Live in Color

I might start just writing in verse every Thursday. Verse Thursday.

I.

Starting new is the strangest

thing –

double spaced becomes something

different to me

“we won’t have to be scared”

is that really a quote, or

something closer to something

everyone screams in their lifetime?

everything revolved around college

for a time –

how’s it going?

people would ask and i would frown

wishing they would be quiet and

leave me be for once


but now things are different

i wish i had read more about

attrition rates before even going

all of my friends are graduating

and while i don’t feel left behind,

it’s something like that.

II.

here comes the rain –

it’s something we expect but aren’t

hoping for

I trust the sky a bit too much

I don’t trust the ground

I’m too afraid of it falling out from

underneath me

why am i living in the same color

green as Alaska in spring?

why is everything blooming?


if there’s spring in a place that most

would deem unfit to have one

why can’t there be spring in me?

am i forbidden from blooming?

must i understand the happiness

within me?

I wish I could help the people who

need to bloom.

my husband is in his jail of an office

doing far too much tech support work

than any human should.

he’s a bud who has been in the dark

for too long

and he needs to come into the light.



III.

I am neon pink

coming from black and white

I don’t deserve to be shot in grays

I need to live aloud,

live in color

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We Could Be Heroes

What does it mean to be a hero?

I’m listening to my blogging playlist and thinking about just that. David Bowie’s “Heroes” got me thinking and it’s a real question – what does it mean?

I used to think that heroes were these people who were good and pure who rescued people and helped them. Now, I suppose, I am more of a cynic. Some of my favorite heroes in fiction are those who are dragged into it or are morally gray. I find that the virtuous heroes don’t appeal much to me anymore. I think that’s because I’ve found that the world isn’t filled with these virtuous people. Everyone is flawed, everyone has problems. But everyone has the potential to be a hero to someone.

I think that to be a hero, one has to possess one special quality. They have to make a positive impact in someone’s life. Heroes don’t always do physical rescuing, but that definitely could make someone a hero. Do you have to be pure and good to be a hero? That’s up for debate.

There are several people in my life whom I would consider heroes of mine, but I want to highlight one special hero. My psych provider up here is a liberator. She saw a problem and started to take action instead of standing aside or feeding it. The problem was that I was that I was overmedicated and she saw that in me. She knew her stuff and said that she had never seen a dose of one of my meds that high in her entire career. Because of her intelligence, intuition, and knowledge, I am where I am today. I am eternally grateful for her.

I don’t know anything about her personal life save that she likes plants and music, but I don’t think that that is necessary to be a hero. Sometimes heroes are just passersby. She is just one of my care providers up here who has changed my life for the better.

Now that I am coming down lower on some of the meds I’m on, I feel like I’m climbing a mountain and I’ve come out of a thick layer of clouds. The sun is bright, but I can see everything – the trail I’ve climbed to get here, the valley below, the next ridge over in the distance. It’s the best feeling in the world.

It’s also vindicating – I’m not crazy for having feelings that are larger than life. I’m alive, I am human. I’m not afraid to say that anymore. It’s liberating – I can find out who I really am. It’s exhilarating – I am blooming, I am not afraid to live. I was fine all along. I am able to bounce back and not drown.

I got some lab work done today and I didn’t panic or cry. I got out of bed on time. I took my meds on time. I talked with friends. I feel as alive as springtime. I ate a bagel, which was delicious. The proof copy of my poem book comes today. Life is good.

To my provider – thank you.

Love,

Meg

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To Be Seen

I have a confession to make.

I don’t know how to write for myself. I write to be recognized, to be seen. I don’t know how to put my thoughts together in a way that’s coherent that sounds like me. I’m so used to writing to share. I fear that if I were to write for myself, all that would come out would be a scream. It’s very rare that I can unlock myself in my writing. I feel pressure both internal and external to write something good, to write something poetic, something that will change lives. It’s all gotta be good, meaningful, or it means nothing.

At least that’s how it feels, and feelings aren’t always facts. I do know that every time I write for myself – or try to – it comes out horribly sad and ends up hurting more than helping. Does that mean that something inside needs to be fixed? Does that mean that there’s some fear or sadness not addressed? I look back at my journals and I find that the later ones are full of fear and sadness and anger, and they make a bad situation worse because I’m dwelling on the past and being afraid of the future. It’s just bad. I go months feeling okay and wanting to write about happy things to something erupting inside of me and having to fight off armies of flashbacks and wanting to dive headlong into the dark again.

Last night was one of those nights. I tend to get very sad at around 3 PM every day, and things just built up inside me to the point where I started to shake and cry. Why was I crying? It felt like an aerosol can of sour memories burst inside of me. With that came shame, both for what happened and for not being over it when I should have let it go long ago.

I have heard that people are supposed to write clear and deep about what hurts, so I think I’m going to take that advice.

