Sometimes people are stupid, and that’s OK

Everybody has an evil little voice in their head that tells them they’re a piece of shit, or that something nice that happened to them was really sinister, or a good friend is out to get them. Many people name their evil little voice. I never have, but lately I’ve been thinking “anaconda” or “Brenda.” Mainly because my anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns hun, and Brenda sounds like an annoying girl name. Like the Karen memes, but for a 14 year old. A blonde, cluelessly destructive 14 year old.

My Brenda anaconda (this is getting weird I know) likes to distort memories. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and she is flat out screaming at me that I am a horrible person and I should just… well… not deserve to live and I am an idiotic piece of shit how dare I take up space?

Brenda is not fun and she is basically a dick.

Brenda’s anaconda likes to blame other people and bite me into becoming a victim which is way not cool because other people have their own damn lives and I am a fucking person too.

So fuck off, Brenda. I don’t want none of your anaconda. CONSENT BITCH.

Taking Back Your Power Before Power Takes You

I notice a trend in my life, in other blogger’s lives, and in human beings in general. It’s of helplessness and hopelessness: being a victim of who you are and your circumstances.

I created this blog to take the stones thrown at me by life and create a castle out of them. For now, it’s what serves me – telling my story not to inspire others, but so that others in similar situations don’t feel so alone, that they may find strength in solidarity.

Oftentimes in the chronically ill community it is said that you have to cut out negativity in your life, and this includes friends. I recently did this with a particularly demeaning and diminutive friend.

She had always struck me as a snaggle-toothed, mousy girl who was kind-hearted but self-absorbed. Day and night she would text me her problems, but didn’t have time for mine. She belittled my diagnoses and insulted my wedding dress.

Eventually she turned out to be racist, sexist, and homophobic. This led me to the ethical questions of being so close to her. Was it wise to be associated with someone who thought such hateful thoughts and assumed they were mine as well when I couldn’t be more different? Is it okay to let yourself be friends with people who are so prejudiced? Does that mean you condone that line of thinking?

Ultimately, a racist statement and her general selfish mannerisms led me to cut ties.

She lived her life thinking she was a victim – always a problem, never having the power to solve it. While demeaning socialism she was a job hopper on minimum wages living with her parents and had a bachelor’s degree from a supposedly reputable private school.

Everything always happened to her. This was how she went from being a newspaper journalist to working at a Goodwill. She didn’t take back her power before power took her.

As for me, I admit I fall into the power trap as we all do at times. Sometimes I curse my pain and how I have no control. We may not have a say in the hands we’re dealt, but we can learn how to play them.

On Being Loving and Kind

A few years ago, I came across a slew of articles against teaching kids the importance of self-confidence and self-worth. These articles were on reputable websites such as Huffington Post around 2011.

At the time, I felt something acute pierce my chest, a sort of pallid, sudden sadness for these authors who blamed Disney and participation trophies for their own failures. It was pathetic. Couldn’t they see that pointing fingers at children’s movies was embarrassing and only they were in control of how they reacted to their lives, not a woe-earned participation trophy in fourth grade?

As I grew older, I saw more pointed blame at elementary school gifted and talented programs. Why? Because the child was told they were special, and they didn’t have to earn it.

Let me tell you a few things I have always believed that nobody ever taught me:

  • All individuals are unique, there are no unique individuals or nonconformists because we are all born under different circumstances and think different thoughts. We are all unique nonconformists.
  • Everyone is inherently divine and has a light inside them, which makes them worthy of respect. It doesn’t matter if you’re the lawyer or the janitor in the office. Most of us have flipped a burger at least once and we all fall on hard times.
  • This means you are special, you are worthy, and you don’t have to earn it.

Thing is, I believed this for other people. I didn’t believe it for myself.

This meant these thoughts were inauthentic, because if you don’t hold these three key truths for yourself, you will never go all the way genuinely in your mind and actions for anyone else.

What you’ll end up being is a ditherer – a washout – who is a mouse of a person. People will push you around and you’ll think it’s okay because of the three principles. They are inherently special, so you have to do what they say. But because you don’t hold yourself to be inherently special, your self-esteem suffers, and you begin to think nasty thoughts about these other people. The people who “push you around” may not even be pushing you around, they might be decent, ordinary humans trying to get on with their lives. But your warped point of view has them out to be devils. Or the pushers really could be pushy – your lack of self-esteem has driven you to choose bad friends.

