Monday, March 26, 2012

Unravel and Reknit

    There are times in life when we are faced with change and cringe away. Or forced to change or perish. Or faced with change and choose to take it as an opportunity to rebuild a stronger, better fitting Self. This winter has been a time of forced changes. Some I forced myself, others were forcibly thrown into my face. I admit, I felt myself unravelling. Like a sweater caught on a thorn as I made a mad dash through a gloomy forest in a vain attempt to escape the deranged killer that was hot on my tail. A sweater, unraveling, becoming smaller, less structured, becoming a tangled mass of multicolored yarn. That is how I felt, like a snarled wad of grubby yarn violently yanked from a comfortable old sweater. Few aspects of my sense of self did not take a hit, much of how I defined myself felt torn to ragged shreds. I threw myself into manic bursts of home repair and worked out like a freak. I did everything I could to keep my body busy, and pushed myself to exhaustion in an attempt to quell the voices in my head battering me with a sense of failure and rejection. Of course physical exhaustion does not equal silence. My nights were tormented by a gibbering brain, running in circles, preventing the exhaustion from dragging me into the oblivion of sleep. It was all I could to to gather the shredded threads of myself into a clump and hold it tight to my chest to protect it from further damages.
    Months of clinging to my sense of self, holding fast to what I knew were the true building materials of the real me. There were times when I would curl into a tight ball, a vain attempt to protect my vital areas from further assault and vicious rendings. Through it all, I knew I would survive this. I knew I would not be defeated. But I knew that reclaiming my sense of self would be a task worthy of Hercules. And still I clung to those unraveled bits of me.
    I did finally resurface. I took the tangled, dingy threads of myself and washed them gently. I cleansed them of the accumulated murk that had dimmed their natural, vibrant colors. I carefully untangled the miles of yarn, snipping away sections that were too damaged, too knotted to salvage. I spent hours rolling the yarn into tidy balls of clean, reclaimed, useable, sturdy material. Then I commenced the arduous reknitting. It hasn't been easy, I am working without a pattern, playing it by ear, improvising. I am reknitting the very fibers of  my Self. I am making a streamlined version of Self; smaller, more compact, more intense, more vibrant. I am reknitting myself into my true form of random beauty, unexpected peculiarities, unique style, intense color and exciting pattern. It is a project that is well underway now that I have disentangled, cleansed and repaired the raw materials of Me. It will take care and gentle handling at times, for the material does have some delicate, fragile sections. It will take diligence to assure that any future unraveling will be intentional and to improve the end product, not violent and damaging at the hands of another. It will take time, energy and effort, for no true work of art is easily or quickly finished. But I know the end result will be my masterpiece.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Lunatic Fringe

