Grief and the Hero Complex

I am so tired. I actually took the afternoon off work to stare blankly at the computer with occasional crying. Okay, more like occasional not crying.

It has been damn near impossible to keep my head up. And I mean physically. Every muscle in my body feels completely over-taxed. I sleep and I sleep but it never seems to be enough. That’s why I hardly update the blog anymore. I barely have enough energy to go to work and I didn’t even have that today.

I don’t know what the hell kind of stages of grief these are, but after my mom’s death, I felt relief. I wrote about it. Now I feel a strange child of despair and sadness. All of the emptiness of someone dying with none of the darkly sweet missing them. Just nothing. No hope. No apprehension. As much as she was never around, never a mom in any real sense of the word; this is a new level of loss. A kind of anti-grief that swallows every other emotion in its unending blackness.

Because we were estranged and because I did so much work on my feelings about her while she was alive, I got trapped in the idea that her dying wasn’t something I would have to go through like a normal person, and it’s not. It’s more complicated than that.

I have had one mission since I was born: to save her. That’s why I’m here. That’s why she made me. My infant failure to do this job is why she gave me away. She thought that a baby would change her. I didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from growing up with the sick assumption that I was the solution to all her mistakes.

I truly thought there was some combination of things I could say or do. Something I would own, some person I could become, that would break the curse and rescue the princess. Magical thinking has saved me and damned me in equal measure. Childish hope, wishing on stars, and a complete and utter disregard for reality got me through all of what I would consider my highest achievements.

Most of us are witches. The children of addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill. We grow up watching our parents distort reality every day. We have an in-born ability to work against logic. To become an illusion. Anything we have to do to bend the light around our parents. To make a foundation out of nothing at all.

In addition to the grief I feel about my mother, I’m still processing the grief I feel for my business that closed in September. I’ve owned four businesses and closed three of them. This was the only one I didn’t want to close. Despite this, it’s one of the things I am most proud of myself for. I used a lot of magical thinking to keep that place running for as long as it did. I tied it to my heart and I willed it into being. I breathed it instead of air and I catapulted myself higher than I’ve ever gone before. Higher than an abandoned punching bag like myself was ever meant to go. It felt amazing.

I never fantasized about my future kids meeting my mother. I couldn’t, it was to painful. But I imagined my future kids in my business. I clearly saw every milestone on our climb to the top. Over and over. I had to do this or it wouldn’t have made it ten days, much less four years. But it crumbled anyway. And right after I failed my business, I failed this too.

I had one job, it was to save my mother. On December 9, 2016 I failed. My reason for being died. And now I am here, no purpose. No surrogate purpose even.

It’s not like I haven’t been to therapy. It’s not like I don’t know that it’s impossible (not just unhealthy, but impossible) to ask a daughter to save her mother. I get that my low self-worth is a result of childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse. I find myself deeply amused by the irony that it’s lead me to overachieve in an effort to prove myself valuable to the very people who caused this situation. People who are fundamentally incapable of seeing value in anything, least of all me.

And yet, I am subject to this insufferable human ailment. Grief like black tar boiling cold in the pit of my stomach. Pushing up my throat out of my mouth, covering me completely in an invisible barrier that cuts me off and drags me down.

Just as I was starting to internalize the realization that chronic overworking and trophy-hunting will not make me feel worthwhile, I found that I no longer had the motivation to keep my struggling business alive. This is not a coincidence.

However, it is a coincidence that my mother, the origin of all this shit, also died three short months later. Here I am, starting the long journey of working backward 31 years into the belly of the beast, deconstructing the illusion that I can save the world with sheer willpower and a complete lack of self-care when suddenly, the world dies. Because that’s the truth, isn’t it?

I’m smart enough to know that I can’t break the curse and I can’t save the princess. Even if I were to die for the princess (I would have), that wouldn’t be enough. But I’m also devious enough to pretend that I know these things when, in reality I made the world my princess. Because if I can’t save her, I’ll save everything I possibly can.

