a large breakfast, filled with healthy fats and fiber, in a soup. It’s ultra healthy because of my digestive disease. I eat it without thinking.

This morning all I’d eaten was a small pouch of applesauce. And now two-thirds of my protein bar.

 

Sitting there, reaching out for my next bite of the protein bar… I realized I wasn’t hungry.

I was full.

I felt full.

 

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It stunned me.

I am an emotional eater.

I overeat (which, having a digestive disease, is unhealthily easy to do) and I eat the wrong (read: unhealthy) foods.

I sat there, realizing what I consistently thought of as “hunger” was an urge to fill myself up because I was so empty.

 

I already knew this. But to see the proof of it, that blew me away.

To feel the truth of it, that made me pause.

 

I’d already shared (spoken during the meeting).

I’d taken notes on what I felt and what others’ shares inspired in me. I always do this. I want to soak up, absorb, and store the truths they so easily share among the group.

 

These moments of grace. Where I am filled up with the peace I crave but don’t normally know how to gain.

These moments of grace. Where I accept that food is what I try to fill up on – when I’m not hungry. Trying to fill myself, fill myself, fill myself until finally, finally I feel something other than this terrifying numbness, this void, this empty abyss of nothingness but pain and worry, anxiety, depression, and shame.

So afraid that I won’t get enough food into me. So afraid I will remain empty. Feel nothing but a gnawing monster of never satisfied, never filled, never enough.

Never enough.

These moments of grace. When I find myself, real, solid, completely who I am. Vulnerable and alive and visceral. Safe. Filled with a peace, a harmony with who I am, that I cannot explain in words.

 

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These moments of grace where I write down, “I can choose what to fill myself with” in the little notebook I keep in my purse. In case there’s a fluttering butterfly that I need to capture with my pen, preserve in ink between the pages.

I can. That’s it. That’s the secret.

Fill myself with truth. With self-love that I can then spill over and share with others. With acceptance of what I feel, who I am, what I want, what I need, the secrets I wish to hide from myself but don’t need to. Acceptance that I am only as sick as my secrets. Acceptance that what I resist, persists.

Fill myself with creativity, nights spent typing until the clock tells me staying up any longer would cause me pain, and joy spills over onto my pillow because I never used to feel this, never used to want to be awake.

Fill myself with pillows on my bed, comfy in the middle of all these plushies, eating the words on the pages of a book I love.

Fill myself with hugs and smiles and tears and more hugs. With daydreams and nightmares, conversations, and silence.

Fill myself with the strength to poke at the things I wish I could pretend away, the situations that I wish didn’t exist. Fill myself with the knowledge that looking at and feeling that pain, those memories, these realities – it is worth it.

I can choose to fill myself with prayer and scriptures, fun and silliness. With confidence and joy. Hope and knowing that I am purposeful.

 

I have filled myself with these things long enough.

Felt them in my bones long enough. Stored them in the hollow of my rib cage long enough.

Just long enough, compared to the years of abuse and neglect, self-hate and ignorance.

But long enough.

That I wake up, flinging myself out of bed so I can get to my writing. Wishing I didn’t have to sleep because being awake and feeling this, is what I want.

I have filled myself with healthy emotions and relationships and truths. To the point that I can see how different it is from the pain. The misery. How different it is from filling myself with food. Which always causes more hurt anyway.

I have filled myself with enough moments of goodness. That now I can have these moments of grace.

Sitting there in my support group, realizing I don’t need to fill up on food. I am already full. Filled to the brim with something new. Something better. Something real.

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I Didn’t Lose You – Goodbye

I lost something this year.

Something I’ve never had before.

A friend.

I mean, I’ve had friends. Loads. I never had a problem making friends. But this was different. He didn’t want to have sex with me. He didn’t want to stay in an unhealthy phase of life. He did want to connect. To uplift. To be uplifted. Real friendship.

I typically only get along with people this way when they’re older than me by a decade or two. Been that way since I was a munchkin. I tried to fight it for a while in my teen years. But why? I mean, I believe we existed before this life. I could be substantially older than my mother. My younger brother could be eons older than me. *shrug*

Anywho, the amazing thing about this, is the relationship was healthy. The only healthy relationship this gal has ever had from start to finish.

I met him in the blogosphere when I began blogging, about 6 years ago. We had a lot in common. We critiqued each other’s novels. I learned a lot. He was honest. We called each other out. We consoled one another. We got each other… On the same wavelength, you know? He sent me a box of books. If that doesn’t scream friendship right there, I don’t know what does.

This relationship has been my rock. He, along with a book series and my family, are the reasons I got vulnerable enough to consider therapy. Which I chose to allow me to change my life for the better.

