Thursday, January 24, 2013

Helloooo Mania!

    Hello, my dear friend. Long time no see, and I have missed you sorely. I do hope you can stick around for a longer visit this time around, I have so much to do and am wasting an inordinate amount of time sleeping. I have always known that the downside of my meds is that they are inclined to keep you at arm's length, and limit your visits to a few measly days, or even less. True, my mind is all a-scatter with you cohabitating inside of Brain, but I am okay with that. I am feeling the need to run, shout, laugh, swim, lift weights, and generally act like the ADHD child that I keep bundled up inside of me. Well, that child is wanting to run rampant right now and is only held in check by the sternest of taskmasters; Me. Yes, me. I am having to rein myself in just long enough to make it to the end of the working day, and let me tell you, this is no easy task. I feel Heart pounding in eagerness to escape the bounds of banality, the restrictions of reality, the confines of  the commonplace. I feel the twitching beneath my skin that precedes spastic explosions of energy. I am too hot, too cold, dry mouthed, sweaty. Amazed at how Mania manifests itself within the confines of this skin bag that is me. I have often wondered just how I might tap into this super power and use it to my own benefit, call upon it in time of need, let the energy flow. If I could control this power I would be nigh on invincible, unstoppable. If I could manage this energy, use it as the power plant of my life, I know I could fly. Despite the unpredictability of your visits, Mania my dear, I am glad you are here, and I will enjoy you while I can.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


    "The only thing to fear, is fear itself." As common a thought as this is, I must disagree. Fear is not to be feared, but to be faced. Fear can be the impetus for change, adventure, risk. Moving forward despite fear adds spice to life, and makes success all the sweeter. If people knew how often I am afraid, how fear is a near constant companion, they would likely think I was at risk of becoming a housebound recluse. I chose to face my fears, use them to prove to myself what I am capable of. It is possible that I am a fear junkie, an adrenaline junkie. There is nothing like that spurt of adrenaline, the gut dropping, stomach clenching, panic inducing, cold sweat, blood curdling rush that accompanies fear. Or more precisely, moving ahead despite the fear. To act, move ahead, venture, despite fear, or maybe because of it, is far more adventurous and triumphant than to move through life with no fear and utter confidence in success. An assured victory is no real victory. A victory won against the odds, however, is to be savored. When I compete in triathlons or trail races, part of the experience is the fear that clenches my soul, the panic of forcing myself into the fray alone, overcoming my near to crippling social anxiety and forging ahead. The pride I feel crossing the finish line has as much to do with conquering fears as it does with completing a race. Maybe more so.
     I have learned to apply this knowledge to all aspects of life, despite what is sometimes all but paralyzing fear. This is part of what makes me Leap Before I Look Girl. I know I am inclined to over-think, over-analyze, and basically scare the shit out of myself if I allow myself too much time to think before making a decision. And so I Leap. Leap, and then let the fears manifest, when it is too late for me to change course. This forces me to face down fear. Yes, it does make for some amazing panic attacks, tears, anxiety, sleepless nights, but rarely does it lead to regret. Regret is knowing you were too chickenshit to make a move. That you let fear dictate your life, rule your insecurities, choose your path for you. Yes, I have allowed myself to leap into situations, make decisions, that later beat the holy hell out of me, spit me out, and left me in the ditch to die, but I still do not regret those choices. I chose, acted, reacted, and realized that maybe I had not chosen wisely, but I still do not regret the attempts.
    I do not fear Fear Itself, I fear not acting because of fear. I fear letting my fears wreak havoc on my life. I fear missing opportunities for change, growth, adventure because I let a small thing like panic inducing fear dictate my decisions. I choose to use fear as a tool, a weapon, a prod, as the piquant spice of life. Fear is a constant companion, but I choose our path.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tightness to Lightness