I am motivated by a desperate need to fight for something and against something else. I go into battle every day because I must atone for the one I left to die. It took all these years, but the thing I’ve been punishing myself for has finally come to pass. And what do I have to show for myself? A failed business and the half-baked realization that everything I’ve ever done, I’ve done for a woman who is now dead and never cared or was affected by my actions except for when they fueled her own resentments.

In times past, I have come out of this realization with a new purpose. Years go by, and I once again awaken to the reality that the new purpose is just me trying to save my mother a different way. When do I get to save myself? How many layers do I have to peel off before I get to the one where I matter more than she does?

“There will be a time when we must choose between what is right and what is easy”

-Albus Dumbledore

A lot of people are really excited for 2016 to be over. They think the year is the problem. I am sorry to say they will be disappointed. Please understand that bad things will happen to you in 2017 too.

Bad things will always happen.

The only choice you have in this matter is what you will do about it.

Will you turn your misfortune into a positive force through art or work or truth-telling?

Will you look around and try to prevent this from happening to someone else? To support those of use for whom it has also happened?

Will you hide? Deny? Lie?

Whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, President Trump will test this country. American political corruption is no longer implied. It is explicit and it is blatant.

What do you believe in?
What do you stand for?
What will you do to protect it?

I’m not asking for any great sacrifice here. I just want you to know who you are. It’s the only way to save us. For each of us to decided what we stand for and to stand for it. Now, next month, next quarter; when things are good and when they are bad. What are you for? Be that now. Your country needs you to be that now.

You told me I would feel relieved when you died.

You were right, I do.

Mom,

You were abusive. And I loved you very much.

There is no shame in either statement. Both are true.

I’m glad that life, which you found so painful, is over for you. You used to tell me how much you wanted to die. I’m glad that you have what you wanted. And I’m so sorry that you felt that way.

Your joy was always brief but intense. And you never seemed to be able to remember it when it was gone. Nonetheless, you taught me how to appreciate the world. To see the beauty in ordinary things. Every time I look at the moon I think of you. You used to call me and tell me to look at it when it was especially pretty. 

I remember being on the phone with you, looking at the moon, knowing we couldn’t talk. Knowing that this was a temporary thing, wishing it weren’t, wondering why I answered. I’m glad we had that quiet moment. I’m equally glad I stood my ground when, later on you pushed and shamed and demanded something I could not give you. 

If my skin was worth anything, you would have cut it off me in a second without a thought. There was a time that I would have asked you to. Thanks to you, I thought it was okay to let people insult me, hit me, threaten my life. I thought that’s what good daughters did. 

You never believed anybody who told you they loved you, me included. You told me you loved me a lot, and I think you thought you did, but you treated me like you hated me most of the time.

I’m relieved that you are free from pain. I’m relieved because I finally know where you are and what you’re doing. I’m relieved because maybe I can stop trying to prove myself to you. 

You had an amazing smile. I wish I had more memories of it. 

Drinking Hate for Breakfast: A Liberal Welcomes President Trump

So that happened. 

And my timelines are filled with good, smart, strong people utterly shocked that their country hates them. That in 2016 a candidate can come to power on a bigotry ticket and win. I feel the same combination of intense jealousy, pity, and grief that I do when bad things happen to people who’s parents loved them. 

It’s true, America hates you.

So many of us have known this our whole lives. We learned it in the way police spoke to our parents, the way our parents spoke back to them. In the way our teachers spoke and allowed other classmates to speak to us and treat us and the way our parents dealt with that as well. I have been told to keep my head down my whole life. To keep my voice down. To never look angry. 

For one reason or another; my race, my poverty, my unwillingness to play the feminine submissive has been a threat to the good people of this country. That applies to you too. If nobody told you until this day that your country hates you because they fear you, I’m sorry it’s shocking, it’s time to own that reality. 

As the novelist Attica Luck said in an interview this morning “I’m not crushed. I’m awake to what my country is telling me.” 

If President Trump wakes you up to the racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and white supremacist agenda in America, then I welcome him. 

Things are going to happen that will diminish this day in your memory. For better or for worse. Whatever you do, don’t let it get so small in your personal history that you don’t remember how it felt to wake up blasted with the weight of half America’s explicit hatred. Don’t fight this feeling. Let it in. 

