Sunday, October 13, 2013

Goodbye Was the Lie

Perhaps you already have enough
by Ellygator
and my love is too much
like a noisy distraction
or an unwanted touch
so you've said
I must be mad to disbelieve
is it just my desire my imagination
my doubt and my dreams
my hope to survive hopelessness
or a faith which remains
stubborn despite
the unseen
the hunch
that gut level punch without nary
a contact between fist and stomach

unrevealed and secret
yet one swears
the truth
of these ghosts in the mind
that one insists must exist
but the doctors drone on
airily dismiss
wave away
the mind's impenetrability
quirks & tricks
when confronted with loss
with unendurable
shock at reality's cruel

yet I see you
with sight unerringly precise
and I feel that rage inside that
you fail to conceal
(you've never successfully hidden much from me)
perhaps to some you appear
well contained
or to others difficult to comprehend
but I know your ways
beyond some who cherish you
have you
and hold you
each day

and often I wonder if that rage is born
in frustration at having been exposed
is it anger that you cannot with me
hold on to your pose
the rage of the suddenly
whose ruse was unmasked
and revealed you to yourself

and it's true that you do not
belong to me
it's true that we are separated
by continents and seas
it's true that sight exists
in more than just the eyes
it's true that un-truths can be
commissioned  beyond
mere words to establish
pretense and lies

convince yourself
if that is
what you need
reassure yourself that standing
in front of you
is all that  can be possessed
loved or seen

pretend that you don't
to hold

perhaps one day
you will actually

but the rage inside
won't let you be
it is the evidence of your own denial
even yourself you cannot deceive

and in your heart you can test this truth
do you love me?
do you truly wish to say goodbye?
are you reading this, love?
ask yourself now:
do you lie?

Goodbyes need not be
so hurtful nor so cruel
nor do those bidding
continue to seek secretly
the sight
of a stone dead amour
as you do
and I


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Mental Wellness Awareness Week Be Educated and Be Well

 It is Mental Illness week and there are still far too many people who believe that the term itself is some kind of profanity as if speaking of it can expose you to a contagious infection. In fact if people were more aware, less judgmental and bigoted then it would be possible to promote mental wellness and recognize the ways that mental illness AND wellness effect us all. In the 21st century many people still discuss Depression as "an excuse for a self pity party" or as self indulgence. "Just snap out of it! Take a walk, get some fresh air and smile and you'll be fine. Don't be so negative all the time." This kind of ignorance and stigmatizing are dangerous and counter-productive to individuals who suffer from mental illness and to the wellness of society as a whole. So educate yourself and help end the stigma.

You may think that no one you know struggles with mental wellness issues but I can guarantee you that whoever you are you absolutely, positively, definitely, and without doubt know someone who is struggling and wrestling silently but valiantly to overcome some disorder categorized under the large umbrella. At times in my life I have struggled with Depression and anxiety that has varied in intensity from extremely bleak to merely mildly disruptive. However my mother has struggled with crippling Depression for 30 years. Like any other disease mental illnesses have genetic factors too. 

But one's challenges to mental wellness need not be the definitive trait to describe one's character, talents, goals and life. Most important of all be proactive in regard to your wellness - you keep your teeth clean and visit the dentist regularly right? Then damn skippy seek professional support and assistance for your mind as well! Psychology and psychiatry are not voodoo science no matter what Tom Cruise tells you. Be healthy. Be brave. Be smart and educate your brain so that you can always take care of your own mental wellness. False courage, fear, stigma and embarrassment intimidate people who need help from seeking it and avoiding doctors who can help one heal costs lives everyday. Don't let someone you love become a casualty to diseases that can be treated -- don't let yourself be a casualty. 

End the cycle of shame and help usher in an era of hope, awareness and wellness!! Pass it on!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wannafuck Nation

Wannafuck Nation comes alive 
   between the hours of 12 -5
What you want? I'll give you the fuck, if you gimme the bucks
   she said with a smile
Give me a lift and I'll let you come inside
Me? Oh I work too. What do you do? 
What do you make - love or war? 
    she says with wink
Inside she thinks, Do I even love my body anymore?

What's your real price?
Have you discovered it yet?
Wannafuck Wannafuck Wannafuck
   they all say
Come on baby, he says
You're famous I know your name
Come on, baby, will I get off from the ride?
She smiles
  I'm famous muthafucka! 
  Damn right!

