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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 9, 2020: “Be Like Good Cat And NEVER Change” …

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“PICTURE THIS”

… AND NEVER CHANGE!

“There’s a thousand things I’ve wanted to say but I’ve never been brave. No, I’ve never been brave. And you deserve the whole world. An island to yourself. You’re an island in yourself. And I think its time that I tell you how I feel. This is how I feel. And I get lost when I’m with you. And you’ll hear me say never change, baby. Stay the same, lady. Did I know for so long? Never change. There’s a hundred places I’ve wanted to see. Would you see them with me? Would you see them with me? And I don’t care where we go ”cause you are home. You are my home. And we can stay in cheap hotels. Lets just pay to entertain ourselves. And I get lost when I’m with you. And you’ll hear me say never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I know for so long l? And I’m your man; hear me scream your name daily. Who I’ve known for so long. Never change. And I will take you with me everywhere I go. Pack your bags and leave it baby. I want you to know that loving you is easy. I thought I’d tell you so. And I want you to know: Never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I move for so long? Never change baby. Stay the same lady. Did I move for so long? And I’m your man. Hear me Scream your name daily. Who I’ve known for so long. Never change.” ~ Picture This

PICTURE THIS: You’re a cat just trying to take a nap on a lazy afternoon, minding your business, doing your thing, which “thing” just happens to make perfect sense to you. For no apparent reason, the very place you’re taking that nap happens to be the very place you’d firmly decided was the perfect place to always take your nap; in the quietest room of the house, just off the beaten path of the everyday chaos that otherwise ensues, which very same chaos you quite often not only participate in, but almost enjoy. Every day you hop right up onto the same exact spot and curl yourself up into the perfect little ball, then close your eyes and nap. Because? It’s what you do!

BACK TO TODAY: You’re just trying to take your nap, only this time your crazy mom is snapping pictures of you for what apparent reason you just don’t know, all the while chirping at you in a sweet and loving voice, “Oh, Good Cat, what are you doing you silly girl? Can’t you see that nice cozy bed there I’ve put there for you to lay in? Why then are you lying beside it and not in it? This bed that I got for you is just so much … better.”

MEANWHILE: You’re thinking to yourself as you try desperately hiding your frustration, because after all, in the big scheme of things, where you’ve chosen to take your Sunday nap doesn’t really affect her, and more so than that, doesn’t really affect anyone or thing. This is the spot you’ve chosen, because it’s the perfect spot for you, and you’re not really appreciating the being woken up of it all for either this crazy women’s picture or what was probably her very well-intended advice about “where you should take your naps”. So, you say to yourself in as kind and gentle an inner voice as you can under the circumstances, “Ummm, thanks Mom. Yes, I did see the nice cozy bed that you left here for me, and while I do so appreciate the gesture, I just want to lay here, in my spot, the way I always have and the way I always will, unless or until I decide to change it, because, ummm, YAH, that’s what I want to do! Thank you, drive thru please. Now can I please just take my nap for crying out loud? Go on and leave me the Hell alone!” So, with that, I’m saying this …

LET’S ALL BE LIKE GOOD CAT! If the “thing” you’re doing is working for you and not hurting anyone else? Yah, you shouldn’t have to change it unless you decide you want to just because someone who “thinks they know what’s best for you” tries to make you. Advice and opinions are kind of like, well …. YOU KNOW! “Everybody has one!” We’re all entitled to live our lives in the manner we decide is best, and Hell, even at that, if indeed what we are doing isn’t the optimal or best thing ever, it still has to be our choice and nobody else’s to “change”. Everyone gets a vote. Everyone gets their journey. Everyone gets to choose their bed, be it good, bad or somewhere in between. It’s called autonomy people, and like it or not, we are all very much entitled to it. Today? Although my heart was quite obviously in a very right place, this Momma Cat needed to stay in her own lane and just let Good Cat take her little nap where she wanted to.

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What’s great about this “love song” is you can sing to yourself whenever you need a reminder that you should never change who you are unless you flipping want to, and more so than that, if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who allow you to “just be who you are”, well, that’s just pretty cool. Been there. Done that. I’ve slept on both sides of this “bed”. Despite his many imperfections and the wretched way he chose to exit, never once during our love story did he force or even ask me to change. He loved me, “good Cat, bad Cat”, despite my own self, and just look who I’ve become. Thank you all for listening to this. Now, be like Good Cat and go take your Sunday nap whereever you damn well please!

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FEBRUARY 7, 2020: “Why It’s AWESOME To Seem So Small” …

SO SMALL

“Yeah, yeah. What you got if you ain’t got love? The kind that you just want to give away? It’s okay to open up. Go ahead and let The Light shine through. I know it’s hard on a rainy day. You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone, but don’t run out on your faith! ‘Cause sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. And when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. It’s so easy to get lost inside a problem that seems so big at the time. It’s like a river that’s so wide it swallows you whole. While you’re sitting around thinking about what you can’t change and worrying about all the wrong things, time’s flying by, moving so fast. You better make it count ’cause you can’t get it back. Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. ~ Carrie Underwood

It was indeed a rainy day here in Dallas on February 5th. The kind that tends to make you want to just shut the world away. But then again, not so much. With cozy pajamas, fluffy slippers, an ox of a German Shepherd named Lord Williamson at my feet and three cats perched strategically out of his reach all around me? Yah, that’s my vibe! The night before I’d been directed to “Quora”, a question and answer style on-line forum that I’d never heard of. So, after taking Gia to school I got home, made a giant cup of coffee and sat down to check it out. At first glance, I thought, “Wow, this could be interesting”, then I threw a quick profile together, circled back around to the home page, and this was the first question I saw: “What are the worst cases of mental illness you have ever seen?” Really? “Well okay then …”, and off I went (with the Twilight Zone music cued up in the background). This was my answer:

My own husband, who I lost to suicide August 22, 2019. He was the Godsend game changer for me and my daughter, larger than life with a heart the size of an ocean, but had been thrown away like common garbage by his mother at birth. She abandoned him permanently at 18 months, and I suppose his father did the best he could with lack of parenting skills he had, but he was then and is still but a child himself. My husband was left alone most of the time from a very young age and his basic needs were never properly tended to.

We didn’t realize his ACS (Abandonded Child Syndrome) even existed until five years into our marriage, but once faced with the sobering truths of his traumatic childhood, every bit of strength and fortitude he’d managed to find and survive with in his life of solitude before finding us, the first and only real home and family he’d ever had, began slipping right out from under him. The abandonment issues that led to his mental illness were further complicated by the fact that his entire family abandonded him; neither the mother, father or three older siblings could be bothered with him. This heartless, selfish, ice-cold brood of people literally broke his heart into pieces that could never be put back together.

There were demons living in the hole they burned into his soul we fought desperately to keep him from drowning in, but in the end, the demons won. The last months of his life it appeared that he was in the early stages of psychosis, if not schizophrenia. He’d been hearing voices, seeing things, missing “blocks of time”, and ultimately just vanished completely within himself. He said he couldn’t “feel anything” anymore, and honestly, we lost him months before he put that gun to his head. It was a living nightmare to witness and the worst kind of heartbreak to suffer. He died of a broken heart that led to his mental illness and then suicide.

I’ve been writing tirelessly about not only his, but my mental health journey as well, in “The Diary Of My Perfection” dot com. I’d be honored if any of you would care to read, follow or share it, as it is now my mission to try and be a Light in other people’s darkness.

Once I’d completed and submitted it, it was time to switch gears to the work day that lied ahead, which I did, and soon thereafter I was out the door with absolutely no idea what, if anything, would become of my answer to the question. Keep in mind that throughout the day I had noticed the “push” notifications on my Quora app were beginning to skyrocket. NOT GONNA LIE … I was nervous! I kept thinking, “Oh no, what’s with all these notifications? 25, 50, 75, 100, 150? Have I upset, offended or pissed someone off? Have I invoked some drama with the masses? Holy shit! What the Hell? What have I done?” But I had so much going on that day that I couldn’t allow myself to open the app and look, for fear that what I may find would somehow distract, upset or topple me. So, I just went on with my day and anxiously waited until I got home to open the “Pandora’s Box” I was worried I had created.

When I finally got back to my desk that night, I took a deep breath and logged back on to the site. I WAS STUNNED! Much to my overwhelming surprise I found that my answer had been viewed upwards of 22,000 times, “upvoted” over 2,000 times, and responded to hundreds of times, with uplifting, supportive and reflective comments such as this:

“Thank you so very much for sharing this difficult journey with others. You may have just saved my life by giving me enough information to try to find a path out of my personal jungle.

