MAY 24, 2020: “Reopening A Gift” …

IMG_E0855THE GIFT

“Hold me now I need to feel relief. Like I never wanted anything. I suppose I‘ll let this go and find a reason I’ll hold on to. I’m so ashamed of defeat. And I’m out of reason to believe in me. I’m out of trying to get by.  I’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all.  I can‘t face myself when I wake up and look inside a mirror. I’m so ashamed of that thing. I suppose I‘ll let it go ’til I have something more to say for me. I’m so afraid of defeat. And I‘m out of reason to believe in me. I‘m out of trying to defyI’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all. Hold me now I need to feel complete. Like I matter to The One I need. I’m so afraid of The Gift You give me. I don’t belong here and I’m not well. I’m so ashamed of the lie I’m living right on the wrong side of it all. Now I’m ashamed of this …” ~ Seether

Today is the fifteen year anniversary of the release of one of the most impactful songs of my life, Seether’s “The Gift”. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I actually heard it for the first time though, Monday, April 21, 2008, just a year ahead of the nervous breakdown I’d been trying SO hard to avoid when the Circadian that had been my life finally crashed into the wall.

I remember it vividly. I’d been out running errands and was approaching the house in which I dwelled that was certainly not a home when it availed itself on my cue. From that first solemn chord, the forlonging guitar began cutting me like a knife as I pulled into the garage. I couldn’t shut my car off and was compelled to sit and listen as the words began to play. Then, out of nowhere, a barrage of tears washed over me, literally and metaphorically. I was so numb and paralyzed in the moment that I couldn’t even lift my arms to wipe my eyes. I could neither breathe nor feel my fingertips as the music began manifesting a truly physical aching inside my heart.

When it was over, I just sat there trying to gather myself before having to walk back inside the lie that had become my life. Before I knew it, my son and daughter appeared in the doorway. He was holding her in his arms as they both smiled and waved to greet me, completely oblivious to the sobering reality that I was secretly dying.

That night, after everyone was asleep, I sat down at my computer to write a letter to God in this “Diary Of My Perfection”, which was then merely an outlet for my very private hell. The words to the song said everything that needed to be said at that moment, and thus my entry, “APRIL 21, 2008: I’m A Gift. I’m A curse.”

Here I am, fifteen years to the day that one of the most beautiful “gifts” I never knew I needed became a part of the tapestry of my beautifully woven life. It took a lot of truly blind faith, time, accountability, honesty, self-discovery, and patience, forgiveness and grace for and with myself to be sitting in this chair writing this, and not a second goes by that I don’t remember how damn lucky I am to simply be alive.

When I listen to this song now my emotions are a paradox, as on one hand I can smile as I look back and realize how far I’ve come, but on the other, I am sadly reminded of a night just weeks before he left that my beautiful husband also listened to this song while we were driving home from “somewhere” and silent tears began falling from his eyes. It rips my fucking heart out when I think of how helpless and hopeless it felt to watch him dying right in front of me and even more so that he was never able to see what a gift to this world he truly was.

If I had one wish for anyone reading this and struggling to find “The Gift”, it’s that that they listen to this song in a very quiet place and really sit with all the chords and words as you let them break you down. The answer is inside you, I promise that it is, so challenge yourself to find it. Your weakness is your strength. Being broken makes you whole. THE PAIN THAT YOU FEEL IS THE GIFT! Do the work, take your time, CRY OUT TO JESUS and find your way back “home”.

And by the way, it’s okay to feel sadness and grief for the things that have died inside of you, and it’s certainly okay to cry. Now that I think of it? It’s such a blessing that one of my favorite verses of the Bible also happens to be the shortest:  JOHN 11:35: Jesus wept. So, yes – GO AHEAD AND CRY … AS OFTEN AS YOU NEED TO! GET MAD! SCREAM LOUD! Do what you must to let yourself “feeleverything that’s hurt you so can finally let it go! Then someday when it’s time for you to sit back and marvel at what you’ve survived? Listen to this song again and maybe, like me, you’ll find that ONLY these words remain …

“… now I feel relief … I’ll hold on … I do belong here and I’m well … I’m living right …  I can face myself when I wake up and look inside a mirror … I let it go … I have something more to say for me …I believe in me … I defy … now I feel complete … like I matter to The One I need … now I’m THIS … I’M THE GIFT!” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJUuzAnaWp0

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MAY 17, 2020: “There Was Jesus” …

"There Was Jesus"
~ by Gia Embach ~

THERE WAS JESUS

Every time I tried to make it on my own. Every time I tried to stand and start to fall. And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on. There was Jesus.

When the life I built came crashing to the ground. When the friends I had were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now. There was Jesus.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace. For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay. I’m not perfect, so I thank God every day. There was Jesus.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

On the mountain. In the valleys. There was Jesus.

In the shadows of the alleys. There was Jesus.

In the fire and in the flood. There was Jesus.

Always is and always was.

No I never walk alone.

You are always there.

In the waiting. In the searching. In the healing and the hurting. Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute. Every moment. Where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it. There was Jesus.

 ~ Zach Williams & Dolly Parton

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MAY 15, 2020: “Back To The Castle” …

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Okay people, I’ve been SHOOKEN by a “Ghost” again in ALL the most beautiful ways …

IvanYou see this guy? He’s Ivan Greening, some know him as Ivan Moody, but his people call him “The Ghost”. He’s the lead vocalist and MANIAC for the band of my life … and PLEASE say you already know this … Five Finger effing Death Punch. Ivan’s not quite your “traditional” man, and to some he may be downright scary. Not only is he an admitted recovering alcoholic with a somewhat “colorful” rap sheet, but he’s covered head to toe in an array of tattoos and his voice is as ominous as thunder. Most of the time he rages and screams, but sometimes he serenades us from the most tender depths of his soul. Now that I think of it? He’s the living embodiment of the word “oxymoron” and actually one of my heroes! King Ivan takes “Phoenix” to an entirely different level if you’ll look past the scars on his inked-up, fleshen sleeves. “What you see is what you get.” With this guy? Not so much! He’s a completely open book and a total mystery, as on one hand he seems to be telling us everything about himself, while on the other no one really knows him. That’s how I feel about myself by the way, but where in the HELL was I going with this? It seems I’ve run amuck with yet another of my digressions as my “thought chaos” leads me to somewhere.

Ah, yes, “the video”. Earlier this week he posted a clip of himself “TikTok-ing” with his daughter which immediately struck my heart in a brand new place I never knew was broken. It was one of the sweetest things I think I’ve ever seen, while also one of the saddest. You see, I am a daughter who cannot help but wonder, “What could have been if my larger than life dad had danced with me in the living room”?

HERE’S THE THING: He’s probably worth a gazillion bucks and has a cult-like following worldwide. But when the lights go down at his final show and he reaches the end of the road? What do you think that little girl of his will tell her own kids about her daddy? “Grandpa Ivan was a rock and roll star” or “Grandpa Ivan danced with me in the living room”? I’m fairly certain, as hopefully you are too, that it’s going to be the latter.

HEY DADS …

Now about that legacy you’ll be leaving behind … WHAT’S IT GONNA BE? You may not be perfect, because no one ever is, and there’s NO such “perfect parent”. But trust me when I tell you that it’s NEVER too late to change the ending of a story. This, my friends, is what us “knuckleheads” call “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, and I’m here to tell you IT’S EVERYTHING! Despite the mottled undertones here of the struggles with my father, I really want to end this now with a “brighter side” I’ve found …

My daughter had two dads to take her to the balls, which I find rather amazing. My husband escorted her in many of those carriages while her real dad escorted her in others. Neither of them was perfect and each of them hurt her in extremely complicated ways, but at the end of the day I just know in my heart that she’ll treasure their dancing days forever! She’s an incredibly lucky girl, but I’m an even luckier mom, so beyond thankful for both of the Princes who danced with their Cinderella!

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MAY 12, 2020: “They’re Gonna Be” …

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Some days I seem to have endless words to say, while others find me trapped in the silence that often accompanies my waves. Take this morning for instance: She sent me this picture she snapped of herself while she was at her Dad’s playing in her make-up bag last night. When it saw it it took my breath away. How is that after all the mistakes I’ve made and the wrongs I could never make right that, she is this?

She is everything a mother could pray for her living legacy to be, and this world I am lucky enough to live in with her is such a better place with her in it. There aren’t that many people that know the magnitude of what she’s been through, but those who do find it no surprise that, “she is her mother’s daughter”. And please let me also include my very handsome first born in this regard, because well, he too is one of the strongest survivors I’ve ever known. Damn, just look at this people! I HAVE MADE SOME TRULY MAGNIFICENT “MASTERPIECES”!

So, with that, I’ll let these two pictures speak the volume of words I can’t possibly begin to quantify, with the exception of these words, because in this very moment, they’re exactly what I do need to say …

TO MY SON AND MY DAUGHTER:

YOU’RE GONNA BE …

“Six pounds and nine ounces lookin’ up at me like I have all the answers. I hope I have the ones you need. I’ve never really done this. Now I know what scared is. Sometimes I’ll protect you from everything that’s wrong. Other times I’ll let you just find out on your own. But that’s when you’ll be growin’, and the whole time I’ll be knowin’ …

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. You’re gonna cry, but know that that’s okay. Sometimes life’s not fair, but if you hang in there? You’re gonna see that sometimes bad is good. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be.

I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer through some of my mistakes. Lord knows I’ll be trying, oh to give you what it takes. What it takes to know the difference between getting by and livin’. ‘Cause anything worth doing is worth doing all the way. Just know you’ll have to live with all the choices that you make. So make sure you’re always givin’ way more than you’re takin’.

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. You’re gonna cry, but know that that’s okay. Sometimes life’s not fair, but if you just hang in there? You’re gonna see that sometimes bad is good. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be … someone’s everything. You’re gonna see just what you are to me.

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase. We just have to believe things work out like they should. Life has no guarantees … but always loved by me … you’re gonna be … always loved by me.”

~ Reba McEntire

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MAY 11, 2020: “When Someone Dies And You SMILE” …

spicyYet another bittersweet day for me with the passing of one of my favorite comedic actors, Jerry Stiller. For those of you who know me well it’s no secret that one of his best known sitcoms, “The King  Of Queens“, is, was and will alway be my favorite TV show of all times! Williamson and I watched it faithfully every night from the beginning of “us” to the end, and “Arthur” was one of his best impersonations. We all spoke fluent “King Of Queens” in the banter of our days (as well as “My Cousin Vinny” and “Birdcage”) and Gia and I still do. Lol, Zack had always promised her that when he was old and if I was already gone he would move in with her family and become their “basement Arty”. 

