FACING MY DEMONS

18118606_10155969408255828_356659379213990282_nI’m sitting in a bar down the street from some of the people that scare me most in the world.  I came her on purpose, in order to be scared, in order to face my fear, in order to face the notion I still seem to have that other people’s opinions of a me can dictate my behavior and perception of self-worth.

In the interest of avoiding lawsuits, I won’t go into why these people scare me.  I will only say that a few years ago, ugly, small souls got really petty and told some pretty horrific lies about me, including, but not limited to, saying that I was a child killer.  Really.  Like, I understand being jealous of another woman and calling her a whore, or fat, or ugly.  But child killer seems excessive.  Is there anything in this world worse than that?  It’s so exaggerated, it’s ridiculous.

Still, these lies were disseminated widely in the community that used to be an important part of my existence, perhaps the core of it.  When the rumors started, I was more eviscerated than I have been by anything, except my father’s death. It was all ugly enough that I spoke to a lawyer about a defamation lawsuit.  I was told I had a case and encouraged to pursue the matter.  But I couldn’t go after the people spreading the lies without also hurting the people in the community that I loved, so I just walked away, feeling like a gigantic piece of shit, embarrassed that anyone could ever believe those horrible things about me, thinking there was something revoltingly wrong with me.

No matter how much success I achieved, no matter how much love with which I was showered by beautiful, brilliant human beings, I couldn’t shake the feeling of worthlessness that came with the way the people in that community had treated me.  I lived in fear of being seen by any of them.  If they were in a given state, I would fly to the other side of the country in order to avoid any chance of encountering them.  True story. It embarrasses me, but I’m committed to telling the truth about who I am—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  All of this is definitely part of the ugly, but here it is.

And then, I had to come to Los Angeles for business (cross your fingers for me) at the same time as the people from this community would be in town.  And I was here all week, a few miles from them, hiding out in my room, terrified when I left that one of them would see me, think I was there to kill hypothetical children, call me a stalker.  My self-esteem had been so shattered, I felt like I had no right to be in the same city with these people who had designated themselves the arbiters of my reputation and self-image.

The truth is, that community was always fucked up.  It talked a good game about peace and love, but like most human power systems, the whole point of it was to make sure the powerful people stayed in power, and the weak people kissed their asses so they too could be powerful, and the people who wouldn’t play along with the arbitrary rules of that particular world got ousted.  If you got abused or humiliated or treated horribly, it was your job to keep your mouth shut.  So I did.  No matter how bad it got, I let myself be abused.

I have a long history of playing the victim.  I’m not proud of this.  I’ve been in more abusive relationships, romantic and platonic, than I care to admit.  Over the past five years, I’ve made a point of burrowing into self and facing my inner victim, and also the people who have used and abused me.  It’s been ugly and hard, but the rewards have been amazing.  I’m publishing books with mainstream publishers.  I’m traveling the world.  I’m speaking at major conferences and teaching at major universities.  I never get abused anymore.  I never get used anymore.  And I am constantly surrounded by people who love me.  Most importantly, I love me.  Or I’m learning to.  I love myself way more than I did when I decided it was my duty to stay with a man who was threatening to cut my head off, which is a whole other story.  That man and his abuse were my rock bottom.  They were they reason I decided to pull my proverbial shit together before I ended up dead.

The week before I came here, I filed a restraining order against that man, who had recently tried to come back into my life.  I’ve spent some time here talking to some people who have the potential to do very good things for my career.  But this morning, I woke up decimated, unwilling to get out of bed.  I felt humiliated and, yes, suicidal, because I was in the same zip code with these people who had lied about me, and how could they think those things about me, and what was wrong with me?  I did something I used to do when I was young and perpetually suicidal, which was hold up my wrist and look at it, imagining carving the word “whore” into my arm.

But about ten years ago, I got a tattoo in the spot where I wanted to carve “whore.”  It says, “Beloved.”  And if ever I had those impulses again, I was supposed to look at it and remember how precious I was.  It was like an indelible note from the sanest version of me to the craziest version of me.  It worked.  As I looked at that tattoo, a song came on the radio.  “Sweet Child of Mine.” Which sounds like it means nothing, but every time I’ve felt completely alone in this world, that song has come on, be it in a bar, or a bathroom, or an airport, and I’ve felt my deceased father walking beside me, reminding me what he saw in me when he looked at me.  The combination of those two things—the “Beloved” tattoo and the song—made something snap in me.

