I’ve been experiencing much lack of self love from the women in my life that I love lately. My wife, my friends and sisters, my mentors, my mothers……
As research has shown its in the stars right now and we all need to be humble. its good for us. However, humble doesn’t mean shame and it doesn’t mean lack. Too often when we feel low we seek to belittle others in order to grasp onto a glimpse of egotistical worth. I challenge us all to not just state but to actually view each other in whatever radiance we ACTUALLY embody.
I recently moved back in with my wife. I have slowly unpacked things as they have become necessary. Finally this weekend I got to the things that I don’t need. My living space… infused with the smell of great essential oils, I opened up the happiest part of my wardrobe. I set out to carefully hang my most favorite pieces after laying them out in exact order on my beautiful new , well chosen, duet cover. lol YOu se I’m getting old. hahaha ive always wanted to have beautiful things, its in my nature. Yet, other things have been more important. wether it’s that one of the kids needed something important, or perhaps they just wanted something. Often times a friend or someone in my family needed to pay bill. Too often I was just hanging on by my teeth financially and could not afford to meet my own needs and express myself outwardly.
As I unpacked I pulled out my very ultimate absolute favorite creation in the whole of life’s essence…. my black j crew cardigan. My sister purchased me this cardigan fr my birthday. I had noticed it while we were out shopping once and it was one of the first gifts I had received from a family member where I had pointed it out and expressed my adoration. It was beautiful, well made, soft good material, the perfect shade of black and had subtle trim… it made me feel special to receive this gift.
Strait away I unfolded my yummy cardigan and “AHHHHHH”‘d ” Ladies I found my cardigan and I’m telling you now. I’m stripping down to nothing and plan to walk around in this beautiful piece of cloth butt naked for the rest of the evening. Sorry if that bothers anyone but I don’t care!!”
After about 20 minutes my butt felt very exposed (bending over and all) and my old breasts were dangling in my way so I chose to put on a bra and some panties. I did however spend the rest of my evening loving the shit out of my cardigan, my oils, my duvet, the way it all felt on my skin……..
Finally clothes carefully put away, I sat in my space a breathed. This is my time. The time when everything is done well with thought states to my internal clock that I have everything handled. nothing has to be rushed = I can do the things that I love. this is when I can feel myself fully. this is when I am at peace.
I helped myself out to my back porch ( yes in my undergarments and my cardigan), smoked what seemed like a ver loooong leisurely cigarette, and smiled at my daughters incessant talking for the first time in a month. I had focus and a genuine smile… I was whole.
As the night came to and end I cleaned up in the bathroom. You know, teeth, oil, lengthy skin check, washed my face, made sure my bobby pins were where they belonged, had the time to wipe out the sink, and walked to the bedroom to slip into bed with my wife. As I approached the bed she gave me a calm smile. Once I laid down she leaned over to me and said, ” You’ve got this old lady thing going on and for some reason it is really doing it for me”. Then, she touched my tummy and smiled at me quite pleased to be next to my granny panties and calm demeanor. I was like “WTF”??!! She laughed.
” Carmen, lots of people are not satisfied with themselves after 30. Lots of people walk around trying to look 20 when they are 40. not accepting that they look 40. Sometimes people want to be what they’re not and it is not appealing.. you walk around in those underwear and an old lady sweater and its sexy. its like your owning your womanhood, YOUR WOMANHOOD is SEXY! 20 looks good but it doesn’t look like womanhood.”
I’m pretty sure this was the sexiest fucking compliment I have ever received. And it wasn’t fake. she didn’t tell me I’m hot. She didn’t tell me she wanted to fuck. she took me in and accepted me whole and loved and was excited by what she saw and felt.
believe me.. My granny panties were immediately soaked and they came right off. If this was her ploy to get me to take those wretched things off… it worked!
My wife doesn’t always feel completely attractive. Like the rest of us, she sometimes judges her looks and abilities by ideas of others. And though, of course, I think she’s beautiful physically. It is her ability to see in hindsight toward everybody that attracts me the most to her.