When you know you are hated, you are freed from the expectation that you will make compromises to avoid what is already true. So America hates you. What will you do about it?

Drink it up. Let it inform your actions. Don’t hide. Don’t tiptoe around bigot feelings, don’t sit next to your racist Uncle at Thanksgiving, don’t brush it off when men dismiss you, don’t assume that people of color in confrontation with the police are safe. Don’t waste this feeling. This opportunity. 

Use that hatred to fuel your offense. Lay seige to those who would have us dissappear from our own country. Who would tag us and curtail our rights in our “free” country. Who would institutionalize and outright murder every threat to themselves: from queers to people of color to people who get abortions. 

The shades have fallen away this morning and I am ready for the fight to come. What about you?

How To Be A Liberal When There Is No God

I feel like I’ve been inundated with images of racist, classist victories. One scroll through my timeline and I see police in riot gear hitting DAPL protestors with sticks, white supremacist terrorists The Bundy Gang going free with no consequences, police at Portland City Hall pushing protestors down the stairs, hitting them with fists and batons and pepper spraying them, and for some reason a video of a 2015 arrest in which a officer kicks Hector Medina-Pena in the face, breaking his jaw while he was clearly on all fours on the ground in a prone position.

Writer and educator Annie Lamott posted an extremely nice thing for people who believe in God, but for the rest of us, “have faith” is just a little too much to ask in a world that already asks so much of us to begin with.

The first thing to do when injustice has us down is to make sure we don’t perpetuate that shitty behavior in our own lives. We have to take care of ourselves. When you’re feeling defeated, angry, tired, you’re no good to anyone. Turn off the computer, put the phone in a drawer and do something you have control over. Set the parameters of your activity so that success is assured. Then stop and do something else. This last bit I am very bad at, but this post isn’t about me.

The second thing is to embrace the gray areas. A black and white world may be easy in the moment, but it’s not the truth. When you look closely, you see that there are peaks and valleys, even in the most straightforward racist bullshit. We are not the heroes fighting a great enemy. We are the heroes fighting the heroes, both fighting a great enemy. Live in the paradox.

The officer who broke Hector Medina-Pena’s jaw believed he was apprehending a man who had just robbed a strip club and threatened the clerk with a gun, a crime Hector confessed to in May. Does committing a robbery justify a police officer breaking your jaw while you crouch on the pavement unarmed? Only a fascist would think that. Which is the problem. We’re not just fighting against the racist system that sets up white men who kick unarmed men of color in the face to be heroes, we’re fighting against a population who really believe fascism is the answer. Whether they know that or not, the eye for an eye set are frothing at the mouth for fascism.

Which is why we should closely examine the little voice that says that maybe that police officer could use a kick in the face to balance the scales. Maybe if he knew what it was like to feel his jaw fracture while laying prone on the ground as the literal boot of the oppressor crashes down onto his head, perhaps he would neglect to take such joy in future assaults? It’s important to look at our own relationship with fascist fantasies as they apply to our worldview and not just for the opposition.

Finally, we look to history. It feels bad now, but didn’t it feel bad when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State Students, murdering four peaceful protestors? Didn’t it feel hopeless when MLK was assassinated? Medgar Evers, Ruben Salazar, Malcom X? You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea. You can acquit a terrorist gang, but you can’t erase the footage of them bragging and laughing as they deface Paiute artifacts. You can hit peaceful protestors with sticks, hell you can shoot them, and they have before, but the wheels of progress keep turning.

The definition of liberalism is that we push the boundaries of tradition. What passed for liberal thought 20 years ago is regressive today. This is a fight we will not win. At best, we might live to become the conservative scourge we so revile. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

You Will Never Be Cured

We have this narrative that all you have to do to be a Good Human is figure out how to keep your house clean, capitalize on your education, utilize your left and right brain, forgive assholes, know the state capitals, “experiment” but not so it’s weird, have well behaved dogs, good smelling hair, sweaters that don’t pill, a calm and soothing voice but also a commanding manly voice, one pair of comfortable designer shoes, a watch your mom didn’t give you, healthy teeth, and a tattoo you got on a whim but still looks really cool 15 years later.