It’s also no secret to those who know me that cooking is not my thing! Are there are some decent dishes I manage to pull off from time to time? Sure. No one has ever starved on my watch, but there’s not a person who I’ve cooked for who’s a stranger to my “interesting dinners”. I fondly remember an “episode” set at our table as if it were just last night: “The Night Of The Hot Pink Chicken!” It was the first meal I’d made for our brand new little family on the third night we were married. I’d marinated some chicken in raspberry vinegarette dressing, which chicken ended up literally turning pink. As I set down the plates, Gia turned to Zack as discreetly as she could with her hand on her little forehead trying not to let me see the look of fear in her eyes. Then as sweet as he could be with nothing but appreciation for the effort I’d just made, he quickly came up with the perfect “Arthurism”: “Well, have a biscuit then. Some of them turned out PRETTY well!” From that night forward throughout the entirety of our decade together there were SO many times he would chime in with that line, his very favorite “Arthurism”, at every one of my mealtime flops! Every time he spoke those words I fell in love with him all over again!

So, what was my thought behind the title of this post, “When Someone Dies And You SMILE”? Oooooh but let me tell you! While I was waiting for Gia to wake up this morning, anxious to share the news of “Arthur’s” passing, I just sat in bed thinking and smiling. That funny man brought SO much into our world … laughter, hilarity and true joy! Which man you ask? BOTH ARTHUR AND MY HUSBAND! I thought about crying, especially given the torrent of “first Mother’s Day without him” emotion I ran the gauntlet with yesterday, but honestly? I simply couldn’t. Instead I just sat there with my thoughts and countless memories cherishing the most beautiful ride of my life!

While I’m saddened by the loss, especially for his loved ones, I’m again encouraged that death is nothing at all. He was so much larger than the life he lived itself, just like the “King” of this very lucky Queen, and their legacies both I will treasure! Zack once said that if he could have met any particular actor it probably would have been Jerry Stiller. “I can only imagine what a riot it would be to shoot the shit with that guy!” Well, if God is the God I know in my soul He is, perhaps now he’ll get the chance! Godspeed Jerry. The comedic spirit and “crazy old man” you infused into the fabric of our lives will remain in our hearts and “Arthurisms” forever!

…”PS” …

IMG_1994Our hands down favorite KOQ episode was “Spicy Sausage & Peppers”! I cannot tell you how many times Williamson asked unsuspecting waitstaff who were taking his order at restaurants: “How’s your spicy sausage and peppers?” Most often they looked at him absolutely dumfounded, as if he were a actually crazy, but the ones who got the joke always got an extra tip from him! This clip is a go-to on any of my “down days”. I CANNOT watch it without laughing until my sides hurt, so ENJOY! As for me? I’ll be spending the entire rest of this night binge-watching The King Of Queens in tribute to both Jerry and my husband!

What We Leave Behind

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MAY 10, 2020: “Mother Love” …

While I am more than thankful to claim the highest honor of “mother” of two living children and one angel baby in Heaven, I am ever so mindful as I end this bittersweet day with the heart-breaking awareness that not every child “celebrated with their mother” today. As you’ve already read in the admonishment to “her”, on this day one year ago the abandonded and motherless man that I was also honored to call “mine” began his painful descent into the darkness she left him in that literally devoured him alive and indeed ended the most beautiful chapter of my life.

So, with that, if you are a mother who has truly abandoned her child, know that you have left them with an unfathomable wound that will never truly heal. If, on the other hand, you are a child whose “mother” abandonded you? Know that I, like so many mothers in who understood the magnitude of the job we were given to have children, am crying and praying for you tonight. It wasn’t your fault! You didn’t deserve it! YOU are a gift to this world! I’m so sorry that happened to you, from the depths of my soul I am, but remember this always PLEASE: Our Father in Heaven doesn’t make trash! So, “Chin Up! Knuckles Out!” You are loved and needed here.

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MAY 10, 2020: “To His Mother: WHY?” …

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TO “HIS MOTHER”:

I’ve said it before and will say it again, your “son” stopped living the day he was born, but it was a year ago today that the hands of Fate began turning the wheel that ultimately led to not only his demise, but the end of the most beautiful chapter of my life. Looking back, I saw the first signs of his agonizing slip down the hole that devoured him at Christmas 2018, but it wasn’t really until May 12th last year that he started coming apart at the seams. I remember that morning as if it were now, right down to exactly where he was standing, the look on his face, what he was saying, the tears falling from his eyes, and even what he was wearing and how he smelled. Sufficed to say though, indeed it was “Mother’s Day 2019” that earmarked the beginning of his end.

So, with that, today is bittersweet, inasmuch as not a Mother’s Day had passed since he walked into my life eleven plus years ago that I wasn’t cherished, celebrated, and placed so high upon the pedestal he built for only me there are literally just no words. It was no secret to anyone that knew us well that your “son” was hell bent on making sure that I was abundantly aware of exactly what my role in all of their lives meant to him, especially on Mother’s Day! As I’ve also said before, when we first met, he appeared to be a solid rock. He’d told me about his past and how not just you, but his entire “blood family” abandoned and rejected him (for what reason only God knows). He was so matter of fact about the awful things you’d all done to him, which was always so perplexing to me because even I couldn’t wrap my own head around it all. It angered and outraged me to the core of my being to not only hear the stories of his maternal abandonment and fucked up beyond reason childhood, but to have watch, live and experience the abundance of bullshit his “family” did to and put him through which was unacceptable, gross and disgusting. As for those other “Williamsons” you spat upon this Earth who still live here in the city where their “brother” slipped right through the void? If any random stranger were to meet a single one of them and not know who they really are they’d be more than impressed with the charming personas they present. But his truth is the truth, he spoke it, I witnessed it, and God Himself was watching IT ALL! Congratulations dear “mother”! You made self-consumed excuses for putrid human beings who get all dressed up with the plastic smiles and cold, dead hearts only you could possibly be proud of!

On the surface he seemed to have made peace with it all as he moved on down the road. We met, fell in love, made our own little family, and he left you all behind in his dust. “Their loss, not mine”, he would say, and he couldn’t have been more right, as none of you were ever good enough to be graced by my husband’s presence. Trust me when I tell you that because of our professions we knew plenty of people who “know them”. The general consensus about your other Williamson children? You know, the ones you actually managed to want? Selfish, shallow and greedy social climbing, wanna-be’s in one of the greatest shows on Earth. Everything about his character was so far removed from and above all of theirs that no one that realized their connection could fathom it. Those were amongst the highest compliments he received, and he absolutely reveled in them. But I’ve digressed. Sufficed to say, it was “every Mother’s Day” that hurt him the most, even more so than all the birthdays you forgot as he waited for you year after year, phone in hand, checking to see “if she’ll remember and just show up”. There is still much to say about my husband’s final descent and all the ways he was driven to insanity, not the least of how he hurt Gia.

In the meantime, all you REALLY need to know, “Mother” Of My Fallen King, is this:

It’s Mother’s Day 2020 and 264 days ago your “son” shot himself in the head with a Springfield handgun and a hollow point bullet at just before midnight on August 22, 2019. To him you were a stranger, and what a shame that you will never know what a truly amazing man you threw away and the priceless gift he was to this world (though unfortunately he never believed it).

Only God knows what was going through his mind in the very last moments of his life, and yes, “what that may have been” will break my heart forever. Alas, he’s at rest now, finally at peace after the “legacy of abandonment” you knowingly chose to burden him with. But here’s what I do know in concrete fact “was going through his mind” in the years I was lucky enough to give him the only real home he ever had and the only real love from a woman (other than his Grandma) he’d ever known …

Your “son” hurt us with a broken mind and heart that were jaded beyond human comprehension. “He must have had mommy issues” is what some will surely say, and sadly? That was true! He wasn’t quite two when you left him behind, yet not your “other children”, because for what good reason none of us will ever understand (much less could ever he), you didn’t want him like the others! Then you never turned back to see the tears that burned through his heart all the rest of his days here on Earth.

When your “son” was just a boy he had to sit with all his classmates making “macaroni Mother’s Days cards” that he never knew what to do with, so he would tear them all up and put them in the garbage as he was leaving the school grounds watching all the other kids being greeted by their mommies as he walked home to nothing all alone!

When your “son” was just a boy he had to go to his friends’ birthdays while his little heart physically ached because you apparently couldn’t remember the day he was born. It was October 5, 1982, in case you forgot.

When your “son” was just a boy Mother’s Day broke his heart into little tiny pieces that none of us who really loved him could ever put back together. He cried for you. Ached for you. Longed for you. Dreamt about you. He disappeared inside himself just waiting for you to want him!

Despite these words and my more than apparent anger, I have forgiven you and yours for all the ways you destroyed my husband. But never will I forget the last ten years watching him try so hard not to break because none of you gave a FUCK about “the Zack of shit”, your “son”, their “brother”. So, with that, happy Mother’s Day to you, “mother” of my fallen king. May you sleep well this and every Mother’s Day going forward that you’re able to enjoy the Williamsons you somehow managed to “mother”! Hold your hand over your chest now and listen to what you feel. It’s the still beating heart of the one woman in this world that was supposed to love my precious husband forever.

Signed truly … “Daughter-In-Law”

Mother

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May 2, 2020: “There Will Be A Day” …

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… WITH NO MORE TEARS.

“I try to hold on to this world with everything I have, but I feel the weight of what it brings and the hurt that tries to grab. The many trials that seem to never end. His word declares this truth … that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew. But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings, that there will be a place with no more suffering. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always.

I know the journey seems so long. You feel you’re walking on your own. But there has never been a step where you’ve walked out all alone. Troubled soul don’t lose your heart, ’cause joy and peace He brings, and the beauty that’s in store outweighs the hurt of life’s sting. But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings … that there will be a place with no more suffering. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always. 

I can’t wait until that day where the very One I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced. To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery. Oh this is why, this is why I sing. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face. There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more … we’ll see Jesus face to face.

There will be a day …

~ Jeremy Camp

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APRIL 26, 2020: “The Bench” …

"The Bench"
~ by Gia Embach~

“If you could sit on this bench and talk to ANYONE for one hour, who would it be and what would you say?”

I saw a post very similar to this on a social media feed earlier last week and it struck a chord in me so loud that my answer was instantaneous. I would sit down with “younger me” and THIS is what I’d say …

“Hey there young lady, it’s so nice to meet you. You don’t know me, and I don’t mean to scare you, but let me assure you that one day we’ll meet again. For reasons I can’t explain, and may sound a little insane, I actually do know a lot about you. Right now you’re feeling scared. You’re feeling lost, abandoned, and alone. You’ve been betrayed by people you thought you could trust and your glass heart has been shattered into pieces. You think no one can hear or see you anymore, and when you face yourself in the mirror each day you see nothing looking back but an abyss. Worst of all, you can’t see her yet, but there’s a dragon circling above you like a carcass. She’s gonna hold you for ransom inside her solitary cave, but YOU are going to slay her!