What’s the point here? If you see your loved ones as hecklers, you aren’t going to love them well. You will make yourself out to be a victim. Yes, you might have good reasons – a troubled past, or a Disney movie (Bambi is very traumatic) but at the end of the day, being the loving, kind self you think you are starts with being loving and kind to yourself. Maybe start with Wreck-It-Ralph and work your way up.

Why Body Positivity is So Hard For Chronically Ill Women

I had my first EMDR session yesterday, and it went… badly.

In EMDR one of the first things you do is create a safe space for yourself, and I could not visualize myself as I am in that space. I kept seeing the old me, the beautiful former model me, and I began to sob.

As someone who attempts to champion body positivity and beauty is every-ability, I was ashamed at my reaction. I knew that my issues ran deep, but I didn’t know they were this invasive. I saw the girl who I once was in my head and longed to be her. I felt that she as lightyears away, a completely different person from me, and this person existed only a year ago.

Grieved by the fact that I was two different people in such a short amount of time, the tears came. Pain shot up my esophagus, and my shoulders ached.

What’s important to remember is that I am a completely gorgeous, unknown sized, purple haired, green eyed vixen with glittery pink catseye glasses. My double chin? That is fucking gorgeous y’all. My acne? Sexy as hell. My swollen hands and legs? Hot, even if it is part of my disease.

My therapist taught me the Vegas Nerve Stimulator for times of distress, and I must say, it works. She instructed me to put my thumb on my clavicle and my other thumb below my rib cage, and silently repeat to myself “I am a beautiful human being.” I almost believed it, which was better than being in the negative hit points.

I am sexy as hell, and I believe it.

So, why did I have this problem? Why do so many women who go through life altering events, and body altering events, have this problem?

As women we are taught we are our bodies, and that our bodies do not belong to us. Someone else gets to decide if we are sexy as hell, not us. And if that is decided, they have the opportunity and the right to act upon their urges.

But at the same time, beauty is a sacred thing, like art. I believe all life is a form of art, which is a reason why I enjoy painting and drawing nature. There is inherent divinity, and therefore beauty and light, everywhere and in everyone.

When a woman becomes sick, it’s as if that divinity and light is becoming assaulted, because society says sick isn’t beautiful. But real beauty is still there. No other person can negate her divinity and inner light, even if she becomes bitter.

I’m here to tell you to all my ladies down with the sickness, you never lost your beauty.
Now I’m reminded of the Alanis Morissette song that goes, “I’m sick but I’m pretty, BABY, and what it all goes down to my friends, is that everyone’s gonna be QUITE ALL RIGHT!”

My fellow gals, you are sick and you’re pretty, you are beautiful and divine, own that acne, own that messy hair, YOU ARE SEXY AS HELL.

Reflection

I follow the Memes for Jesus page. One time I actually messaged them and got no response.

Recently I thought of a meme about PKs, or preachers kids. Often times in the comments of the Instagram page people seem to have the idea that the PK does whatever they want. That wasn’t my experience.

My idea was that PKs on the inside were the song Reflection from Mulan. In the song, Mulan expresses sadness and anxiety for perceiving to not live up to her family’s expectations. Generally all PKs I know are balls of perfectionism and anxiety, whether they end up functional or heroin addicts, Christian or otherwise. This is a mix of expectations from their parents congregation and expectations of their parents to be perfect examples of Jesus to the community.

I still grapple much with my upbringing and my faith. There’s a lot I wish were different, but you do the best you can with what you have.

Sometimes all you have is six chords and the truth or a bible and your tears, and that’s enough.

Whatever enough for you is, know that you are worthy, no matter who your mother or your daddy was.

Fighting the She-Wolf: Fibromyalgia Painger Coping Techniques From a Weird Hippie

I had a great day today, filled with productivity, intimacy with my fiancé Bear, a side quest to find cake balls, and the two of us pretty much telling my parents I was moving in. They took it as well as you could expect a preacher and his wife could.

Bear and I celebrated all night long until it was bedtime. I was sure that my alter ego, the She-Wolf, would not appear as I had such a wonderful day. I was wrong.

