“I’ve been here sleeping all these years.”

It’s been a dark week.

My brain and body had very few spoons to start with and the slightest little thing seemed to tap them all at once.  I was besieged by unrelenting nightmares, surprised by physical and emotional pain (much of which shouldn’t’ve been surprising), and bombarded with a near constant urge for chocolate to soothe my nerves, however temporarily.

Slowly, I feel it lifting.  Suggestions from friends (force yourself to work on, and therefore through, it) and family (the less politically correct version: suck it up) helped slightly but not as much as I hoped.  One of the most helpful things was actually when a friend resurrected her round robin style of getting a group of her friends to say three things they’re thankful or glad for every single day. Constantly reminding myself of the good, and having other people do the same, reminded me how many blessings are in my life, if only I remember them.

It’s not perfect.  I still feel off, and things take far too many spoons away from me.  But I’m getting somewhere.  I’m getting some of it out in writing, some through reading, and some in just exploring the dark, painful parts and letting them hurt.

Also, music has been a comfort.  Tylan’s song “Wild Awake” sums up the last 14 years of my life, right up to now, fairly well.  The title of this post is a Melissa Etheridge song called “Into the Dark”, which is where I’ve been.  Others that have popped up are “The Morning of the Rain” and “Let There Be Lonely” by Jonathan Jackson, “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserablès, “Thank God for My Friends” by Crystal Bowersox, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Celtic Woman and sometimes Elvis, and “Hold On” from The Secret Garden.

So, yeah.  Holdin’ on.  I guess that’s something, right?

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“The legacy stops here.”

Turn-on-the-light-Dumbledore

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
-Albus Dumbledore

A few years back, I saw this on a bumper sticker:

“Barn’s burnt down; now I can see the moon.”
– by Japanese poet, Mizuta Masahide.

It became embedded in me, a reminder of the mentality and attitude to have when things go bad.  Because they will. Go bad. But they will also go good. One of my favorite folk singers, Susan Piper, wrote a song called “Wait Till Tomorrow Comes” (from before she eschewed all her albums made before she was Born Again). The chorus goes:

When the sun comes out it feels just like we’ve never known the rain.
And when the rain beats down it feels just like we’ll never laugh again.
But we always laugh again.
Wait till tomorrow comes.”

Life is an epic roller coaster; up, down, twist, turn.  You don’t know whether to scream for joy or fear, and many times, it’s both.  Sometimes you feel like you’re going to throw up, but damn…the rush is amazing.  Granted, I’ve only ever been on one roller coaster in my life.  But it was enough to inform me of that I’m making a right proper analogy.

And so.

I move forward.  To what, I’m not sure yet.  I should probably pick up that book (The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It by Dennis Merritt Jones)  my uncle recommended soon.  Problem is, I’m in the middle of about seven books right now.

And writing.  Applying to freelance gigs of all stripes.  Figuring things out little by little and trying like hell to trust in the process and not panic because everything’s not The Way It Should Be.  Because really, what the hell “should” it be?  When I was little, I wanted stable parents.  Kids should have that, right? Well, yes.  Doesn’t mean it always happens.  Didn’t with me.  But there were positive things.  And I learned many lessons from the not-so-positive (and sometimes downright terrifying) things I wen through.  Another book I have to get through regarding that is one my minister recommended called Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller.

When I got older, even though I lived in the North, there was a certain push to be religious.  Or at least say you were.  Figuring out where I fall in the spirituality continuum is an ongoing process.  One of my favorite books on this subject (this is turning much more book-centric than I originally intended…case in point of thing not going the way they “should”) is called Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation by Dan Millman.  I first had to read Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior for a college acting class and was turned onto his work from there.  In fact, going back now to refresh my memory of Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the Amazon.com review hits it pretty much on the head (bold emphasis is mine):

During his junior year at the University of California, Dan Millman first stumbled upon his mentor (nicknamed Socrates) at an all-night gas station. At the time, Millman hoped to become a world-champion gymnast. “To survive the lessons ahead, you’re going to need far more energy than ever before,” Socrates warned him that night. “You must cleanse your body of tension, free your mind of stagnant knowledge, and open your heart to the energy of true emotion.” From there, the unpredictable Socrates proceeded to teach Millman the “way of the peaceful warrior.” At first Socrates shattered every preconceived notion that Millman had about academics, athletics, and achievement. But eventually Millman stopped resisting the lessons, and began to try on a whole new ideology–one that valued being conscious over being smart, and strength in spirit over strength in body. Although the character of the cigarette-smoking Socrates seems like a fictional, modern-day Merlin, Millman asserts that he is based on an actual person. Certain male readers especially appreciate the coming-of-age theme, the haunting love story with the elusive woman Joy, and the challenging of Western beliefs about masculine power and success. –Gail Hudson

No wonder I love his work so much.  And the book description of Laws of Spirit (from Amazon.com, again):

The Laws of Spirit opens with the story of Dan Millman’s encounter with a sage in the wooded hills near his home. Through stories, tests, and experiences in the wild, the sage challenges Millman to examine 12 core principles that underlie human existence: balance, choice, process, presence, compassion, faith, expectation, integrity, action, cycles, surrender, and unity. The book shows how these keys — at the heart of every religion, culture, and moral system — can lead to a deeper sense of meaning, connection, and harmony with the world. It also shows readers how these principles can transform relationships, careers, finance, and health. Quotations and reminders from across the centuries inform and inspire readers as they accompany Millman on his journey.