Until I read your post I had never heard of “abandoned child syndrome”. I now have SOMETHING that points to the root of my problems! NOW I’m starting to understand myself just a tiny bit more than I did 10 minutes ago.

The question is now what can I do to start forging a different future? I am 50 years old and feel like a boat without ears, a sail, and a rudder. Or is it too late to try to move forward? I feel like it’s just too much and I’m way too tired to keep trying.

Thank you for putting your grief into action and attempting to save other’s. I think I’m simply too old and tired …”.

And there you have it! Confirmation that every single thing I’ve walked through and survived in my 50 years thus far is going to mean something so much bigger than I could possibly have ever foreseen to someone, somehow, some way, if I just keep on keeping on. Everything my husband had to walk through is going to have meant something bigger than even he was and I am going to make sure of it!

One of the things I loved most about Zack was his unrelenting generosity and heart for others. It was not uncommon for him to “give or do”, if not even to random strangers; the more he acquired, the more he gave away. We shared that in common, which is not to toot a horn right now, but rather, to make this point: Whenever we’d done something for someone else we would always “fist bump” or “high five” eachother afterwards and smile. So, yah, after reading that comment above? I actually did pause as I turned to his picture on my desk and sent out my half of our “fist bump” to wherever he is in this cosmos. This is what I’m supposed to be doing! I know it. He knows it. God knows it! I’m just gonna keep staying “small” so all this can become so much “bigger” than either of us could have ever imagined. I feel so extremely blessed, happy, and even more determined to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do than I was before. That is all.

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by Charles Mackesy

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FEBRUARY 1, 2020: “Crazy Grandma Cat” …

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TO FIND OUT “WHAT HAPPENED” THE NIGHT BEFORE I MADE THIS VIDEO <<CLICK HERE>>!

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JANUARY 31, 2020: “The Overcomers” …

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The night before last I sent this message to one of Gia’s former teachers (so therefore I apologize for the “not so eloquentness” of it all). For the record, he wasn’t just “any teacher”; he’s her favorite teacher of all since starting school:

“Hi Mr. M. I hope this message finds you well. Listen, I wanted to share something that happened with Gia this morning that directly involved YOU. I’m sure you are well aware of what happened last August; with my husband, with her. But keep in mind that even before that horrible cherry bomb went off on our family’s cake, she had been struggling for quite some years prior, which unfortunately, and without going into all the details, is a huge part of what ultimately took my husband down the way he went. But I digress …

In the year leading up to “August 22nd” Gia had been having severe depression and anxiety as a result of the PTSD that was in large part due to some things that were happening not only at home with “her real dad”, but there on the SMCS campus as well. My husband and I were both struggling to help keep her head above the water, but didn’t realize exactly HOW far under the water her head really was until November of 1998 (just after seventh grade began) when he was making his weekly “spot check” of her phone to see what she’d been doing on it. That was when he discovered she’d Googled, “I don’t want to live anymore” and “how do I stop not wanting to kill myself”. Our world crashed down. HIS WORLD CRASHED DOWN! Gia was everything to him, and the thought of “losing her” was just something he couldn’t bear after the lifetime of literal abandonment he’d suffered through. (His mother put him in a trash can the day he was born … his story wrote itself from there.)

Meanwhile, fast forward to last night. Gia and I are both knee deep in “our process”. I’m working full-time know to bring awareness about so many different things that I myself have suffered through. Part of my process is a blog I started to expose the diary / manuscript I’d been keeping for YEARS about my life and all its “secrets”. This morning my post was about a song I’ve been listening to incessantly for the past 5 months. Probably every day. But it always makes me cry so I never listen to it in front of her. Keep also in mind that a large part of my entire LIFE’S process has been through music and how it has helped me successfully access emotions and parts of myself that I never really knew were broken, or, that I just couldn’t find the words to explain, either to myself or anyone else. In fact, one of the things that I am planning to use in my up and coming “Trauma Coaching” endeavor is “music therapy”. I’ve been doing this with both of my kids for the longest time, as well as a few kids I’ve “adopted” along the way. I ask each of them to send me a song every Friday morning that lets either me or their own selves know how they are feeling. And this his how what happened this morning links back to you …

She stayed home from school today because she’d been having a pretty rough day emotionally, and well, she just wanted to be with me. So, when I was in my office this morning posting this blog, I of course had the song playing in the background. She came around the corner right at that moment and just stopped. She looked a little confused even. I asked her what was wrong and she started to cry. Then she sat down on the couch beside me and started to explain. “Mom, I’ve heard this before, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. It was in Mr. Michniak’s class when we were doing his music thing.” So, I asked her “What music thing”? Then she explained, and I was on the floor.

As it turns out, her tears were good, cathartic ones. She said that she specifically remembered the day you played that for them and how it really did reach her somewhere inside all her darkness. It left a small anchor in her heart that I guess she didn’t realize she needed as much as she did. She went on to say, however, that as bad as she feeling at that time, the song did “make her pause and think”, about God, and her life, and it gave her a little hope that somehow she was going to be okay.

After this conversation we listened to the song again and I just held her. We were both sobbing. What you did that day? Or any of the days you’ve “done the music thing”. It’s precious, and a gift, and if ONLY it ever helped ONE child whose path you’ve crossed see a glimmer of light inside their darkness? Well, it was my kid. And I cannot thank you enough. You are a special person and please know how truly special this morning was for us today and how YOU unknowingly played a part of it by simply “doing the music thing” with our kids.

Have a blessed day please, and here’s the link to my post and my blog. Wouldn’t hate if you decided to follow it. I’m really trying to use our story for the betterment of others. Thank you Mr. M!”

So, let me explain “the music thing”: He plays random songs in class for them to listen to, quietly reflect on, then write about how they made them feel. EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING WITH “MY KIDS” FOR YEARS! As I said in my “Nettie” post this week, I myself first began the “music thing” with Christian when he was 16. Now I do it with Gia and her friend Caleb, as well as a couple of other kids (some of who are now adults) I’ve taken into my heart over the years. I’ve gotten songs from my kids at ALL hours of the day and night over the last 11 years and I’m not gonna lie … it’s one of the best parts of my existence. Just knowing they trust me with their feelings that way – with the vulnerabilities of all the secret places they travel inside their own hearts and minds? IT MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME!

For the record, his response this morning left me speechless. It reminded me yet again that everything is connected somehow and part of a much bigger picture; one that I may never see the finishing strokes and signature on in my own lifetime. Seeds are being planted. People are being purposed. Everything and everyone in our lives is strung together and I will NEVER be convinced otherwise.

Once I asked Gia “why is he your favorite teacher”, and her arbitrary response just became crystal clear to me. She said, “He’s just special. He’s teaches us so much more than academic stuff. He teaches us about life stuff. I don’t know; there’s something just special about him. He cares and really wants to make a difference. He reminds me a lot of you actually.” So with that, not only am I honored that this incredible man, teacher and mentor that God put in my daughter’s path was so taken by my message to him, but even more so am I honored that my daughter correlates me with him. Not the worst thing ever – being compared to such a wise “influencer”. (PS) Gotta love this song that he was talking about in his message, because yes, Gia and I can both appreciate it. We are “overcomers”!

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JANUARY 30, 2020: “The Love Song From Heaven That Took Me Down” …

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HOLD HER

“She was holdin’ on so tight, but I had to say goodbye. She’s all alone tonight. There’s nothin’ I could do to make it right Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. We’re apart but not alone. My love for her is more than she could know. A secret place only we can go, and we’ll laugh while we will hope until we’re home. Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her again she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close. Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight.” ~ King & Country

I’ve been doing so well in my journey. I know you all can see it, and indeed what you see real. Still, I heard this song for the first time tonight at around 5pm while driving through a parking lot, at which point I fell apart so badly that I had to literally pull my car into a space and just sit there and cry. And cry. And cry. And cry. For about two hours, I literally cried my eyes out. I then made myself go to “get it together” and go the gym and get on the treadmill thinking that would “force me” to calm down. Which it did, for one hour and ten minutes while I was on the tread mill. I turned on the Five Finger Death Punch and made myself stop being sad. Thankfully, the three friends I reached out to all reached right back to me, which helped keep me grounded. But when I got home and walked into our closet it started all over again. I’m not gonna lie. This is hard. I miss him. So much. Every second. Every minute. Every day. Every night. Sometimes I just walk to his side of the closet and “hug his clothes” that are still hanging there. And smell them. One half of my person and everything I used to be is literally, just, GONE. One of my friends pointed out to me that I probably “needed” this. To cry. And cry. And cry. She was right. I think I did. But you know what? GRIEF SUCKS! It makes no sense to me whatsoever. It’s as if he went to God and actually said these words, to Him, about me, because, these is exactly what he would say to anyone right now if he could actually say something. “Hold her for me.” Tomorrow will be a new day, of this I’m sure. But in the meantime: GRIEF SUCKS! I know God is holding me, I do. Right now. This minute. As I’m writing this. I can feel Him. Zack is here with me too I can feel him. Goodnight everyone. Please keep me in your hearts and prayers tonight because I am really struggling. 