This relationship is what got me through a lot of my issues. Helped me remain humane with myself. Remember that I mattered, wasn’t a monster, and having issues didn’t make me unlovable. I learned to trust someone. I learned self-value in part because of this friendship. Someone else who saw all my damage could love me.

But, as I’ve recently learned, friendships don’t last forever. Not even the healthy ones. People change. We grow, evolve, move forward in different directions. This friendship died a healthy death.

That’s never happened before, and I, therefore, didn’t know how to deal with it. All my unhealthy coping mechanisms were gone, you know? I’d burned them alive and let them die the painful death we needed them to die. So I looked for a healthy one.

I chose to write about it.

I figured I’d share the resulting poem with you. I cried writing it. I cried reading it. I cried sending it. But I cannot say I have any regrets. I cannot say I regret anything with this relationship. I believe we all have people come into our lives for a reason. And I believe we come into others’ lives for a purpose.

Maybe the truth is that I did NOT lose something this year. I grew. He grew. We figured out how to create a real relationship where neither of us ended up hating one another, but instead parted in healthy ways for healthy reasons. We bettered each others’ lives. Ta da. Healthy relationship. I certainly learned a lot about myself (and my writing).

 

But I digress. Here are my blood and tears, encapsulated in ink and vocal chords.

 

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Pieces of Me

 

Perhaps this is part of becoming new
I am not so broken up
But I am

How can I be a phantom
Yet so brilliantly alive
In the same heart beats
Through my veins
All at once
Then not at all

These same tears
Are saying two different things

Goodbye

Perhaps this is part of becoming new
Shedding dead skins
And remembering them fondly

These dew drops of joy
I’ll store them in a jar
There will be so many more mornings
Dewdrops to collect

I’ll keep the safety
In this snapshot
Never having to worry
More was building
I never breathed so freely

I think maybe perhaps
I will buy some new jars
Open the lids

I cut my hair short
Put my old stories through the shredder
I sent out a letter
There’s a purple ruby on my desk
It’s from you

Perhaps this is part of becoming new
Final nail in the coffin
Of the phantom in me
Last crack in my shell
Something winged set free

Dying a natural death
In other words, change
Transmutation
Alchemy of the soul

We each need different chemicals
To destroy ourselves
Combust
So we can rebuild our bones
Trade fins for wings
Maturation into brilliancy

This is part of becoming new
You were a much-needed ingredient
So I could see the dead skin cells
I clung to
Wipe them away
Close my eyes
Clean up with all these tears
To break through
Reach in
And pull myself out
Vibrantly alive
And ever so new

It was is time

Please wake up
To something beautiful
Something new
In you

Goodbye

 

By Daphne Shadows

How Genre Fiction Changes Lives For Real

Sometimes fantasy isn’t very far from the truth.

I’m a storyteller.
It’s what I do.
I’m a writer.

And, not get to get dramatic but stories change lives.
Because stories ARE lives.
Stories are how we as humans relate to other humans and human values, struggles, ideologies, victories, etc.

Anywho, this is a post I wrote a while ago but then forgot about. Nice to know it still 100% applies.

 


A blood prophet is a gal who is born with the ability to tell the future…. If her skin is cut and blood flows from the wound.
This brings great pain until she speaks the prophecy out loud, which she then cannot remember, as her brains switches off and she feels euphoria to compensate for the terrible things she sees.

But what really pinged for me is how she experienced life.
And how OVER STIMULATED she got, so easily.
And yet she still SAVED LIVES.
She matters, has purpose.
Even though she can’t handle more than a few more “images” a day.
When Meg, the main character who is a blood prophet that escaped slavery, began to live in the real world, (that is, outside of a white-walled room with nothing in it, literally), she became way too easily overstimulated by all the new stimuli and her brain sort of “turned off” and she was a zombie for a few minutes. Without even realizing it, she’d zone out, turn off, numb.
You see, Meg, like all blood prophets, was kept in a teeny little room and shown photos of things from the outside world. The only experience with the outside world she ever had.
When Meg has new images or places, situations, photos in a magazine, facial expressions, personal feelings, etc…. and she get’s too many new ones in one day… she’s done.

I realized, this is exactly what I do.
My brain turns off.
Without me realizing it.
I was abused as a child and as such, learned to “detach” or clinically put, “dissociate”.
Meaning, mentally, Daphne wasn’t home.
As I grew older I continued coping with unhealthy situations and relationships this way.
Without knowing it.
Once into therapy, we figured it out.

But I didn’t know it was so pervasive in my everyday life.
I thought it was one size fits all.
Instead, there’s versions of it. Levels.

To spare any lengthy dissertation of my life and experiences in the past four years, I’ll stick with the most jarring and recent realization.
Which came about ONLY once I’d read this book and realized it was an actual thing that happens to human beings.