It’s a long, dark road that’s coming up ahead and some of the places it’s gonna take you are gonna suck. But listen to me, and listen good: Don’t you DARE change a thing that you’re about to do or even ONE of the decisions you’re gonna make! Life’s gonna burn the wings off your back that you don’t even know you have yet and some people who claim to love you are gonna leave you on the ground while you’re choking on their dust. But alas, your wings are eventually gonna heal and take you so high above the ashes you almost die in that even YOU won’t know how to stop them. Through it all, you’ll become a queen, a Light in peoples’ darkness, and a legacy your kids will be proud of. So, buckle up sister and hang on for dear life … I’ll be waiting for you on The Brighter Side Of Grey. In the meantime, there’s a song you haven’t heard yet because it hasn’t even been made, but let me put “us” in some words you’re gonna love as you STAND and sing it to the world …

STAND

“You felt like a candle in a hurricane. Just like a picture with a broken frame. Alone and helpless like you’d lost your fight, but you’were alright! You were alright! ‘Cause when push came to shove you tasted what you were made of. You almost bent ’til you broke ’cause it was all you could take. On your knees you looked up, decided you’d had enough. You got mad, you got strong, wiped your hands, shook it off – THEN YOU STOOD! Our life’s like a novel with the end ripped out. The edge of a canyon with only one way down. We’ll take what we’re given before it’s gone. We start holding on. We keep holding on. Everytime we get up and got back in the race one more small piece of us just keepings falling into place … ‘CAUSE WE STAND!” ~ Rascal Flatts

~ “Me & Julie” (Left & Right) … Circa 1974 ~

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APRIL 20, 2020: “… And Realize You’re Living In Your Golden Years” …

“Ed” (From “ashes to art”, Circa 1990.)

WASTED YEARS

“From the coast of gold, across the Seven Seas. I’m traveling on, far and wide.
But now it seems, I’m just a stranger to myself. And all the things I sometimes do, it isn’t me but someone else. I close my eyes and think of home. Another city goes by in the night. Ain’t it funny how it is? You never miss it ’til it’s gone away. And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day. So, understand. Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years. Face up, make your stand! And realize you’re living in the golden years. Too much time on my hands, I got you on my mind. Can’t ease this pain so easily. When you can’t find the words to say, it’s hard to make it through another day. And it makes me want to cry and throw my hands up to the sky. So, understand. Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years. Face up, make your stand! And realize you’re living in the golden years.” ~ Iron Maiden

Last Friday while I was doing a live concert in my car I mentioned that I play a little game every morning wherein I just leave it to Destiny’s magical roulette wheel to see “which song” my cue is going to land on to find my groove for the day. It’s kind of the best game EVER and one of the little nuggets in my life that I enjoy the very most. So, this morning? Wow. Just wow. FIRST SONG UP? Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years”, and I just couldn’t …

I remember vividly that Saturday afternoon in June of 2008 as I settled into my seat on Flight 438 and listened to this song as we took off. Thirty-eight seemingly “wasted years” in my rearview mirror and ZERO idea how many more were yet to come. Little did I know that an actual angel would show up in the seat beside me and change the course of my life forever, but, he did, and here I am, “So Far Away” from the person I used to be who was then indeed “just a stranger to myself”.

That being said? Not a single one of the years laid behind me were wastednot a second, or minute, or hour. They were the best and worst parts of every single thing I’ve become and why I’m still alive to tell you about it. This morning as I listened to it I was inspired, yet again, to KEEP “facing up and making my stand” because YES I AM truly living in my Golden years! Have I ever told you what an incredibly blessed woman I truly am? Okay, well then, let me say it again: I AM A BLESSED WOMAN.

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APRIL 17, 2020: “When You Realize WHAT You Have Done” …

TeachThere comes a point in every parent’s life when all of a sudden it just hits them in the face, “WOW, this is how I’m doing.” A few nights ago this little 3am “quarantine conversation” happened with my beautiful, SPARTAN daughter, and indeed I was punched in the face with the reality that something I’m doing is RIGHT, and indeed my “legacy” is an enigma! Every mother’s child has that one special gift, DO NOT GET ME WRONG, but this child’s mother is in awe, and by the way: I MADE HER!

Good, strong leaders … the future “kings and queens” … are not accidents, they’re a CHOICE. A choice to dig our heels into the ground and lead by the best examples, not the least of which is “failure, loss, trauma and hardship are NOT excuses … they’re OPPORTUNITIES to rise up from the fallen ground and NOT become a victim”!

We can’t just tell them what they’re wings are made for then sit back and “hope for the best”. We have to actually show them! And if, like me, as an imperfect parent you somehow manage to break their wings while they’re learning how to fly? ACCOUNT to yourself, AND to them, APOLOGIZE for letting them down, then pick yourself up and try again … TOGETHER!

THIS VIDEO FROM MY YOUTUBE IS LONG, BUT WORTH WATCHING! Here’s to learning why the callouses on our feet can be a useful! And hey, future son-in-law, wherever in the world you are right now – YOU’RE WELCOME! Or, I’m sorry. Whichever is more applicable! 

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APRIL 14, 2020: “It Was Kinda Like A Storm” …

"Breat Free"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

BREAK FREE

“Help me – I’ve fallen further in myself. I’m stuck here again. And I can’t see that I’m not digging my way out – I’m digging my grave. I’ve become my own demise. Paralyzed inside my mind. Arms are weak from holding up this front. No escape and no surprises. Complicated compromises. Hold me down when what all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again. Tell me how you can be the brightest star and light up the sky?  Well I can’t seem to even light up my own way and I’m burned out from trying. I’ve bcome what I despise. Paralyzed inside a lie. Arms are weak from holding back the flood. Sinking as the waters rise. Drink myself to sleep each night. I’m going under and all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again.” ~ Like A Storm

By now I’m sure you’ve heard me say that I have suffered from, battled and overcome a mental illness. I’m not sure however that I’ve ever said which mental illness it was. “So, which mental illness was it?” DRUM ROLL PLEASE … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it: Hi! I’m Cat Williamson, f/k/a “Girl Interrupted“. I HAVE BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (“BPD”). Well, I did that is. This month marks the seventh year of my recovery, and I’d like to tell you a little about it.

WHAT IS BPD? The National Institute Of Mental Health describes BPD as “an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.”

WAS THIS ME?

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WHAT MAY HAVE CAUSED MY BPD? As with most mental illnesses, many doctors believe BPD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. I strongly believe that my diagnoses was indeed genetically and environmentally predisposed, especially inasmuch as I was exposed to many adverse childhood experiences (“ACES”) that may have triggered the development of my symptoms. Although I don’t recall being sexually or physically abused as a child, there were a vast number of instabilities that may have contributed to my illness.

I was ripped away from a closely interactive paternal family when my parents uprooted us from our home at a very young age. Keep in mind that because our family was somewhat enmeshed, my grandparents, aunts and uncles were “consistently present and close caregivers” at that time, such that the immediate, unexplained loss of them literally overnight was deeply traumatic to me. Likewise was the damage to my very impressionable psyche from both the inconsistent emotional and physical presences of my parents and different points in time due to issues of their own that were out of my control.

THIS REALLY HAPPENED?

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WHAT WERE SOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? Most adolescents and adults with BPD lack the healthy coping skills required to handle even minimal amounts of stress or emotional discomfort and therefore often present with these signs and symptoms:

    • Intense fear of abandonment or rejection;
    • Extremely unstable relationships;
    • Distorted self-imagery that influences moods, decisions and priorities;
    • Impulsive actions like reckless driving, binge eating, spending sprees, job instability, leaving relationships or unsafe sex;
    • Chronic feelings of boredom, restlessness and emptiness;
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts while under stress;
    • Intense feelings of anger followed by extreme guilt and shame;
    • Self-harm and injury, such as cutting, drug or alcohol abuse;
    • Disassociating (“splitting“) that can last from a few minutes to hours.

DID I DO ANY OF THESE?

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Someday I’ll revisit the somewhat comical story of how my diagnoses came about, but sufficed to say, when I first realized “what the HELL was wrong with me” I was shaken to the core! Not only did I have a mental illness, but it was one of the most stigmatic of all. Borderlines already think that “everything is wrong with them”, so having a label like that over my head? IT WAS KINDA LIKE A STORM! A dark and looming torrential fucking rain cloud pummeling me 24/7, complete with lightening bolt voices in my mind screaming “YOU’RE BAT SHIT FUCKING CRAZY”!

There is a very cruel woman in this world (who I believe is a narcissist) who after being made aware of my diagnoses took full advantage of having that information by bludgeoning and emotionally blackmailing me with it in an attempt to socially posture herself while I was in a weakened state. SHE WAS A NURSING STUDENT WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE STUDIED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY AT ONE POINT, someone I truly considered a friend and trusted with my precious vulnerability. She set out to destroy me by not only threatening to report me to the Texas Real Estate Commission to have my license stripped, but also to “expose me” to our small school community, which for the record, she did end up doing, and thus became my daughter’s descent into social ostracization, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts of her own after being surrounded by her classmates on the playground one day and asked, “Is it true that your mom is a sociopath who’s been in a mental hospital and is unsafe to be around children”? Yup. That happened. That really fucking happened! The “first do no harm” medical professional made good on her promise to level me with my “girl interrupted secret”.

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Meanwhile, here I am, nine post-diagnoses years later. I did the work, know who I am, where I’ve been, and exactly where I’m going. That part of my journey is but a distant memory, except to say that moving forward I have and will take any opportunity that avails itself to share my “little girl interrupted” secret, as in below when I did so in a very public forum recently. It’s the one thing I’ve published that I’m proudest of so far, because just as “saying the words out loud” to those closest to me was the most healing part of my journey, so too was “writing the words out loud”:

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“HOW CAN YOU COMFORT A FRIEND WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER?”