That’s totally a lie.

I recently had an experience where I made a joke about my anxiety and got 25 different suggestions on what I should do to fix me. Which is great. It means that you guys love me enough to tell me this stuff, but I also saw a pattern in the comments and I have something to say about it.

There’s nothing wrong with me.

And there’s nothing wrong with you either. We are functioning at peak performance for this moment. If we want something else, we can do something else, and then different things will happen. Different than what’s happening now, different than we expected, even.

There’s no magical switch that will turn you from who you are into someone worthwhile because you are already worth everything you will ever be worth. You were born worthy, you will die worthy regardless of any external factors.

If you decided to become a master carpenter or a physicist or get really good at coping with your depression or if you do nothing, help no one, and die alone, you are worth the same. It’s only a matter of preference and comfort.

Stop stressing out over being a good enough human. Stop thinking that the solution to your “problem” is over the next hill. A bullet journal will not cure you because there is nothing to cure you from.

There is no right way to be a person. There is only the way you choose.

Dog Questions

Why is it that we have to spell every other word that has anything to do with food or exercise in this house, but the dog still doesn’t understand that you can not be under a blanket you’re currently sitting on top of. 

Why is it the dog knows enough to indicate which thing she wants on a long list of things (walk, dinner, blankie, ups, outside etc.), but not enough to go to the thing she wants as a short cut. Or even look at it. She stares at me until I name the thing and then does a little ‘yes, that’s the thing’ dance.

Why does the dog hate men carrying things? Man alone = okay, whatever. Man + shelf = bark bark bark death death death oh my fucking god death I said.

Oh Hi Monday. Didn’t See You There.

  • If you click on the Erotica Reviews link in the menu, it now leads to a completely different website, www.baconandlettuce.com. This is because, after more than a year of not writing any reviews at all, I’ve decided to start back again and to double down on them being their own thing and hopefully upping the SEO game by having the site’s keywords all about doin’ it.
  • I started watching Season 11 of Supernatural. I’m in the middle of episode 12 right now. Sam’s total and complete lack of deviousness is going to kill those boys one day… again.
  • Final inspection on our house is today. So that’s not equal parts terrifying and amazing like a unicorn dick or anything.
  • I have decided that I am voting for Measure 97, an extremely poorly written piece of tax law that promises to cripple big business in Oregon. Proponents say that the issues will be fixed in the legislature, but there’s no way that’s happening because assuming they were at all competent (they’re not) any “fix” the legislature would make would drastically drop funding, which they would never do even if we were all dying of starvation. So why vote for it? Because fuck big business and their cock-sucking lap dogs is why. I’m about 0.05% joking right now. The city’s big idea this election cycle was to give developers a cool $265 million so they can build roughly 13 apartments for poor people. Eat dicks, the rich!

Stop Telling People to Call Their Parents.

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I found this on a blog post called “How Not to Be a Garbage Human” and there’s no way I’m linking to that trash. Also it was a promoted post and I can’t find it again.

There’s also a podcast I used to listen to where the host told people to call their mom at the end of he show, but that’s recently changed to “call your person” so it sounds like other people wrote the email I was to tired to write, so thanks guys.

It’s fucking mean to tell people to call their parents. And not just people like me who have an estranged relationship with one or more of them. Parents also die, get Alzheimers, sink into depression and on and on.

Basically, its a garbage human move to assume everybody is like you and has access to parents.

How to be a #NastyWoman

Tell people about yourself. Specifically how great you are.

Fashion don’t? More like Fashion don’t give a fuck what you shitlords think.

Fuck. However you like. With whomever you like.

Call out rapists and their rape-apologist bros.

Don’t ask. Tell.

Get shit done.

Be unapologetically, blissfully ugly.

Speak truth to power. And liars.

Say no when you mean no.

And yes when you mean yes.

Always #BossBitch. #BossBitch always.

Reject trans-exclusionary feminism

Reject white racist feminism

Don’t back down. No matter what they call you.