    With that dawning recognition that something is missing, like chronic back pain that is suddenly absent, or a healing wound that finally stops throbbing, I realized that the tightness in my chest has loosened. No, not "oh-dear-gods-Imma-havin'-a heart-attack" tightness. This has been a constriction, a stifling weight, an ill-healed battle wound, that panicky feeling of being smothered by the demon sitting on your chest compressing your ribs. Straining against what feels like inevitable suffocation. It was not a physical ailment, it was the psychic manifestation of repressed fears. Fear of failure. Fear of risk. Fear of rejection. Fear of facing the world alone. It has been such a constant in my life for what seems like an eon that I had learned to ignore it, accept it as the norm, think of it with the same disregard as I thought of my bum knee. It was just part of me. But, just as with a bum knee, it was likely to abruptly surface, and drop me to the dirt, often with little or no forewarning. Too many times the fear and panic would clutch at my chest with a force that could not be ignored or denied. These oppressive attacks have happened so frequently over the years that I had to have an entire medicine chest of emergency cures and restoratives. True, the episodes had tapered off, but they were still a part of me. That familiar feeling in my chest, the demon crushing the wind out of me, the panic, the breathlessness, had lurked on as if to remind me of where I have been, where I come from, the battles I have fought. But today, just today, I realized that something was missing. That something so familiar that it had become as a physical appendage was gone, painlessly amputated. It was a remarkable feeling. A lightness of being. I cannot guarantee that the constriction won't return, but I am thinking that it may be gone. Oh, I am sure I will feel the tickle now and again, a "phantom limb" feeling, but I think I have finally stepped into a realm where my fears are unfounded, unnecessary, unneeded. I will enjoy this, even if it only lasts a day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stars Aligning?

    Anyone who knows me is familiar with my tendency to want to make things happen. I do not like waiting around, hoping everything will sort itself out, wishing, hoping, expecting everything to eventually work out. Patience is not one of my virtues. This is not to say I am an, "I want it and I want it now," kinda girl. But that I do not like to trust in fate, destiny, the winds of change. I want to be the hand at the tiller, the driving force of change, the master of my own destiny. But one thing I have had to acknowledge over the years is that sometimes you just cannot force change, you must wait until the time is ripe. This is where my lack of patience makes me as unruly as a hungry kindergartner waiting for snack time. For so long, so much of my life seemed on hold, changes were hard won, victories were seldom but sweet. Many of the changes that I have wrought have come with the steep price of blood, sweat and tears. Oceans of tears. I did force changes, forged them from the fire and steel of my own inner self. Suddenly, after an eternity of arduous work, life has seemed to break free of the restraints keeping me earth bound. Life is beginning to fall into place, slipping effortlessly into rhythm like a well written song. True, there are still changes to be wrought, but   after endlessly tacking into a head wind, I now see myself adroitly steering my ship into the current, instinctively finding the gulf stream, the wind at my back and sunshine on my face. Using the sky to map my way, Celestial Navigation, letting my stars align and lead the way. I felt the shockwave of alignment, as my whole world clicked into place. A miraculous feeling. A sense of wonderment, awe, disbelief.
    I am on the alert for the cosmos to decide that it was all a jest, and have everything slide back into chaos, have the winds shift and drive me into the rocks. It has happened before. But I think this unlikely this time around. I have toiled relentlessly, floundered and fought back, fallen and climbed back from the abyss. This precious moment has not been without cost, or come as a gift unearned, it has come about through dogged perseverance. I see my stars aligning, the cosmos whispering that my time has come, a solar wind breathing warmth into my soul. My stars have aligned. It is now My Time.