Fidelity is about property 
and I prefer property I find

You found me and there's plenty of gain
Me & me & me times ten
What are you worth if I get all that?
More than you know and more than you'll get
    but she doesn't say that she smiles
    she knows the game
    get off this is wannafuck nation
    getting paid is its own inspiration
    she is only as strong as her last conquest
    but free and her own after coming 
    from the last paying guest
Hysteria by Natalie Shau

The Mothership Has Run Out of Gas

Do old Hippies  die                                               
Or do they just fade away?
Are Soul Brothas & Sistas fighting 
the Power
Still convinced that the Man will topple
in the Revolution any day now?

Old Hippies Soul Brothas & Sistas
Do you know where your children are?

Because they ain't down for the Struggle
and can't find a Cause
And some of the kids 
think the Movement
Sold Out

Time has recycled itself again 
Free Love off-spring 
wanna be the Man  
     Fuck communes! Yo, I need my space
     My MTV Crib, money!
     Old man you lame
     Back up outta my face
     Talking that  shit bout
     One Day We'll All Be Free
     I'm tryna come up, son
     Tryna get paid, B!
     That Peace & Love shit is in my way
     I ain't hearing you, money.
     Not today.

Hippies Soul Brothas & Sistas Unite
We learned this from watching you, daddy-o
The X Factor Files say the truth is out there
and fame is what it's about

Now the aristocrats are y'all
Former Hippies Soul Brothas & Sistas
21st Century reformed 
by money and clout
Gone are the Flower Children and the Revolutionaries No
Of once upon time
And to think y'all were the ones
who actually had it all figured out

Now the names have been changed
There's no innocence left
ain't nobody brave
Times ain't the same
and the Cause got complex
You got the next generation 
feeling hella vexed

Dig this you Masters of the Universe: 
Capitalism ain't gonna defeat no muthafuckin' Terrorists!

Hippies Soul Brothas & Sistas
You had it all:
The Villains to fight
Movements and Marches
Protest and always, forever
the Holy of Holies
the ever sacred Cause
(Hey, Marge, tell those damn kids to get off my lawn!!)

You are aimless 
like Eve & Adam
After the Fall
Homeless in America

Hippies Soul Brothas & Sistas
You had it on lock
You were in the front seat
You were driving the Dream
down the highway
to Freedom
At Last!!

Now you got us out here

the Mothership has run out of gas

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Came To Testify Because I Missed Me So Much. Thank You and Amen

In the Black Church there is a tradition called "testifying" which means publicly acknowledging to all and sundry your happiness, joy and gratitude when something good comes into your life. It's not about giving thanks mechanically or simply for show. Testifying is a phenomenon of being moved by the Spirit and deeply emotional. As a child I remember seeing men and women pop up like jack-in-the-boxes weeping and moaning and raising their hands, calling on God and the Church to "witness" their true and utter joy. 

Older women who were very poor and subsisted on their small wages as cleaning ladies would be moved to witness for the Lord and testify how grateful they were Wednesday when the kind man from the electric company decided to turn his back and not cut off the lights because she sincerely begged his mercy, instead walking away and allowing a few extra days to scrounge up the money so her electric wasn't disconnected. 

Or you might hear someone testify with tears streaming down for happiness that the doctor said the cancer was in remission. The tears and the manner of the testifying sometimes frightened me because the folks telling their stories would sound so fierce that I couldn't tell if they were angry, or maybe ready to fight. They would testify with a violent joy, a tempest of gratitude. Even though I heard the words of thanks their manner seemed entirely contradictory to people who were supposedly so happy and "filled with the Spirit".

What kind of blessing made you jump up and down, cry, and shout all at the same time? Whatever it was I was sure that I didn't want none of it, thank you very much. But then as I grew older I began to discern the interplay of emotion and Spirit and everyday Blues within the testimonies. These men and women came to church every Sunday - and sometimes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday through Saturday as well - as refugees fleeing to sanctuary, as pilgrims escaping the persecution of the World. The Black Church was the place where even the class distinctions and other hierarchies within Black culture itself ceased to make a difference because everyone was a child of God, a soul basking in the love of God. 