Oh how I love and appreciate this question! Seriously, it means so much as a recovering Borderline to see these words out in the Cosmos in bold set black and white letters. It means you genuinely care and therefore desire to understand it, which for your average Borderline is more than half the battle! For me? The best thing anyone ever did to comfort me in my BPD darkness was to “look beyond the cover of my book” before casting unwarranted judgements, opinions or assumptions about who others thought I was: “Crazy, dramatic, histrionic, spoiled rotten Girl Interrupted Catherine.” And by that I mean this …
Obviously, as with any mental illness, there is no way to take a human brain apart and actually see the twists and turns that can “Molotov cocktail” a person into madness, but there is widely held belief that Borderline Personality Disorder tends to develop in a person with a history of: Emotional, physical or sexual abuse; Being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child; Being abandonded or neglected (either physically or emotionally) by one or both parents; Growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition. [See Also the National Institute Of Mental Health’s overview in this regard.] In my case? Yup. My “childhood trauma resume” from cradle to this minute includes, but is not limited to: ALL OF THE ABOVE! Although I do not believe that any of my primary caregivers intentionally and knowingly harmed, abused or traumatized me in the ways they did, but the resulting fallout was and is still very real to me nonetheless.
I myself spent a lifetime (39 plus years) just trying to survive “me”, completely unaware of what the HELL was actually wrong with me, especially inasmuch as that “on the surface” at many junctures it did appear that my life was picture perfect. Even I sometimes told myself, “How dare you effing feel this way Catherine, you spoiled, crazy BRAT. You’re life is absolutely PERFECT”. I hated me for hating myself and being “so unappreciative” of what ultimately revealed itself to be a farce of an existence, and especially hated knowing that the emotional storm cloud that seemed to follow me everywhere was raining on my loved ones’ heads as well.
Most Borderlines truly hate themselves at their darkest, deepest core because of the words and judgements of clueless people who’ve never walked a day in their shoes. They are programmed to believe that they are weak, dramatic, histrionic, ungrateful human train wrecks whose accompanying chaos darkens even the brightest room. BORDERLINES BELIEVE THEY ARE A CANCER TO THE WORLD, as so often this is what they’ve been told. My point being this: The best way to comfort a friend with Borderline Personality Disorder is to simply “hear them”. Listen to them. Dig a little deeper and ask them: What did your eyes see? What did your ears hear? How did your heart feel when it was a child? Then say these words to them: “I’m sorry that happened to you. It wasn’t fair at all and I don’t think you’re a crazy, weak, spoiled rotten, histrionic train wreck of a human disaster. I’m sorry if no one ever told you that before.” Again, I am so thankful to see this question here and hopefully anyone reading my answer can find some value. “Girls Interrupted” are often just broken, yet powerful, very loving ANGELS that need their hidden scars and wounds acknowledged so their broken wings can finally get them off the ground. I know this all to well, because that was me: “Girl Interrupted”. I spent so much time avoiding the Sun that I DIDN’T THINK I DESERVED that I cannot even tell you. I’m just so glad I lived to tell about it and finally start using my wings! Have a good day, and again, THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION!

So, there you have it. I said the words out loud, but I’m not “girl interrupted” anymore! I’M A FUCKING MIRACLE … a STORM who finally “broke free”. My husband used to call me “The Borderline Whisperer”, because as I’ve walked with it and through it I’ve begun to recognize it in others all too well. In the last few years I’ve “had the conversation” with several people, most of whom have sought treatment and are now fighting their way out of themselves. HE WAS SO FUCKING PROUD ME … “HIS BEAUTIFUL DISASTER WIFE” … and everything he saw me go through to beat it. He was my NUMBER ONE supporter and NEVER ONCE threw it in my face, or mocked me, or made fun of me, or made me feel “less than” because I was sick. There is NO FUCKING WAY I’d be writing this write today if it wasn’t for that guy … I know it, he knows it … GOD KNOWS IT! He carried the torch that God Himself prepared that lead me out of the darkness and to The Light, and I know he’s smiling right now as he watches me go public. How bittersweet is the irony that he that couldn’t find his way out of the darkness? Nevertheless, I am no longer ashamed to “say the words”, because guess what? They do not define me! That “little secret” makes me sick no longer because it’s NOT a secret anymore! My name is Cat Williamson. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. But now I’m the “Girl Uninterupted”!

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH BPD:

Overview Of BPD

 Borderline Personality Disorder Test

Borderline Resources

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APRIL 13, 2014: “Because Kings DO Live On” …

IMG_0851THE HEART WILL GO ON

“Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you. That is how I know you go on. Far across the distance and spaces between us you have come to show you go on. Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on. Once more you open the door and you’re here in my heart and my heart will go on and on. Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime and never let go ’til we’re gone. Love was when I loved you, one true time I’d hold to. In my life we’ll always go on. Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on. Once more you open the door and you’re here in my heart and my heart will go on and on. You’re here, there’s nothing I fear, and I know that my heart will go on. We’ll stay forever this way. You are safe in my heart and my heart will go on and on.”

~ Celine Dione

… that moment your memory is reminded once again that it was “6 years ago” you “remembered” … and how lucky are you to be the luckiest women you’ve ever known, because now you have not one king, but two living safely in your heart, and some women never find one at all …

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APRIL 7, 2020: “Who Cries For The King” …

"Who Cries For The King"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

WHO CRIES FOR THE KING?

And who cries for the King

With the rising Phoenix wings

As he flies on towards the Sun

While is own world comes undone

The hero he never meant to be

Bears every burden for you and me

The world he helped to find a voice

But did he really have a choice 

He wields the scepter and wears a crown

The ones he never can lay down

But in the endless hour’s night

He chokes back tears with every flight

Screams within, still holding on

As blood he spills before the dawn

For all his gifts he would return

To free the wings he had to earn

So who cries for the King

With the Rising Phoenix wings

As he flies on towards The Sun

While his own world comes undone

Please show him Light. Just say a prayer.

As his wings move through your air.

The words to every fucking song

Are the words that never were ever wrong

Who cries for the King?

~ Cat Williamson

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APRIL 2, 2020: “With Silver Bells And Cockle Shells” …

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This morning I was “daydreaming” again and making plans for a future I’m really not “planning” as much as I am “visualizing”. It’s this whole thing that Williamson taught me: “If you want it, SEE IT, THEN GO AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!”. Now, I’m sure some of you may be thinking, “Well, then why the hell didn’t he just SEE himself out his darkness?” Unfortunately, mental illness doesn’t always work that way, especially when a human mind ends up literally splitting in two. But I’ve digressed.

Zack and I always talked about “the little cottage in France” I want so badly, and indeed he vowed to make that happen before my time was done. So, he would make me visualize it: “Close your eyes Catherine. Tell me what you see. Tell me EVERYTHING you want at the cottage.” Then I would close my eyes and tell him:

“It will look like a fairy tale … small and cozy … surrounded by trees … covered in climbing ivy with a stone chimney up on top … SURROUNDED BY HYDRANGEAS, YELLOW ROSES, SILVER BELLS AND COCKLE SHELLS …”.

This morning while I was daydreaming? Once again I closed my eyes and “saw it”. My little cottage, that I’m going to have, with the climbing ivy, stone fireplace up top and surrounded by my favorite flowers. Then all was well and my day progressed.

Twenty minutes ago my doorbell rang. “Who in the world …?” When I opened the door my stomach hit the floor in the best possible way with that all too familiar adrenaline dump I’ve come to know so well during the worst and best moments of my life that consumes my soul then drains right out of my fingertips. It was his floristthe only one he EVER patroned … his “partner in crime” when it came to knowing exactly how to make me smile … with THIS arrangement … for me: “Good afternoon Cat. These are from Diane. She just wanted you to know we’re all thinking of you constantly.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

Call it what you will my friends: Coincidence. Happenstance. Fortuity, fluke or chance. Dismiss it as just “a thing” if you will, but nope, not me, EVER! Never will I fail to heed the many signs of life that flourish in the darkness! To me, it’s Serendipity. My husband, my future AND GOD HIMSELF all screaming to me in living color! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am one blessed and lucky biotch! No, Zachariah, not a single one of your years in this realm were in vain. Every gift you gave me and every dream you dreamt is going to carry on. Because that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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MARCH 29, 2020: “If Atlas Falls” …

"If Atlas Falls"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

TO MY FOLLOWERS:

Please Share This!

Love Cat

ATLAS FALLS

“The push is always part of us, and gravity’s never a friend. Deciding on who we can trust and finding our way to crescendo to the unknown. We’ll never make it outside unless we unlock the past and release the future that we’ve left to die. For too long we’ve taken placebos, but the unknown is awakening. Don’t give up now! There’s already so much at stake! If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. 

No we can never look back. Return to the salt and the sea. The quiet is only a trial and I will not take the placebos ’cause the unknown is awakening. But I will crescendo. Don’t give up now! There’s already so much at stake. If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. It won’t hold me down … the weight of impossible days. I’ll stand tall. I’ll rise up and carry us all the way. Keep moving forward now. Keep your head above the clouds. I’m right with you. I will lift you. Just hold on.”

~ Shinedown

For more information about Shinedown’s collaboration with Direct Relief, please click here:

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MARCH 22, 2020: “The Worst Mental Illness To Have” …

Quora Question

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Quora Answer

The worst mental illness someone can have is any mental illness they are afraid to be honest about for fear of what will people think. So many broken people choose to live behind a mask, perhaps thinking it’s the only way they can protect either other people or even themselves from whatever dark, sad or broken things are lurking within them.

Case in point: I just lost my husband to suicide on August 22, 2019. He had been diagnosed with severe, childhood abandonment-related depression a year prior. However, no one that thought they knew him had any idea what we had been dealing with at home, such that on August 23rd, when the news “hit the wall” on my Facebook page that he had taken his own life, everyone was shocked beyond belief. No one saw it coming. He wore a mask.

My husband was always the brightest light and happiest face in every room with a larger than life presence. His smile was infectious. But behind every one of his smiles, jokes and laughter, he was secretly dying inside. He believed for the longest time he could self-manifest his depression away by “faking it until he made it”, but sadly that was not to be. He drowned inside himself and the demons that had been circling his living carcass for a lifetime won.

I personally believe that mental illness is still such a stigmatic issue that people who are suffering in silence are less likely to be forthright about their situations and seek the help they need for fear that in doing so they will be seen as weak, crazy, ungrateful or just plain lazy.

“Mentally ill” are not two words people want to be associated with in conversation. I myself struggled with a debilitating mental illness of my own for many years, so I do have that very personal point of reference as well. I was ashamed of myself and so afraid to let people see what was really going on inside of me for fear of “what would people think”. So, I too hid it behind a mask with the biggest smile I could fake. Thankfully I survived to tell about it.

I’ve been writing incessantly about both my and my husband’s mental health journeys in “The Diary Of My Perfection” and specifically wrote a piece that I believe correlates to this topic in an entry entitled “Solitary: Life Behind A Mask” if anyone cares to read further on my perspective with this. It’s a commentary on The Joker movie, which I believe was a sobering eye-opener on this subject and really delves into what I am saying.