    I admit to my spaz attacks, my lunatic moments, my hysterias and my whirlwind nature. I think it is the healthiest approach to a potentially unhealthy lunacy. As I see it, being in touch with my own lunacy, embracing it, allowing it to have its moments in the sun, helps make it manageable and lessens its impact on those around me. Oddly, this morning I was thinking of Brittanny Spears, and trust me, I very rarely, if ever take time to think about her. But what I was pondering was not so much her, as how difficult it would be to go through a mental crisis in full view of the invasive public eye. Any one of us has the potential to meltdown under enough stress, but most of us have the dignity of being able to do it in the privacy of our own homes. Imagine having no privacy, having cameras waiting to catch any moment of frailty, every mental lapse, every lapse in good judgement. That in and of itself would cause me to meltdown on a colassal scale.
    As it is, I know that if there were witnesses to some of my more recent "episodes" I would probably have been forcibly institutionalized, or at best put on a 72 hour "observation hold." But I have the good luck to live alone, and the only witnesses are my concerned dogs and my unconcerned cats. During these spectacular meltdowns my dogs are rarely more than a few feet away, sometimes taking turns lying at or on my feet, or resting furry chins on my knee as they watch with worried, limpid eyes. The energy expended during these lunatic moments is cathartic and healing, though at times alarming and disturbing even to me. I can only imagine the reaction if these moments were caught on camera and publicized to the world.
    Our society vilifies and ridicules such moments of "weakness." It is socially unacceptable to ever step from the norm. But the reality is that if everyone would allow themselves to be in contact with that small, inner lunatic the overall health of society would improve. There would be less use of medications to make people fit into their cubicaled lifestyles, medicating away any "abnormal" or negative reactions and emotions. We are not allowed to have rushes of extreme emotions without being labeled Extreme, Overwhelming, Volitile, Over Emotional, Dramatic, Too Intense, Fiery and let's not leave out Crazy, Unstable, Manic, Unmanageable, Alarming, Frightening, and Dangerous. True, most people do not have quite the rollercoaster of moods that I enjoy on a regular basis. Their loss. But why does our society force us to supress our natural natures? We are humans, emotional, volitile, passionate humans.
    Is it the Puritanical roots of our country? Doubtful, that was too long ago. Is it in the best interests of individuals? No, it robs us of our individuality. It is the need for the masses to believe that our world is safe, placid, calm, and predictable. It is society's desire to keep us placated, keep us fettered, keep us quiet and compliant by any means neccessary be it medication or brute force. Society does not want individuals who freely express their most extreme emotions, positive or negative. We are forced to become mindless drones or face ostracization. We face recriminations, reprimands, and rebukes. We are told to "settle down," "relax," "get a grip." Soaring emotions are slapped down, yanked back to earth and ridiculed by those who are unsettled by the sheer intensity, and seem to feel the need to drag the happy lunatic down to their level of emotional impotence.
    I find I feel as much a pariah in my deliriously joyful manic stage as I am when I am struggling through the gray bleakness of depression. I think people are more accepting of depression, though they are quick to medicate it away even when it is justified and appropriate. I think depression is easier for the bystander to witness and accept as it allows them to step into the caring, comforting, nurturing hero. In manic mode, I find my intensity frightens the few who have been allowed to witness it. Even those I thought strong and understanding made haste to distance themselves' as my outpourings of glee, raw elation, unbridled happiness and delirious joy became an uncomfortable honesty.
    I love my mania, embrace it, revel in the energy, delight in the exhultations. It is Me in my most extreme, Me in the undiluted form, Me unbridled and free. Despite the knowledge that there is a chance that I will never find someone who will truely understand and accept the real, honest, manic me, I plan on being true to myself. I will remain true to my explosive nature, revel in my emotional rollercoaster, ride the whirlwind and try to not feel pity for those who are willing to live their lives in shades of gray.

Monday, March 19, 2012


    Life never seems to tire of throwing me curveballs. The last few months have been a tumultuous crescendo of what has been a chaotic year. I have run the gamut of emotions, and been in a constant state of mental turmoil. I have watched, seemingly helpless, as my brain went round the bend and back. Self-flagellation has been a frequent past-time, self-deprication a hobby, self-blame a way of life. A recent, hard thrown curveball, aimed straight at my head, intent on damage, has actually had what seems to be the opposite effect. After the initial impact left me hurt, stunned and angry, I was able to shake it off, clear my head, dust myself off and finally trot to first base. The impact allowed me a clarity of mind to realize that I am not to blame for the issues, actions and inactivites of others. I am responsible for my own actions, which have been honest, true and real despite the insanity and mania that has driven me this last year. This sudden enlightenment has allowed me a deep sense of peace and triumph that has been missing for so long that I had forgotten it was even a possibility. I am allowing myself to feel the elation of survival and growth. The calm that comes from shedding the weight of self-blame, self-flagellation, and remorse. I feel triumphant, having shed the malaise of a toxic, damaging situation. I am empowered by my personal strength, my own integrity, my own honesty. I take strength knowing that through it all I at least managed to stay true to my self, even if it was not the wisest path. I have regained a sense of self, pride in my honor and integrity. I feel powerful, balanced and calm.
    Standing at first base, with that sense of achievement, the elation of moving forward without a backward glance. The anticipation of knowing I am now, finally, in a position to score is a heady experience. It doesn't matter how I got here, the pain of impact, the blurred vision, the confusion, the anger. What matters is that I have the strength, power and durability to shake it off and move into a scoring position. I can hear the crowd cheering for me, booing and hissing the dishonorable pitcher. The crowd is mine. The crowd is eager for my next move. They can see that I am stronger and tougher than anything the pitcher can throw at me. I know I am stronger as well. I am ready to round the bases, score a run, and then step back up to bat with no fear of future curveballs. The next curveball thrown at me, I plan on hitting out of the park. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spaz Attack: Addendum