Friday, January 18, 2013


    In the joyous journey that is now my life, I appreciate my fellow travelers, partner in crime, teammates, family, support staff. Even a solitary journey is not as solitary as it would seem. During my darkest of days, when I knew that I was the only one who could make the journey into the abyss and back, I still had support staff close at hand in case of cataclysmic failure. Happily, that failure did not happen, and so support staff were not called in with ambulance and fire extinguishers. Now that I am on solid footing, traipsing after new adventures, exploits and experiences, I have found I have amassed a handful of compatriots to share the journey. At the station I have found a new brotherhood that fills a void, brothers and sisters at arms, a family forged of fire and heart, loyal, true, courageous. In life I have a partner in crime, accomplice, confidant, co-conspirator, ally, shipmate, guide, partner, that has opened a panorama of dreams to be realized, adventures to be had, exploits to write home to Mom about. My family has grown exponentially over the last few months, until I have a larger, lovely brood of children to spoil with love. Add to this my array of friends both nearby and long distance that are my cheering section, support staff, pit crew, kindred spirits. For an Introverted Isolationist I seem to have been drawn out of my shell, or broken free of it and left the nest.
    My life is not perfect. There are changes to be made, new paths to hack through the underbrush, mountains to climb, clinging husks of negativity to be cast off as I pursue a new career path. Changes, challenges, remodeling, revamping, a change of course yet to be laid. But I am charting my path, with the help of all my fellow travelers, who support me, love me, care for me. I am excited for change, eager for the challenges ahead, thrilled at all that has happened and all that has yet to happen. I do love my life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Unstoppable Versus Immovable

    Unstoppable Force versus Immovable Object. Impetus versus Inertia. Train Insane versus Remain the Same. We are responsible for forward movement. Our journey is in our hands, we choose our adventures and exploits. Or choose to remain static, stunted, stagnant. I choose to be The Unstoppable Force. I want to charge through life scooping up experience with both hands. I want to tastetouchsmell my world in all its juicy glory. I will leap before I look, dive into the deep end, chase the tiger, race the moon, adventure, explore, pursue, quest. I don't want to wade in slowly, merely feeling the water with my toes, I want it swirling all around me, tossing, tumbling, churning, frothy, as I pierce though with Selkie euphoria. I will run down a chosen path, dodging rocks, with the risk of injury, crash, cataclysmic failure adding the frisson of danger. Risk adds flavor, spice, zest, zing. Without risk there is no reward. I choose to be the Unstoppable Force, propelling myself through life, unstoppable, never slowing, striding into the unknown head up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Magnum Opus

    A friend commented, "And all you did was start by changing your words... like a prayer. Beautiful to watch the metamorphosis." It is true. I began by changing my words, which changed my perspective, which in turn changed my path, which changed my life. I can't pinpoint exactly when the change began, but I am pretty sure it all started with my avowal of, "2012 The Year Of Win." That was all. Simply, that after having retroactively named 2010 and 2011 as, "The Year(s) of Fail," I was determined to break the cycle. I did not set out to have any Years of Fail, but it just seemed that no matter what or how I tried, everything fell flat, backfired, failed. I tried, I truly did. And damned hard. I did everything I could conceive of to try and alter the wreck strewn course I was on. I came to the realization that although I was trying to alter my course through external actions, I had not changed my mental and emotional course. I was on a path that I knew was leading nowhere, was fraught with pitfalls, peopled with demons, lined with thorn bushes tearing at my flesh, and paved with toxic sludge. I could not change my life without changing my path. Easier said than done, of course. Extricating myself from the path, and finding my footing was excruciating, and a well documented journey.
    Even on a new route, it seemed as if I was mired in ill luck. I knew that luck could be made and was not as random as most think it is. I began to feed myself the happy horseshit lies to talk myself off the ledge, since there was no one else to do the job. "2012 The Year Of Win," began as a rallying cry to bolster my spirits, to convince myself that I was on the right path, and that eventually my good Karma would pay off and I would begin to harvest the fruits of my labors. It was slow going, with a number of false starts that did my Spirit no good. I kept my sights aimed at the horizon, kept up the happy horseshit, cajoled, sweet-talked, finagled, finessed, negotiated. They talk of the Power of Positive Thinking, a catch phrase, jingoism, pablum. But there is truth to it. A few years back a different friend said, "He complains about his own movie, but he wrote the screenplay." More truth, and it hit home, for me, yes, but even more so for another. I needed a rewrite. Changing words to change my story, rewrite my script, editing, purging entire chapters, adding new characters, killing off others. I needed a whole new plot line, a new story. Not merely new chapters, but to finish the entire book, and begin work on my masterpiece, my tour de force, my Magnum Opus. What began as words is finally becoming reality, though still a work in progress. "And all you did was start by changing your words... Like a prayer."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Good Versus Evil

Ennui: "A feeling of listlessness and general dissatisfaction resulting from a lack of activity or excitement. A feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest."