Something about the scene that popped into my head feels dirty and wrong. It was a memory of my ex and me. He was driven primarily by sex, I’ll be entirely honest, and I was a young, desperate Mormon girl. We had talked about threesomes for some time and I have a memory of when he came to Texas and we hung out by that car I used to drive and I remember there was a red haired girl we both thought was cute and we talked about “sharing” people like that. In the moment, it was okay. But in hindsight, it feels as sick as the sun felt that summer. I have a lot of shame surrounding that memory. This was one of the reasons I started to reconsider Mormonism – I had finally started to come to terms that I could be attracted to all people, not just men like the Mormon church encouraged, and once that mental bomb went off, there was no way to clean up the scattered contents. It was this ex of mine that helped me in a sick way to have this realization. When I tried to go back to church, the shame ate at me and I couldn’t reconcile the beliefs I had once loved and the shame I had with the things I now knew about myself. So I decided to ditch the shame and leave, unrepentant.

I hated myself for the longest time for letting that happen to me. The church had lessons on virtue (read: sexual purity until marriage) and I wanted to dodge every single one of those lessons from even before I officially joined. My mind didn’t fit the mold from the beginning, and there was so much shame I carried. I remember mentally eating myself alive even from the time I was small for being attracted to other genders. I remember mentally eating myself alive for having thoughts of sexual attraction at all. After all, they were wrong, right?

I am now realizing that I have spent a ton of time suppressing parts of who I am. I’m getting better at verbalizing what is going on inside of my brain and what I want and need. I am growing and learning and living and loving.

My gender and appearance falls under this category. I have spent so much time hiding and suppressing it. Last November was a turning point in that I found I could no longer ignore my identity. It was a pull unlike any other. I have pretended to be someone I’m not several times, and none of them ended up well and I always ended up in the same place. I was told over and over again that to identify with anything outside female wasn’t me. To those who said these things, who am I, then? Who am I now that you are not here to tell me who I am? The short answer is that you don’t get to tell me who I am. That’s my job. I am smart. I am kind. I am gifted. I am an empath. I am loved. I am a leader. I am a handsome human. I am a light. I am an example. I am a mentor. I am a student. I am a teacher. I am spiritual. I am imperfect. I fall down sometimes. But I am alive, thank God. I sing praise to life for the first time. It’s scary as hell.

Happiness is on my side. And it’s past 3 PM and I haven’t cried. Nobody gets to define me. I am not a reduction to how people see me.

I am alive, I am alive, I am alive, and I breathe like a newborn, screaming. It hurts to see light, but that is temporary. I no longer believe the lies that sadness told me.

Sadness is the liar, not the constant.

I will continue to speak on these topics until I can speak no more.

I will continue to tell myself that I am okay, and I will mean it. There should be no shame in this. The can may have exploded, but there is no need to clean it up. I may not recognize myself in the mirror yet, but I am here and I am seen. I am heard. So are you.

Love,

Meg

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Reaching the Limit

Ah, a blank page. You know what this means? Time for more heresy.

My husband says I am only allowed to chew out one thing or person per day, so here we go. I’m meeting my limit. Hi, limit. My target of the day is something I have been meaning to rant on for a little while now, so here we go.

I am so happy for you if you are a member of a church and it works for you. There are some things I cannot abide by, though, in any doctrine it is found. I’m going to use my experiences in the Mormon church for reference because that is what I know. If anyone has any qualms with what I’m saying, feel free to chime in. This is an open forum.

One of the worst curses in Western literature I have found to date is found in the dying words of Queen Jocasta in the play Oedipus Tyrannus – “may you never know who you are.” I think about those words a lot, especially in the context of what I’m about to talk about.

I hate being told who I “should be”. If I don’t know who I am, what gives you the authority to tell me who I am? Spoiler: nobody has that authority. There was one time I bought into what people told me I was, and it had long-lasting effects. About every year or so, the kids are all wrangled up and are taught about “virtue” in Sunday School or in their classes by gender and year. I always hated that lesson because “virtue” really was a guilt trip about being sexually “pure” until marriage. It made me beat myself to a pulp for even being physically or sexually attracted to anyone, especially when it came to people of my same gender. That was a HUGE no-no, and I tormented myself with guilt over all of it.