I hope we all take the time to honor our bodies and minds and comforts and needs and time and learn to want that for each other. At any age, any social status, any gender….. it is so nice to be loved for what you are. I challenge all of us to love ourselves right exactly where we are and then give that to others who should also know the completeness of full self acceptance. I’m thankful my life has produced people who can do this
I have been madly, ferociously in love with my children since the moment I held their soft sweet bodies against mine. Their powdery smell and clingy limbs filled my every organic need for a very long time.
Fast forward and they are beautiful adults. I still long for their embrace and miss their smells. I know I could go blind and know them immediately by scent alone. Or by the sound of them moving through a space. One is so quiet and the other is quite the opposite.
For many years, my favorite humans felt excitement at creating a special Mother’s Day gift for me. These are the one’s I long for. They told me that I was their favorite person on the planet and that they spent so much precious time working out the best gift they could co-create. Whether it was an inedible breakfast or a hike I would rather have napped through, each gift made me so happy and I knew I was blessed beyond what I deserved to have these precious, perfect humans create in their imaginations what would make me happiest; from snuggle time, age appropriately once and forever more called nuggle time, to culinary delights made by their sweet and probably dirty hands. I ate them all up, every meal, hike, and nuggle. I am sure I let them know that each gift they presented was a treasure to me, because it was.
As they’ve grown and found their own lives that no longer revolve around their Mommy, I can’t help but feel some sadness and loss. I miss those Mother’s Days so much. Even the ones when their dad gave me an hanging fuchsia basket because that was what my mom always wanted when I grew up. The girls always presented them like they were baskets of gold, and that’s all I wanted, was to make them feel good about giving a gift of such value to someone they loved. That was the gift I wanted to give them. To give them confidence and unconditional love. They could have brought me a mop and I would have been as happy with them..maybe not with their dad!
I have been a little sad this Mother’s Day because I felt forgotten, but as I recall the past holidays, I know how blessed I really am. I have known the love of having my children give me rocks that might has well have been diamonds, and what more could I ever want?
It’s taken me a long time to find the comfort and grace to be at ease in my own company, to sit with no one but myself and my own thoughts. I’m not talking about just a few minutes before having to placate my mind with some distraction. I am talking about hours on end. The long drives to dad’s beach, nights spent after the divorce laying in the dark alone for the first time and after each breakup.
This has been one of my biggest lessons in that last few years, it’s not an easy one to digest because it means I have had to learn to be absolutely comfortable with myself. Which is fucking difficult. You have to be ready to face the nitty gritty parts of your mind, the dark places of your heart that are broken and bruised, you have to be ready to face your pain and work through it. It’s a messy process and hard, and leaves you feeling raw and at times empty.
But I am starting to savor it as its becoming my independence and my way of clearing the negative out of my life. I value and love my independence and ability to do what I want when I want, I am so tired of holding myself back for others, like little bits of me are not fully able to show. I came close this last time to being fully me, I only had a few guards up. Yet I am less broken and hurt than I have ever been. I feel happier and more free than ever before.
I see this time as a chance to push myself to grow, to show myself more love and kindness. To show more forgiveness and kindness to those around me. To calm the ripple effect of the negative that seems to just grow. If I show love and send it out it will reflect back. I want to fully love this void and in-between. I have come to realize that for me when I hop from relationship to relationship whether it’ long term or just a few months of dating I leave an open wound that is never fully healed and that leaching effect just keeps going and it drains me of my essence and makes it hard for me to fully give to my lover’s which is unfair to both parties.
This last time I waited till I felt ready to step into the vast expanse of dating again, when I did I did it with pure intentions and made sure that my wounds from the past were not bleeding into my unknown future. It was an incredible experience and fuck I am so thankful for it, it was a lesson that I needed to learn and feel.
Now as I take this time again to heal it’s not a massive damage in anyway, while still a heartache of a different kind it’s one that I can give utter thanks to. It’s one that leaves a bitter sweet smile on my face. For its left my heart open to whatever may come with a light that I can’t explain. Yes the void and the dark nights are still very much around and I feel them but I am able to embrace them like an old lover and take solace in it.