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JANUARY 29, 2020: “God Only Knows” …

This one’s for my fallen king. And my son. And my daughter. And myself. And anyone in my atmosphere who is now or has ever struggled just to keep your head above the water. It’s so hard to swim when the entire weight of the world seems to be resting upon your shoulders. This is I know too well! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I can do this? YOU CAN DO THIS! So, with that: Chin up! Knuckles out! Head held high! Fight the good fight. Just. Keep. Breathing. And remember …

GOD ONLY KNOWS

“Wide awake while the world is sound asleepin’. Too afraid of what might show up while you’re dreamin’. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. Every day you try to pick up all the pieces. All the memories, they somehow never leave you. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows how it’s killing you. But there’s a kind of love that God only knows. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows the real you. There’s a kind of love that God only knows. There’s a kind of love that. There’s a kind of love. You keep a cover over every single secret. So afraid if someone saw them they would leave. But somebody, somebody, somebody sees you. Somebody, somebody will never leave you. God only knows what you’ve been through .For the lonely, for the ashamed. The misunderstood, and the ones to blame. What if we could start over. We could start over. We could start over. Oh for the lonely, for the ashamed.”

~ for King & Country

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JANUARY 28, 2020: “The Most BEAUTIFUL Fog I’ve Ever Seen” …

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“NETTIE”

“Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. In the dark bathed in Cathode ray blue, Miss Red Hook of 1922, weeping silently for the pain of others. Every night a tearful rosary, a victim of the curse of empathy. Her reward of compassion is to suffer. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. My short coming I know I caused her grief. Still she loves me. This I can’t believe! Responding not with anger but a prayer, Heaven’s just Southwest of Cobbil Hill. True. I am the son of an angel. Maternally, not one woman compares. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. If you fall, I will catch you. When you’re lost, I’ll be there soon. Far away, but of course near. When you’re sad I am always here. Thank you from saving me from myself. Your compassion became its own hell. Unequivocally Beautiful inside and out. Without a doubt. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes.” ~ Type O Negative

One of my greatest treasures in life is the way my son communicates with me and only me by simply sending me music. He’s been doing it since age 16 after I finally left our home in search of a different ending to the story I knew desperately needed to change. His messages come to me at the most random times, and often in the wee hours of the morning, which is always bittersweet because as every parent knows, “3am texts from your kid” can often invoke nightmarish fears that no one but a parent can understand. Thanks be to GOD that regardless of the piercing alarm that goes off in my heart every time I hear his text tone, so far they’ve only ever been his “communication”.

His latest message arrived this morning at the absolute craziest moment, and the instant I got it every ounce of adrenaline in my body dumped right back into my soul in all the most beautiful ways. I was standing at the end of my driveway in an abyss of fog like no other I’d ever seen, and had no idea why I’d been so compelled to walk right into and stare at it. As you read in my response to him above, “I wasn’t sure how it was making me feel. Maybe a little lost, but maybe a little not”. Yet something made me want to take it’s picture, and as shown in the text, as soon as I held the camera up to take the shot his text came through.” What in the actual HE JUST DID THAT, didn’t He? And no, I don’t mean Christian. It was Him! It was God. Or maybe my husband. Or my Angel. “Someone” infinitely beyond this place set that ethereal moment up just for me. The Cosmos beckoned me with it’s “message in the fog” at that one perfect moment in time. After I took the picture, I stood and listened to the song. Yes, it’s dark, indeed very tragic, but oh my GOD is it ever beautiful, and such is the story of my life! Its haunting chords called me back to the shore like an actual foghorn in the dead of night, and what are the chances something like this would happen “out of the grey” just like that?

It’s half past one here in Dallas and as I wrap this up, the fog is starting to lift. As forlonging as it seemed when it greeted me this morning I’m almost sad to see it go, because as soon as I received this cryptic message from deep within his heart, it wrapped me in the most comforting blanket I could possibly have ever felt. My kids truly are my most beautiful work and legacy, and despite the many circumstances that have darkened some of our days, I believe with every shred of my being that they are going to be okay. I’m his “Nettie”, I am loved, and I am the luckiest woman on this planet.

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JANUARY 25, 2020: “His Wish For Her” …

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MY WISH

“I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow and each road leads you where you wanna go. And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you. And if one door opens to another door closed, I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window. If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile. But more than anything, more than anything … My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too. Yeah, this, is my wish. I hope you never look back, but you never forget all the ones who love you in the place you live. I hope you always forgive, and you never regret and you help somebody every chance you get. Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake and always give more than you take.But more than anything, yeah, more than anything … My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too. Yeah, this, is my wish.” ~ Rascal Flatts

Today was one of the most bittersweet of my journey thus far … her first high school interview, a day that Zack and I had been dreaming of for years. If you knew him at all you knew how important her education was to him and that it was the initial source of inspiration for the lifestyle he was determined to give us. He wanted her to have every “thing” and opportunity he never had as a child and wasn’t going to let anything stop him from laying the world at her feet. It was no secret that it was my husband and not her “real dad” who single-handedly paid for every cent of her primary education at St. Mark’s. I fondly recall the very day this journey began … Desires

We were freshly married and still living in our little apartment in Fairview when first grade finally arrived. Since our address fed into in a public school with less than favorable stats and Christian had been privileged with a private education Zack and I assumed that her dad would be on board with affording her the same opportunity and thus willing to split the cost with us, which, not gonna lie, at that juncture was going to be a stretch. Especially inasmuch that my “wedding gift” to him was: Me, a little girl, a recent stay at one of the most exclusive psychiatric facilities in the world, $35K of unsecured debt, a car we couldn’t afford, a mental health resume about 62 pages long, a less than supportive family that all but despised if not cursed the day he was born, and oh yah, I wasn’t exactly what one would call “employable” then. YET WITHOUT HESITATION HE STEPPED UP TO THE ENTIRE PLATE FOR HER! Go figure, I’ve digressed. The day I called her dad to ask what he thought about sending her to St. Mark’s like her big brother, with a knife through my heart and a shot heard ’round the world his verbatim response was this:

“Nope. Not happening. Guess you should have thought about that before you left here. Your gravy train is over honey, so why don’t you let the moron pay for it (then he literally laughed out loud). Have fun explaining to her one day why she couldn’t go to private school like her brother. Good job mom! Good job!” 

I was stunned by his callous response! What in the actual HELL? “MY gravy train?” THIS WASN’T ABOUT ME! IT WAS ABOUT HER! How could he be so cruel as to punish her just to punish me? DON’T get me wrong, by no means am I saying that public school is a punishment. I have always been of the mindset that an education is only as good as the student himself and a truly good student can and will flourish in any school setting, be it public, private or home. That’s not what this post is about and hopefully you understand where my heart and mind are in this regard. When I called Zack to tell him what her dad had said he was outraged in every sense of the word. “Let the moron pay for it? Really? He said that? Okay then, I WILL, just watch me! I’ll take care of EVERYTHING and he can ride his selfish gravy train straight to Hell!” It was in that moment that my husband’s relentless fire was fueled with a determination like nothing I’d ever seen before:

“Catherine, I can do this! I’ll empty out my savings. I’ll get a second job. Whatever I have to do, I’ll do it. If I have to sell my soul to the Devil, she’ll have EVERYTHING Christian had. EVERYTHING I never had. She’s GOING to St. Mark’s and she’s GOING to Catholic high school. Trust me, SHE’S GOING!”

When he got home that night, he explained how he planned to handle things for the first year and assured me that by the second grade he’d have the rest figured out. Then this is what he did: HE EMPTIED OUT HIS LIFETIME FITNESS CENTER 401K TO PAY FOR HER FIRST YEAR’S TUITION! The very 401K he’d been faithfully contributing to with the specific intention of eventually buying himself that brand new car he’d always wanted. Yes, he did that for her. My husband. Her “stepdad”. HE DID THAT! The rest is merely history and many of you have good sense about everything he ended up “doing for us” in just under ten years flat. And please do not mistake this post as braggard. If you know me at all you know damn good and well that I have never forgotten how this story began: With sterling silver James Avery wedding bands, a tiny one-bedroom apartment and nothing but a pocket full of dreams.