    Sometimes I feel I must defend my actions, defend them to myself, no one else. I am very self critical, self analytical, and yet self supporting and independent. I am not inclined to cry in public, it is a private ritual, a private purging rarely witnessed by any living creature but for my dogs, who get very concerned. I talk of the uncontrollable weeping as the negative aspect of my manic mode, the polar opposite, the price to be paid for the glee of the manic whirlwind. In truth, violent weeping is cathartic, an ultimate venting of emotions, an extreme way to vomit forth angst, misery, stress, tension and anxiety. It is the no-holds-barred approach to inner calm, resolve, and peace. After exhausting myself, emptying tear ducts, weeping silently until I cannot breathe, sobbing violently until my stomach muscles ache and my head throbs, I reach an empty place in my mind. Not a void, not a negative space, but a place empty of clogging emotions that have just been spewed out into the universe and away from their ability to damage me. Once this place of calm, quiet emptiness has been reached, I can regain a level of rationality. I find that within a few minutes I can gather the shreds of protection about my psyche, regroup, reaffirm my own deepest resolve, reaffirm it to myself. No one else. After the purge I search for understanding, for comprehension, I delve into my inner workings to grasp actions and reactions. I can see the triggers, feel the emotions behind the tears, validate my own overreaction. I can see how I tripped, see where I fell, know what is needed to avoid that particular pitfall the next time. As I delve into myself, I feel myself strengthening, building my resolve, making future plans to help alleviate the frequency of these purgings. Though they are violent, uncomfortable, even painful, I believe that at this point in life they are essential to maintaining the fragile balance of life. I cannot have the soaring flight of mania without first releasing the darkness that holds me down. But darkness is not bad, not evil, not a negative thing, it is merely the opposite of light. Without darkness, we would not understand light. Without darkness, the light would be glaring, painful and obtrusive. So I embrace the darkness, allow myself the luxury of letting it take hold and carry me along an unforseeable path, allow it to flow out of me like the tears I shed. Without the flowing tears, I would undervalue the soaring exhultations.  

Spaz Attack

    I freely admit that I am a Spaz. No matter how I try to maintain a semblance of rationality, my brain and emotions are still all over the map. I run the gamut, high to low, hilarity to weeping, optimist to reclusive malcontent. And I can run that gamut in a matter of hours, loping through the full range of emotions, rarely breaking stride. If I can manage to detach myself for a bit, study, analyze, view from afar, then I can find amusement in my emotional chaos. Even when I am trapped on the inside there is a certain sense of surreal, comic entertainment. There is that downside of uncontrollable weeping that robs me of breath and makes me feel like vomiting, but it is usually, though not always, of a much shorter duration than the manic episodes where I feel nigh on invincible.
    From the minute I wake in the morning until I fall asleep at night, it is a moment by moment adventure through the rocky, sometimes dangerous terrain that is my personality. I never know what lay around the next corner, over the next rise, lurking beneath the surface of a deceptively quiet pond. I just keep moving forward knowing that whatever lurks there, waiting to ambush me, will likely pass quickly like a spring thunderstorm. But, like a spring thunderstorm, there is the potential for damage in the wake. Usually nothing too significant, maybe a few downed branches, the occassional wildfire, a bit of flooding. Nothing I can't handle with a bit of elbow grease, duct tape and body bags.
    I try to keep myself stabilized, rein in the chaos, manage the mania, dampen the depression. Being of a wildly fluctuating emotional nature does throw me into the path of outside forces. Seemingly trivial and insignificant incidents can trigger a full blown spaz attack with unpredictible results. It doesn't even require an outside factor, I can imagine my own. I can imagine drama with such vivid clarity that even despite my own knowledge of its lack of substance, it has as the ability to throw me into a spin with its seeming reality. I will feel a build up of emotions, like a pressure cooker, that needs only the merest breath to release the pent up whirlwind of super-heated chaos. A virtual firestorm of emotions; the good, the bad, and the hysterical. The emotions will sweep through me with the rapidity of a lightening sparked grass fire racing across an August field. At its best, it is wild, exhuberant, cleansing, a spree of energy and near-demonic glee. At its worst it leaves me weeping, shuddering, nauseated, drained, rocking myself and mumbling, "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay..." in a vain attempt to force myself to believe that I truly am okay. I am happy to declare that the manic, gleeful episodes far outpace the weeping. And the mania seems to be stepping to the fore as the dominant spaz attack.
    I do try to view the nauseatingly violent weeping as the price, the pennance, the pound of flesh that I pay for the riotous glee, joyful whirlwind, cleansing firestorm, exhilirating mania. I do love my mania, even when I know its potential to spook and panic those around me. The mania is a darling favorite in the melange that is me. The mania may rob me of caution, concentration, focus, and tact but it fills me with an effervescence, spurs me forward, lowers my inhibitions. My mania allows me to feel emboldened to say what might never be said, to leap without looking, to reach for forbidden fruit, to ride the whirlwind. My mania gives me emotional strength and physical stamina. But to the unsuspecting, the unprepared, the uninitiated, seen from the outside my Mania can be alarming, disconcerting, even frightening. I may be perceived as overwhelming and out of control. And maybe I am. A bit. But it is me. It is who I am. I am a Spaz Attack waiting to happen, and ready to enjoy every minute of it. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Child Within