This void is my growth, its my murky waters where I filter out the bullshit and crap, its where I continue to push the negative out of my head and show myself more love, it’s where I show the people in and around my life more compassion and grace. Its reconnecting with me and letting it all flow. It’s a lesson in closing old wounds and true healing. It’s making sure that I don’t continue the ripple effect of negativity and making sure that not only am I really ready and wanting someone in my life but having a healed and whole heart and soul to give them.
I think as humans sometimes we are so afraid of being alone that we never fully understand the peace and healing that comes from that alone time. That void and loneliness is a hard place to be and to digest but think of the possibilities that could happen if we as humans take those moments and heal to stop the ripple effect. How many extra wounded hearts and people would we avoid hurting by doing that.
Maybe that is the lesson here, I know it has been mine so far. I’m stopping the ripple from my wounded heart. I want to pass on kindness and gratitude, my past has taught me so very much even from the ones who taught me the deepest pain to the one that showed me the brightest light. There is always room for gratitude and kindness.
Acceptance of the void and loneliness, the loving of one’s true and authentic self. Be brave enough to show your bright light to the world and don’t ever hold yourself back for fear of rejection. You as a beautiful human and soul are enough and are loved. Don’t fear the void and the loneliness for its temporary and merely a state of mind.
Let that murky muddy water filter the bullshit out of your head, be like the Lotus and bloom in the middle of the dirty water.
I’m going to dance naked in the full moonlight next to the ocean worshiping all that is me and the beauty that I have blossomed into. I will wear my battle worn heart out in the open for my lovers to see.I will have no shame in the scars of my past for they have shaped me into the graceful lover that I am today. I will love,I will forgive easy. I will be authentically me.
The last ten years have taught me so much growth, and the best has been in the last year for me. I am finally learning to live as my authentic self, no apologies, no holding back, to speak my mind freely and not filter my feeling and emotions for fear of how the other person might react. I am stepping into my full worth and potential as a woman the one that I have always known was deep inside and has been climbing her way out of the smolder fire for so very long.
It is an amazing feeling to finally be at peace with being on my own, knowing that I am amazing and at ease walking this planet with just me and my friends and family. I don’t require or need a partner to complete my being, I know that I already accomplish whatever I want in my life quite well by myself and will continue to do so, it’s realizing that if I choose to have a partner in my life it’s not because I need them, it’s because I actually finally want someone in my life to include them and be apart of their lives but not be consumed by them..
I have become consumed by my past partners, abusive relationships have a tendency to do that to people, until the one they are abusing wakes up and starts making some changes. It took me a long time to finally make the changes but I did, Once I did and started to change my own inner story and loving myself and knowing my worth this funny and fucking incredible thing happened to me.
I finally got a taste of how I have always wanted a relationship to form and feel like, every bit of it including whom I was with was a massive breathe of fresh air for me, it wasn’t perfect but it was so damn in close for me that even though it ended to soon ( my opinion) I am walking away from it with so much hope for whatever is yet to come. The simple ease of slowly getting to know someone. To that random moment you look over at the way they are talking to their kid and you realize how much you care about them.
There is no way to express how grateful I am for this last relationship it has left such a positive mark on my heart and in my life, after so many years of hurt and heartache to have even just a few short months of just the ability to freely express myself, to be authentically myself with someone, to be comfortable enough to let down my walls, with someone and have it leave me feeling so full of happiness. I loved being able to be freely me and to be able to express my feelings so freely no matter if they were returned or not was freeing
I know now that I will never settle for anything less than something like that ever again, that small taste gives me so much hope of whatever is yet to come in my life, whenever that may be. For now I am going to settle into just being me. Being free to be and to dance naked in the full moonlight if I choose, to play in mud and crawl under barbed wire, have wild times with my girlfriends, teach my daughter to be brave and free and let what will be will be in the matters of the heart, as mine is in a good place right now.