But what kind of Love did this God have for his witnesses I wondered because it seemed to me that the troubles these folk spoke of were the most tragic and terrible experiences. Illness and poverty. Injustice and loneliness. Upheaval, loss, death, family disputes. Any and every sorrow you can name is what each church member brought to the congregation like gifts from the Three Wise Men. They offered their troubles up like precious jewels dug from the wealth of the earth with their own hands presenting their bloodied hands and torn nails for one and all to witness. What was this "spirit" they continually spoke of? And how could it be worth experiencing?

My family was not religious. When I was young my mother took us to church with our grandmother more out of duty and tradition, and much less than for true devotion to community or respect for the pastor's word and leadership. By the time I was ten she had quarrelled so fiercely with most of the city's leading Reverends that we just stopped attending at all. Given the opportunity my mother would challenge a preacher with militancy and rage catching the unsuspecting man of guard and placing him on a rapidly diminishing defense like an animal caught in a trap.

My mother studied theology obsessively, feverishly always searching, seeking answers to her questions, and all of my mother's questions can easily be boiled down to a basic essence, to one single inquiry: WHY? When my parents' marriage began to violently crumble they both sought pastoral counselling initially. But the pastoral counselling ended with a tremendous failure during the first session when the good Reverend commanding my mother to submit to her husband's will as her duty to the Lord; no matter if her husband cheated, lied or beat her. "God gave man dominion over the earth, the animals and his wife. You are disobedient," he said. And with that statement my mother's life as a Christian reached its sunset. 

It was the 80s and she dabbled and explored the New Age movement, read extensively
By Vicente Romero Redondo
about Judaism, studied with seminary graduate students whom she befriended when she began working in the seminary book store. Nevermind that she spent all her paycheck on the books in the store, she was a seeker; she was finding her path. 

Still the Black Church had been her home for her entire lifetime and even after running away from home she surrounded herself - by extension my brother and me also - with certain comforts and trappings that were native to the Black Church, her former home. Chiefly gospel music. The sounds of mass choirs raised power and harmony, rich melodies carried by musicians dedicating their talent to God. 

And this is how I began to feel and understand all that talk of the Spirit, its force and power to move one to that state of testimony. The power of gospel music is not something that can be described in words, it must be felt so I shan't waste much time extolling its extraordinary and unique virtues. As I grew older and found myself always returning to those very same comforts at the same time I began to mature enough to experience those sorrows and pains that I saw people bringing to the church congregation as a small child. 

Having felt the force of the music and the harsh chastisement of worldly burdens I then was able to find emotional release in those choirs and those songs that I first heard in church then heard from my mother's vinyl albums. 

I began this essay meaning to sit down and testify for a great sorrow that had found some mercy from the universe but the gratitude that I felt as I sat to write expressed itself in this manner rather than in the confessional witnessing I meant to present. Sometimes in those moments of spiritual gratefulness there is such vast feeling that you often do not realize its complexity until you do testify. In that crying, rocking, moaning, hand waving witnessing you unknowingly run a gauntlet of emotion that appears wild and frenzied. To any outsider with no knowledge of the tradition of testifying as practiced in the Black Church it certainly would seem as a form of madness. A temporary breakdown mentally perhaps. It seemed so to me as a child sitting in the church. 

Yet now it is the greatest blessing, that visitation of spirit. I sat down to give thanks for a healing in my heart and in my mind. It is a small thing to any other perhaps; I was sick with sorrow, depressed and often unable to get out of bed. I went to the doctor, he gave me some medicine. That's all. There is no drama in that, a rather simple account it would seem to another. It is simple. But the suffering was not, the suffering was unbearable, desperate and bleak. In a world of famine and war and governmental breakdown my sorrow is no grand thing when others are so much more needy than I. 

Nevertheless I am thankful, so deeply thankful that there was help. An anti depressant. One tiny orange pill. I took my first dose today and in ten minutes flat I felt the oppressive darkness lift. I got out of bed - lately if I get out of bed at all it's a terrible effort - went to fix my coffee, then sat down to write. My daily routine. Except for such a long time it seems my routine had broken down and in the grip of the depression it feels like nothing will ever be the same again. I knew that I needed help, needed to talk to a doctor but it seemed that it took far more energy than I possessed. The effort in merely picking up the phone to call the doctor's office took several days to accomplish.