I started college.
One class.
First semester.
A subject I LOVE.
I approach class every day with enthusiasm, interest, excitement, ready to learn more about what I love and apply it to my life.
And I HATE college.
Let me repeat…
HATE!
LOATH WITH A PASSION!!!

I couldn’t figure out why.
When it finally hit me, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure it out. It was once I’d read three books in this series that I added the knowledge to my life and behaviors in the past months and the light bulb BURST into life above my head.
I am a slow learner.
No, really.
I need to soak in, absorb, directly apply information to my life, and repeatedly read stuff, take notes, dissect, etc. when it comes to learning.
When it comes to doing things in a job, I learn really fast.
When I have to read and learn something new in a book environment, I’m slower than molasses in midsummer.
And it threw me. I’d always considered myself a quick learner. When I had things to do – I excelled. Give me a pattern of activities to do and BOOM I have it down.
Not to mention I got through schooling with ‘A’s in every subject.
So HOW am I a slow learner?
I focused on getting good grades. Not on learning. School doesn’t reward learning; it rewards good grades, doing the work, being disciplined, etc.
I’m a hard worker, I’m disciplined.
I’m a slow learner.
I need to learn at a much slower pace than 3 chapters of twenty-five pages each and 3 assignments with their own set of research and information – in one week. Which is the definition of college.
NOT for me.
Lucky for a gal like me, life has options.

Reading Anne Bishop’s novels on Meg taught me something about life, about myself, about how I learn, and about how often I get overstimulated and zone out, without realizing it.
REAL LIFE wasn’t teaching me this.
NOTHING was teaching me this.
A work of fiction. A story. An urban fantasy. This is how I learned vital information about myself and how I operate within the world.
A work of fiction genre taught me truth no one else and nothing else ever had.
THAT is the power of genre fiction.
It is a lie with more truth in it than we can imagine.
Because no story, no matter how bizarre or unusual, is ever truly made up.


The series I am talking about in the post is Anne Bishop’s “The Others” Series. You can check her books out here. I have only read books #2, 3, and 4. I’m excited to read more.

What have works of fiction taught you?

Convincing M(you)self

I don’t need a good excuse

I exist

Therefore I have the right to be

 

 

By Daphne Shadows

 

(Don’t forget, we’re human beings not human “doings”.)

During Therapy

“I know of people who are bedridden. I’m not saying I’m not grateful.” I smirk at her. “You know I’m a lot more grateful now, than I ever was. I see the greatness in my life, the potential, options, beauty, goodness.”

I look down, play with the black tassel of the zipper on my bag. “I fight it. I don’t think I’ve accepted it, how it affects me, controls me, every day.”

My therapist smiles softly. “How do you fight against it?”

“Struggle to be awake, to focus, to get rid of a chronic illness, one of many. It’s like I’m filled with lead in a world of people filled with helium. And I’m sitting here berating myself as if I’m only being lazy.”

“And how would you be if it didn’t affect you?”

I shrug. “Without ME? I’d have energy. Suddenly not be affected by it at all. Be able to focus and be part of my life. I actually like life now. I want to be here for it. Instead I’m sleeping it away.”

“What do you think you’d have to do in order to stop allowing ME to affect you?”, my therapist asks.

My laugh is short and without humor. “Be God.”

 

She laughs and smiles. “You’ve got it.”

“There are only two things you need to know about God.” She holds up a finger. “One, there is a God.” A second finger. “Two, you aren’t God.”

 

“You’re experiencing a lull, yes. But it’s normal.” She responds to my concern. “Life does this. Humans do this. It’s like going to college. At first, you’re excited, you’ve got your eye on the prize – your degree, your desired job. Freshman year is a breeze. But then it gets hard. The homework. The papers get harder. The professors, the lack of sleep.” She looks at me, kind, clever, and all-knowing as ever. “You’re somewhere in your sophomore/junior year. Keeping going.”

“Right,” I agree, nodding my head as I think it through, “life is always going to be hard.”

I brighten a bit, a troubling issue illuminated. “You’re right. I’m doing everything I need to be. I’m taking care of my responsibilities and striving to do better at being kind to myself, accepting myself for who I am. I’m finding ways to enjoy my life. I eat some froyo and deal with the minor migraine later that night. Then the next day I go back to eating the way my SIBO having self can deal with, without regretting or getting down on myself for indulging. I’m still trying and in many ways succeeding.”

I smile to myself. Take a deep breath in, let it out.

“My depression and anxiety are just taking me through a detour. I’m still on the right path.”

