MARCH 10, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

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TO 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, pain and trauma. 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 ROOM 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 psyche to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space.

How did this happen? 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 a conditionally based system of 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 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 these traumas were visited on me purposely or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma was real indeed, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For 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 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. 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! I’d pre-ordered their new album months ago and had been counting the days until it was released, so I was stoked to finally get to listen to it, starting from the beginning, as I headed out of the house today. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up, I 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 Christian. 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 dying father could have possibly written to his daughter, they will become as significant a part of her healing journey going forward as they have been to mine.

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the 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”. I’m not gonna lie … it is now my final wish that when it’s time for me to move along, this is the last song I hear as they wish me well on my final journey.

Them

FEBRUARY 5, 2020: “Can Childhood Trauma Be Reversed?” …

Quora Question
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Quora Answer

Although I do believe it’s “possible” for childhood trauma to be reversed, I do not believe that the resulting residual or collateral damage can ever be truly reversed. Under optimal circumstances, and with a healthy support system, if a person can first revisit, acknowledge and accept the trauma itself, they can then attain the coping skills and mechanisms necessary to carry them through their adulthood “if and when” the trauma rears it’s head. “You can forgive, accept, acknowledge and even make peace with it ”, but, “you can never forget or erase it”. As an adult survivor of childhood trauma of my own, I speak from experience in this regard. It took me 40 years to overcome my childhood demons. Thankfully, however, I did.

Unfortunately, I also have first-hand experience on the flip side of this coin; that is, “irreversible childhood trauma”. My husband (who I recently lost to suicide this past August 22, 2019) suffered from extreme childhood trauma that sadly proved to be the death of him. He was larger than life with a heart the size of an ocean, but had been thrown away like garbage by his mother at birth. She abandoned him permanently at 18 months, and although his father did the best he could, he was and still is nothing but a child himself. He was left alone frequently from a very young age and his basic needs were never properly attended to.

Unfortunately, he never even realized that his “Abandoned Child Syndrome” existed until five years into our marriage, but once he was faced with the sobering truths of his traumatic childhood, every bit of strength and fortitude he’d managed to muster and thus survive with in his “life of solitude” before finally finding us, the first and only real home and family he’d ever had, began to slip right out from under him. The abandonment issues that led to his mental illness were further complicated by the fact that not just his mother, but his entire family abandoned him; a father and three adult siblings who couldn’t be bothered with him whatsoever. The entirety of this selfish, heartless and cruel brood of human beings literally broke his heart into pieces that could never fully be put back together.

There were demons living inside of the hole the “mother” left inside his soul that he tried desperately to swim out of it. We both tried keeping him from drowning in it. In the end, the demons won. The last few months of his life it appeared as though he was in the early stages of psychosis, if not schizophrenia. He’d been hearing voices. Seeing things. Missing tremendous “blocks of time” and ultimately ended up disappearing inside 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 watch and the worst kind of heartbreak to witness. I appreciate any of you who are reading this by the way. It’s tough to digest, much less conceive. But it’s the truth nonetheless. His “traumatic childhood” indeed broke his heart.

To View The Original “Quora Q&A” Click HERE!

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 before finally opening my eyes to all my “broken feelings” and finding the truths behind the lies that were my former realities.

It’s 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 each of us before we’d met than actually meeting in the first place. It spoke volumes as to our prior journeys – it was who we were, where we’d been, and why we needed to cut ties with some people in 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 family that has 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 want, but more so his heart, his soul, his eyes, his faith and his love without condition for the first time in my life, all of which truly did make me a QUEEN!

And HE WAS 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 want, but more so her heart, her eyes, her soul, her faith and her love without condition for the for the first time in his life, all of which truly did make him a KING! Quite clearly he fell, 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 forgive you that mocked, punished, laughed at, or burned me alive on a cross every time I let you down, embarrassed or disgraced your reputations when I failed miserably at all the things I failed at.

I forgive you for invalidating, disregarding, and discrediting my feelings as “drama, immaturity, ingratitude or self-pity”.

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

I forgive you for taking it so personally when I decided to break the cycle and for just standing there watching as I fought tooth and nail to get that God-forsaken Venom suit off my weak and weary body so that maybe one day my daughter’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 babies that manage to get out of the webs they may 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 tooth and nail as she ascends 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 comes that he opens his eyes to all his broken feelings and finally walks away with the courage and strength that’s hiding somewhere within himself so the next time he hears “I’m done with you”, he too can say,

NO! It’s ME that’s done with YOU!

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 gets you EVERYTHING! Love shouldn’t make you sad, make you cry, come with strings or conditions, 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 claim to love you refuse to accept 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! You see, I’ve been blessed by the unconditional love of two earthly Kings in my lifetime. There’s no going back to where I came from, so I guess it’s time to just start over.

Merry Christmas Queen Catherine!