I found out that I could be attracted to anyone, not just men, the hard way – I repressed all of the “impure” thoughts and refused to believe that there could be any option of that on the table. Ever. My church experience didn’t help, either, with “purity” shoved down my throat. Everything changed when I got into an abusive relationship. I went from being told that I was “pure” so long as I didn’t think, didn’t look, didn’t touch, that I was supposed to be a “good girl” or I would fail everyone to the “slippery slope” all of my church leaders had talked about where I slowly became “impure” by their standards. I didn’t know anything but the “only good girls allowed” culture, so when I was guilt tripped in other ways by my overgrown boy of a boyfriend, I tore myself to mental shreds. I felt that all of my worth had gone. When he left, I was rudderless. I had to go to church, and I felt so out of place. During the time I had been in that relationship, I confronted the fact that I was going to find people of any gender attractive, and there was no going back. I didn’t belong there anymore. The more I forced myself to go, the worse it got. I had been told two things about myself. On the one hand, I had been told that I must be a good girl to live up to standard, but on the other, I had been told that my attractions were fine, that it was okay to not be a good girl. I had lost my innocence and was trying to get it back. It never returned.

All the while, I started to gravitate towards my more masculine side, which my family shot down with such ruthlessness that I believed what they told me. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me, I was just pretending, it was just a phase. Again and again, I let others tell me who to be. Nothing fit. Was I not trying hard enough? Who was I supposed to be? Why did the past call so loudly if it was just a phase?

Fast forward to this past November, when something hit me so hard I couldn’t mistake it for anything. I knew what it was – I had shed a weight. That was the first day I knew where my identity was. I tried to shake it for about the next month, but that feeling of lightness wouldn’t go away. So I kept it safe.

The next major breakthrough came when I started going off my meds a bit. Happiness replaced sadness, and I find that alarming at times. It feels like a fire started burning inside of me, and no matter how many buckets of water are dumped on it, it won’t go out. It’s kind of weird.

In short, when I started learning who I am for myself, things opened up. I hope they will continue to do so.

Until next post,

Meg

Happy

“i’m afraid
i don’t want to be out of control
what if happiness scares me?
she follows me like a shadow
found in drumbeats and embraces and the feeling of
pushing forward
the song i’m listening to flutters
i have fluttered before
i will flutter again
i don’t like it because my happiness comes
out loud
shout it to the heavens
i’m happy and i don’t know why”

For some reason, people have always said I’m resilient, as if that’s something I want. All it meant to me was that I didn’t kill myself when my dad died, when XYZ happened, etc., that plodding on should be applauded. It didn’t mean that I was going anywhere. It didn’t mean I was proud of myself or living for anything.

When I met my husband, all of that began to change. I was living, at the very least, to be able to spend time with him and make sure he was happy. Even when I wanted to blot myself off the face of the Earth, he was there.

When I moved to Alaska, things changed even more. As mentioned previously, two psychiatric professionals took down the notion that I needed to be on hundreds of milligrams of meds a day, allowing me to cut back on my unnecessarily doses. He was the one who set all of this in motion. He was the first one actively involved in my care to challenge the idea that I could be crazy.

With all of these changes, I feel more energetic, hopeful, and happy. The happiness baffles me. It now rents out the space where sadness used to be, and it is almost persistent in its pursuit of me. It’s wild, loud, and feels dangerous. I still don’t trust it, and still confuse it with going crazy. It involves a lot of shouting for joy.

It can be compared to the end of a hero’s journey story where the hero arrives at the same place they started, but changed. It’s like, this is new, what do I do now?

I’ve been throwing myself wholeheartedly into my tutoring, which is awesome. Lots of new music has been made, and this long overdue thing is in the works…

People have been wanting to read my poems in a book for a bit, so I will make it happen.

If you’re happy and you know it, what do you do?

HISTORY LESSON TIME!!! (pt. 1)

Okay, something I realize I have not written about is history, even though my blog has the name of an ancient-ish empire in it. So it’s time to change that! One of my students has requested a history lesson with visuals, so I’m going to write until I have exhausted all of my resources and brainpower. It’s 12:30 AM, why not? Pack your lawn chairs, it’s Russian Revolution time. LET’S BEGIN.

ALRIGHT

Our fair tale begins in Russia in the mid-1800s. On one fateful day, a man named Alexander Ulyanov was hanged. To be specific, the year was 1887. His crime? Plotting to kill the tsar, Alexander III. Why is he special, you may ask? Isn’t he just a random would be assassin? No, not quite. He was a leader by example, his younger brother would become the famous?? infamous?? Russian leader V.I. Lenin. This event likely left a great impression on small Lenin, for he grew up to fill his brother’s shoes…and more.

This says a great deal about the political climate of the day. Europe alone is fairly imperialist and centered around monarchy in 1887, Germany is bursting with nationalism and will soon cause trouble, see: World War One, but for now most everyone is holding it together. But underneath, especially in Russia, things are growing more and more tense. Rulers like Catherine and Peter the Great favored the landowners and nobles above all others, knowing that without their support, they were toast. But that came at the expense of the peasant class, which would make up 80% or more of the population by the time the revolutions begin. And the peasants were not pleased.