 

Honestly, I have Nothing to Offer, Except…

HONESTLY, I wouldn’t wash my hair if I didn’t have to. It’s so annoying, hair gets all over, I have to wait eight millennia’s  for it to dry, and brush it out at just the right time or it sheds  more hair all over and drives me insane. But, if I don’t wash it I begin to look like I could squeegee my hair out and oil your truck… so I figure it’d be a good idea to wash it. Plus, I look less naked-mole-rat and more human when it’s clean. But Jeeze! I’d love it if hair just stayed clean.

 

I absolutely love waking up sore from a good work out. Absolutely love it. So then, of course you see me walking around all weird-like, stretching limbs out in odd places, stretching my back, arching my back, leaning forward, stretching my legs out to the side…. Randomly. Because it feels good.

Because that doesn’t totally look strange.

 

“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it just makes me free.” Anonymous

 

So, would someone like to give me the recipe for this?
So, would someone like to give me the recipe for this?

 

I love going to therapy! That probably makes me sound like more of a crazy person than I am, but it’s so true. If I could joyfully yell it from a hilltop, head thrown back, arms stretched skyward, I would. Except, then people would probably wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have left therapy, and I don’t want people thinking I’m a different kind of crazy than I am.

But yeah. I love therapy. I don’t want to stab people as often. 😉

 

Humans are so impressionable. No wonder it’s so easy for the monsters to win us over, to get us, to sneak up and slip into our skin or rip it open.

But humans are the monsters.

Exactly. There’s one in all of us. And we let it take over without much of a fight, now don’t we?

 

HONESTLY, the truth of the matter is really quite funny.

It’s the reality so many don’t want to accept. Don’t want to see. We They don’t want it to be real as they cling to their chains and shriek out the pain, woe is me, where is the answer? as they hug the cold metal harder.

There are no rules.

Where does this puritanical urge come from to believe I must be miserable, suffering, in pain – or I must be doing something wrong? If I’m not in agony, I’m not a good person, I’m not fighting the good fight. If I don’t burn with the angst of never-to-triumph fire, I must not be trying.

No one is holding a gun to my head, telling me I must suffer.

No one is threatening to burn my family alive and rip my heart out while I scream and thrash in some Mayan ritual.

So why the bloody hell do I feel the need to suffer?

Life isn’t fair because everyone plays by ‘life isn’t fair’ rules.

Human choice is an underappreciated privilege.

 

I looooooove chocolate. Does anyone else put chocolate in the fridge or freezer before eating it? That doesn’t count for things like oreos or hohos though.

Also… I no longer like cake. And who doesn’t like cake? Well, my papa doesn’t, but he likes pie and ice cream, so it all evens out. Anyway, I don’t like cake anymore, not of any kind. Really freaking weird.

 

I am finally understanding that no one is perfect. No one has it all under control or is at the point where they’re like people in story books, fairytales, or movies: 100% sure of themselves and handling challenges perfectly.

No one.

No one is, by my definition, someone I agree with and want to emulate 100% of the time.

Everyone makes mistakes.

It never occurred to me. Some people, I’ve been believing, are people they’re not.

For some ridiculous reason I thought they never royally messed up or lost their cool, handled things poorly or made mistakes. I thought they were agreeable all the time and never said or did (or even thought) anything I consider judgmental or careless.

I mean, I knew they had challenges and trials – every human being does.

But I honestly thought they never made the “I screwed up” kind of mistakes.

It’s finally sinking in that everyone one of us does this. We’re all totally human and struggling to do our best (well, those of us who are trying). We’re all messing up and trying to get back up and do better.

It’s helped me see more people as beautiful and good. They’re trying. But they’re human, just like me, messing up and learning. No one has got this thing called ‘life’, down.

No one.

 

Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with rocks, crystals, gemstones. When I was a kid, I had a huge tub I kept under my bed filled with rocks I found. I couldn’t even lift it towards the end there, it was so heavy. I don’t know what ever happened to all those rocks.

 

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I love geodes. Yet, I have none. The horror.

 

 

“Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”  – Charles Bukowski

 

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” Malala Yousafzai

HONESTLY, I am tired of this. I do not care that you are black and I am white. I do not care that you are male and I am female. I do not care that you are Mexican, Guatemalan, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Chinese, Persian, Apache, Russian, British… and I am white. I do not care that you are twenty-nine, seventy-eight, ninety-three, twelve… and I am in my early twenties. I do not care if you have less or more money than me. I do not care if you have red hair, dyed hair, or fake hair.

I do not care.

I do not care.

I do not care.

We are all human. I believe all human lives matter.

I am sincerely tired of hearing that only one kind of life matters.

I believe we should all be fighting for each other, fighting for humane treatment of human beings, regardless of color or gender.

We are all human.

 

Let’s just get this straight. When I refer to ‘monsters’, I’m talking about one of two kinds of monsters.

One, bad people.

Two, creatures from stories and movies and myths which are dangerous and I absolutely love.

 

“I have nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” Jack Kerouac