Yes, today was bittersweet. I’ve thought crying so many times since waking up to the cold, hard reality that he’s not here to revel in the triumph, pride and joy of “this day” he’d worked for, dreamt of and looked forward to since the day she bounced into his life, but I didn’t want to rain on her parade. Despite the impossible strength she very clearly recognizes in my process and recovery, the road to her process and recovery from the trauma that was his ironic and tragic parting gift to her is still so long ahead. There’s an unspoken rule between the two of us right now: She knows I’m okay, and that she’s going to be okay, but for her sake alone my darker days, tears and moments are best spent in private. At the end of the day however, as I sit with all this emotion, I am once again comforted in this peace: He was with us today! He’s with us every day. Knowing the God Who’s hands are wrapped around my heart like I do? The actual reality is not as “cold and hard” as I first thought. He is reveling in the triumph, pride and joy of “this day” he made happen for her; He’s simply watching it from “the next room”. Good night everyone.

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JANUARY 24, 2020: “I’d Rather Be Dangerous” …

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“I could stand behind my barricade. Do what I’m told and be afraid to change. While isolated by the mainstream. With the current up against me. Well maybe if my arms were ten feet tall I could finally reach that crystal ball. ‘Cause I still find inside there’s something braver. And I, I won’t be, I won’t be the silent damnation. I will never be voiceless. My weapon of choice is I’d rather be dangerous. I won’t be left defenseless, as God is my witness, I’d rather be dangerous. I’m not making conversation. But I’ll state my observations. Well I could buy my faith like a plot in the ground. But I was never lost and I never had a doubt. ‘Cause I still find it’s not my imagination. And I, I won’t be, I won’t be the silent damnation. I will never be voiceless. My weapon of choice is I’d rather be dangerous. I won’t be left defenseless, as God is my witness, I’d rather be dangerous. Everybody is somebody, and anybody is you. I own my story. I won’t say sorry and neither should you.” ~ Shinedown

… when it’s 9:19 in the morning, 156 days since you’re life took a turn for the “you know what you have to do now”, you get this message from the “Second Phoenix Rising” and are reminded once again that all this pain has only ever been a gift. To you. To her. To the world! She gets it, I can feel it, and she really is going to be the final game changer for this story once and for all. It’s moments like these that keep me locked, loaded and DANGEROUS!

"Your Pain Is A Gift"

Pain is a gift

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JANUARY 18, 2020: “JUST. GET. UP!” …

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Someone out there needs to hear these words RIGHT NOW:

“I know you’re clinging to the light of day to tell you everything’s a-okay. A medication don’t do much. Yeah, it just numbs the brain. Guess you might say I’m a little intense. I’m on the bright side of being HELL BENT! So take it from me, you’re not the only one who can’t see straight. If you were ever in doubt, don’t sell yourself short, you might be bulletproof. It’s hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed, but you gotta try. And I’m calling out … GET UP, GET UP, GET A MOVE ON!” ~ Brent Smith (Shinedown)

If I can do this, YOU CAN DO THIS! ‘Cause if it doesn’t kill you, it really DOES make you bulletproof! I promise. “I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO MUCH BETTER! Trust me!” Much love all of you. Now then: GO ON, GET UP, and isten to one of my favorite songs EVER!

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JANUARY 1, 2020: “I Dare You” …

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TO THE “ME” I’M LEAVING BEHIND:

… “I DARE YOU”!

“Hello! Let me introduce you to the characters in the show. One says yes, one says no. Decide – which voice in your head you can keep alive? Even in madness I know you still believe! Paint me on canvas so I become what you could never be. I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! Wear my soul and call me a liar! I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire. I dare you to tell me. I dare you to …

Hello, are you still chasing the the memories in shadows? Some stay young, some grow old. Come alive – there are thoughts unclear you can never hide. Even in madness I know you still believe. Paint me your canvas so I become what you could never be. I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! Wear my soul and call me a liar! I dare you to tell me to walk through the fire! I dare you to tell me. I dare you to …”

~ Shinedown

HERE’S TO ANOTHER HALF A CENTURY OF SURVIVING!

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DECEMBER 30, 2019: “Speaking Of Faith And Crowns” …

CrownIn keeping with my promise to myself and all of you I’ve been working like a madwoman since Christmas Day getting as many entries into The Diary as possible before leaving for Ireland on Friday, starting with the day I was born. After being glued to my chair for 96 straight hours with only four real breaks in between I’d made it all the way to “The Letter”, wherein I revealed what really happened that fateful Sunday in April of 2009 that finally pushed me over the edge into full blown histrionic psychosis and “The Meadows”. It was the day of my nervous breakdown!

It had been a long time since I’d read that entry, and moving the words from the manuscript to The Diary was jarring. “They literally had to peel my son from my body so that I could get into the car. He too was sobbing and I’d never seen him cry so much or so hard. And Gia? She looked so lost, like a little puppy that just wanted someone to pick her up and hold her.” As I flashed back to that day and remembered everything I saw it broke my heart all over again knowing how their hearts broke going through such trauma, at which point I became so emotional that I had to call it a night with The Diary.

Meanwhile, there’s a show I’ve been watching called “The Crown” on Netflix that chronicles the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth. With everything consuming me lately I’ve missed quite a bit so I decided to pick up where I’d left, Season 3, Episode 4, “Bubbikins”, wherein an entirely different light is shed on Prince Philip’s lifelong perception of abandonment by his mother, Princess Alice Of Battenburg, including an extremely emotional flashback of his own mother being ripped away from him and hauled off to an asylum.

The episode reveals that the real reason she was absent from his childhood was because she’d been committed to multiple psychiatric asylums in her lifetime, diagnosed with schizophrenia and subjected to a series of inhumane “treatments” for her mental illness, the worst of which was by Sigmund Freud. Ultimately, however, we find Prince Phillip visiting his mother’s room at the palace after having read what he referred to as “a love letter” about her in the paper and having clearly come to a shockingly different perspective about not only her past but their past as well. He wanted to apologize to her:

PRINCE PHILIP READING FROM THE PAPER TO HIS MOTHER: “Princess Alice is that rarest of creatures – a member of the royal family that has suffered more than the rest of us, worked harder than the rest of us and created more good than the rest of us … she was consistently misunderstood, marginalized and underestimated … but instead of bitterness Princess Alice dedicated her life to charity work, public service and campaigning for social justice often at great personal risk. I owe you an apology.”

PRINCESS ALICE: “Whatever for?”

“My faithlessness”.

“If anyone owes anyone an apology we both know it’s the other way around … when we were forced to leave Greece I couldn’t cope. I needed care. I needed help.”

“That wasn’t help that they gave you, it was torture.”

“They tried their best”

“No, the treatment they gave you was barbaric and your courage in rising above it was remarkable.”

“I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t have. I had help every step of the way. Now Bubbikins you mentioned faithlessness. How is your faith?”

“Dormant.”

“That’s not good. Let this be a mother’s gift to her child. That one piece of advice: Find yourself a faith. It helps. No – not just helps. It’s everything.”

OH MY FATHER HOW CAN I EVER REPAY YOU? You called in my Angels again didn’t You? You love me, I know you do! What are the chances that THE next thing You needed me to see, hear and absorb last night after falling apart at this keyboard with reinstated guilt over everything I’ve put my kids through was EXACTLY what I needed to yet again remind me that in everything You have a purpose? While I’m certainly not insinuating that either I or my life are anything like Princess Alice’s, I know You had that entire series of events lined up JUST FOR ME! You were sending me a message: “HAVE FAITH MY CHILD. You’re going to be okay. They’re going to be okay. Someday they will understand.” To which my reply and the only way I can repay You is: I’m NOT doing this alone. I can’t. I have help every step of the way. So I’ll keep standing strong in my faith. It doesn’t just help – IT’S EVERYTHING!

Make it a great day everyone, and if you ever get a chance to watch that episode on Netflix, DO! I promise you won’t regret it!

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DECEMBER 25, 2019: “Starting Over As A Queen” …

IMG_8199… IT’S TIME TO JUST START OVER!

