OpinionatedGift’s Click

I met OpinionatedGift through this blog and Twitter.  He left a nice comment, I clicked on his blog, read and instantly knew he was good people.  I have so enjoyed reading his thoughts and opinions over the last year.  He is a really good friend and someone I have a lot of respect for.  He was among the first group of people I asked to write a click story for me.  I’ve tried not to pressure him too much, but remind him every now and then that I’m still waiting for his click.  He always tells me he’s still thinking about it.  Last week I read the following post on his personal blog and I thought…that’s it.  I emailed and asked if I could share it here.  He kindly agreed.  You can follow him on Twitter here and read his blog here.

Twelve years ago this week I was spending my days going through my father’s apartment with my brother. Dad had shot himself on the 9th and his body was found by his oldest friend in New York on the 12th. Twelve years ago Wednesday.

Twelve years ago I was sifting through grief, memory and questions questions questions. Not the ones you might think. The fact is, when I got the call from my brother that the police had called him from Dad’s apartment, I knew what had happened. I’d hoped I was wrong. But I knew.

Mom said it best that night when we called to let her know. “He was always so sad”. It was true. He was also scared. Whatever the combination, he had a dim world view.

I loved my dad. He was basically a good man who never really dealt with his anger issues, his alcoholism or his strengths. A talented actor, he’d packed us up from Tucson Arizona, sold the Ford Falcon and got us on a train to New York City and went straight into substitute teaching and social work. His career as an actor was essentially small productions in holes in the wall (before the moniker “Off Off Broadway” was coined.) and extra work in movies.

As a kid I would listen while he would lament the vagaries of the business and how hard it was…and it instilled in me the belief that the business was indeed brutal. It didn’t stop me from wanting to be an actor. It didn’t stop me from thinking I could do better. But these things are insidious and the sins of the father are often visited upon the son. His beliefs did become mine and even when I achieved some pretty good if minor successes, my joy would be tainted by fear of the success not lasting.

Now to be sure, being an actor isn’t easy. It can be brutal, but I can see very clearly as I look back how my own thoughts and feelings that were inherited affected the way I approached my career and subsequently the way my career developed…or didn’t as it turns out.

Twelve years ago fears and doubts overtook my father to the point that he no longer was able to reason. This man who raced down the street with me…encouraged me to take the training wheels off my back when he knew I could. The man who when he saw I was floundering in my efforts to audition for the High School of Performing Arts bought a gazillion plays for me to look through and helped me find the right pieces and even coached me. A man who as a social worker had saved or improved as best he could, so many lives, wasn’t even able to remember a simple meditation technique because anxiety had overcome him.

He’d been given Buspar and started to take it, then stopped. 12 years ago it got so bad that he sat at the edge of his bed and ate the barrel of a .357 magnum. He left a note that was really more of an excuse than anything else. Fears of a cancer that didn’t exist.

Two weeks later, the girl he wanted to marry, a dancer from Japan was finally allowed back into the country. He’d become convinced it wouldn’t happen after months of legal back and forth. Fear of being alone and abandoned convinced him that his life wouldn’t work out as he desired. So it seems he decided to just stop trying.

12 years later I still wrestle with loving him and hating him. Remembering his capacity for compassion for everyone while he seemed to only have pity for himself. I am sometimes on the edge of forgiving him. And then I remember having to tell my daughter what happened. I remember how as she is now almost 20 years old, she can’t play chess because that’s what she used to do with Grandpa. I can’t quite do it.

For the past 12 years, for about 3 weeks before and after the anniversaries, he shows up in my dreams. Sometimes as if he’s never been gone, sometimes as if he’s only been on some trip in South America or something and we all just THOUGHT he was dead.I forget about it…forget it’s that time of year…sometimes even the days of his actual death or the day he was found go by entirely unnoticed. Sometimes not.

Twelve years later I can watch Dirty Harry make one line comments about his Magnum and still get a kick out of it. But when Heroes first aired and there was an episode with half a skull being cut off and brains removed, I get completely worked up.

I wrestle with fear too. And it’s not hard to see how it keeps me from acting. Clouds my thinking. I’ve made a decades long struggle of shifting from “can’t” to “can”. It hasn’t been easy.

Twelve years ago I cremated my father. Twelve years later I’m still cremating parts of his legacy so I can rise from the ashes.

Sylvia’s Click

Sylvia is someone I met through the Owning Pink Posse.  She is one of those inspiring souls that strives to bring out the best in others.  She is a writer, yoga teacher, artist, photographer, gardener and “blissed-out” babe!  I am grateful that she answered my call and shared this personal click story, that I know will touch many.  If you would like to hear or read more from Sylvia you can find her wonderful blog about living blissfully here, on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

My click story starts in January 2001. My husband and I had heard from
my OB/GYN that the test they had done earlier that month showed that a
long treatment for restless cells in my uterus was finally successful.
We could finally work on getting pregnant.

I drove home with some mixed emotions. A little more than two years
earlier I started on a hormone treatment, and immediately got plunged
into a major depression, and gained about 30 kilo’s in weight in the
months that followed after.