See that is how I know I don’t need partner in my life, I am back on my own and while it hurts and yes I definitely wanted to see that last relationship go entirely a different way as it was ( again my opinion) pretty fucking amazing, chill and dam that man made me happy and and knew how to make me smile in way I can’t explain. I am just fine and life is still absolutely amazing. That is the beauty of year’s growth, wisdom, change and maybe just maybe that’s what they truly mean when the say if you love someone set them free, including yourself set yourself free to love.
*Editors Note- Lisa-Anne is an incredible inspiration to us all. Her personal journey to be who she wants to become has enlightened us all with the struggle and success. This woman is a warrior. I included these photos as a small visual to the work she has put into her life, and the continuing rewards she shares with us all.
Life has a way of turning you upside down in an instant. Your happiness, or what seems like your truth of momentary happiness, gets pulled out from under you like a rug by the universe in a way that shakes you to your core and forces you to continue to peel back your layers of bullshit and clear your path so that you can move forward.
It can be a simple doctors appointment that turns your week on its heels, when you ignore your body for months because you think it’s just a side effect of your birth control and deal with it until it becomes utterly annoying and you find out that it’s actually something that requires a referral and surgery… yeah okay thank you universe round one goes to you. Lesson learned listen to your body. The constant fatigue was not just from being super busy, constant periods are not normal side effects… ect. Gotcha!
Then there’s the endings of relationships whether mutual, or not. In friendship or romance there comes a time where you have to make a decision on how you handle it. You demand respect face to face, you don’t hide behind the keys of a device. Be kind and gentle with your words, you’re dealing with a human heart and there is no need to ever be cruel no matter your reason. Speak your unapologetic truth, own your feelings, be honest, be real but always, always be kind. Walk away leaving that other human with your final words being ones of kindness, there’s enough bitterness and hate in this world.
I read some words today in an article about the upcoming Full Moon this month and in it is spoke of love and it’s power that it has. I believe with all my heart that showing someone that you care is the most powerful gift you can give them. Being capable to love after you have been broken and hurt is one of the most difficult things to do, so when you can get through someone’s walls and guards and they show you their soft side, even for a moment, cherish it, for they are giving you so much. I am so thankful to the ones who have given me these moments, and I am blessed to have had moments like that with someone.
Loving even though you have been hurt.
Loving even though you have lost.
Loving even though you have witnessed and seen terrible heartache
And destruction is the most powerful thing a human can do
And is the deepest purpose of all of us.
Despite being hurt, or abused, or torn,
We can still love, and this is where we
Find our true power.
This is where we find our true enlightenment.
Ahhhhh Universe I see you are at it again well played. I bow my head in humble grace to you now, you have yet again humbled and surprised me. Unapologetic yet kind and gracious heart lesson, does this mean I am getting somewhere?
Wait you had one more for me universe I forgot… it’s the working so much that you push your body too far and ignore it ( i.e lesson one),to exhaustion and your family thinks that you live for your jobs so on the eve of you leaving your second job the first two lessons slap you so hard in the gut and soul that you are not sure if you need to call a timeout from the universe or ask for a rewind on the last two and a half weeks just so you can figure out where in the fuck it all went sideways. Golf clapping for you now universe, I am humble at your feet now.
So as I sit here writing this pondering my next step as my physical health has me putting training and a few races on hold and honestly has me a bit scared and nervous and my heart is shaken from an unexpected twist that has hurt it in a way that I never in a million years expected, I am able to smile because I know I spoke my honest truth and was pure in my intentions. I think that I am going to remind myself to remember to always choose Love. Love myself and the unapologetic authentic woman I am becoming, to honor the love that I have so freely given as its true and mine to freely give. No matter how it’s taken, to love my body better for I have an incredible one that is not only physically strong but it is beautifully sexy inside and out.
Oh You’re really funny Universe….lesson number four Self Love, that all important lesson. Check Mate.