Someday soon, I’m gonna pull myself together. Win or lose, I’m starting over again. Start this day like any other day. I fold my hands as I begin to pray. Sometimes we gotta throw the past aside, and come what may, I’m gonna open up my eyes to all my broken feelings. It’s the only road I’ve known. I just wanna say to you: Maybe I won’t feel the pain when you leave me one day, and maybe it won’t be too late when you need me someday. Someone take me away from the one who betrays, but things won’t ever be the same. I’m starting over. In days gone by, I was hiding from myself. In all those lies and the truth was hard to tell. But I will try to turn my life around. I’ll close my eyes so I can finally see the road to all my broken feelings. It’s the only one I’ve known. I just wanna say to you … You were my heart, you were my soul. You were my breath ’til I grow old. You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” ~ Saliva

So here’s my parting message to all the people, places and roadblocks that had become me in the four decades of life before finally opening my eyes to all my “broken feelings” and finding the truths behind the lies that were my former realities. This is my Christmas gift to me …

Zack and I first heard this song in 2007 and it immediately became as vital in unraveling the mystery of what had broken us before we’d met than actually meeting in the first place. It spoke volumes as to both our prior journeys; it was who we were, where we’d been and why we needed to cut some people out of our lives and truly “just start over”. It was a cryptic message to everyone that had discarded us at virtually every critical juncture in our lives, not the least of which were “our families”: “You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” 

Today I’ll spend another “first” without him, completely severed from the blood and bones that have once again “washed their hands of me”. But guess what? That’s okay! I WAS MARRIED TO A KING! An imperfect, broken, mortal king with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave me every “thing” a woman could dream of but more so his heart, his eyes, his soul, his faith and his unconditional love without condition for the first time in my life, all of which DID truly make me a QUEEN! And likewise was he MARRIED TO A QUEEN! An imperfect, broken, mortal queen with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave him every “thing” a man could dream of but more so her heart, her eyes, her soul, her faith and her unconditional love without condition for the for the first time in his life, all of which DID truly make him a KING! Quite clearly he fell in with a tragic twist that some may never fully know or understand and hurt us in unspeakable ways. But today is Christmas and “who was better at forgiving than Jesus?” Indeed I have forgiven him for the devastation that ended our story, but here’s what else you should know …

I also forgive all of you that hurt, mocked, laughed at, punished, or burned me alive on a cross every time I let you down, embarassed you, or disgraced your reputations when I failed miserably at all the things I’ve failed at.

I forgive you for invalidating me, disregarding and disrespecting me, and discrediting every single one of my broken feelings as “drama, immaturity, ingratitude or self-pity”.

I forgive you for abusing the trust I placed in you with all my vulnerabilities and truths by throwing them back in my face and driving more nails into my already broken heart.

I forgive you for taking it personally when I decided to break the toxic cycle I once lived in and just standing there as I fought tooth and nail to get that fucking Black Spider-Man suit off my weak and weary back so that maybe one day my daugher’s daughters or my son’s sons will be the first branches from this sick and dying tree to not end up in a psych ward because they too want to blow their own brains out!

I forgive you for only loving me when I was good enough to be loved, but “washing your hands of me” when I broke the rules you decided would be best for me, which PS, were complete and total double standards of sick and enmeshed BULLSHIT! As it turns out, it’s OKAY to leave the web, if not THE best thing one can do. The wisest spiders are proud of the spiderlings that manage to get out of the webs they might have unintentionally spun and find a way to survive this fucking life in peace!

I forgive you for NOT forgiving me for being an imperfect human being and I forgive you for all the times you abandoned me! But more so than that? Thank you for everything you’ve done to hurt me because that is how I became a Queen! You pointed me straight to both my Kings – The One born today and the fallen. He may be gone now, but I’m still right here with the crown and sword he left for me, charging bravely forward all the days I have left in this realm! There is still so much I have to do with this power my impossibly strong heart now wields. There’s the Phoenix I made who I’ll fight beside until the end as she makes her ascenion towards the culmination of everything my own broken flight was purposed for, and that first born Prince who hasn’t yet realized that he too is a king because he hasn’t yet found the strength to tear off “the black suit” that shrouds his soul in darkness! He’s trapped in a web and has still yet to realize the long-terms effects of the emotional abuse he also is succumbing to and that being repeatedly being told “I’m done with you” for failure to follow the rules is slowly becoming the death of him too. I will not rest until that day finally comes when he opens HIS OWN EYES to his own broken feelings and “walks away and just starts over” with the courage and strength that’s hiding somewhere within himself so that the next time he hears “I’m done with you”? He can say, “NO! It’s ME that’s done with YOU!” Just like I did.

If I’ve learned anything in my first fifty years it’s that “real love” shouldn’t cost you anything yet it’s the only commodity that can get you EVERYTHING! Love shouldn’t come with strings or conditions, make you sad, make you cry, cause you to doubt yourself, want to shoot yourself, or make you want to hide in the shadows of any authentic version of yourself because the people who “love you” won’t take you as you are. Here’s the thing: Once you’ve had finally had it – “REAL love without strings and conditions”? YOU CAN NEVER ACCEPT “LOVE” ANY OTHER WAY, EVEN IF IT MEANS BEING ALONE! I won’t be the last queen that ever reigned alone in her kingdom because she refused to settle for anything less than everything!

Merry Christmas Catherine Williamson! You’ve been blessed by the unconditional loved of two Kings in your lifetime. There’s no going back to where you came from as you find a way to just start over once again!

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DECEMBER 22, 2019: “How To Re-Traumatize A Widow” …

BoundariesI struggled this morning as to what if anything to say about “the very first social event without my husband” last night because honestly, I am just so overwhelmed and TRAUMATIZED all over again! So perhaps I’ll just lead with some friendly advice for anyone out there who unbeknownst to them struggles with “unhealthy boundaries” …

To begin, here is what Wikia.org says about “personal boundaries” (and please DO click on this link THIS VERY IMPORTANT LINK for more information when you are either extremely bored OR extremely ready to conduct a quick self-examination as to where you are on the boundaries spectrum):

“Personal boundaries are an aspect of psychological boundaries and are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. “Personal boundaries” define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like … how close someone can get to you.”

One last advice I’d like to offer against what again I’m sure are seemingly innocent comments and remarks from well-intended people. I appreciate being told “I’m so beautiful”. Truly, I do, and I’m not trying to sound like a self-inflated ass, but I am in fact aware of “how I look” and yes, I agree, I am clearly not unfortunate looking. I comfortable writing those words out loud here now in this space because only I know how long it finally took me to find my actual reflection in a mirror! It took a hell of a lot of work on behalf less than a handful of people to get me to finally “see me” the way other people see me on the outside. Eternal is the gratitude for my very firstAngel from Flight 438“, because all “this” started with him! Then Zack picked up where he left off and I will NEVER forget that day in his apartment he grabbed me by the arms and physically forced me in front of the mirror while he stood behind me repeating: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT YOURSELF CATHERINE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! SAY IT! I’M NOT LETTING YOU GO UNTIL YOU SAY IT!” And then I did, and here I am. Yes, I am beautiful. The irony here is the first time Zack ever saw me in January of 2009 my presentation was “yah, not so much”. If he were still here he’d be the first to admit that I looked like a freaking train wreck. I was in the worst shape of my life, hadn’t been sleeping, was physically disfigured in the most egregious way, and about five minutes away from my final nervous break down. He used to say, “Every time she showed up at the gym she looked kind of like a homeless person”.  So trust me when I tell you – our love story did NOT begin with “wow you’re just so beautiful”. He loved me as I was, scars and all, for the very first time in my life, and for that precious reason my fallen King’s mirror of not only my reflection but most importantly my soul will always be the standard by which I judge anyone’s regard for my “beauty”.

There is probably not a human being on the face of this planet that doesn’t appreciate verbal affirmation from others, and yes, compliments in the right dose are an integral part of how our confidence is assimilated. But over and over and over again? “You’re so pretty. You’re so beautiful. You are such an attractive person.” Okay, so tell me once and that’s it! Anything more is not only overkill, but moreso the polar OPPOSITE of what has ever attracted me to a man. Observations, judgments and validations about “my surface” in my life before Zack were more than half of what made me sick in the very first place and nope I don’t care if someone thinks I’m beautiful (at least not on the outside). Quite frankly? THAT REPELS ME! Yes, this is a boundary issue with not only me but quite possibly many struggling people out there. Such an OLD cliche’ but true nonetheless: DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

Well this was a long post. I apologize. Actually, nope again, I don’t. These things needed to be said and now that I’ve said them I feel much better. Guess I just needed to remind myself about the boundaries I’ve fought so hard to understand, respect and build in the first place. So with that I guess I’ll just have to find a way to be thankful for my re-traumitization last night. It was a lesson for me, for sure, and now maybe a lesson for some of you. There is indeed a time and place for everything – EVEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GRIEF! If you know someone has been through a trauma of any kind and you want to talk to them about it, just ask them first if they want to talk about it. They may want to. They may not. The choice should be theirs though, not yours.