So there I sat, deeply depressed, feeling utterly lost, and with a
moon cycle that was completely out of whack and very painful. A uterus
that was so cramped up I could hardly sit up straight and walking
around became more and more difficult. And my doctor told me that I
could get pregnant.

Two months later I was rushed to the hospital with what could be an
appendicitis. After a day of waiting for the two hour emergency
surgery, it turned out to be an ovary with a really bad cyst.

That surgery and the recovery from it was my click. It came in the
form of one single thought: is getting pregnant worth this suffering?
It didn’t take me long to say no. I felt like a crippled person, stuck
in 9 days out of 24 periods, and the rest of the time I seemed like I
was stuck in an endless seeming PMS cycle. I didn’t get pregnant, as
my wish to have sex had completely diminished. I felt a bloated up
mockery of who I really was.

Soon after what was the second surgery of the year I sat in the OB/GYN
office again for a routine checkup, still not pregnant, and even more
worn out than I was back in January, and I burst out in tears. I said
with a trembling voice I could no longer live like this, and that I
was ready to give up the dream of becoming a mother. It got replaced
by a much stronger dream, a will to survive, and to truly get to live
my life.

The doctors discussed my request, and it got granted. In June of that
year I went into surgery again, it turned out my ovaries could stay
but my uterus was removed. The uterus was tested, and the OB/GYN told
me that the cells were back to their restless state, and if I had
gotten pregnant, I would have had a baby and full blown cancer. The
moment he told me my decision was the right one, it felt like victory.

It has taken me a couple of very tumultuous years, stumbling, falling,
getting up again, to finally get to where I am today. I had a hard
time accepting the fact I no longer had a uterus, and struggled hard
with femininity issues, but I climbed out of it, and became the
strong, independent woman I am today.

I have no doubt that the journey I went through was one of saying
goodbye to my old self, to the dreams of that woman I used to be.

What I did gain though, was finding my passion. I had been a writer
ever since my early childhood, but lacked the confidence to do
anything with it. I found that strength again in the depth of my
depression, and for that I am forever grateful.

Rebecca’s Click

Rebecca found me and my blog through Twitter.  After discovering my request, she sent me the following click story that I think is a great example of a moment when something clicks and you make a change.  If you are interested in reading more from Rebecca or connecting with her, those links are provided at the end of her click.

I was in love with a guy. He was great. We connected on a level that I’d never connected with anyone before. I think it was maybe because we were both writers and both passionate about the same things. He was eccentric and odd. For a while, it was like being with your best friend in the whole world. Then it gradually changed. He would get depressed a lot. When he was depressed, he would take it out on me. Not physically, you understand, but verbally. I didn’t realise until later quite how much it had drained me over the years. I would just let him yell at me until he couldn’t yell any more. And when he couldn’t yell any more, we would talk out whatever it was that was upsetting him or stressing him out. Quite a lot of the time, there was nothing that I could do about it but listen. It went on for quite a while like this. Sometimes he would even get angry at me because I wouldn’t yell back. I didn’t really see the point in yelling back.

One day, he told me he had leukemia. Of course, this meant he went off the rails with his stress and everything else. It yo-yoed back and forth. And all I did was worry about him.  By that point, I was miserable and terrified of losing him. Every time he screamed at me, he crawled back hours later with his apologies. And every time he apologised I would just accept it.

It was shortly after my birthday when he told me that he didn’t love me any more. Except, that it wasn’t just that… He didn’t just say he didn’t love me any more. He said that he didn’t think he had ever loved me. Then he asked to be friends. Stupidly, I thought that I should. After all, I didn’t want to lose my best friend as well. And I tried. I tried really hard to be his friend, but he made it really difficult to do that. He would say things caustically that would hurt and then he would ask me why I was being off with him.

How else was I supposed to be with him?

We ended up not talking to each other, mostly because I couldn’t handle the pressure he was putting on me to be civil whilst he refused to budge. It was a really difficult situation.

A couple of months later, I was still desperately unhappy. I got in the house to catch lunch before I left again and found a parcel waiting for me. A friend had offered to send me two books that I was interested in reading. She’d finished them and said that it would be nice to share them with me. Since we live so far apart, the post was the easiest option to send me the copies. I picked both up and glanced at the blurbs. I was attracted to them both, but, for whatever reason, I was drawn to one of the other two books that my friend had also sent. According to her, she hadn’t intended to send the book at all, but when she’d been placing the others in the box it had seemed right to out that in too. It wasn’t the kind of book that I would normally pick up, either. If I’d seen it on a shelf, I would probably have walked straight past it.

Nevertheless, I opened the first page and started reading. The story was about a girl who went to stay with her cousins when a war broke out. The girl falls in love with one of her male cousins and for a time they’re really close and in love. Then this war comes to their house and they end up getting separated. The protagonist is taken away with the boy’s sister and they strive to get back to the house. Lots of things happen to them in between then and when they reach the house. The boy isn’t there when they get there and the protagonist’s father calls the house. She’s put on one of the first flights back to America when the airports are reopened. She saves for years to go back to the house. When she goes back, she finds the cousin she fell in love with, but he has withdrawn into himself because of something that happened in the war and he refuses to acknowledge her. He’d come to believe that she didn’t love him because she hadn’t found him. The book ends with her staying to tend the flowers in his garden because he seems only to enjoy them. It’s called How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff if you ever wanted to read it.