By Kristina Rasmussen
The girl is only 18. She wears a borrowed pink sweater that’s too tight across the chest. Poverty, humiliation, acne, peroxide, abandonment, and abuse have damaged her. Still, she is young enough to feel hopeful that this will be her last first date with a sailor on leave. The young men who serve at the naval base like to visit this port town before going overseas, and the girl and her only friend dress up tirelessly for the dance, waiting for their own ship to come in. She has faced humiliation at school for wearing hand me down rags, and believes no local boy would want her. She can be whoever she wants on these nights, but self doubt keeps her quiet. While the girl and her friend apply shared pasty-pink lipstick and powder in the backseat of the ‘67 Nova, the boy in front watches in the rearview mirror. She catches him spying and wonders if he is the one, but doesn’t realize how plainly the question shows in her eyes. She’s surprised when he doesn’t look away first. She thinks she’s found her answer.
The boy believes this girl has the prettiest eyes he’s ever seen. They’re almost black, like his mother’s. Her teeth are crooked, but whiter than the snow back home, and if she covers them again with her gloved hand when he smiles at her, he’s afraid he might turn around and pull her hand off her face. They’ve only met this afternoon, but he’s learned enough about her to know that in a few hours, she’ll pack her few belongings and quietly leave her foster home where her time is up, anyway. He sees her eyes searching his when she catches him staring. In this game of chicken, he doesn’t look away first. He intends to answer every question in her innocent eyes because he knows he has finally found the reason he survived two tours of duty on a riverboat in Vietnam. If there is ever going to be redemption for him, it is through this girl.
Later, after dropping off the girl’s loud, horse-toothed friend, the sailor and the girl walk on the beach and sip whiskey from his flask. Not used to drinking alcohol, the girl throws up. The boy kneels beside her and gently holds her hair out of her face. He doesn’t mind. The boy has futilely held his best friend’s guts in place while waiting for the medics. He’s not squeamish. He gently rubs small circles on her lower back and tells her he’d like to take care of her.
As he drives to the motel that will be their first home together, the girl slumps, exhausted, against his shoulder. They check into a room under a married alias. He sees the makeup wash away, leaving a clean, bright faced girl in a soft, worn ivory flannel nightgown. In the blackest night, she holds the sobbing boy with phantom wounds, huddled on the floor in the corner. For two days they whisper, dream, and cry in room six, leaving occasionally for long meals at the café, until the courthouse doors open Monday morning at nine o’clock. Then, purged of their pasts, they move to the honeymoon suite for one night, where their futures begin.
Oh man.. Loved? Have I ever felt loved? Goodness, what an arbitrary question. Many times have I felt loved. Many times has someone released themselves energetically to myself. Many times are they that someone handed me the trust of themselves to share and be accepted. Many conversations have been handed to me where one might trust me with their truth and actions in intent. Many times has someone purchased a gift in my name and presented it to me with heartfelt intent. Many smiles and hugs. Ears listening… while I spew hate and emotion to get it OUT! OUT! Many times have I been blessed with an angel carrying a message that I alone needed to hear. Many times has the universe sent me exactly what I needed to grow. Many questions answered. Many dangerous situations diffused. Many times has goddess sent me exactly what I’ve asked for. Many times I have felt all varieties of love. The amount of graces and acts of love are so many that I couldn’t possibly list or remember them all…….
However, those things never came complete with my acceptance and vulnerability. I firmly believe that though, in small ways I’ve accepted these act of love, I have not ever fully emmersed myself into the truth of love itself. Gifts come with opinions and rights. I have just begun to accept me and recognize that I live in fear where love is concerned. To live in an abstract world where negative and positive are only words used as secondary labels in my love. The question remains to me. How can one feel loved? If they have not experienced it themselves, how does one accept love in a mundane sense? and comply with its limits? I’ve always felt love from others I’ve always been handed that opposite of fear. But not until recently have I been able to accept love as the concentrated whole that it is. To accept love fully I would have to be able to look at loves perceived opposite and agree that it makes a whole.. My ego states that this would be ignorant. Can you imagine all the things I would have to change about myself to accept that there is no negative in the foundation of my life story? That those things are love? AHHHH makes me want to locate my gun just thinking about it. I understand this in theory. HA but in the physical world if you want to hand me something I’m scared of I will go insane on you. I am more willing to make chaos my game than I am for it to make me whole.. I have felt whole love but I have not yet danced with and experienced it… I have no faith….. in my ability to return whole (as love, with love, again ignoring the process)
I recently went on a journey to be the love that I believe in. I got cracked wide open. I stood bravely in the face of my own inner fears. What came looked something like The end of ” For Colored Girls”.