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DECEMBER 20, 2019: “We Survive With Hope” …

CONVERSATION WITH MY DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL PICK UP YESTERDAY:

GIA: Mom, would there be any way we could go to the store after I get out of group tonight and grab a few things so I can put some Christmas bags together for my Hope kids? If your tired I promise I will do all the work and I can even pay for it myself. All I need you to do is drive me to the store and I can take it from there.

ME (HEART MELTING): Ummm, daughter? I think you just gave me the greatest Christmas gift I never knew I needed.

Not even broken wings will stop my little Phoenix from rising so far above this mire! After everything this child has been through (some of which most of you will NEVER know)? She has her mother’s heart, soul, spirit and courage, only, just so much more – BETTER! I am an SUCH an incredibly lucky woman to get to be the one who claims the honor: “Look at what I’ve done … this light I’ve created unto a very dark world.”

YOU CAN’T STOP MY GIRL!

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DECEMBER 20, 2019: “Because Queens Get Flowers” …

IMG_8068Yesterday morning while arranging my weekly flowers I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I looked up and said, “Well, you did say you never wanted a day to go by that there weren’t fresh flowers in the house for me, right? Just because your gone doesn’t mean there won’t still be flowers in this house for me always. Not only would you hate that, but as it happens I’m STILL a queen after all has been said and done and I DESERVE THEM! Then I just kept primping them in my favorite container, with nothing but joy in my heart, all the while thanking GOD for the real life Superman he sent to me if only just for a season to once and finally remind me that I am worthy of all the most beautiful things in this world, not the least of which are any and all kindnesses, no matter how simple or grand, that I so choose to bestow upon myself for all the remaining days of my life. I will treat myself how I wish to be treated by others while I continue to survive in this realm: WITH KINDESS!

I have always loved flowers, and despite the outward appearance and accoutrements of my life I am not a person whose affection can be bought. Quite the contrary actually, and some day when you REALLY get to know me  you will understand exactly why. QUICK DIGRESSION: In my lifetime I have had many “things” and enjoyed many material luxuries and comforts, none of which however prevented me from reaching a point in my own journey where the toxic web I was born into and then perpetuated in both marriages to my first husband literally almost cost me my life, did momentarily slay my mental well-being and yah, at a few junctures made me literally just want to DIE. SEE ALSO: “Girl Interrupted” – The Uncut Version. (PS. Yes, that’s right my little blonde nurse friend, you can’t hang THAT ONE over my head anymore! See you next Tuesday! OOPS, I digressed again!) The very last and tragic farewell at my ex’s 12 years ago found me barely functioning, mentally WHACKED and seriously not okay! The first of my “castles” left so far behind with only not even a shred of anything that closely resembled sanity, my daughter and what personal belongings I could fit into my car. ZERO “STUFF” DID I WANT FROM HIM! I JUST WANTED OUT!

THE POINT OF ALL THIS BEING: Of all the beautify flowers I’ve ever been given from “both my husbands” in my lifetime it turns out it was actually the less expensive, store bought ones from Zack that I cherished and remember the most. The ones he often had to go truly out of his way to bring to me depending on where in the world he was working at the time. Anyone “married to new home sales” knows what I am saying here: That career path is not for the faint of heart! “To whom much is given” is the mindset you must embrace, as for all the abundance there’s a cost, even when it comes to something as “simple” as picking up flowers for your wife. The subdivisions he worked were often way far off the beaten path and not at all conducive to “let me just stop in for a minute and get her some flowers”. Not to mention the fact that by the time he locked those model home doors every night ALL HE WANTED TO DO WAS COME HOME! So indeed, every time that man walked in the door with flowers in his hand I knew in my heart what they’d truly “cost” him: Time, energy, effort and thought. Those are things that no man’s money will EVER be able to buy me. Trust me: Been there. Done that. Got the medal AND the scars from that scene AND NOW I’M JUST SO FUCKING OVER IT!

So with that, I am thankful again this morning for the many gifts he left behind for me. My “Superman” may have fallen with a bloodied, torn and TWISTED CAPE around his neck, but trust me when I tell you, he hasn’t left my astmosphere, nor will he ever! He refused to let me see anything but the best things in myself and I refuse to EVER creep back to that shadow I once lived in where I was only ever as good as as how the other SICK AND TOXIC PEOPLE in my life up to that point decided to judge me. No more shame in this game! I AM A QUEEN :: Beautiful. Disasterous. Broken. Whole. Strong. Fierce. Smart. Funny. Capable. Ridiculous. Chaotic. COHERENT AND AWARE OF THE REFLECTION OF MYSELF I FOUND IN THE MIRROR OF HIS EYES FOR THE LAST ELEVEN YEARS! Guess what?  YOU CAN’T STOP THIS GIRL EITHER!

If you are reading this today, I would like to pose a challenge:

Is there someone special in your life? TAKE AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES TODAY AND GET THEM SOME FLOWERS! And remember, they don’t have to be expensive. If your beloved is worth any of your time, thought and attention they will appreciate the gesture for all the right reasons just as I did all the times Zack brought them to me.

If you don’t have someone special in your life? TAKE AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES TODAY AND GET YOURSELF SOME FLOWERS! You. Are. A QUEEN, or maybe even a KING, and you can be your OWN superhero! Having a healthy, loving, forgiving and unconditional relationship with YOU is the first step to BECOMING your own “superhero” in the first place! Life is hard people. Giving yourself flowers is a simple kindess you can bestow upon yourself because YOU DESERVE IT AND YOU CAN!

Much love to all you! ~ Cat

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AMARYLLIS

“In a while now I will feel better, I’ll face the weather before me. In a while now I’ll race the irony and buy back each word of my eulogy. All the uninvited tragedies. Step outside. Ask yourself now where would you be without days like this when you finally collide with the moment you cant forget. So do I remind you of someone you never met? A lonely silhouette? And do I remind you of somewhere you wanna be? So far out of reach. Oh, I wish you’d open up for me ’cause I wanna know you. Amaryllis. Bloom. Stay a while now. Undress your colors ’cause they’re like no others I’ve ever seen.I could get used to your company. Step inside. Ask yourself now where would you be withoutdays like this when you finally collide with emotions you can’t resist?” – Shinedown

NOTE: This was a particularly special song to Zack and me because when we met we were BOTH an “Amaryllis”!

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DECEMBER 16, 2019: “Born To Battle” …

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

BORN TO BATTLE

“A blazing flame slowly dies in a night as cold as snow. From the ashes a Phoenix will rise – it will spread it’s wings and blaze again and the world will watch in terror.

A tree stands tall, unshakeable in disaster, with leaves that feed and a trunk that houses things that are large and small, from the lions resting in it’s leaves to the mice that every bird is after, and thorns that wrap around this tree as it loves and must protect it all. The tree that has been through storm and fire will watch as it stops danger in his tracks and fill the forest with powerful laughter.

A tidal wave races to land as anger from the broken earth surges through the city in it’s wake. Salty water fills what once was home to a beach pristine with it’s white sand. Concrete jungle, horrible and strong, your walls are beginning to break. The creatures that destroy it’s castle are now drowning in it’s tears. Water will heal if you show it respect, but woe it brings in oppression.

A wind from four corners will push on still – tornadoes and hurricanes do not stop for lesser things. You can track and prepare but you cannot break it’s unstoppable iron will. Yet only days before, a soft breeze gently embraced the leaves and refuse from the Sun’s sting. It is no fault but their own, taking for granted and taking advantage of something they do not know – of something they will fail to control. So the wind sounds a warning of a storm on the roll.

A roar charges through a burning world as a warrior departs. The pounding of horses running and the power of thunder rumbling. Rubber on asphalt spins and burns as those four doors carry weary hearts, heavy. Hearts that move, hearts that love and hearts that have been through too much. This world hurts what is afraid of, yet the strong ones have made struggle an art. So, bring on what you have – just try and stop them. When you push them they will be ready!”

~ Gia Embach

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DECEMBER 16, 2019: “Everyone’s Just Trying To Get Home” …

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by Charles Mackesy

Leave it to my daughter to bring one of the greatest and most impactful treasures of my journey thus far into my world this weekend. Unbeknownst to me Gia stumbled upon this author, artist and creative GENIUS, “Charles Mackesy”, a few months back and has been literally clinging to his vision and mindsets like a buoy in the dead of night. While I was out working yesterday she spent the afternoon with some friends of ours and their daughter, which at some point led her to a Barnes & Noble and the acquisition of THE LATEST AND GREATEST DISCOVERY OF MY LIFE!