I recognized an old pattern.  I grew up believing anger was bad, so if people hurt me, and I got angry, rather than acknowledge and face my anger at them, I turned it in on myself.  Self-loathing was acceptable.  Other-loathing was not.  As I sat there, listening to my dead daddy sing to me in the voice of Axle Rose, staring at a tattoo a saner, stronger version of me had put on her wrist, I realized I wasn’t angry at myself.  I was angry at the people who had lied about me.  I didn’t deserve to be punished, and fuck if I was going to punish myself for something I didn’t do.  They deserved to have to face what they had done.  They deserved to have to look at me and have to see the human being they used to call “friend” instead of the monster they had made of me. And fuck what they deserved.  This wasn’t about what they deserved.  It was mostly about what I deserved.  What I was willing to accept.  Was I still a victim who let bullies tell her she was worthless?  Or was I a human being, a daughter of God born with certain unalienable rights?  I decided I was a beloved daughter of God with rights. One of them was to be in the same zip code with people who had decided I was worthless.

So I showered, and when I got out, I found an email from the editor of The Rathalla Review, which is featuring me and my work in their current issue.  The editor wrote to say the issue was out.  An interview with me, boasting a picture of me being held by my precious daddy, had come out that day, along with five of my poems.  There it was.  The real me, the precious little girl that was and is very loved by a very, very good man.  A woman who is sharing her heart and writing with the world, living in print and in cyberspace for the whole world to see.  Fuck the people who had tried to make me small so they could make themselves bigger.  I knew who I was.

I didn’t know where I was going when I got in my car.  I just knew I wasn’t hiding anymore.  And it turns out, I came to a bar two doors down from where the people who scare me are meeting. And now, here I am, sipping cheap beer, sitting in a place where people who scare the shit out of me, people who think I’m a piece of shit, are almost guaranteed to walk through the door.

I don’t know what I’ll do if they do. I don’t know if I’ll talk to them.  All I know is that I have to assert my right to exist in the same space as them, let them know they didn’t humiliate me so badly that I believed their lies.  They can believe the lies they told about me.  That’s between them and God.  I don’t have to.

I won’t.  That tattoo on my wrist is the truth.  I am a beloved daughter of God, and I will behave accordingly.

P.S. Here are screenshots from the interview from Rathalla Review.  You can view it online here:  http://rathallareview.org/issues/

18119291_10155972445580828_5147756055694648301_n18056734_10155972445610828_3110308587278126870_n

18056690_10155972445560828_8408380990224490553_n18057965_10155972445545828_2420247191055883101_n

18119069_10155972445635828_8247142177034624517_n

ON MANIFESTING REALITY

me and ezno
I hate dogma, but I love dogs.  This one is named Ezno. 

I’ve said it before, and in the interest of being utterly redundant, I’ll say it again. I’m a deeply spiritual person. (We all are, I believe, but some of us are more consciously aware of the spiritual pursuit than others.) I keep the particulars of my spirituality pretty close to my heart, not because I’m “ashamed” of it, but because the deeper I step into the reality I have been guided into, the more personal it becomes, the more I know I can never teach anyone anything, nor can anyone really teach me. The best I can do is point at someone’s heart and say, “There’s the door. Walk through it.”

I believe no two paths are the same, because the path to truth is about undoing your own bullshit, and you have very different bullshit than I do. Your bullshit is your personal hell. My bullshit is my personal hell. To leave hell, we must walk a path into ourselves, and out again, through the other side, into freedom, and man, it has taken me years to even begin to unravel the mysterious mess of me. I can’t imagine taking a stab at you.

So I said all that to say I’m very hesitant to put pen to page to try to express some of my path to people. I don’t want to give people a formula. Formulas are bullshit. Dogma becomes a thread in the noose around a person’s neck, binding him to the illusion of unbelovedness and death. Anytime you take a living truth and turn into a fixed fact or rule, you have performed a sick alchemy. Living things move and breathe. Dead things stay the same and rot.