And today after one dose I'm back to my routine. 

My routine - waking up, getting out of bed, sitting down to write - is my happiness, my joy. 

It is a small thing probably very frivolous, very trivial, very mundane. Not really worth so

many words maybe. In the worst, darkest days in a depression it feels as if you'll languish alone in isolation and misery for eternity. I don't wish to sound melodramatic or mawkish. But I am so deeply grateful and it was my need to testify, to witness.

The doctor said in two weeks I should be feeling "much better", and that in six weeks I should be quite returned to my old self. This is the first day I have seen even a glimmer of my old self and I'm so happy because I missed HER, my old self. Just the thought that SHE will be returning permanently in a month's time fills me with ecstatic joy. 

I am so grateful. So thankful. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Be Your Own Soul Mistress

La Trix

Medz: The Depression Diaries

It's quite silly the way we as Americans discuss depression. People call it the Blues. Or being Bummed Out.

"Oh no no! I'm fine! Sure of course!! No I was know, like, tired and I think I got a bit over-emotional and ---"

What bullshit. Essentially the depressed individuals spends so much time reassuring others and hiding from the well meaning and kind hearted attempts to understand that s/he builds up a nice solid protective wall just to keep those well wishers away. It's too taxing to be bothered with well wishers when you are suffering from a bout of the Blues. It's physically exhausting. Just go away. That's what you think to yourself, as you smile and reassure the worried inquirers. 

"No no I'm fine! Oh of course I'll say something!! You know I would! I would tell you, yes yes," you say with a smile and pray that the well wisher will finally feel reassured and go away and leave you alone.

It's simply too exhausting to be bothered with anyone else's concerned. Isn't that terrible? That's the other thing about depression (big D or small d? I'm not sure) it's a deeply selfish state of being where you couldn't care less for anyone else's concerns. The depressed individual's most immediate concern at any given moment -- well, my own concerns lately I should say were more along the lines of "Go away so I can go back to bed.''

But those are the things you can't really say to normal people when you're in the worst grip of the disorder. Shame and stigma also are extraordinarily powerful motivators as well. The factors of shame and embarrassment, fear of being looked at askance, worry of being taken for a loon only build yet a second and third tier of powerful walls to isolated depressed individuals. Think of it: in the grip of the disorder it's very much like your skin has been peeled away from the tissue beneath, slowly peeled and you are exposed to the elements. Every touch from the very air is a painful  sensation. Every look you receive from strangers or friend or foe reverberates through you and sets you in a panic. There is a deep sensitivity to your very brain where you feel certain that you can feel the thoughts dragging slowly and painfully across the synapses. Is that why it is so hard to think, you wonder? Is that why I can't think? I don't feel like thinking. Back to bed.

So you see when others kindly inquire regarding one's well-being there's so much that the a depressive must consider, chiefly How much should I tell and will that revelation prevent me from curling up into a ball in bed? Because that need to curl up in a ball becomes a deeply important need that transcends the need or desire for food, companionship or much of anything else.

I hit a small bump. Most of this year I had been having a rather difficult time so I finally went back into therapy. But even after the first hour of the first session I knew that I wouldn't be able to kick the Blues so easily. There was so much to work out. Just too much. So I knew that it was imperative that I get on some medz. 

Ah the medz!! My family doctor and I talked and I explained that I was crashing. Someone hurt my feelings. Someone whom I thought was a friend informed me that  indeed there was no friendship and consigned me to my own devices for the hereafter. It hurt. It was tremendously hurtful. I tried multiple times to repair what was broken but to no avail. While I felt optimistic that we'd work it out I didn't feel too badly.

Once I forced myself to give up hope, then I crashed.

The doctor gave me a prescription for an anti depressant I'd had before. "Take this twice a day. In two weeks you'll feel a lot better. We'll meet up in four weeks to make any adjustments," he said. I left feeling good. Two weeks. I could get through two weeks easy, I thought.

Then I went to the pharmacy to fill the medz and the pharmacist asked me for an amount of money that might as well have been one million dollars. I didn't have one million dollars so I got no medz.  Two weeks of phone calls to the doctor and the pharmacy trying to find something affordable and effective. And the whole time I felt like I was slipping slipping slipping away.