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by Charles Mackesy

For the record, Charlie Mackesy is a creative, empathetic and insightful muse and the words he has so ARTFULLY and IMPECCABLY strung together? I. JUST. CAN’T! My daughter and I have now tattooed these mindsets that we’ve already shared for so long onto our hearts forever. This book and it’s wisdoms are our true life song, the depths of all our realities, and EXACTLY “who we are and what we aspire to be”.

EVERYONE NEEDS TO GIFT THEMSELVES THIS BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS! And you can’t just download it – you HAVE to buy the book, hold the book, see the pictures and physically touch and turn the pages in order for it to work it’s magic! It will perhaps be THE kindest “kindness” you will have ever shown yourself and perhaps even the beginning of your own journey “home”.

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by Charles Mackesy

“I think everyone is just trying to get home said the mole.”

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by Charles Mackesy

Dear God: Please tell me I am right and that HE has finally made it Home. That’s really all he ever wanted. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. It’s all ANY of us have ever wanted. It’s ALL I really want for Christmas – to know he’s FINALLY HOME! ~ Cat

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by Charles Mackesy

Charles Mackesy and his soul are kindred to my spirit and very core of who I am and what I stand for. I cannot say it enough! This book is nothing less than a modern day “Velveteen Rabbit” as far as I’m concerned and I will treasure these words, excerpts and GIFTS for the rest of my days on this earth … until I finally make it HOME!

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DECEMBER 11, 2019: “Only Light Can Kill The Darkness” …

In order to fully appreciate these videos first travel back with me a bit. If only I’d known how “one little moment in October” was going to play out and become such an important part of our journey I’d have kept better record of the exact date and time. But alas …

AUGUST 22, 2019. “The night that changed EVERYTHING.” Sufficed to say there are still so many parts of “that night” and what led up to it that most people don’t know about, don’t need to know about and quite frankly, may NEVER know about, simply because so much of this trauma and tragedy has affected Gia in ways that will impact her life and psyche forever. She has so much to process through that I simply cannot explain and her road to recovery is not going to be easy. That being said, as some of you already know she had to be hospitalized immediately for suicidal thoughts and depression of her own August 22nd. So August 23rd for me? At 10:30 in the morning I stepped outside her room for just a minute only to see the Parker police chief walking up the hallway towards me with “that look on his face” that I already knew what he was going to say, but then the words: “Mrs.Williamson, we did locate your husband in his car this morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I am so sorry to inform you that he is in fact deceased.” At which point I literally fell to the ground with a guttural wail that I’m told could be heard by virtually every one in the hospital. Less than an hour later she was being taken by ambulance from the emergency room to an in-patient treatment facility where she stayed for the eight longest days of my life.

Very long and tragic story short? She. Has. Suffered! Of course we both have, but her heart is broken in ways and pieces that I myself can’t begin the fathom. After “that night”? With the exception of the happiness she was feeling at her new school and the first “real smile” I’d seen on her face since even before he died (her first day of school at Bowman), my daughter could not smile. She’d been broken in too many ways by too many people for so many years ahead of “that night” that by the time he went and left us the way he did? She was just DONE. With smiling that is. And understandably so.

Meanwhile, last year when we moved to Parker we noticed “this holiday house” near ours. You know, “one of those houses” where the homeowners go completely overboard in all the right ways to make passers by stop, smile and leave filled with holiday joy and spirit! These people even deck the halls for Halloween, which by the way is Gia’s favorite holiday of all, and the displays they put out are absolutely incredible to look at! Only God Himself knows how much time they must spend putting them together each season, as they’re just so elaborate and fantastic. They’re synced up with a radio station, the character boards dance and sing with lights and more lights everywhere! Last year all three of us must driven by both displays a dozen times each and Zack and Gia had actually been looking so forward to seeing what they were going to put out this year.

So that with, I’ll get to the point. This October Gia and I were on our home and lo and behold, “the Halloween display was up”! But she was so downtrodden and her spirit still so freshly broken that as we approached their house (which is situated on the corner of a thorughfare we pass by to get home every single day) she didn’t even glance at it. Her elbow was resting on the door with her chin in hand and she was just – silent. But I decided to make the turn and stop in front of the display anyway, thinking, “what could it hurt”. Well aren’t I glad I did! As we sat there watching the digital monsters doing their little dance and the light display rollin’ and poppin’, I caught a glimpse at the side of her face and I just about started to cry. Wait, I did cry! SHE WAS SMILING! For the first time in SO LONG … SHE WAS SMILING! It was probably one of THE best nights I’ve had since this nightmare started and my words just fail to do it justice. When we got home, and although she still can’t really talk about him or hear his name at this point, we both agreed, “Dad would have loved that”! Gotta tell ya … that moment for me was a true “point of light”. A little glimmer of hope that somehow, somewhere, buried beneath all her heartache and trauma is my daughter and all the beautiful memories of her and her dad that she can’t afford to let surface at this point because they’re just too damn painful.

About two weeks after “the night of the Halloween display” I was sitting in my office and I started thinking to myself, “You know what? Those people? They put SO much of themselves into those displays every season, and THIS season that display just bought your kid the smile of a lifetime! I wonder if anyone has really ever thanked them for pouring themselves into “strangers” the way they do?” At which point I made the decision to drop them a little gift and a thank you note for what they unknowingly did for my daughter. Not too long after that and I got a friend request on Facebook. IT WAS HER – “the holiday house lady!” Slowly but surely she’s becoming less and less of a stranger and a couple of nights ago she messaged me to let me know that they were going to do something special for Gia, which is what these videos are about. So, with all that being said …

Barri and Gerri LeBoeuf from our little town of Parker, Texas ~ I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH! My heart is beyond full, so is my daughter’s, and I’m pretty flipping sure my husband’s is too, because I believe with EVERY shred of my being THAT HE IS SEEING ALL OF THIS! I bet you never realized what an impact your hearts, generosity and kindness “for strangers” was going to make on my little girl during her very darkest hours. But now you know!  “Only Light Can Kill The Darkness” is the tag-line of my life now, and YOUR lights have killed some of ours! You will always be in my heart and prayers going forward.

~ Love Cat

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DECEMBER 8, 2019: “Death Is Nothing At All”…

DeathLate last night I stumbled upon the “memory” of a post I’d made on Facebook around the same time four years prior, December 8th, 2015. It was in reference to an annual visit I’d made to my daughter’s grave to deliver her Christmas flowers, and ironically, take a wild guess what I did yesterday afternoon? I made the annual visit to my daughter’s grave to deliver her Christmas flowers. This was what I’d posted:

“I held an angel in my arms for 4.25 hours, who left my world as swiftly as she entered it, thus bestowing me the privilege of seeing her very first breath and then her very last. When her heart stopped, so did mine, for what seemed like an eternity, and in that moment I just knew all the light from my soul had slipped with hers forever. Quite certainly I was wrong though, because I am still right here, with a shining heart filled with joy and peace that has healed where I never knew it was broken. You see, I am a woman who was blessed in the presence of two “departed” at the moment their mortal shackles were released, not the least of which was my precious daughter’s as my hands gave her right back to Heaven. It took me a minute, plus 20 twisted years, but I’ve since found the words “all is well” to be so much more than endearing. For both of them survive with me in every shadow before and behind as I feel their presences fervently locked in all the deepest chasms of my mind. I never got to hear her voice, yet I recognize it clearly, and his are the chords that fill my heart with memories, joy and laughter. Perhaps the greatest triumph of my own sweet Earthly existence was that moment I realized I was speaking of, writing about and taking flowers to their graves without a single shed of tear, reveling in the truth that in their crossing my God had not forsaken me, but had all the while been planting the seeds of my truly blind faith and granting my greatest “freedom”. And while of course I do not delight at the thought of our next inevitable relation, no longer do I fear Him, for He is but an Enigma who in one strange paradox both enlightens AND ceases my need to comprehend. For in all my years both broken and whole I have learned to grieve with hope, and with that, all is truly well. All. Is. Well!”

Meanwhile, here I am, having danced with Death yet again at what seems a lifetime later. And do you know what has changed in my relationship with either God or Death since his sudden departure? Not a thing!

As I was driving to the cemetery yesterday I was concerned as to how I would handle it, especially in that not a year has passed since Zack came into my life that I’ve go there on my own. He stood beside me through everything and never could I have imagined myself standing at her grave alone. Yet, as I walked towards her resting place, the most beautiful breeze washed over me and I swear to God I felt so at peace. No tears. No trauma. No aching in my heart or knot in my stomach. Just solace. I knelt down, put the flowers in her vase, breathed in as deeply as I possibly could and slowly released it back into an atmosphere that I’m absolutely certain they were present in – my first born daughter, my blaze of glory“, and now, THE ONE TRUE LOVE OF MY LIFE!