What is the She-Wolf?

The She-Wolf is an irrational, bitter, negative version of myself that exists around sunset til 12pm the following day. Symptoms of lycanthropy include extreme anxiety, nervous chittering, catastrophizing, only seeing negative outcomes, thinking someone said horrible things, general paranoia and moodiness.

My mother coined the term lycanthropy two days before Bear and I initiated operation secret move out and called me a She-Wolf. As a Technical Writing major I wrote an actual step by step procedure on how Bear could deal with me as a She-Wolf. Becoming a She-Wolf with the onset of fibromyalgia pain worsening in the evening and realizing this made me and Bear realize I needed to book it out of the ‘rents place.

The She-Wolf Does Not Rest

As previously mentioned today was great, and I was not symptomatic at 5:30 as usual. She-Wolf didn’t come barging in until 10:30 and Bear and I were trying to sleep.

In Bear and I’s house we each have separate office spaces. Mine contained a new order of books, one of which was Heal Your Body by Louise Hay. I previously read You Can Heal Your Life by her and thought it was fascinating, a new viewpoint I had never heard before.

Hay’s book contains a diagnostic list of diseases and affirmations to be recited in a mirror. I went through and said anything that applied in the mirror by my desk and I felt She-Wolf backing off. This took about 30 minutes.

Next I brewed some chamomile tea and tried to softly sing a song in our kitchen. I drank it and went through the affirmations again after becoming thoroughly depressed while reading Being Well When We’re Ill by the theologian Marva Dawn. I’m sure I’ll sink my teeth into it later but when the She-Wolf is rising I need something fluffier. I think I need an All the Shit I Am Reading post soon.

Finally, I used my green aventurine stone and did a two minute meditation after playing with my crystals.

I felt safe enough to go back into the bedroom, but the She-Wolf came back after my rib cage cried out upon lying down.

I am back in my office and have just recited the same affirmations from Hay. This seems to be a rinse, lather, repeat thing. At least it keeps my She-Wolf away. But my lack of sleep is here. However, I felt a storm blow in so that may amount to something too.

Coming Back to Yourself

Since my fibromyalgia diagnosis, many terrible things have happened.

I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost most of my friends, I’ve lost my apartment and two cars. But I’ve found I’ve gained a lot, too.

I may have lost my mind but my heart’s come on pretty strong. The things I’ve loved have never left me. My closest friends are still here, as is my family and fiancé, no matter how many times I go Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde at them.

My dream of going to graduate school came true. I read all the time; it’s my biggest solace. There is yoga every morning, a dog in my lap, a sketchbook on the table, a notebook in my purse, my collection of odd lipstick and my wearable glitter. I have, honestly, gone out in green lipstick and glitter on my face to the falafel stand. My fiancé has agreed to help me dye my hair purple after our wedding.

The love is all still there. It never went any where. It just takes some eyes to see it.

This love is what makes living with chronic illness possible. The yoga, the dog, the glitter, and the books are all coping mechanisms that help me block out the pain. Without me I would live in a rainbow free world in black in white where all I could feel is sorrow.

So when you see the things that bring you joy, take a little snapshot in your mind. Let the world know how grateful you are for dogs and books and glitter. Be annoying about your love. Let it overflow, because without it there is desolation.

This is how fibromyalgia brought me back to myself after a huge disconnect of trying to fit into corporate America and “the man.” I was forced to listen to no one but myself to live my life.

Is this a positive? Definitely yes.

Let the love flow through you, y’all.

And now, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: all the positives in my life are all still there and some have come back to me in the wake of my illness.

Pocket full of darkness: my computer crashes every 5 minutes so all my posts are written on a smartphone. That’s why this sounds like this was written by an 11 year old.

How Acknowledging the Good and Bad Helped Me Cope With Fibromyalgia

Have you ever been told “focus on the positive, eliminate the negative?” Do you have a problem following through on that advice?

That saying is almost like trying to ignore a tree that fell through your roof and now it’s raining. It’s also freezing outside, and outside is now inside your house. How are you to ignore the hole in your roof, the tree blocking your way, the rain on your floor, and the freezing temperatures, while somehow making it go away by focusing on the fact that at least the tree didn’t land in the master bedroom?