But. I like to think about the nature of reality, and I also like to talk about it. I think it’s really exciting. Frankly, I’m bored by a lot of things these days, but the reality underlying “reality” is endlessly fascinating to me. I like to read religious texts and quantum physics. I like to think about the things other human beings have postulated about the nature of reality. My heart beats faster when I read about the things scientists are discovering now. So I write about it and then never show it to anyone, for fear of adding to the burden of dogma that is busy suffocating this planet. But today, I’m writing for love and interest in sharing, not in the interest of creating dogma or setting anything in stone, saying, “Hey, from one fucked up person to another, let’s chat.” Please take it in the spirit which it was intended.

I’ve spent my morning thinking about lack. Jesus said, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” I think there is a root at the root of the love of money, and that is fear of lack. We believe there isn’t enough. We believe it is possible to be worthless, not just financially speaking, but holistically speaking. We believe we are nothings that have to fight for every bit of love and sustenance we get, and so, this becomes our reality. We believe we are finite beings competing with one another for a finite set of resources, so we create haves and have nots, go about the business of oppressing and killing one another so we can be the “haves.” We become grasping, desperate, hateful things.

I know there is a better way. I’ve by no means perfected it, but I’ve seen it in action again and again in my own life. We are, in fact, creating this “reality.” I see people who hear this and then try really hard to “manifest” wealth (or love or power or whatever) and get nothing and say it’s not real.

If some of the very rudimentary science that links human emotion to the creation of reality is to be believed (and I think it is), our realities are affected by a very basic belief system, something that produces genuine emotion in us, not a conjured, drummed up, desperate grab for wealth. The emotion underlying the act of grasping for wealth is, in fact, a deep seeded belief in lack and worthlessness. That is what “reality” reads and manifests–the profound desperation underlying the grab. And I think as long as our first response to this kind of knowledge is a grab for physical wealth, or physical anything, we are operating from the place that says we don’t have enough. And whatever results we get, they will be a twisted, crippling manifestation of our belief in our own worthlessness.

I think growth into beings that can manifest something outside of this limited lack reality (limited by our collective minds) takes years and years of un-brainwashing, of coming to understand one’s own worth, of coming to see that so much of what you’ve believed about your value and the meaning of life is flawed. It has nothing to do with a grab for money because once you begin to scratch the surface of your own belovedness, you also begin to understand that you are utterly provided for, and although we have all worked very hard to create this “reality” of lack together, and although we are all born into it, and brainwashed by it, and begin feeding into it very early in life, there is a way out.

And that way out is written on our hearts. We have to listen to them. We have to override the decades of conditioning and brainwashing we have undergone since our arrival on this planet, because truth does live inside us. Not outside. Inside. When you start listening to that still, small voice within and taking the tiny steps of truth-telling and courage it asks of you, you start to notice that the world around you is conspiring with it. With you. You start to see that none of this has ever been random, that you have always had way more power than you believed. You are not a victim of fate. You are not worthless. You are not ugly. You are not a reject. You are a dazzling child of the divine. And underneath all of the years of hardened black earth ooze coated on your gorgeous mind, you are unbroken.

And if ever I’ve seen a really wonderful way to “manifest” good things, it’s by starting to express gratitude for the good things I already have. When I make a list and say, “I’m grateful I had enough to eat today,” I might not feel much gratitude when I first start that list, but if I keep going, by the time I get 20 lines down, and I’m saying, “I’m grateful that I have two beautiful, loving, amazing children,” I’m really feeling the “thank you.” And every time, when I feel that “thank you,” good things start to happen.

Conversely, I’ve noticed when I start making lists of reasons my day was shitty (“I got stuck in traffic,” “the Fed Ex guy was a jerk,”) the bad stuff starts swirling, and viola, I have a super shitty day on my hands. So I guess I think that if you want to break through some of your own bullshit without rerouting your entire psyche, making lists is a good way to start, because eventually, you’ll build up some true emotion, and it will manifest.

And I know there are people reading this getting angry, saying, “What about the babies that are abused? What about wars? There are true victims.” I’d say yes, I absolutely agree with that. And I don’t have easy answers. I am by no means am claiming to be a guru that understands all things. On my best day, I’m fifty shades of fucked-up. I am only observing things I’ve noticed in my own life. I do believe we are all victims of the reality we are creating together. Our collective bullshit has produced some truly horrific bullshit, and we victimize the hell out of ourselves and each other.