    Ennui. Apathy. Inertia. Melancholy. Listlessness. Spiritless. Lassitude. Fatigue. Desolation. Desperation. Depression. Despondency. The Allies of Despair. The Enemies of Exuberance. This is the Evil I fight every day, for it truly is a malingering, malevolent Evil.  These are not my Demons. My Demons are not Evil, merely bothersome. My Demons live with me, inside my skull, hidden in the recesses of Brain. My Demons are as old friends by comparison to the Evil. I have come to realize that such Evil, when consistent, constant, continuous, becomes a palpable force, a malignant entity, a perverse poltergeist. When the dark forces of ennui have filled a space for an extended, seemingly eternal, time they take on a life, an existence all their own. Are these the dark forces that haunt and possess, in the guise of departed spirits or demons? Is the buildup of such spiritual toxicity the real reason to call in spiritualists, exorcists, ghostbusters? Could pent up malevolence be at the root of the unnatural, the demonic? Having become all too familiar with the physical effects, the overwhelming force, the soul-sucking despair of such a haunting, has me pondering the ramifications and remedies of this spiritual siege. As I step out into the world of humanity, kindness, selflessness, and away from this weird reality that is besieged by corruption and Evil, the scales have fallen from my eyes and I can see with clarity what must be done to save my own soul. It really has come to feel like a battle of Good versus Evil.
    I have fought a similar battle, over a year ago, when I knew that the only way to save my soul from a toxic existence was to do what had seemed unthinkable. Knowing that my actions were likely to be horribly painful on every level imaginable, I went ahead anyway, despite the foreknowledge that what I was about to do was going to change my life in ways nearly impossible to predict. But I stepped off that curb. Yes, I faltered a time or two, was battered, bruised, regretted, despaired, wept, but I moved ahead. Now my life bears very little resemblance to life two years ago, a year ago. And I saw it, and it was good.
    Now I face the last remnant of that life. The last vestige of toxicity that threatens my soul. I know this battle will have to be fought differently. I must change tactics. I cannot merely walk away, I must extricate myself with a plan. But extricate myself I must. I cannot continue in such a place, watching my soul wither, my creativity be consumed, my light be darkened. This is no easy battle, and I am already weary.

Create a New Reality

    My reality is kicking my ass lately. No, not my recent foray into the world of firefighting, or my constant desire to push my body further and faster, or even my little house that is being neglected of late as I explore too many avenues. The aforementioned examples are my escape from my reality, and what keep me clinging to my sanity. I am fighting the struggle with Body, Brain, and Spirit. Body is holding up well, despite the exhaustion and stress of shouldering the burden of maintaining our equilibrium. Brain is hanging in there, despite brutal battles with Demons, and the constant fluctuations between Mania and Melancholy that are striking with the relentless speed of hungry hyenas. But Spirit is flagging. Spirit feels the weight of the emotional black hole that we walk into five days a week, and the world around us that seems more degraded and depressed by the day. Spirit is taking an unholy beating and has nearly lost all defensive mechanisms. No, not lost, but used up, drained dry, depleted. Spirit is feeling the weight of too many years trapped in the demoralizing morass of others' despondency. I have tried to escape so many times, only to fail, adding rejection to the dejection. I have my escape mechanisms, but they are fleeting, temporary, a few hours snatched and cherished. I work so hard to keep Brain and Spirit balanced, healthy, strong, but it is a struggle, an arduous, ongoing, brutal struggle.
    My Flashpoint is a little lower every day. The point where I flip from steady and strong, to shaky and weepy. I feel I am losing control. As if control has been stolen from me, leaving me to be tossed about like a rag doll in the teeth of a terrier. Oh yes, I fight to regain control, a battle I am all too familiar with, but it is exhausting and debilitating. I clutch at whatever lifelines come near, I cling to the jagged wall of the abyss with every ounce of strength, I look to the future, make plans, pursue dreams. And I fight. Oh dear gods how I fight. Alone I will fight the darkness. I will not allow the inertia, ineptitude, and insanity that surrounds me to infect me. With weakened defenses I feel vulnerable and susceptible to the bleak malaise, but still I fight. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being. Shivering with cold, clutching the jagged wall, refusing to be swallowed by the darkness, I fight on.
    Despite the vicious assault against Spirit, Heart remains strong. Heart reminds us that there are causes worth fighting for, that we can make a difference in the chaos that swirls about thicker and darker than ever. Heart pushes Body, Brain and Spirit forward in the new endeavors, and will not allow any one of us to give up, to collapse into the vortex of the emotional black hole that encroaches, or to be swallowed by the demoralizing morass that sucks at our feet. We will continue to search for an escape route, a way out of the horrible inertia and wretched depression that threatens our very existence. My reality is kicking my ass on a daily basis, but I am seeking a new reality, will find a new reality, or will create a reality just for us.    