This is how I often felt when people told me to focus on the positive when I expressed being in pain after my fibromyalgia diagnosis, or the years of suffering leading up to it. I believed I had to acknowledge my suffering as well as the happy parts of my life in order to be productive.

After all, how are you supposed to get out of the freezing rain and turn your house warm and cozy again if you cannot admit that a tree fell through your roof? No one wants a hole in their roof caused by a fallen tree, but if it is ignored, it cannot be helped.

Growing up, I often felt deep emotions. Soaring happiness, rapid excitement, hollow darkness, and deep sadness. I had the entire spectrum of feeling. Usually, no matter the situation, I had complex emotions that confused me. At my grandfather’s funeral, I attempted to help serve food, set up tables, and had no idea I was supposed to sit with my grandmother. Her sisters were there, and as she never saw them, I thought they would be a bigger comfort to her than me. As someone who frequently helps at funerals, I had only rarely been part of the grieving family to be supported. I did not cry when my grandfather died, even though I missed him and loved him. The night before his funeral, I saw a silvery image of him come to hug me as I tried to fall asleep. My grieving process is still going on, and he died five years ago when I graduated college. After the initial numbness passed, I was greeted by regret, anger, and questioning.

This is just an example of how I experience emotions. Another is disaster planning. I have a bad habit for looking at a situation, seeing what could go wrong, and planning for the worst proactively. It’s not an entirely bad trait. But sometimes I will be excited about an idea, will have already run my disaster planning algorithm through it, only for my mother to shoot it down with extremely shallow disaster planning that was, well, preschool disaster planning, telling me I don’t think through things and proceed to forbid or simply kill my vibe. If I’m honest I think the fact that I am expressive and have more of an emotional ecosystem than my parents lead me to believe they think I cannot be rational, so when I am excited, I must have a bad idea.

The truth is, we all have emotions. Some people simply wear masks, like my parents. I am a bit too honest for facades and my feelings give me intuition that I operate out of. It also gives me a holistic approach to situations.

Growing up and today, disaster planning while feeling a positive emotion and not experiencing a total eclipse of the heart when tragedy happened prepared me (somewhat) for my fibromyalgia diagnosis.

When I was first diagnosed, I knew that not everything made sense. I fought for answers, found community, and researched coping skills. My previous posts outline some of these.

However, my greatest teacher for managing fibromyalgia is the yin-and-yang concept.

There is some good in the bad and some bad in the good. The light side and the dark side complete the whole.

Basically, imagine walking into a lit room with a couch in it. The light casts shadows in the room and on the couch you go to sit on.

Your depth perception as you walk to the couch and how you see the couch would be way off if you couldn’t see the light or the shadow. You may not possibly be able to make it to the couch!

When it comes to chronic illness and chronic pain, it is ridiculous to ignore our suffering. However we will not make it out alive by merely focusing on the shadows.

This is why I typically end each post with “pocket full of starlight” and “pocket full of darkness.”

With that said, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: darkness has a friend, it’s name is light, and they rely on each other. For every pain you feel there is something lingering within waiting to shine on you.

Pocket full of darkness: in order to take the good, you must take the bad. Sometimes even with all the disaster planning in the world we cannot avoid disasters.

The Beginner’s Guide to Positive Thinking

A positive outlook is a skill. Some people master it at three seconds old, three years old, or thirty years old. I like to think of it as a martial art with many different disciplines. There’s the classic Kung Fu and TaeKwonDo, great at destabilizing assailants of negativity, the slow and poetic Tai Chi, perfect for artistically overcoming your inner demons, and the energetic and strategic Fencing and sword arts, suited for those who love to victoriously skewer their suffering on a pointy metal object.

Some people never enter the martial arts studio, some enter later in life, some stay as white belts, some make it to the sparring levels and stay there, some practise swordplay and bloodily dash their issues gleefully and goreily, and some dedicate their lives and become masters. Gifted folks have a natural talent. They may naturally gravitate towards self-defense and fighting arts, and know maneuvers without even stepping foot inside a studio. Many may ask mom for lessons at age two after running around pretending to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Batman, or mom may sign her child up after noticing disruptive behaviors with other children.

Hi, my name is Spoonie Bard, and I was the white belt, Ninja Turtle, Fencer who tried hard, but never got it. 