Their deaths have neither broken, nor stolen from or vanquished me, and everything they were is still every wondrous thing I am. They’ve but “slipped away into the next room” with countless others I’ve lost along the way and they’ll all be waiting for me when I get Home. They continue to survive with me in every shadow before and behind with presences forever locked inside what are now the even deeper chasms of my mind and an ensemble of voices perpetually filling my heart with memories, joy and laughter.

deathAs I write this I still marvel at my triumph. Yes I am able to speak of them, write about them and take flowers to their graves without a single shed of tear. And yes I do continue to revel in the truth that in their crossing my God has still not forsaken me, but instead continues planting and sowing the seeds of my even stronger, truer blind faith. I am still the freest woman I’ve ever known and while I still do not delight at the thought of our next inevitable relation, never will I fear Him … the Enigma who in one strange paradox continues to enlighten and cease my need to comprehend. It’s been a long fifty years for me living “broken and whole at once”, but I continue to grieve with hope, with my eyes continually on The Cross, and all is still truly well.

THE ANSWER

“The lightning flashed as angels rode fiery chargers through the clouds. That answer scared me into tears and all the grownups laughed out loud. Now the years roll on, tired voices have all gone. Now they ride their thunder through the heavens. There’s a world in every drop of rain.Embracing oceans sweep us home again. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie. They say for every living thing there’s a guide up in the sky that helps you pass from world to world so you never really die. Then with scythe and cloak Death comes waltzing to your side. As the visions pass you ask if there was meaning to your life. As you strain to hear the answer, spirits sing and devils fiddle as he bends to whisper in your hear, he leaves you one more riddle.Oh, the answer lies beyond the pain. All the questions in our minds, we surely ask in vain. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, and you shall find another life. And now my life is like a storm growing stronger every day. Like the unrelenting wind that comes to blow our lives away. So I live each day like I know it’s my last. If there is no future there must be no past. Now I know the answers never meant a thing and with each instant that I breathe I feel the joy that life can bring. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie.” – Richie Sambora

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DECEMBER 3, 2019: “We Survive With Humor” …

… because sometimes you have just have to find the humor in the middle of your darkest hours. AND THAT’S OKAY! We. Survive. With humor! My daughter is a phoenix. Never forget it! Just keept watching to see what she will do! Enjoy her silly “rant” my friends! Forever the happy cynic … Lol!

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NOVEMBER 30, 2019: “Puttin’ On My Lipstick” …

She’s Puttin’ On Her Lipstick …

... turning up the music, slippin’ on her black dress, saying “you can do this”. Climbing in the front seat, looking out the window, going through the motions, trying just to let go of the tears that she cried, no solid goodbye. Tonight it ain’t gonna show. And even though she knows that it ain’t gonna fix it, she’s putting on her lipstick.

“DAY #101”: “THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE” …

            • Got Up!
            • Fixed Up!
            • SHOWED UP!
            • No Victim Shall They See!
            • NO VICTIM SHALL I BE!
            • Vikin Horns Are On My Head!
            • An Iron Sword Is At My Side!
            • God’s Shield Is All Around Me!
            • Zack Made Me Strong!
            • I MADE ME STRONGER!
            • I. So. Got this!

(Thank you Dan + Shay for helping me find my words today!) Love to all of you! ~ Cat ❤️

Lipstick Quote

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NOVEMBER 25, 2019: “Shining Through Our Darkness” …

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Tonight after “Batman” lit up our roof for the holidays Gia and I went to Walmart to get more lights for the shrubs in our pajamas, slippers and messy buns, looking quite ridiculous! We were “play arguing” over whether to get “all white”, “all red”, “all green”, or multi-colored. Before we knew it we were giggling up a storm and I said, “Man, this is tough. Do we match the shrubs to the roof, do a contrast, or what? Hmm, what would Jesus do?” Ever the consummate smart ass, my daughter says, “Well duh mom, He WAS Jewish so I’m thinking He’d go with blue.” (And she meant no disrespect by the way. Gia loves Jesus!) Meanwhile, this couple standing nearby started giggling too and the lady says, “You two are so sweet together, like a mother daughter comedy act! You just made me miss my two girls who are on their way home from school right now and I can hardly WAIT to hug them even tighter. I miss those days when it was us being silly at Walmart. Thank you for lighting up this aisle with holiday spirit!”

That was perhaps the greatest compliment either one of us could have gotten, esepcially considering our circumstances, and as they walked away from us she turned to hug me and said, “Mom, I think we’re gonna be okay!” Then I looked up at him and whispered, “Yes, we are!” And then we left just knowing what we know. Those people? They didn’t see it – all of our pain, grief and sorrow. And there’s no way they could have imagined that three months ago she was in a psych ward and I was laying in my bed, barely breathing and praying to God for the strength to walk yet again out of another living hell.

So yes we ARE gonna be okay. Never the same. Never EVER the same! Life without him is going to be, just, different. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be okay, and one day maybe even better than okay! In the meantime, we’re allowed to be excited and play argue and giggle about Christmas lights at Walmart, and if you knew anything about Zack it was this: He demanded nothing but the BEST for “his girls”! Did he throw us one HELL of a monkey wrench that was the exact opposite of “the best”? Um, yup. God’s grace has that covered though and he’s received mine as well. I’m so thankful for those people tonight. And my daughter. And my life. And the King who helped build me into the resilient woman I am today who’s still able to “shine” through all this darkness.

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NOVEMBER 25, 2019: Dear Mr. “Look At Me” …

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So here’s my rant for the day :: HOLY SHIT IS THIS WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING IN THE “LOOKING FOR A RELATIONSHIP WORLD”? NOT that I’m looking to start dating at the moment or ANYWHERE in the forseeable future, but I’m getting messages and texts like this on an almost daily basis now and just woke up to this one.

At first I was disgusted by the entirety of it all but have since decided to just keep clinging as tightly as humanly possibly to The Four Agreements going forward in this regard: 1. I’ll be impeccable with my words; 2: I won’t take anything personally; 3. I won’t make assumptions; and 4. I’ll just do my BEST to navigate through this abundant absurdity in my future. Especially in that because of what I want to do with my life now, hiding myself away is not optimal, or fair, and I won’t. Putting myself out there for all the right reasons is clearly going to come with a cost. So with that …

DEAR MR. “LOOK AT ME!”:

I think I speak for many women in my season of life in saying that NOPE, don’t want to see your abs. Or your tattoos. Or your ass. Or you at a bar doing shots on a stripper’s stomach, or on a “guy’s trip to Vegas” smoking cigars with some 23 year old girl on your lap! Don’t care how many times a day you’re at the gym, or how much you bench press, and DON’T need pictures of you “taking pictures of you” at the gym in your ripped up shirt flexing an arm that is MOST LIKELY not natural, so, yah, just NO! Me personally? The only abs, arms, ass, chest, tattoos or “LOOK! I’m at the gym!” pics I will EVER need to see will be of the man I marry, IF EVER I MARRY AGAIN. Thanks though.

Presentation is everything and here’s what will catch a GOOD woman’s eye: Tell us what you believe in and what you fight for. Who you pray to and for. Show us your kids. Your mom, grandparents, sisters, brothers and pets. Show us what you do to make this world a better place. Show us the world through your eyes – your sunrises, sunsets and rainy nights in. Show us where you travel (AND NOT TO VEGAS WITH STRIPPERS)! And yah, go ahead and show us a picture of yourself now and then, BUT SHIRTS ON PLEASE! Cover up all that awesomeness so we can be surprised to find out what we’re really getting someday and that NOT EVERY WOMAN HAS ALREADY SEEN IT! Your smiles and “presentation” as noted above will do ALL your best advertising, I promise, and will prevent SO many of us from either laughing at you OR throwing up in our mouths.

Signed Truly … “Every Single Woman With Half A Sack Of Brains Everywhere“!

That’s all folks. Sorry, but I just had too!

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NOVEMBER 20, 2019: “Because Suicide Is ALWAYS Dead Serious!” …

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

… that moment you get this call from a friend who’s son has been openly and actively talking about suicide :: “Cat, someone just basically told me that I shouldn’t take him seriously … I need to toughen up with him … he’s probably NOT really going to do it. In your opinion and based upon your own personal experiences of having both tried it and survived it with Zack, do you think I should believe her?” REALLY? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? I am just beside myself right now. Need to digest what I just heard and surely there’s rant to follow because A SUICIDE THREAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!Can

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