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Beyond the PNR

    Amazing how 48 hours back in the throes of reality can dampen my spirits following the elation of my weekend. I know it is partially fatigue, I am so tired but know I will continued to push myself ridiculously. It is all I know to do when Brains starts flirting with the edges of Melancholy. I continue to push, swim further, run faster, as if I am trying to truly outrun the Demons that always seem to be close at hand. I know I am not managing my stressers very well, they are piling up in what could easily reach critical mass. This last weekend we learned about PNR, Point of No Return, in reference to the breathing apparatus and oxygen levels. Once you reach half a tank you are at the PNR, it took you 50% to get in, you will need 50% to get out alive. Sometimes I feel I live my life beyond the PNR. It takes so much energy to reach each objective that I wonder if I will have the energy to continue. I can't help but ask myself if it is time to get out, or take the risk of running out of air. I spread myself thin, extend myself body, mind and heart. My day to day existence feels laborious, painful, and futile. I feel as if I am teetering on a ledge, risking a cataclysmic fall. I feel as if I am waiting with bated breath for oxygen sensor to ring, telling me, "Get Out! Get Out!" I feel myself wanting to respond, "Mayday, mayday, mayday," as I make my way to the exit. I am nearing the fight or flight reflex, and feel as if I have little fight left. I know I am just tired, and feeling battered and bedraggled. I am sure that a good night's sleep and a visit with my fire engines will put me to right, until I have to wade back into reality. The station has become my fortress, my sanctuary, a safe haven. I know I am in safe hands, that I will not suffer major disappointment or heartbreak while surrounded by gleaming engines and the scent of fuel and turnouts. Yes, it is a bit psychotic, but it is that time of year. I am clutching at any lifeline that comes within my grasp. I know I just need to sleep. I need to restore my O2 levels before I am truly beyond the PNR.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tired. Bruised. Happy.

    Wow, am I tired. Tired, bruised, and happy. Second full day of firefighter training, and today was a doozy. Today was physical testing and practicals, in 60+ pounds of full PPE (personal protective equipment, aka turnouts and SCBA). It was fantastic. I got to push myself, get a taste of what I am getting myself into, even be a squad leader for a bit. We crawled around in a blacked out building, feeling our way through rooms in the training tower to get an inkling of what it will be like to go into a heavily smoke filled space. My body is peppered with small bruises, and I am feeling aches deep in muscles that I have trained hard, but were really put to the test today. We get to do this sort of safe training for a bit, then soon we will get to enter "the fire room," which is exactly what it sounds like: a room filled with fire. Oh, not totally filled with flame, that would be idiotic. But a room with a fire in it to simulate entering a burning structure. I look ahead at the schedule and thrill at what is yet to come: vehicle extraction, search and rescue, Rapid Intervention Team, and eventually I will learn to rappel down a cliffside. I am on the verge of an amazing adventure. 2013 is The Year of Grand Adventures, and one week in, it is living up to my challenge.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rambling, Again