This is a great question, by the way, and an important one. Chances are that someone you know, and perhaps even someone very close to you, could be hiding behind a mask of their own and fighting a mental illness “in solitary”. In which case, it’s imperative that as a society we find a way to enable those who are living in such darkness to take off their masks and start walking towards a light. The more awareness we bring to this? The more lives will be saved!

To View The Original Quora Q&A Click HERE!

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MARCH 20, 2020: “Outlaws & Outsiders” …

FFDPIf you know me well you know that my history with musicality is, like me, “oxymoronical” at best. Movie soundtrack orchestrals to death metal and everything in between. Well, almost everything. There are some genres of “music” I just can’t. But I’ve digressed, again, as usual. Go figure. Five Finger Death Punch is one of my all time favorite bands. It’s a little rough around the edges folks, not gonna lie, and definitely not for the faint of heart. But behind every raging scream, pounding fist and stomping foot are the tears and still beating hearts of real life Phoenixes. Their brokeness. Darkness. Sadness. Rage. Regret. Vindication. Introspect, and yes, even the distant Lights of their Salvation (if you know where to really look for it deep beneath the surface). It sounds like “hate”, but it’s really “hurt”. It’s the very tragic truth and everything that comes after finding it! This morning I posted this on one of the private pages I follow:

Hello tribesmen. Hope you’re all faring well in this COVID operation. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here locked in my house with only my German Shepherd and my thoughts. When I posted this on my blog today, I went back to read it then closed my eyes and had THE best imaginary scenario about me and ALL OF YOU …

It’s two months from now. The pandemic has desecrated the earth. People are literally insane, like, real life “Walking Dead” martial law civilian chaos. But MY TRIBE is thousands of fed up, pissed off, “not right in the head” but actually VERY RIGHT IN THE HEAD, well-prepared, “life’s been priming us for this shit since the day we were born – how YOU doin” inked up, leather clad, metal in their faces, weapons-ready warriors and bullet-proof phoenixes that the world once thought were just a bunch of angry freaks, losers, weirdos and assholes grinding their axes for NOTHING! Then? We take over the world! It was THE best mini-movie I’ve ever watched in my mind! 

Let’s be ready to pick up our axes and start swinging, and this can be our fight song! Happy Friday everyone. Love all of you angry freaks and weirdos. No, really! 

So, here’s my vibe today: “Outlaws & Outsiders”! It’s this ridiculous life thing for me and yes it’s oh so beautiful! Some day I’m going to meet this band, I’m telling you right now. I’m extremely stubborn this way and when I put my mind to something, well, you can pretty much count on it happening. Ivan Greening (a/k/a “Ivan Moody’) is the leader of “The Pride” (a literal pack of animals) and although he too is EXTREMELY rough around the edges, he likens himself a Phoenix, which to me is beyond relatable and “human”.

If “Coronapocalypse 2020” is really coming for us all, trust me when I say that you’ll find me and both my kids living in this rogue society. Nothing like an army of once voiceless, broken, set aside, forgotten, hated, misunderstood, shame-filled “less thans” whose lives have been preparing them for “social distancing” from the moment they were born. The best way to survive if the end of the world is really coming is to go find all the other survivors waving their giant axes in the air. Because some of us once lived underneath a rock for this very reason. Just sayin’ …

OUTLAWS & OUTSIDERS

“Got a gypsy soul. I’m a rebel and rogue and I’m always on the run. With a fire inside, I ain’t ever gonna die. I’m a locked and loaded gun. When the matches strike and the gasoline lights, it’s only just begun. One thing I learned, is you can watch it all burn, but the flame ain’t ever done! Ooh … Raise ’em up a little higher, your lighters, outlaws and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge. Just say what you wanna say, or walk away! I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. We’re the outlaws and outsiders! Mm, yeah.

I was born in the dark with a fearless heart and a taste for the other side. I was a crazy-ass kid. All the shit I did. I’m amazed that I’m still alive. They thought I’d change with a little bit of age, but you know I never will. Takes too much time to walk a straight line and I don’t have time to kill. Ooh … Raise your fists up higher, you fighters, outlaws and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge. Just say what you wanna say, or walk away. I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. WE’RE THE OUTLAWS AND OUTSIDERS!

~ Cory Marks (with Ivan Moody, Travis Tritt & Mick Mars)

Knucklehead

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MARCH 18, 2020: “Just Living The Dream” …

6ff7a7bd-c566-4984-9047-585bac6ede2eLIVING THE DREAM

“Captain America, are you off to fight the bad guys? Hey, mighty Superman, can you save us from ourselves? Hey, Mr. Universe, can you lift us up above this? ‘Cause I’m just Iron Man, I’m a ghost within a shell. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems. We’re all living the dream. We’re all living the dream. Hey there, Your Majesty, is there anyone above you? It must be lonely when you’re up there looking down. Hey, Lady Amnesty, there’s no one that can judge you. We’re all just broken toys beneath your crooked crown. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems …” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

NOTE TO SELF:

Life is not a game my dear, it’s only just a song, so be mindful and intentional in all you do or say. If indeed you get to see the miracle of tomorrow, do everything you can to make it the most powerful “I’ve got another shot at this” kind of day ever! You’re sitting here writing this, which means you’re still alive, so keep “living the dream” well my little warrior Phoenix friend, taking NOTHING and NO ONE for granted.

(PS) YOU GOT THIS!

(Don’t forget Who’s driving the car.)

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MARCH 16, 2020: “Because This Is MY Experience” …

meEXPERIENCE

“Meet me at the crossroads. The edge of all my broken dreams. I feel like I’m missing something. Missing out. Missing me. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a risk worth taking. Right or wrong, it’s my line to cross. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. Swimming in the shallow water. They never let me get too deep. The tide will have to take me under. Pull me in. Set me free. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. A dream is only a dream. A dream is only a dream until you make it real. A dream is only a dream unless it’s something you can feel. I want something I can feel.” ~ Trapt

I remember the first time I heard this song in 2013 and how much it inspired me. Zack and I had been married for a couple of years, but despite the fact that we were crazy in love and truly being each other’s “better half”, I was still getting comfortable with the healthier skin I was wearing and learning how to stretch it after years of fighting to keep my head above the water in the battle for my sanity. My feet were on the path but it was a daily battle. “An angel to my left. The devil to my right. It was time that I made a choice”. Did it take me a minute to finally put all the pieces of myself that I had finally found back together? You betcha! But guess what? That was then, and this is now …

I’m not gonna lie, the last few days (like so many others I’ve experienced lately) were pretty damn good! I hate what I’ve been through, but love where I am, and every extra day and even the unforseen trials I surely still “get to go through” are a gift. I am a very thankful human woman, hands down, no matter what, and if God forbid I have to “move along” tomorrow, which I certainly hope that I don’t, I’m all set and ready to go. I’m at peace with my past. At peace with myself. At peace with my Creator. No stones have been left unturned. Anyone who needed forgiveness from me has gotten it, whether or not they asked for or deserved it. This IS my “Brighter Side Of Grey“. This IS my “Experience”!

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MARCH 15, 2020: “The Nature Of God” …

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I’ve long been a fan of the late Alan Watts, a British writer, lecturer, teacher and philospher. If you haven’t heard of, read, or listened to any of his lectures, I hope you find this as fascinating as I did when I first stumbled upon it. This particular piece was my first exposure to him, and I’ve since listened to as many of his lectures as possible. His messages, delivery and thought-provoking ideals just have a way of making you wonder, or, I suppose, as was the case with me, hard-core confirming what you’ve already come to believe. Watts was known to be incredibly imaginitive, if not stubborn and tunnel-visioned in his theories, but at the same time open to the concept of “open-mindedness”. He was “black and white” and GREY, just like me, and I feel very kindred to his spirit. I’ve been having both my kids listen to him by the way, and they too are appreciative, learning, growing and expanding their minds from his theories. At any rate, I truly hope you enjoy this. It’s really nice to listen to him in a quiet, candle lit space with a blanket, a German Shepherd, a few cats and a nice hot cup of coffee. Just sayin’ …  

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MARCH 8, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259TO MY KIDS …

“I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies.  When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

THIS PICTURE. One I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still, this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in, yet was patiently waiting for and calling to me all the while.

If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or grey artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how poignantly it reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life and long before it was diagnosed. My illness imprisoned me in the dichotomy of “black and white thinking” and held me for ransom inside the compartmentalized boxes in my mind where I stored all my feelings and pain. Before I put my disease into remission I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO SPACE FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else and there was no way for my broken thought process to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen you ask? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I do tend to agree. I was raised in an environment of conditionally based reward, praise, affection and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished and rejected. They “washed their hands” of me too many times to count whenever I screwed up or simply failed to follow “the rules” and ZERO was the validation or consideration of my feelings. My mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me. For the record, I do not believe that these traumas were visited on me purposefully or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma indeed was real, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For so many years in the wake of not only my broken childhood, but as much so in the wake of my own self-inflicted destruction and imprisonment, I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. At this point it is no longer a secret that I myself attempted suicide on November 8, 1996, but thankfully survived to tell about it.  But I’ve digressed …

Music of all genres has been such an integral part of my mental health journey and recovery, but one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, has been at the forefront of them all. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings, but have also given my former “voiceless self” permission to either cry my feelings to the surface or YELL AND SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! Several months ago I pre-ordered their new album and had been counting the days until it was released. I was so stoked when it finally hit my library and just started from the beginning as I headed out for my day. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up I literally had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears or the physical heartache and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful and beautiful moments of my life and it was as if he were singing it to me himself. To me. To her. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday when it’s time for her to read “The Letter” he wrote but never gave her I will play it for her. Knowing God the way I do, when she’s finally able to receive these most beautiful lyrics of both our lives in conjunction with the most beautiful words a secretly crumbling father could possibly have written to a daughter, they will become a significant part of her healing thus far and her journey going forward.