This one book has been like a personal spiritual bible for at least the last 15 years or so.  It’s a simple story, but incredibly complex in it’s message.  And so I pick my way forward on a spiritual path that draws from Paganism, Christianity, Discordianism, Buddhism, and others.  It’s not rigidly outlined, and it’s constantly tested, but it fits me better than any one religion ever has.  Luckily, I found a place of worship that accepts this Frankenspirituality in a local Unitarian Universalist church.

Then there are the romantic relationships and all that I thought would, could, should happen.  Currently, I’m in the process of stripping down and examining everything I thought I wanted, needed, believed, held dear about relationships.  I’m also looking really closely at my boundaries, desires, and abilities.  There are no easy answers.  Likewise, there are no “correct” answers.  Everyone has different settings, things they want in a partner, ways they deal with difficulties, goals to achieve together, etc.  That poly triad wants children while that monogamous couple does not.  Mazel tov for both sets.  Neither is wrong.  As Melissa Etheridge sings (and as was once a sign I painted in a big ol’ octagon on my bedroom door):

Mothers, tell your children.  Be quick; you must be strong.
Life if full of wonder; love is never wrong.
Remember how they taught you.  How much of it was fear.
Refuse to hand it down.  The legacy stops here.

Now, onward to find that light switch…

“For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.” Or: Fuck you, music.

For blowing me apart with a single album. Song after song. Unrelenting, reflecting pain and heartbreak and hope back at me like a full length mirror in a room flooded with daylight. It hurts my eyes. It hurts my heart. It just hurts.

It’s not like I’m new to music doing this. It’s why I love music even while I curse it. The Dresden Dolls did it to me with their eponymous album; “Half Jack” dropped a bomb in me that exploded over the course of years. “Delilah,” which found a studio recording (finally) on a later Dolls’ album and “Have To Drive,” which started out as a Dolls’ song but wound up on Amanda Palmer’s first solo album, are still two of my most favorite songs ever. The orchestral and choral crescendo that “Have to Drive” crashes into on the studio version had me sobbing in my car, driving a dark highway the first time I listened to it.

Fuck you, music.

Fleetwood Mac’s “The Dance” wrapped it’s arms around me and spirited me away into the first stages of womanhood and true spirituality. “Gypsy” and “Rhiannon” and “Gold Dust Woman”…they’re like parts of me now. They speak to me of the imperfect mother that I warred with but love immensely, the boy I fell in love with who turned into the man that divorced me, the first woman I was ever able to say “I love you” to because she cornered me in the middle of garden and forced it out of me. I’ve used “Gypsy” in an audition; people smiled and clapped. I worked it into one of my own songs. My sister, aunt, a dear friend, and I sang it in the car right before we got out and I married my now ex-husband. That experience was empowering and perfect, even though the marriage wasn’t.

Of course there are others. I remember pretending to die, dramatically collapsing against the couch every time the cannon fire went off in Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (only to spring back up to “die” once more by the time the next one rolled around.) I never knew, at seven years old, how much that song would impact my life later on.

Dear Gods, don’t even get me started on Harry Chapin. Introducing me to his music is one of the best gifts my ex-husband ever gave me. “Burning Herself” was the first song he sang to me and…he couldn’t’ve known how spot on he it was. I trusted him with the painful secret of why that song resonated so deeply with me. He was the first person outside of my mom and dad whom I ever told. I’ve been working on a blog about that for months now…

Fuck you, music.

For getting into places inside me that I’m afraid of or hurt too badly so I don’t want to see. For making sense of the chaos I feel. For showing me that I’m not alone. When I find myself thinking I have this crazy stupid life that no one else can relate to, I’m proven wrong, yet again, by music. Musicians are out there who may not’ve gone through the exact same things I have, but since we’re all human, it’s pretty damn close enough.

This time around, the fucks go to Tylan (of the folk-pop trio Girlyman). Her solo album, “One True Thing” finally dropped on Spotify today and I’ve been listening to it. And just…weeping. It’s too close. Too right. Too much.

Fuck you, music.

And by that, I mean thank you. A thousand times over thank you. Please don’t ever stop. Bring me back to myself. Give me courage. Unite me with people I never knew I had things in common with. Lend me your eyes so I can see further, loan me your heart so I can feel deeper, love me even though you’ve never met me. Thank you.