 There is always much talk about connecting with your inner child. This is one of those bland, trite phrases uttered by the likes of Oprah and Dr. Phil to encourage people to regain a sense of play and wonder and learn to cope with the stresses of having to manage life in a world where everyone is forced to take life too seriously. This is all good and well, it is important to retain a sense of joy and wonder, be able to play, enjoy life, do what makes you happy regardless of if it will promote your career or fill your pockets. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child, climbing trees, catching bugs, getting grubby, feeling carefree, these are important to peace and happiness. But this is the idealized inner child, a child that may or may not have ever existed, the child we wish we had been. But really then, who is the Child Within?
    The Child Within, the real child that I was. Not the child I wish I had been. I believe that we are all born hard-wired to certain aspects of our personalities. Yes, we are very malleable and fluid as we grow into the end product, but I believe these hard-wired aspects will determine to a degree how we cope with and allow external forces to affect us. The child I was? I was not a gregarious, outgoing, happy-go-lucky kid. I was a painfully shy introvert, slightly too smart for my own good, the classic bookworm, chubby, and a head taller than the rest of my classmates. I always felt like an outcast, even among my friends. I felt too tall, too fat, too much the tomboy, awkward, smart but not smart enough. I envied the petite, pretty girls who could wear lovely dresses without getting them torn and grubby. The girls with pretty barrettes in coifed hair, not the unmanageable locks I hated to try and run a comb through. Pale, freckled skin that never tanned. It seemed there was nothing I was really good at, nothing I excelled at, always second string. I was so shy I would have rather wet my pants than have to ask the teacher for a hall pass. Entering the classroom late was a terror beyond scope as I would stand with my hand on the door knob for an eternity, heart pounding, dry mouthed, blood shushing in my ears, dreading the judgemental eyes that would turn upon me the moment I stepped into the room. A teacher's mild reprimand in front of the class was such unbearable humiliation that I endeavored to be unnoticed. Praise for a job well done, though appreciated by the deeply buried ego, was another reason for abject embarrassment. I knew anxiety attacks before they were named as such. So that is my Child Within. A child to be protected and nurtured, but not emulated by the adult me.
    I know that each of us has within us, the child they really were. And that child is at the core of our personality. That is the child that was the seed of the mature plant we have become. It does not mean we are that child, I know that I do have strong elements of that child very much alive within who I am today, but I have learned strength from that fragile beginning. I think that in order to truely understand someone, we should know who their Child Within really was. I believe that each of us still carries a vestige of that child, protects it, hides it from prying eyes, cradles it within our soul. If we remember the Child Within, reintroduce the adult to the child, we may find a deeper understanding of our adult actions and reactions.
     I have a definite fondness for my Child Within, fragile, insecure and neurotic though she may be. And I know I am still that child on many levels. The difference of the adult me is that I have learned to swallow my fears, ignore the anxieties and push ahead regardless of the anxiety attacks. My Child was not nearly as strong as the adult I have become, but then what child is? As we grow, our bodies change and become powerful, but look in a mirror and you can still see the face of the child behind the face of the adult. Why would personalities be any different? Our personalities grow, become powerful, independent, educated in the ways of humankind, and yet look into your soul and you can see the soul of the child at the center. What we must learn and accept, is that behind the strong, capable exterior of ourselves or a loved one, is the child that felt the outcast, or ate lunch alone, or was taunted on the playground. Remember that child when faced with a friend in crisis, or just having a tough stretch of road, think of their child, nurture their child. When in the midst of your own personal crisis, trauma, or life changing event, remember and care for the Child Within.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sense of Self