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-se” (grace) I’ve received that is so undeserved yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me “with black and white conditions”. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and dilutes the blackness of the abyss into the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades I lived a “black and white life” with no room for the grey I knew I needed so much but didn’t know how to connect with. So, as I look back at this picture now I am filled with the most unbelievable hope, peace, balance and inspiration you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and there is always a “brighter side of grey”. Not gonna lie, it is now my greatest wish that when it’s time for me to move along this is the last song I hear as they say goodbye. It means everything to me. Literally, everything

Them

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MARCH 4, 2020: “Endless” …

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“Before the start, beyond the end. As far as east is from the west. Measureless. From open sky to ocean depths. More than man can comprehend. Measureless. Your love is without limit, Your love is constant. Your love goes on forever. Your love is endless. Your love is overwhelming, I can’t contain it. Your love, Your love, Your love is endless! Oh how vast, and oh how wide. Far beyond all space and time. Measureless. Your love is without limit. Your love is constant. Your love goes on forever. Your love is endless. No death, no height. No fear, no shame, no lie. I am convinced, even the grave could never separate.” ~ Cory Asbury 

… when the doorbell rings and it’s the custom piece your friend and jeweler of 20 years had been creating just for you. It was born from the gold and diamonds my first two wedding bands and his. For those of you who don’t know this, Zack’s “Life Path Number” was 8, and that number has been working itself into some of the craziest moments since August 22, 2019, not the LEAST of which is the sobering reality that although we were both very much “hoping for the best” with his spiriling mental health and passive suicidality, he had been “preparing for the worst” all the while. Little did I know that on “8/8/19”, which day, on the surface, appeared to be just fine, he’d gone into Cabella’s and purchased the gun he used to end his life. So, from a numerology standpoint: “8 plus 8 is 16; 16 plus 19 is 35; 3 plus 5 is 8”. Not long before he died he had also decided to have an Infinity symbol (which is also an “8”) with both mine and Gia’s name on each end tattooed on his left shoulder. This amazing woman even worked two semi colons into each end of the design for me, which we weren’t sure would even be possible, because as you know, “; my story isn’t over yet”.

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“Infinity” represents so much more than just the endless love I will carry in my heart for him until I see him again. It represents the truly endless love that God has for all of us as well, which is something I am ever mindful of, especially in the darkest moments of my life.

I know that he was smiling from ear to ear watching me open that package with as much joy and excitement as the day he first slipped those rings on my finger! I will treasure this masterpiece until the day I leave this Earth. Although Gia still has so much still to process where Zack and the horrific way that he left and hurt her are concerned, when the day finally comes that I myself have to move on, hopefully both she and my future granddaughters will take it from there and wear and treasure it proudly as they bask in legacy of love, Light and endless resilience their “Crazy Grandma Cat” and even Zack was determined to have live on through them for “INFINITY”.

your story

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MARCH 4, 2020: “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again” …

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TELL YOUR HEART TO BEAT AGAIN

“You’re shattered like you’ve never been before. The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor. And words fall short in times like these when this world drives you to your knees. You think you’re never gonna get back to the you that used to be. Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been, and tell your heart to beat again. “Beginning”. Just let that word wash over you. It’s alright now, love’s healing hands have pulled you through. So get back up, take step one. Leave the darkness, feel the Sun. ‘Cause your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun. Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again. Let every heartbreak and every scar be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far. ‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could. In this moment Heaven’s working everything for your good”. ~ Danny Gokey

I DID IT! I’m now “ASIST” (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) certified. I’d say it was a tough 48 hours, but that wouldn’t be true. Not gonna lie, there were definitely a few moments when I felt myself sliding backwards, like when we were watching the video reenactment of a 911 suicide call and heard the sound of a double-barrel shotgun being loaded and “death certificates” being filled out on the widescreen. No tears though. Not a single one. I am stubborn and refuse to look back with sorrow, agony or regret at the devastation in my life. I only want to look ahead.

In addition to the skills I learned in this class, perhaps the most powerful takeaway was not “skill related” at all. You see, when I walked in to that place Monday morning it was PACKED! Forty plus people were there to be trained, and two of our volunteer trainers traveled to Dallas from other states to teach the class. Keep in mind that an inventory of  who was there for training revealed predominantly “regular people” from many different jobs, professions, statuses and groups. And while “some”, like me, had either lost a loved one to suicide or survived an attempt of their own, “most” were not in either category. Meaning? It was a random group of concerned citizens who truly believe that suicide is a serious and growing epidemic society is facing and they just want to find a way to help. IT WAS COMFORTING, AND MOTIVATING, AND INSPIRATIONAL, AND IT MADE ME FEEL SO MUCH LESS ALONE AS A MEMBER OF THIS CLUB THAT NO ONE WANTS TO BELONG TO! It reminded me yet again that this world isn’t as dark and lonely as it sometimes seems and there are good people in it, with warm hearts, genuine intentions, and wide open arms that just want to embrace other people with love.

As I said in a Facebook post last night, I am bound and determined to maintain every SINGLE ounce of the resilience I’ve fought so hard to earn going forward and for the REST of my days on this Earth. I pray to God that I never get “that call” from someone who believes that someone they know may be in crisis. Statistically speaking, unfortunately, I just may at some point. I AM PREPARED! God let me be broken so that I could become His “Light In The Dark” and live a life of use to others in His name.

Please earmark, download, share or save this post in case someone YOU know ever needs “ASISTance”!

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IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE IN CRISIS, PLEASE CALL ME!

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MARCH 2, 2020: “Winning The Game” …

"And Why Do We Fall Bruce?"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

… THE GAME …

“How have you been? Nice to see you again. How quickly these conversations seem to end. You meet a friend every now and then. How quickly these relations turn into trends. Put all your walls up and open your windows and close all your doors. You catch yourself standing in front of the mirror and now you need more. What do you wish for to catch you as you’re falling. So easy to ignore, but now you hear it calling again. “I wouldn’t want to be you. This lonely game that you play between your walls you confuse. Every heart that you break. So afraid that you’ll lose. Always a void to replace. I wouldn’t want to play you. You try and pretend, the truth is hard to bend. How easy these translations can be read. What if you were led to play a different game instead. How hard these frustrations are to mend. Does it matter to you? Just wait …” ~ Trapt

Dear “Past Me”:

Yes, I know exactly how you’ve been, and no, I don’t ever want to see you here again. Don’t forget to keep those walls DOWN and the windows OPEN WIDE as you stand in your mirror often and marvel at who you’ve become. You don’t need to wish for anything whenever you start to fall, because after all we’ve been through we’ve learned how to pick ourselves back up! No more pretending. No more truth bending. And remember this “game” is not a game – IT’S A SONG. You are a Phoenix. You’re a queen. You’re a warrior and a survivor! Now go and shine that “Light In Someone’s Dark” just as you were always meant to.

I Love You Girl … “Me”

Batman

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MARCH 1, 2020: “Fight On Fighter” …

IMG_E9855FIGHT ON, FIGHTER!

“I was there on the day that you were changed. You were scared and prepared for the heartbreak. Everything you knew faded out of view. Stole a piece of you. If I could, oh, I would be a hero. Be the one who would take all the arrows. Save you from the pain, carry all the weight. But I know that you’re brave. Fight on, fighter! Don’t let anyone steal your fire. Fight on, fighter! The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah. There’s a part that you hold that you lock down. Let it breathe, give it wings, set it free now. Time to make ya walk, break the prison bars. Show them who you are. Fight on, fighter!  Don’t let anyone steal your fire. Fight on, fighter! The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah. Stronger than you than you ever thought. I know you’re stronger. Braver than you were before. You know you’re braver. Oh, no, you don’t have to be afraid. Together we’ll face it. So don’t ever stop no matter what. ‘Cause you’re gonna make it.” ~ for King & Country

As you may know, long before August 22, 2019 when Zack turned our world upside down with the most egregious exit possible, Gia had been on a downward descent of her own for several years. Someday I will revisit in greater detail that sobering night in November 2018 when during a random a spot check of her phone after she’d gone to sleep, Zack walked back into our room with her phone in his hand and a look of doom, dread and panic on his face like nothing I’d ever seen: He’d found that she had searched “I don’t want to live anymore” and “I think I want to kill myself”. Our world literally stopped in a frozen halt.

Gia had been fighting an invisible darkness for so long, which too will be revisited down the road. At the heart of the matter was depression, anxiety and “post-traumatic stress” from both the unsettled relationship with not only “Him” (real dad), but the fallout from the social isolation and ostracization His girlfriend and her daughter had bestowed upon mine. Girlfriend was the cute blonde nursing student that befriended me from out of the blue the last week of second grade year, and very long story short, this highly skilled, calculated and manipulative woman truly had an agenda that is seeing it’s way to fruition as I write this. They did a number Gia, which by the way, is still a source of unrest for her to this day, because in case you didn’t already know, after all the things they did to both my kids, He is not only “with her still”, but actually planning to marry her. Yup, true story. But wow, I’ve digressed. Go figure!

Meanwhile, as I have said, her years at St. Mark’s were spent toggling on the in and  outskirts of a tribe of girls that only perpetuated her deepening depression. “The Squad”, as they called themselves, were (and still are) a cluster of girls banned together to bolster these abhorrent beliefs:

  • That being popular is the only real “power” that is available to them.
  • That said “popularity and power” are directly linked to what society insinuates upon us all: “In order to be popular, and therefore powerful, you have to be pretty, thin, have really good hair, just the right color of skin, and oh yah, lots of stuff!”
  • That the most desirable and valuable sources of the power they seek are the truly feminine attributes: “The more physically developed, naturally gifted, talented and intelligent another girl is, the more dangerous her threat”. 
  • That being mean, hateful and self-seeking are necessary evils in pursuit of “the power and position” within the hierarchy of their group.
  • That shunning, ostracizing, belittling, and humiliating any female whose naturally powerful attributes pose a threat to their own popularity, power and position by exposing, by comparison, their LACK of “naturally powerful attributes” is the best and most effective way to reduce “the other girl’s power”.
  • Finally, that the “lower status” girls are typically the nicest and kindest with the most genuine hearts and effortless demeanors, and, therefore the weakest and most likely to just stand back and be trampled on by a desperate pack of “desperates”.

LONG TALE VERY SHORT: Gia’s “Squad” could neither stand NOR tolerate her lingering presence, much less allow her to enjoy any security within its atmosphere, because her genuine likeability, kind heart, natural beauty, effortless intelligence, more developed physique, and “affluence” by virtue of her family were threats to the popularity and power they so desperately craved amongst their bottom-feeding selves. THEY WERE JEALOUS FUCKING BITCHES WHO COULDN’T HANDLE MY DAUGHTER’S SHADOW SO THEY HAD TO FIND A WAY TO EVEN THE PLAYING FIELD BY LEVELING HER AT HER CORE!

Let me stop any of you who may be saying, “Oh, wow, that’s kind of harsh Cat, don’t you think? After all, they’re just young girls who don’t know any …”. NOPE! Wrong answer! BY THIS POINT IN THEIR LIVES THEY MOST CERTAINLY KNOW BETTER AND EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE DOING! (And PS, many of their mothers actually support, if not instill these “do whatever you must to ascend to the top” mindsets into their daughter’s psyches from a very young age. So then, moving right along …

BACK TO MY POINT NOW: Yesterday I finally got to the bottom of yet another thing that had been eating my daughter’s spirit alive. Turns out her extraordinarily beautiful heart, face and very physically developed physique had become more of a problem for “The Squad” than we’d suspected. You have not lived until you’ve seen your already broken daughter just staring at her plate and fighting through that psychcological gauntlet that many of us fall prey to: “I’m fucking hungry, but maybe I shouldn’t eat this, because after all, I’m just a huge cow with gigantic legs.” That’s right people, turns out Gia has had a dragon of her own circling her fragile heart.