Alexander III dies in 1894, and a very inexperienced tsar named Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra rise to the throne. Nicholas has very little political or military savvy and neither does his wife, but they do have four daughters. Then, in 1904, they have a son, Alexei. Alexei is the heir to the throne, but there is something…wrong with him.

He has hemophilia, a genetic disease making it so his blood doesn’t clot. Alexandra is a descendant of Queen Victoria of England, from whom the disease originated. Hemophilia is carried by females and manifested in males, as was the case with Alexei. It’s a battle just to keep him alive. Alexandra is desperate for hope, and finds it in a mad ex-monk who is known to history as Rasputin. He has so called prophetic powers and is the only one who can heal Alexei, or so Alexandra says. Then the World War One breaks out.

Before I can tell you that story, however, I must tell you this one. Remember our friend Lenin? He is still here, and he is up to no good. While the royals have been getting married and having kids, Lenin has been stirring the pot of revolution. He picked up Marxism when he was younger, and he believes it can work for his country. In 1903, there are two factions in Russia’s main socialist group, the Mensheviks (meaning minority) and the Bolsheviks (majority), and they split over a few key issues.

The Mensheviks are in favor of educating the populace and gradually phasing in communism, but the Bolsheviks wanted a revolution and they wanted it NOW. With that in mind, let us continue. In 1905, they lead a revolution, and it is violently crushed. The tsar issues the October Manifesto, which is a sort of compromise that says that the tsar will grant civil liberties and make use of an elected parliament, called the Duma.

It’s enough to hold the nation together for a few more years. But then World War One breaks out. Russia is failing miserably in the war from the outset, and continues to fail miserably after they are beaten time and time again. Our friend Nicholas II may not have any military experience, but has a strong sense of duty to his country and as such feels the need to go and assume supreme command of the army. The situation goes from bad to worse.

Now, picture this. The year is 1916, and you’re a peasant. Your family was tied to the land until the 1860s as serfs and even then you’re still pushed around by the nobles, who always seem to have full stomachs while yours is empty. And now your son is sent to war, where he will almost certainly die. And then you run out of food. What’s a hungry person like you to do in a situation like this? Start a revolution? Sounds good.

It’s situations like the one above that led to the March Revolution. Protests and demonstrations turn violent in Petrograd, and the tsar abdicates when his soldiers, ordered to stop the protesters, join them. A new provisional government is put in place. It only lasts a few months, because unrest breaks out anew in Petrograd in November after a failed coup in July. This unrest boils over and the Bolsheviks take a chance and seize the Winter Palace, the final stronghold of the Provisional Government. Their coup is successful; the Bolsheviks are now in control of the country. How did this coup succeed where others failed? What now?

To be continued….

Cathedrals

I was writing the other day and one of the sentences I came up with was “There was no better cathedral than the wilderness”.

I don’t know why that struck me so, but when one of my friends asked what God meant to me, that came to mind.

It’s interesting how my thoughts on God have changed over time. From my very Mormon view that God has a physical body to my current view that God is everywhere and everything, the one thing that has remained constant is that I believe he is found in people and the connections between them. When I was 15 and couldn’t wrap my head around a loving, personal God, I found him in the love people showed to me. When I was 18 and going through hell, my friends were there for me. One of my friends rallied the entire school to write me letters, and I was given a box full when I returned from watching my dad’s last days. This friend is a miracle, and I firmly believe that her kindness saved my life. When I was 20 and lost, I was given 4 friends who showed me that love wasn’t gone and and hope hadn’t died. Now I am nearing 22, experiencing a personal renaissance, and I recognize what God has done. Even though I couldn’t see him, he could see me, and he let himself be known through friends and family.

One of the things that I don’t understand anymore that I thought I did long ago was the need for church attendance. I used to enjoy church and get a lot out of it, but now large groups of Christians give me anxiety and I can barely tell the message from my own racing heart. Where I do find comfort, however, is in one on one interaction with people, whether I’m with my husband being silly, helping a friend, or helping a student see something from a different angle. Everyone has wisdom and something to teach, and I believe that God can even be among only two people who are doing good things.

I also don’t think you have to be doing things that are widely regarded as holy, either, in order to experience church. There’s as much church (to me) in crying and cursing with a friend who needs someone there with them as there is in meditation and reading the Bible. And sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve participated in something sacred until after the fact, when I sit back and feel at peace, like I have helped someone else or have been helped for myself. Literature can have the same effect on me – Fahrenheit 451 spoke to my soul about as much as the Book of James in the Bible does. God is everything and is everywhere. Nobody has a monopoly on truth or knows the absolute correct way to believe, because faith is by nature a personal experience. No two people are entirely alike, and so no two faith journeys are entirely alike. People will believe different things, and what works for one will not work for another. It all comes down to three things for me – God is love. He is everything and everywhere. Everything and everyone has something to teach.

Am I a heretic? Absolutely. Am I proud of my beliefs? Yes.