My point is that if it wasn’t for reading that book, I would have continued to be miserable and to withdraw in the same way that the boy in the book had. It also made me realise that if he ever had really loved me, then he would have strived to be with me like the protagonist had and that I needed to let it go, even if it would take time. Somehow, reading that book just made sense of what I’d been through. Being with him had been like fighting a never ending battle because I’d been so emotionally floored.  The book made me feel as if it was peace time and the sun had come out to warm me back up. And, after a while, it managed to.

That’s not to say that I will ever forget him, but I found something that made it easier to accept things as they were.

Here are the places you can find Rebecca and her writing…

Glenn’s Click

This story is written by my dear friend, Glenn Miller

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  I’ve not heard anyone to date that disputes that they exist, nor do I know anyone that has gone through the grieving process that has not experienced them all (to some degree and with varying durations).  What people do, however, dispute is that the grieving process only applies to stages of their lives when something negative happens, mostly keeping the process of mourning a loss through death.

 

How often do we think of higher levels or “out of the box” translations to the stages of grief?  In the origins of tarot, we see “Death” as the harbinger of change – not necessarily loss. I fell subject to this mentality many times in the past, but the instance that I recall most clearly came about a little over five years ago.

I remember being woken up from heavy dreams many nights in a row. They centered around themes of people that I deemed older and wiser speaking to someone that I saw as representative of someone younger and more rebellious. Just for a second opinion of what the dreams could mean, I spoke to a friend that dabbled in dream interpretation and tarot.  Of course, she did a reading (as was her way) and drew Death (right side up).  The initial knee-jerk reaction hit me, and my brain began racing in random directions of what (or who) around me would be leaving this world – only to be reminded that the reading in full simply was indicating a change in my life.

Now, I don’t put much “faith” in tarot, runes or other readings by themselves, but in this case it struck home more because of the coincidences within my dreams…  Instead of focus on loss, I began to dwell upon how all things must be just coincidental.  I denied that any real changes were coming, who actually could put stock in dreams or stupid readings?  A couple days later, I started to get mad that I had even let myself put any stock in either medium.  I got mad that the cards ever existed, and that I even bothered to talk about my dreams in the first place.  But, the dreams persisted and began to contort into clearer pictures…  I started screaming out to whatever might exist as a “higher power” to make the dreams stop, just letting me have a restful sleep.  I was willing to do whatever I was told to do just to make them stop.  No one would bargain with me…

As the dreams began to get clearer, it took away all peace of mind that I ever felt…  Until I had a particular dream about standing on a hillside and looking out over the sunset as I held a little boy’s hand.  I still remember holding his hand and talking about the clouds, the stars coming up and just the overall peace that started to come forward.  The day after that dream, I found out that my wife and I were pregnant with our first child.  I knew that it must be my son that was in the dreams…  The older person speaking to the rebellious youth in the prior dreams were telling me of upcoming conflict – my adult self telling my younger self to get a grip and grow up…  I spent the remainder of the pregnancy within myself, trying to go through the motions, but never getting a full handle on how to get over my depression.  I put things in motion to try and give my child a better life – searching for a better job, buying a house and just generally trying to nest.  No matter how hard I worked though, I could not seem to make things “real”.

Putting the gorey parts of childbirth from the male perspective to the side, it took the day of my son’s birth to snap me into place as both a man and as a parent.  I had to look into his little blue eyes to really know that things had indeed changed.  I sat and rocked his tiny self next to a window in the birthing suite and looked out into a thunder storm, feeling him sigh as if he felt true peace and knew that things would be different every day.  I accepted the change.

We named my son Chance, and he has become the true purpose of his name – looking at him every day reminds me that this is my chance to do something right.  Every day is a step within change as he grows up, as it is with my daughter, but I wouldn’t miss a step that either of them take on their journey…

Glennandchance

Poetry Perhaps?

So I intended to share the shower curtain story today.  It was Amy’s favorite and she always loved to hear it.  The funny thing is, I can’t bring myself to write it.  When my sorority sisters get together (whether I’m there or not), it’s one of those stories we tell.  It’s embarrassing and entertaining.  I promise I’ll write it one day, but today I’m just too submerged in the cloud to be funny…..

Instead, let’s see if I can write a poem on the fly.

Called death, change

change, death

the old falls away

the new arrives

Talked about the phoenix

rising from the ashes

thought myself that bird

it’s true and not

death comes in waves

at first blow

you choke

gag

cough

but live

think you’ll be OK

smile a little

laugh even

until the next wave arrives

too bold

too brave

thought you could face it

but it comes

you fall

choke

gag

cough

but live

you want to leave the ocean

but can’t

there is comfort in the pain

resisting the change

getting used to yourself

as soot and ash