Luckily, Gia talks to me, some days more than others. Now that I think of it, both my kids talk to me, about everything, always, and eventually I always get to their truths. With each day that passes I’m learning more about the voices she’s been fighting inside her own mind, and as we talked through the conundrum she was having with her breakfast yesterday she finally spilled it  with these very sobering words:

“Mom, the thing is, I just don’t like the way I look. I hate my curves and hate being so tall. And Mom, I never told you this, but last summer when I was at a Squad sleepover at T’s we were upstairs in her room and she started making fun of how much bigger my legs were than hers. She said, ‘look everyone, two of my legs equals one of Gia’s!’ Then she pointed out how much bigger my legs were than EVERYONE’S and they ALL started laughing. THEN she started talking about my chest and how huge IT was and they were all laughing some more, and I felt like dying inside, and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. They were supposed to be my friends Mom. And NO ONE stood up for me. I wanted to call you to come pick me up, but I didn’t. I HATE MY BODY MOM! Why DO my legs have to be so big? Maybe I just need to eat less.”  

And there you have it! What a cruel, heartless, WEAK bitch move for her to do that to my daughter, her “friend”. To imagine my kid, surrounded by “her tribe”, the girls who were supposed to protect and stand up for her, not only against the world, but even against each other when necessary, in a circle of psychological and emotional abuse. It was her very own “Day Of The Spic And Span“, and, IT WAS UNACCEPTABLE!

I was infuriated beyond comprehension at first, but quickly remembered that I needed to keep calm and control my reaction. So, I took a deep breathe, thought things out for a minute, and this was my response:

“Gia, I hear you and understand you. I myself have been where you are and have felt these very same feelings. I’m sorry that happened to you. It was beyond unacceptable, untrue of course, but damaging to you nonetheless. But going forward, if you are to rise above yourself, you CANNOT worry about other peoples’ opinions. Remember: What other people think of you is none of your business anyway! Any cruel disregard for your heart, emotions and feelings is about THEM, not you, because in all their pathetic weakness those words are ALL they have to slay you with. THEY HURT YOU BECAUSE THEY FEAR YOU! And remember this as well: You’re a queen too my beautiful little girl … a lioness perched upon a hill. You DO NOT and WILL NOT consider the opinions of pitiful, insignificant, irrelevant sheep that laugh at you, mock you, or torment you just to gain power, because you are my daughter, and you are stronger and better than that. We can’t change the past, but we CAN change the future, so here’s what let’s do: Finish your breakfast, go get changed up, let’s hit the gym today and do the work! Deal?”  

And so with that, we WILL keep working towards our soul destinations. My daughter is that fighter who will “keep on fighting on”, because she is mine, and that’s what GOOD queens do. Goodnight everyone!

PS, Again, To My Daughter’s “Tribe” AND Their Mothers:

You shouldn’t need to ask if it brought me any pleasure showing her the cute little video I’d sent to my husband last year (that I didn’t know he’d kept and only recently found on his phone). Oh, it’s that one of a couple of you drunk grinding with your tongue’s down eachother’s throats during one of our mom’s night out! “You think their lives are perfect Gia? Yah, maybe not so much, and let me show you why ...!” The look on her face: PRICELESS!😘

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FEBRUARY 27, 2020: “Until The Bitter End” …

"You're Not Like The Others"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

“BITTER END”

I’ve walked every road and turned every corner. Searched high and low where I did not belong. Adrift with the tide, always hungry and yearning. If only I’d known that The Answer was here all along.

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive!

I’ve kissed the lips of an angel in waiting. Devil in kind, I’ve been lost and deceived. The thrill had to fade in this world for the taking. Once I woke up to what mattered, then I could see. 

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive! 

We’re lost on a road where all we can find are just the remnants of hope that somehow we leave far behind. But this much I know – somehow we’ll be alright. Cause it’s never too late to learn how to start living right.

The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive!

The bitter end will come in time. Starting right now, I’ll stop falling down and start living right.

~ Alter Bridge

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FEBRUARY 26, 2020: “Understanding People” …

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I love this question. In my personal opinion, I believe that “some people” do understand people. “Some people” do not. It is also my opinion that the people who tend to “understand people” the most are those who understand themselves. Which is not to say that “understanding ourselves” is always easy. It’s not. The process of our “understanding of ourselves” begins at our first breath the day we are born, through other people’s lenses, perspectives, realities and experiences. Such that, if our first “understanding of ourselves” is through the eyes, words, thoughts and actions of emotionally mature, healthy and functional people, it is easier to get know and understand “who we really are”, and thus perpetuate that outwards to other people. “We are what we reflect”. So, whatever we see and understand in our own mirrors is what we tend to see and understand (or not see and understand) in others.

To View The Original Quora Q&A Click HERE!

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FEBRUARY 25, 2020: “Thank You For Helping Me Change Tomorrow” …

img_9238… CHANGE TOMORROW

“For the first time in years there’s a light up ahead. It’s calling. (It’s pulling me closer) Reborn within. Now I’m shedding my skin. It’s falling. (The weight off my shoulders) ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I can’t erase all of my errors. Those days are gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. On my knees in the rain with my head hung in shame, just crawling, stalling. (All alone in my ways) Memories I can’t erase. Faces I couldn’t face haunt me. (My life lay to waste). ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I need a break. It’s now or never. Yesterday’s gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. For all the years of emptiness. For all of my mistakes. For all the years I’ve thrown it all away. It’s not too late.”  ~ Like A Storm

There is no way for me to properly express the depth of my gratitude for all of the love, support and faith all of you are pouring into me not only here in The Diary, but in other forums (such as Quora) where I am also sharing not only my journey, but the fallen king’s as well. My reach is growing stronger by the minute and I’m consumed by a burning fire in my heart when I open my statistics every morning to find that people literally all over the world are reading my words. I’m getting messages daily, from again, all over the world, and what is resonating loudly is that people are relating to all the best and worst parts of my life and being inspired to try and make some changes of their own and step out of their own silent darknesses. THAT’S ALL I’VE EVER WANTED … for other broken people to realize the power and potential of their own strong warrior hearts and find the courage to not only survive, but THRIVE!

“I can’t stay chained to my secrets …”

…and neither can you! The secret pain, anguish, heartache and trauma we keep buried within our hearts is nothing short of a 30,000 pound anchor that not only keeps our ships bound to the turbulent seas that some of us end up drowning in, but also keeps us from ever reaching safe harbor. As for me? My most life-altering, traumatic and darkest “secret” has still yet to be revealed by the way, because frankly, I’m just not ready to reveal it. I’m working with God directly on that one and together we will both know when it’s time for my “biggest reveal”. But in the meantime …

“I can change. I can change tomorrow.”

All of YOU are helping me do that and I pray that my words will help you change your own tomorrow if that’s what you need to do. Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME. My best to everyone reading this … MAKE IT A POWERFUL DAY!

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The Diary Thank You

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FEBRUARY 24, 2020: “Life Must Go On” …

IMG_E9728LIFE MUST GO ON

“Sitting alone in the cold of the night. You’re trying to find what you need to survive. You’re so afraid you can’t go on. Left in the silence that tears at your heart. It only reminds you how broken you are. You’ve lost your way, but Hope is not gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. Do you remember and long for the past? When love was eternal and joy seemed to last? Yesterday. Forever is gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. It must go on. We have our misfortunes. The darkest of days. We must endure and keep strong. Just look to the morning. The promise awaits. And know that this life must go on ..” ~ Alter Bridge

I was at the Social Security office today handling the business that noone ever really wants to handle: The “widowed” of it all. Meanwhile, while I was waiting for my number to be called I decided to clean out my wallet because not only was I bored out of my mind, there was no wi-fi there, so, tag, “cleaning out my wallet” was it!

So, guess what I found tucked tucked away in a space in the wallet that I didn’t realize existed? A love note from my husband that he had hidden for me to find! As shocked as I was, I wasn’t really shocked at all. It wasn’t uncommon for him to do things like that and I have a box filled with the dozens of cards and love notes he would hide for me in the decade we spent together. “For richer or poorer. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Until death did us part … and EVEN beyond?” You see, that was just his way. He wanted me to know I was his queen and how grateful he was that I, and no one else, gave him the love, family and home he’d been searching for literally all his life.

He gave me this wallet on Valentine’s Day last year, and looking back do remember both the referenced back pain and the argument I’d had with my mom. He must have hidden it sometime at the end of March. My husband was indeed struggling at that point and slowly descending downward, but there were still very clear and poignant traces of “him” that existed. Someday when I’m ready I will definitely be going back to revisit “the descent“, which as far as I’m concerned really started in January 2019.

In the meantime, just know this: Yes, I am “an effing warrior”, and yes, I AM “a survivor”. But even warriors cry, and you know what? THAT’S OKAY! What kind of queen would I be without moments like today that I literally cry my eyes out to the point of nauseau because I miss my fallen king, who lost his damn mind, and left me all alone on this throne that he gave me with a broken heart and a hurting and traumatized princess? I’d be a pretty heartless one I suppose. One thing I know for sure about myself by now is that my heart is bigger than the ocean, so yah, sometimes I cry. But then I wipe my tears, straighten my crown, and my life must go on! I’m pretty stubborn that way if you haven’t figured it out by now, and also? GOD. Just God. I know He was crying with me this afternoon and I KNOW HE WAS SMILING WHEN I GOT RIGHT BACK UP LIKE I DID: “That’s My girl”, He said, and hopefully so did Zack. I am loved. Still. Always. Eternally.