 The tissue around my eyes became sore and irritated from the constant flow of tears. Sometimes I was crying and I didn't even feel sad. I felt no emotion that warranted this tearful flow but it kept coming and coming and coming.

If I never cry again in life it would be too soon. I'm so fucking sick of crying for no damn reason.

And then I had to dodge the well wishers. What is there to say? "I feel shitty. I still feel shitty from the last fucking time you asked me. Chances are I will feel shitty the next time too. Leave me alone!!"

But I don't say that. I don't mean that in my heart. But depression is a disorder that maliciously plays with the brain. And with one's self respect ("I'm such a loser no wonder I got dumped!") With  self esteem ("How did this happen? What am I doing wrong? I do everything wrong!). With one's interest in life ("No I don't want to go out but thanks for asking. Next time. Yeah sounds like fun!! Have a good time!" *hangs up the phone*/*eyeroll*/*thinks to self* "Don't call back!")

It teases you with wicked thoughts and taunts with foreign personalities. A person who is jovial and always smiling can turn into the darkest of wretches in a depressed state. There's even a point where one's despair succeeds in driving off the well wishers. Try hard enough and the disorder can achieve all manner of terrible deeds. Others decide that the depressive friend is simply a self pitying asshole and it's just not worth the effort.

And of course no one wants to be alone. But in the fog of despair it's so very difficult to reach and to talk. It's physically trying and mentally taxing. The sorrow that kicked off the episode itself takes on greater significances and becomes the secret you guard because you convince yourself that no one cares anyway.

I hit a small bump this time. I was fairly good at hiding my secret depression and even better at cloaking it so that no well wishers even had to make those kindly check-ins. I didn't tell anyone really. Beyond my mother only one or two friends knew.

I looked in the mirror and there were dark circles under my eyes. PMS is hitting me hard today and I can feel the tears at the back of my eyes so a crying jag is imminent but who knows if it's from the depression or my period  or general shitty combination of the two.

I hadn't been getting up out of bed and getting much fresh air but I treated myself to McDonald's breakfast this morning. Some old-ish man tried to pick me up. He refused to let me out of his sight and kept asking me my name.

 "I saw you walk in and said to myself "Teddy you got to get this beautiful lady's name!!" He was drunk I think but he offered me a ride home and I had shopping bags from my errands that would have made walking awkward so I let him take me home. I did NOT give him my number.

"You got a man baby?" he said.

"I got several honey." I told him.

I start the new medz tonight. I'm hanging in there for two weeks even though it's already been two weeks since I saw the doctor. I so wanted to be better by now.

All the quotes that come into my Facebook say things like "Wait for the one you want" Or, "You are the one you're looking for." Or, "Love is everywhere." Or, "Happiness is a choice."

I don't know if these things are TRUE or if they are just platitudes that are repeated so often that they earn a certain legitimacy simply by their constant repetitions.

I went through some old love letters that I keep tied in a pink satin ribbon. I have all the letters and emails from all my lovers but finally found the strength to get rid of every single one this past summer. I feel lighter, physically. Extra  baggage? What extra baggage!. I told my therapist that no one -- well no man had ever said "I love you" to me. She was quite shocked. Her mouth fell open "Really?" she said. I had never thought of it before. But as I went through my letters before I threw each one out, shredded it up, I did re-read many of them.

 I saw one particular thing over and over: I would give and give and give, shower a lover with praises and sonnets and tokens of affection....and it seemed that as soon as I did each and every one pulled back further, gave less, until they gave nothing at all.

There's a strange balance one has to walk with meditation. You want to be good and to be a conductor of the Universal Consciousness and that means you have to deny all the negativity that tempts the emotions. However if you deny your emotions you only repress them which in fact allows them to become stronger unless you work to defeat the negativity.  I spent such a long time suppressing my anger that I fell into a depressive episode once the emotional overload became dangerous and harmful. I meditate regularly but I'm still in the baby stages so I've learned a valuable lesson on the interplay of psychology and spiritual development. Well no I haven't precisely learned the lesson but I am aware that there is a lesson there....waiting to be understood...eventually.

For the moment though I'm too tired to deal with spiritual lessons or psychology or anything else. I want a nap just now. I'll watch Scandal before bed. Take my medz.

Wait for two weeks to pass....

So that I can fight myself out of the well of sadness. I've done it before. This is a small bump. It's just the Blues.