Oh, and I had disruptive reactions too. Like feeling overwhelmed when my chronic illness appeared, numbness upon the deaths of close family members that confused me, and bitterness at the unexpected path my life took despite my hard work and integrity.

These came with disruptive behaviors, like crying, spending too much time thinking, complaining excessively, messiness, and neglecting hobbies I once loved, such as music and art.

First, I will say that these are natural reactions to life events. It’s also called depression. Depression is actually expected when a trauma occurs in a person’s life. If your pet died tonight and you weren’t sad about it, I would probably think you were a monster. Most people would! That’s a silly example, but think about it. When bad things happen to people, it is rational for us to assume we would have a negative emotion to accompany the event.

Okay, so sadness and negativity is normal. Where does positive thinking fit into this?

Let’s first examine my definition of what life is all about.

  1. Life is not about eliminating what’s bad, or all of our life’s problems.
  2. Life is about reaching our full potential.
  3. How we reach our full potential is by investing in ourselves.
  4. We invest in ourselves by spending time on things we like, knowing what things we like, and ultimately knowing who we are so we can be ourselves.

Life is not about solving problems

Think about it. What are problems? Why are they problems?

There are obvious problems like “I need to put a roof over my head” or “I am experiencing serious pain.”

Let’s examine the markers that go with each of these two major problems.

What if needing to put a roof over your head was not a problem to be solved?

What if you still needed to put a roof over your head, but instead of it being a problem to be solved, it was an opportunity to be met with your full potential? Not necessarily a passion of yours, but your abilities? 

What if this problem of needing to provide was a blessing? So many people cannot provide for themselves. They cannot work, are unemployed, or are at the mercy of someone else controlling them.

Next, “I am experiencing serious pain.”

This is hard for me. I admit I am still working on this one a little as a white belt, but this is what I’ve worked up.

Try to turn this problem to be solved into a relationship with your body of affection and compassionate curiosity.

Engage with a dialogue with your body. Please seek medical care if you can. But when you’re not at the doctor or taking medications, practise talking to your physical self. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Ask your body where it hurts the most and try to sense if there is an emotion there. Keep asking the places where your pain is questions. Get to know your body and the pain it harbors. 

Your Full Potential

The term “potential” always bothered me. As I grew up, people always told me I had so much potential. In this post I am not referring to monetary or physical success. I am talking about personal fulfillment.

Investing in Yourself

This is the key to positive thinking.

We spend so much time running around with self-help books, diets, exercise, so concerned with the person we need to be, the person we were told we should be. These are all actions that take away, or subtract, from who you are.

Let’s talk about adding to yourself.

When was the last time you sat down and did something for yourself, even if it was small, like listening to an audiobook of your choice on your commute? Or instead of scrolling through social media before bed, you read up verified sources on a subject you’re passionate about?

Passion and curiosity are the soil and water through which the roots of a grounded, healthy self grow. From here the flowers of a positive outlook blossom and your happy little person plant is sturdy enough to make it through the aphids and the pesticides of life. 

The big lesson here is that instead of working so hard on subtracting negative traits from yourself, instead focus on adding to positive things you like about yourself. 

Knowing Yourself

When you have a solid identity, it isn’t easily shaken. True, identities change and fluctuate over time, but being in a relationship with yourself and allotting time to seek yourself out regularly buffers this a bit. 

If you can like yourself because you do the things you like, you can charge your positive energy batteries for the storm of life. Here, you can begin to sense the inherent value all human beings are born with. 

Remember: you have your own light and it is already on. You just have to remember to take your sunglasses off inside the sanctuary.

I hope this was helpful, and I wish myself and you all out there on your journeys to positive thinking. Remember that positivity is not about ignoring the bad, never feeling sad, or invalidating your dark experiences. It is a path to wholeness in our somber, embarrassing, and painful moments.

Ultimately, positive thinking is an equation. Sadness + gladness + investment = positive outlook.

A recap:

Pocket full of starlight: positive thinking can be learned, and you have all the tools already inside of you.

Pocket full of darkness: there wouldn’t be positive thinking without negative thinking. Honor your journey and the journey of others. No one knows anyone else’s struggles. You can be in the dojo, on the playground, or trying to stick a straw in someone’s ear in the school cafeteria.