    Today was my first full day of Firefighter Academy. This will be the main focus of my life, especially my weekends for the next 3-1/2 months. I will not have much free time, but I know this is likely to be the best thing I can do to myself at this particular time of year. The long months of late winter and early spring have traditionally been the toughest times for me. The time when I am most likely to want to hide away, protect my loved ones from my Melancholy, wrestle Demons, and rage against the world. I feel that this year will be different. How can it not? So much is different for me. I look back one year and see how I was beginning to show the signs of Accumulative Stress, the Perfect Storm of Stress that derailed me for the better part of two months. Last year was extreme, but previous years have been no picnic either. True, I have removed the key stressers from my life, and they have been replaced with loving, supportive friends, dreams realized, goals achieved, promises kept, a wealth of health, and a new direction to my life.
    The Academy adds an excitement to life that will outshine the gloom of winter, it will be a talisman against Demons. This is not why I joined the Fire District. I did not join for the purpose of making myself feel better, or better about myself, or in the hopes that the intense training would be a distraction from my typical winter Melancholy. These thoughts did not occur to me, honestly, when I decided to join up. I joined because it was a dream held secretly in the depths of my heart, a yearning, a hidden passion. It was a dream I did not dare to utter, fearing it was nothing more than a pipe dream, a childish fantasy. But here I am. Today was the first full day. Lectures, discussions, test. I had been fearful that Brain would fail me, that I would test poorly, that I would fail coming out of the gate. But I did not. I tested well, felt sharp, happy, at ease. Leaving at the end of eight hours of school I was feeling a deep contentment that can be hard for me to find at this time of year. I was energized, and yet relaxed by an inner sense of peace and well-being. I am standing at a threshold, ready to step through and into new adventures. I am tired to the point that Brain is incoherent, and my fingers are clumsy on the keys. I know I am rambling, again, but I wanted to much to put down a few words to celebrate a new stage of life, a new beginning, a new adventure.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pesky Little Imps

    I manage to slip in and out of Mania and Melancholy as often as I change my clothing. It has been acknowledged that this is what keeps me from a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the rapidity in which I move from one to the other. I am the A.D.D version of bipolar.... look, is that a Corvair? Also I have never indulged in dangerous or harmful behavior, a hallmark of Mania, apparently... and no, my intense workouts and crazy event schedule do not count as dangerous or risky, just slightly insane. Does it count that I often think of harming a few others? Only those that might deserve it, of course, and I would never truly act on the aforementioned thoughts, I just ponder. That all being said, in typical rambling fashion (after all, the title of this blog is Random Ramblings, so I am entitled to ramble on as I please), my latest wrestling match with my Demons has left me analyzing, as usual. I really do think that my Demons slip out to remind me of who I am, what makes me unique, what makes me act and react as I do. I cannot hold them at fault for this, after all, they are my offspring, the children that people my thoughts and dreams as I lay awake at night. They are my companions, and are often no more than just brutally honest. Okay, they are more than brutally honest, they can be cruel and spiteful at times, dredging up ghosts, and needling weaknesses, little bastards that they are. But they are my little bastards, my ill-conceived progeny, the tart fruit of my loins, upstarts, delinquents, brats. They taunt and tease, harass and harangue, berate and belittle. They disrupt my sleep, as small children are wont to do, but instead of merely wanting to cuddle themselves back to sleep, they toss and turn, poking me with bony elbows and horns, chilling me with cold hands. Yes, they are pesky little Imps.
    I do have a mother's affection for these Imps that have cost me so many tears and sleepless nights. They are directly responsible for some of my more arduous workouts. It is their wicked attentions that inspire me to push myself further, harder, faster. It is my need to keep them shushed that fires my physicality. My flat stomach, firm ass, and lithe body are direct results of just what a mother is willing to do to keep her children resting quietly.
    Ours is a symbiotic relationship, my Demons and I. One I accept, even as I rail against it at times. It would be so easy to blithely accept a doctor's diagnosis, take my meds, hide from the world, retreat into my shell, live a lackluster life, let my lunacies take the blame for a sedentary life that goes nowhere. Instead I allow my lunacies out as Demons. I name them, so our relationship is personal, connected, they are old and dear frenemies now, these naughty Imps, my bastard children. I name them, so when they come out to play I know which games I am likely to be assaulted with, which rules we will break, which game tokens will be tossed at my head in fits of sulky snits. They really are like children, my Demons, they can be managed, soothed, lulled back to sleep. Not until they have pulled my hair, screamed, clawed, spit up on my new shirt. But I do know how to calm them, it is just an arduous task. A labor of love. Love of Self, for my Demons are my Self. They are what make me who I am, inspire me to push myself, to try new things. Their nasty prattling makes me want to go on grand adventures just to prove them wrong. Their needling gives me the drive to succeed, to show them I am not the weakling they try to convince me I am. My Demons make me unique, make me strong, empower me, make me understand myself more deeply with each nocturnal visit. My pesky little Imps. Little bastards.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Demons Remind Me Of Who I Am