Being loved by others while ignoring love in its essence feels like fun. Ive spent many years accepting love from others in the form of gifts and intent….. but they are different words for a reason. Intent isn’t love and gifts have another definition of their own. I, in return, gifted and had wonderful intentions for others.
Khalil Gibran, a perceived father of mine, spelled out years ago what love is and what it will do to me. I had made love my arch nemesis here in this life to avoid anymore pain. I had been unwilling to inflict anymore upon myself and was willing to accept my decision in this matter…… Khalil gave me a choice. I have recently chosen different.. I have chosen to take the ride and I do believe I came out a little more enlightend but I’m not sure( I get to pay my shrink 300 dollars this afternoon to tell me wether I’m even on the right track.) I have felt loved and it is treacherous and amazing and beautiful. The truth is, if love is what your experiencing you have no choice but to come back whole. The experience? HAHAHA what does it feel like? FFFUUUUUUCKKK YOU!
“When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.”
A few sentences later, he hits on the need for vulnerability.
“If in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the season less world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter and weep, but not all of your tears.
As for finding love, we cannot direct the course.
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”
As for your desires, turning into vulnerability, Gibran, who echoes Alfred Lord Tennyson’s sentiment when he said ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,’ writes:
“To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged hear and give thanks for another day of loving.
Love is process, not an outcome.”
Love is not the person loving you but the essence inside of them. When love shows up in another person who, in the end, still wants to hold you and grow with you and all of your ugly is hanging out and you’ve become real, like the velveteen rabbit…. ITs the scariest shit EVER.. I feels a little something like slow death.
First, here’s to meanruthie for Challenging me with self awareness as a topic. I am so self aware HAHAHAH well, until I take tests that show me myself to my face. Then I’m just Carmen living in a confused version of my own vertical prison. Much love to you. And to my lack of self awareness..
I consciously avoided this topic from the moment it was posted. As I read the assignment my eyes got big and my head spinned. ( is spinned a word?) DOUBT.. that’s all I’m aware of.
” What kind of bullshit can I come up with that makes me sound like I know what I am all about today? None.. So, ill just put it off till I can oppose someone else…”
That never happened….
I finally crouched in and made myself not just take this test, but to research it and its intricacies. TO my complete surprise this test gave me quite the overview. Myself in a nutshell. My unhealthy self. My healthy self. My unhealthy reactions. How they hinder my progress, and how I can intercept those actions to integrate into the loop of my higher self. Yes it brought me down even into my spirituality. AHHHH the road to self actualization
As it sits I am a frim 8.. 8 with nothing following closely. The Leader. This… 100%… I can agree with. This we knew. What I didn’t know was how I lead and how this always causes me to strive for independence and knowledge as well as fearing co dependence and ignorance.
The 8 has wonderful qualities for healing humanity and inspiring change through their action in the world. I’ve always known that this was my job. Giving people permission to be whoever the fuck they want at their own will. With ” lead by example” as a motto.
However, I will say that, it also explains my line of work and the fight. HAHAH not to mention many of the issues I run into in relationships. It also explains how to work within them to make them work.
I think I need to be more aware of my judgment and my narcissism. This is not a fault of all 8s but it’s not hard to see, finally, how I , in lower levels of my type,( when I’m not fulfilled) go to work on others or mistakenly use them to fill my ego, and even perhaps, with partners take their own beautiful characteristics as weakness. When the ” weaknesses ” often , in fact, compliment me perfectly.