    My universe has had a paradigm shift this last year. This winter has been an ongoing struggle to rediscover, come to terms with, and reintroduce myself to aspects of my personality that seemed lost though not forgotten. I have submerged parts of my vital essence out of need to protect myself from harm, real or perceived. I lost my true sense of self. I know I have done myself a great disservice by burying some of the more delicate creatures that reside within me. Those poor, fragile beings, trampled by the jackbooted thugs that inhabit the protectorate side of my nature. Yes, the protectorate is far from subtle. The protectorate will herd all the delicate personalities into a safe room, lock and bolt the door, and stand guard outside with arms crossed, batons at the ready, and beligerant sneers gracing their lips. The jackbooted thug has been predominant for quite some time, making me think the fragile beings had finally suffocated in the locked, barometrically sealed safe room of my soul. Imagine my delight when, after forcing my way past the sneering brutes, I found the delicate beings safe and sound, none the worse for wear, and eager to come out and play. There may be a trace of PTSD, and maybe the occasional flinch at loud noises or aggressive behavior, but as a whole the delicate beings seem to be hale and hearty.
    The reintroduction of these delicate aspects into the melange that is me has softened my edges, reduced the brittleness, tempered the hostility and anger. They are bringing my whole self back to center, back into balance. They have not slowed the whirlwind that is me, if anything their giddy nature has added impetus and power to the maelstrom. As hail adds intensity to a spring shower, lightening to a summer storm. It may be perceived as violent, but in reality it is just nature flexing the variety of skills she has at her disposal. As my whirlwind powers forward, picking up speed and intensity, it gathers into its heart all the debris and detritus of life and changes it into an abstract marvel of the wild beauty of nature. It is as though all the negativity I have cast aside has fallen from me like autumn leaves, or spent cherry blossoms, to be pulled into the vortex to dance with the wind in a display of color and chaos, beauty and mayhem, vital energy, nature's power. The ferociously beautiful power that is my true Sense of Self.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bag of Tricks

    Does anyone remember Felix the Cat? I grew up with him. He had a wonderful bag of tricks. "Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks." I too, have a bag of tricks. It is not anywhere near as cool as the plaid one carried by Felix, and does not have quite the array of strange items to be pulled from it's depths. Mine is more pragmatic. My bag of tricks is my vast arsenal weapons to protect my fragile sanity. It is what I delve into when I know the going is getting rough. I have a slew of little tricks that hold together my tattered and patched psyche when I feel the edges starting to bulge, and the seems being pressured to the breaking point.
    I have dipped into it frequently over the last weeks, at times amazing myself at its seemingly endless supply. Today, I have already had to select a few of my more reliable tricks. And I know it is just the beginning. It really is a wonderful bag, when I feel my edges start to crack I can grab it and dip my hand in, randomly pulling out an effective means of letting off the pressure and spackling over those first fine lines of fracture. I do wonder if I am ever going to reach in and come up empty. I have come very close on a few occasions, and had to resort to emergency rations. Then I will have a day or two, when all is right with the world, and the bag remains sealed. It is during these easy, rational days when the contents seem to multiply, reproduce, restock themselves, because inevitably that day or two of calm will dissipate and I will be unzipping my bag, reaching inside and hoping that what is pulled from the musty interior will be effective in damming up whatever leak has sprung in the happy dam. Today is one of those days. I reach in and grab, bring the trick to light, apply it appropriately and relax until the next wave of pressure. Knowing myself, I have a few days ahead to be delving deep into the tricks, I just hope my Bag of Trick does not fail me. It hasn't yet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