But I do think that the way to start changing that is by changing our own hearts and minds. If we all have been given a plot in the garden of existence (our own mind), we can control what goes into our plot. I can weed and fertilize my plot, or I can fill the ground with arsenic. If I do fill it with arsenic, it will leach into the soil of the plot next to me, and maybe the one next to that, and on and on and on. But if I feed my plot well, yank out the weeds, fertilize it, that goodness will leach out too. We don’t have to have all the answers to begin. Maybe all we have is questions. But we can begin, right? And we have to start at home. We have to start with the messy, mysterious mind we can touch.

HIGH CALLING

 

eve-in-distress

When God called, I answered,

though I didn’t hear him ringing at first.

It sounded like sand in my ears, or pavement,

stone streets gone rogue

wetting my dreams with concrete.

 

But I answered the next day

gave him my back

said, “Strap those wings on tight.

I’m ready to fly.

Eve’s fruit was underrated.

Feed that apple to me twice.”

 

God obliged, said “Your flight to Eden is booked.

Show up a day late, in style.”

Tonight, the moon hangs heavy

a weight around my waist

dragging me down through the slick slog of modern mundanity

 

but when the sun comes up tomorrow

I’ll soar.

By the time the moon opens her one white eye again

I’ll be in another world

licking electric lips

dancing with the light.

 

The night is heavy.

God, wait for me.

I’ll probably be drunk

and unprepared

for an encounter of this magnitude.

If it pleases you, adopt an attitude of compassion.

Laissez-faire seems fair.

I haven’t pedicured my toes in months.

The soles of my shoes are shot.

 

I threw the dice twice, bought a ticket to your promised land.

Take my hand.

I’ll be waiting.

Like the fabled City of God,

I’ll be awake from dawn to dawn.

I’ll host 777 ragers.

I’ll never sleep again.

 

 

 

 

 

QUAND DEVRAIT-ELLE VOLER?

a_bee_eating_an_apple

We all want wings. I’ll buy mine, sinewy, made of steel, lifting me high until men scuttle below,

bees on fruit sucking up juice, spinning honeyed magic.

I’ll become a bee myself, settle on the big apple’s skin, sleep curled in a cocoon of Times Square dreams and spotlight beams. I’ll skitter along the seam that lies between the Atlantic and the land, find the hand of the man who was born to die to live again.

I’ll take his fingers on my tongue.

Tarry sands have damned my ocean of gold. This river runs thin. Twenty-two angels have turned their coats leaving me with just three pennies and a note my father wrote me:

“Stay strong until the end, and when The Man calls you’ll know it’s time to soar.”

So I wait for the phone to ring. Winds roar, threatening the walls of this cabin in the woods. Day-of-directions are no good. I must be given the time to rise. I’ll do anything to find God. I’ll scale the Empire State Building, but tickets to heaven are twice the price when you don’t buy them in advance. I don’t have cash to chance it.

My eyes burn with a billion calendar suns. Moon phases phase me. I want numbers, man, the day the hand will slide into my mouth.

Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday?

God, rig the game in my favor, you dig? Dot my dreams with specificity.  If you can’t speak yourself, send a saint. Peter knows shit. I listen to the secrets scribbled behind his smile. He was always the rock, and I knew it. (Who knew The Son’s #1 wore flannel?) I haven’t seen him in a while. Tell him I say “thank you.”

Also, say: “St. Peter, the queen wants a fortune teller, a crystal ball, a string of tarot cards. The whys have been scribbled in the space behind her eyes for centuries. She has the where. She wants some whens. Send her a clock, a calendar page, and then she will deign to offend the river, lift what’s left of her gold to her lips and drink it.”

We all want wings. I’ll buy mine, gossamer webs of spring.

I’ll trade him seven strands of the Magdalene’s hair for a divot dug in the side of an hourglass, marking the week a goddess dons a disguise, wanders across the land, licks electric liberty’s torch, drains all that’s left in her dwindling stream

for one last chance to drink from the hand of God.