    My Demons snuck out for the New Year. I thought they were firmly encased in their cavern, but of course I was wrong. They do wait for me to succumb to my certainty, relax my guard, believe my own happy horsehit assertions that all is right in my world. They just cannot resist the opportunity to take me down a notch. My Demons will latch onto a chance comment, a bare ember, and blow on the coal, add tinder, feed the flames until what was a bare spark becomes a conflagration. Brain tries to dampen the fire but often only succeeds in fanning the flames as we overthink and overanalyze. Brain gathers a handful of small, off hand comments and tosses them onto the fire in a misguided attempt to control the situation. Instead, the backflash is explosive and painful. I try so hard to keep a tight rein on my tormentors  Truly I do. And I have a vast array of skills to fight them back under my control. Yesterday my Demons toyed with me most of the day, flitting out, taunting, teasing, prodding, poking. I would begin to crumble under the assault, but force them back, squelch them, beat them down with sheer strength and resolve. It was a day long process. I kept Brain and Body busy working throughout the day, and that always helps.
    We went until necessity forced us to stop and prepare for bed. That was the moment the Demons were waiting for. Typical. The moment I sat on my bed, before I could even undress and climb under the sanctuary of my down comforter. It was a swift, ruthless assault, and I was unprepared despite the numerous, minor forays the Demons had made during the day. There is a lancing pain that accompanies these attacks, not physical, but spiritual, mental. As I wrestle with my Demons, pulling out every available weapon in my arsenal, I fight back every way I can. I am not beneath fighting dirty, using partial truths, happy horsehit, and even lies to stave off  the onslaught, to survive, to defend myself. I fight back with every trick I know, finally managing to crawl under the covers and curl into a tight ball, alone, cold. I force back the negative and cling to the positive. I remind myself that I have fought this battle time and time again, alone, and have come out victorious each and every time.
    This was not nearly as brutal an attack as I have fended off in the past. It was almost as if the Demons came out to remind me of their existence, that they are one constant in my life. They are ever present companions that will be with me when no one else is. Especially when no one else is. They remind me of my Strange Aloneness, remind me that it is part of me. That they are part of me. I swear to myself that this year will be different, that I am different, that my life is different. And it is the gods' honest truth. Very little of me, myself and mine are the same as what they were a year ago, two years ago, a decade ago. But there are a few constants, my Demons being one. My solitude, that I know is a defensive mechanism, one that flares up easily to protect me from myself, is a constant brought on by too many years of forced aloneness, what I have called My Strange Aloneness. Defense mechanisms, weapons, a complete arsenal to protect me from my Demons, my Self, and the World. I am self reliant, expecting nothing, willing and able to do battle as a solitary warrior. I know I have allies that are strong and true, but I also know that I am unlikely to turn to them for fear of becoming dependent and of losing. I find myself tempted to rebuild the protective casing that  sheltered me from the worst of external duress, but I won't. I refuse to allow myself the luxury of retreat, no matter what price I may pay in the future, for I know I am likely to pay a steep price. Retreat is not an option, Defeat is not an option. Surrender is most definitely not an option. Life is for living, living large, living vibrantly in the face of Demons. So I will fight back, continue my steady progress on the path of my life, entering strange terrain, foraging as I go, learning and living. These are the weapons of choice, that no Demon can stand in the path of for long. Damned Demons, but they do remind me of who I am, where I have been, where I am, and where I am going.