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FEBRUARY 23, 2020: “Until They’re Safe Inside” …

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SAFE INSIDE

“I remember when you were all mine. Watched you changing in front of my eyes. What can I say? Now that I’m not the fire in the cold. Now that I’m not the hand that you hold as you’re walking away. Will you call me to tell me you’re alright? ‘Cause I worry about you the whole night. Don’t repeat my mistakes, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you’re home I just hope that you’re sober. Is it time to let go now you’re older? Don’t leave me this way, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. Everyone has to find their own way. And I’m sure things will work out okay.  Always start with the Truth. All we know is the Sun will rise. Thank your lucky stars that you’re alive. It’s a beautiful life. Oh, will you call me to tell me you’re alright? ‘Cause I worry about you the whole night. Don’t repeat my mistakes, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you’re home I just hope that you’re sober. Is it time to let go now you’re older? Don’t leave me this way, I won’t sleep ’til you’re safe inside. If you make the same mistakes, I will love you either way. All I know is I can’t live without you. There is nothing I can say that will change you anyway darling, I could never live without you. I can’t live, I can’t live, no, no.” ~ James Arthur

Facebook “memories” … Dear GOD, how I love them so! Always so bittersweet, especially in the wake of that August 22nd, 2019 “memory” I love to hate so much. Three years ago today I this:

“that moment you become a blubbering mess and thank GOD that you were lucky enough to bear certain crosses, because at the end of the day you may have lost some skin, but definitely ended up becoming real. And after all, isn’t “real” the only mark you want to touch the world with and the legacy you most want to leave for your children? “Please let me reach just one …”. I love you Sheyenne. To the Moon and back, always have, always will, and you will never NOT be one of “mine”. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Of course I had to “repost it” today, as it’s still one of the happiest memories of my life so far, and as I said, every single time I read what she wrote on the back of that picture she sent it still brings tears to my eyes AND reinforces why it is that I do what I do. This particular kiddo of mine and I share a very special bond (she was my son’s first true love and high school sweetheart). She was then and still is like an actual daughter to me, and so is her big sister by the way. I love them both beyond measure, just as I love ALL “my kids”. No matter how far they go away they always know they have a safe place and another “home” with this Momma Cat. My kids can tell me anything, and trust me when I tell you – I’ve heard absolutely everything! But I “hear and listen” to them without judgment or unnecessary harsh criticism and only offer my honest wisdom and advice when they ask for it. In my halo, my kids and their precious feelings are validated in all things, which, for the record, is exactly what I needed when I was younger, and exactly who I’m trying to be for them now that I’m older. It’s this whole thing and I am just so very blessed.

By the way, “Safe Inside” is a very special song to me in this entire regard, and every time I hear it I think of every one of them – “my kids” (the ones I gave birth to and the ones who I’ve been blessed enough to have call me “mom”. Truth being told, these days when I hear it I also think of my husband and hope that he’s finally made it safely “Home”. Although I clearly fell down (in ways that some of you may never truly now much less fathom or understand), as sick as he was at the very end, he left here having truly known “real love” as well, and for that I am equally as blessed and grateful to have been the one to make that happen for him before he had to go. I will not rest until I know that all of the people that mean the most to me in this world are “safe inside” (both physically and metaphorically).

Okay folks, make it a good night! ~ C

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FEBRUARY 21, 2020: “When You’re Drowning” …

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… IN THE DEEP

“I am still as the moment I hold in my hand. I can’t let go. Here and now, time and space, the illusion so grand. And then I know every breath leads the way. My escape, it is never far when I fall in the deep with You. I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek, let it lift my heavy heart. So alive, every rise, every fall brings me back to where I must go. All that I’ll ever need is this moment to get me by when I fall in the deep. With You I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek. Let it lift my heavy heart. I’m slowly fading in Your arms. I’m slowly fading in Your arms. When I fall in the deep, with You I see that Heaven’s never far. Let it wash over me, The Truth I seek. Let it lift my heavy heart.” ~ Altar Bridge

… because sometimes a song is all I really need to say everything I need to say. It’s February 22, 2020, exactly five months “to the day”. At quarter ’til midnight I’ll probably have that sucker-punch of a flash inside my head that I still cannot seem to shake, yet only exists as a lingering but slowly fading question at this point. I’ll cycle through the gaunlet and land right back on my feet, just like I do every day, because I’m an effing Warrior with a “ghost gang” of angels that ride upon my shoulders. I. Survive. Always! I still believe that I’m the luckiest woman I’ve ever known and cannot say it enough, and I’ve never felt closer to God than I have these last months. My relationship with Him has been my ultimate saving grace, and that, my friends, is the ONLY Truth I’ll ever need. My “186th day” prayer tonight is that everyone I love, anyone who’s life I touch, and anyone who is reading these words somehow reaches this place called “nirvana” that I have. Goodnight everyone! 

Sig

FEBRUARY 20, 2020: “If That’s What It Takes” …

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IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES

“You say you fell out of love with no place to stand. You say your heart’s on the mend from a broken romance. You say you don’t want to trust because it hurts too much. And you think I’d never understand. Tell me what have I got to do to make a believer of you? Do I have turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red? Do I have to push the Sun into the sea to make you fall in love with me? Oh, if that’s what it takes then let it be. You say, you don’t need my love but I know it’s a lie. You say I shouldn’t even try. Tell me what have I got to lose to make a believer of you? Do I have turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red? Do I have to push the Sun into the sea to make you fall in love with me? Oh, if that’s what it takes then let it be. You need me to turn the tide of your ocean. Let me set your heart back into motion.” ~ Clay Crosse

Today was a hugely important day for me, if not THE most important decision-making day of my life thus far. I won’t go into details of what exactly this decision was, but trust me when I tell you – it was a big one! As I made the drive from home to Dallas it was a crisp, cold, insanely beautiful morning with a sky bright blue and clear. Yet as sure as I was that the decision I was making was right, the entire drive there I was talking out loud to God, my angels, my husband, and pretty much anyone “beyond” who was listening. “I just need a sign. Someone? Anyone? PLEASE!” I was begging for an answer, “Is this what I’m supposed to do? Is this what Zack would want me to do?” Even after I parked and was headed into the building and up the elevator I was asking the Cosmos, “Please, just ONE sign?” But? I got nothing. It was all good though, because after all, Zack’s best friend of a lifetime was joining me there to help guide me through the process. Rick was his rock, his true confidant, and the only human man he trusted and looked to as a father in all things big or small. Having him with me just set me at ease.

When I finally made it to the office where the woman I was meeting with was waiting, I sat down beside Rick and all the fun began. By the second hour in, our partnership had indeed commenced, at which point Rick had to leave. Research was being done, calls were being made, and forms being prepared for my signature while I just sat there patiently in my chair watching allt the magic. This woman was literally planning my future. As I gazed around at the various “things” in her office it felt like I was in my own little world. Then as I glanced over to a table with a vignette of personal pictures and trinkets she had evidently collected along the way, it happened! THE SIGN I BEGGED “THEM” TO SHOW ME ALL BUT DROPPED RIGHT DOWN FROM HEAVEN! A silver frog with a crown on his head was sitting right before my eyes! I almost came out of my skin!

And just like that I was yet again reminded that this God I serve is so faithful. “Do I have to turn water into wine? Turn some stones into bread? Do I have to paint my heart across the sky in a blazing shade of red?” No Sir, You don’t. You’ve been making a believer out of me since I first realized I was broken, and while I’ve clearly already known this all the while, this moment between us was unbelievable. You just keep showing me, and showing UP for me, in every thing big and small. I want You to know that I’m thankful for ALL OF THIS and I know You’re planning to use it all for Your glory. Thank you for never letting me down and never letting me go. I love You.

Frpgg

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FEBRUARY 17, 2020: “He Told The Stars About US” …

"I Told The Stars"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

STARS

“You spoke a word and life began. Told oceans where to start and where to end. You set in motion time and space. But still You come and You call to me by name. But still You come and You call to me by name. If You can hold the stars in place, You can hold my heart the same. Whenever I fall away. Whenever I start to break. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. The deepest depths, the darkest nights. Can’t separate, can’t keep me from Your sight. I get so lost, forget my way. But still You love and You don’t forget my name. If You can hold the stars in place, You can hold my heart the same. Whenever I fall away. Whenever I start to break. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. If You can calm the raging sea, You can calm the storm in me. You’re never too far away. You never show up too late. So here I am, lifting up my heart to The One who holds the stars. Your love has called my name. What do I have to fear? What do I have to fear? Your love has called my name. What do I have to fear? What do I have to fear? ~ Skillet

Gia and I watched “The Shack” again last night, which by the way, if you haven’t ever seen it, I highly recommend that you do! It’s the story of a fictional tragedy that causes a father to crash into a dark depression and question everything about his faith until he receives a mysterious letter that insights his journey to “a shack” that reignites his bludgeoned soul back to The Truth.

When it first hit the box office in March of 2017 we went as a family to watch it – Zack, me, Gia and Christian. I had already read the book when I was at The Meadows and then again on one of my truck-driving scoots up to Kansas, but when I heard about the movie release I immediately secured our tickets because I just needed them all had to see it. It was a powerful night for the four of us together and like many others in the theatre that night we all just sat silently in our tears until well after the lights came on and the clean-up crew started their sweep. It seemed to hit Christian the hardest of all and at one point the three of us were all huddled around him in his seat just holding him as he literally was sobbing his eyes out. So yes, it hits you, just like that, and again, I can’t say it enough: If you havent seen it? GO SEE IT!

Meanwhile, one of the most powerful parts of the movie for me was this song I love called “Stars”. It’s about blind faith and how if you are a true believer, you trust that God is in control of everything. Hands down. Without question. Without hesitation. Without a doubt. HE’S GOT THIS! But not just the big things, the little things too, which I’m not gonna lie, even on my strongest days in The Light I too “forget to remember” that nothing happens by chance. Well, I take that back. I used to forget to remember. The old me. The scared and scarred me. The “I know He’s here but why is He just so mean” me. (Yes, that’s really what I used to think.) It took a long time for my mustard seed to grow into tree, which too was perfectly okay, because a mustard seed is all He ever asked for.

Whether you know me well or have just joined my journey, by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that am a gamut of emotions that can often mimic a gauntlet. I can be kind and loving, empathetic and caring, and fiercely protective of those who are in my bubble. I can also be a raging, angry, LUNATIC of a bitch with a vicious tongue that will take you to your knees if you’re the one facing the truth behind my words in a mirror. I will forgive anything 200% of the time but never forget those who hurt me or mine. My point being that although I can appear dark at times, and as God Himself is my witness, I live, breathe and will die by the message of Hope in this song. So please don’t let my dark side poke holes in my testimony. At the end of the day I’m still just a broken person who wants to live a life of use to others and tries her best to be as “Light” as possible under any circumstance but still screws up and gets bitter.

If you are struggling with brokenness, depression or “darkness” of your own please listen to this song. God may have His hands full with all the big stuff, but He does know who you are. He does know your name. He does bear your pain. He does cry when you cry. Look at me people! Shouldn’t I be curled up in a ball right now? Been there. Done that. I’ve run off and hid in “my shack” too many times to count, but He comes looking for me every time. He always has and always will. HE’S GOT THIS PEOPLE! And that, my friends, is The Truth.

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