   A number of years back, I gathered all my energies and sent out a simple desire into the universe, "Please, I just want what I deserve." Call it a wish, ritual, spell, prayer, meditation, casting. Call it what you will, I wrote and performed this simple deed, sending out all my energies, in the hopes that this basic desire might be met. Now, I look back on that night and wonder at my recent life. Maybe the chaos and pain of recent months is that energy coming back to me tenfold? They say, be careful what you wish for. And I have learned the painfull lesson that you also have to be very careful with intentions. In the years since that simple plea to the universe, my life has been little other than chaos, struggle, strife, and disappointments randomly relieved by the occasional small victory, and moments of joy. Yes, I do normally try to focus on those moments of victory and joy, for they were hard fought and not easily won.
    But I look back on the wish for "what I deserve," and I can't help but wonder what I have done in this life or a previous one, to merit the strains and hurdles my life keeps tossing into my path, repeatedly and seemingly without end. I didn't ask for more than I deserve. I didn't ask for riches, or even a particularly easy life, just what I would hope that  lifetime of hardwork, integrity, and living by the golden rule might have earned. I am puzzled. And not just a little disconcerted.
    I stand and look at my life, trying to weigh all the aspects. I look at the good, the bad, my own actions, my own aspirations, my triumphs, and failures. I try to discern what I have done to have raised the ire of the gods. I know there are things I have done that I am not proud of, things I did with good intentions that fell flat, times I put my own self interests ahead of my own integrity. But I cannot see how I have ever done anything so abyssmal to deserve the paths that I have been forced to tread, the firestorms I have withstood, the gamuts that have flayed my emotions raw.
    Maybe I am just looking at the whole situation from the wrong perspective? Maybe I should wonder if what the universe felt I deserved was a long, abject lesson in hardship so that if my wish is ever fulfilled I will truely appreciate whatever it is that I do deserve? Is it possible the gods thought I needed toughening up before I was truely worthy of whatever it is that awaits me at the end of my trials? I speak the truth when I say that I now am very careful what I wish for, because chances are it will not manifest in the way it was expected.

Blessing and Curse?

    A writer's imagination is a blessing and a curse. A gift and a burden. It allows me to vividly see how things are, might be, will be, and how I wish they could be. I can use my imagination to dream of how I hope an event will transpire, see it as if it is a true and factual happening. I can hold the thought close to my heart and let it elevate my spirit, bolster my mood, restore hope. This can indeed be a blessing during times when I am struggling. I can also view a chain of events, understand the natures of those involved and surmise the eventual outcome. It is as if I can predict the most likely scenario, but am often helpless to alter the course of destiny. There really is only so much one can do when the actions and reactions of others' are involved. It is like seeing a stalled car on the railroad crossing, hearing the approaching train, and knowing there is no stopping the ensuing collision.  It also allows me to see individual events, the overall view, and have a good idea of what is happening behind the scenes, and out of my view. This is part of the curse.
    Having been a student of human nature for as long as I can remember has taught me an understanding of how people will act and react given almost any scenario. I have always stood on the sideline watching interactions, interplay, cause and effect, understanding where the situation is heading. This gives me an advantage in writing because I can take a chain of events and follow them through to their logical conclusion. It also gives me the ability in the real world to see a series of events, analyze the situation, and foresee the most likely outcome. The blessing and the curse. I have been faced with outcomes that I accurately predicted. Events I wish had not happened, but was helpless to alter.
    Where I tend to err is when I project my own nature onto that of another. I see the situation and instead of stepping back and seeing with the analytical mind, I project my own personality onto the players and imagine the outcome. Where this fails me every time is that my empathic nature makes me take into consideration how my actions, deeds and words will effect those around me. I analyze and overanalyze a situation, using my writers imagination, to try and lessen my impact on others. I strive to lessen hurt, angst, anger and disappointment. I will take the burden of these onto myself before intentionally, or willingly inflicting them on anyone else. This projection of my nature puts me directly into the path of that train, and I am the car stalled on the tracks, seeing pending impact a brief second before I am demolished. I have made this mistake repeatedly, assuming that others will take into account my feelings, nature and needs. It happens frequently, in many levels of my life. I feel it underlines my naivete, innocence, gullibility and trust. And every time I caution myself to not repeat the mistake. But I do it over and over, it is my nature.
    A blessing of the writer's imagination is the ability to pretend. I can pretend that everything will be fine. I pretend that some things just aren't happening. I pretend that tomorrow, next week, next month, my hopes and dreams will come to fruition. I am like the lonely child with imaginary friends that I invite to tea. I sit with empty cups, cookie-less saucers, teddy bears in hats, and hold entire conversations with my guests. Entire dialogues, confessing my aspirations, fears, desires, as I pour invisible tea into tiny cups for friends that only exist in my mind. It is a fiction that helps maintain an imagined level of stabilty, and sanity. It alleviates the ache of despair and lonliness to be able to voice my thoughts, even if I am the only one answering. A lifetime ago, I read a novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, the tagline on the title pages said, "You are what you pretend to be, so you had better be careful about what you pretend to be." It was a cautionary tale of deceit, subterfuge, spies, and retribution. But I have always held that concept in my heart as a way of altering my reality for the better. If I pretend to be confident, self-assured, happy, content, solitary instead of lonely, then eventually these will become my truths, my reality. And here is where my imagination is a gift and a blessing, but it definitely comes with a price.