Basically when I’m at the top of my vertical lines I’m powerful , unstoppable and a great advocate for empowerment and truth in my peers and partners world. At the bottom I am a controlling obsessive, insecure, violating overachiever looking for kudos. That is very hard for my ego to swallow! But its true. I was stoked to read that these qualities coincide directly with my astrological charting and make perfect sense. I am, as of right now, on an immediate path to higher self. Ive looked for this specific map of me and can clearly see what I need to work on to become what I view as an appropriate 8.
Thankfully, the enneagram shows exactly were to go from there and how to break my fearful circles. I am appreciative of this opportunity and will write more later when I’m not questioning the fuck out of why I have been such a pompous dick. I really hope every crow takes the hour or so to look into their test and find the charts on the web page. It was very eye opening to be handed such a clear picture.
Johnny died today, eleven years ago. Well, it was probably today. He was found sitting peacefully against a tree by some hikers. They thought he was sleeping until they came back hours later and noticed he had not moved and had a needle in his arm. He had overdosed on an eightball- crack cocaine and methamphetamines.
I like to think he was smiling, that he had his most euphoric, happiest memories at the last moment and all the beauty flashed before his eyes, none of the ugly. I like to think he thought about how much I loved him, how he was my best friend and that he remembered before the drugs when he loved me too.
I don’t want to think that he remembered our last words: a fight on the phone a week prior. When he called he asked if he could go to our family cabin in Alaska and I said no. I told myself it was because I was worried he’d get in trouble there again. He had already been in prison for armed robbery that occurred when he was there last. It was another user and Johnny’s desperate attempt for meth money. I was scared of him traveling from Arizona to Alaska.
The last time I saw him, he drove up in a beat up old car with candles on the dash for defrost because it didn’t have a working heater. He had a girlfriend with a two year old son in tow and they spent a week sleeping on our living room floor, only getting up to eat chips and hot dogs, while I cared for the baby who had burned both hands on our propane stove right away while under their supervision. The poor little guy was miserable with gauze wrapped hands and diaper rash. He melted onto me in need of affection and love. He wanted me to hold him constantly, even when his mom was awake. I knew they had been on drugs and were crashing. My husband and I frantically thought of a way to keep the baby. We had already blown our grocery budget and were struggling. Then they were asking for gas money to leave and I was honestly relieved, although terrified for their safety. I regret that I didn’t save that baby. Or my little brother. I didn’t know what to do. I was in denial then. I stuffed the guilt away.
When he was found, I was on a fabulous, all expenses paid, 3 day wine tour with my coworkers and friends, our bosses, and our wine rep. We wined and dined, visited wineries and grape fields, had lessons from expert growers and were drinking expensive, beautiful wines from 8am until the bars closed. I was having a great time. On the long trip home in the rental van, I recounted the story of how Johnny and I had recently talked on the phone and it ended with him angrily shouting “Forget you ever had a brother, you fucking cunt!” then slamming the phone down. I told them that I felt so guilty because he had been living on park benches or in shelters in Phoenix and he hated it there, and called it the armpit of America. They all agreed that I’d done the right thing, forbidding him from the cabin. Little did I know what I was about to walk into.
As soon as I got home, I was so excited to see my family and give my little girls their presents. As we were hugging, I sat their dad’s gift of a few nice bottles on the table, noticed an alarming look on his face, then turned around with instant foreboding. Right in front of me on the counter was a scratch pad with the words Maricopa County homicide detective, a name and phone number. The last thing I remember was an inhuman howl coming out of me and falling to the kitchen floor. Later, I recall few moments of lucidity as I was in a sedated state in bed for some time. I saw my babies’ scared faces as they cuddled me in bed and gave me so much love. They took such good care of me.
Eventually I came back to life for my family’s sake. But inside, in the darkest place, I was hating myself. Our last words were vile and I realized that the reason I said no to Johnny about the cabin was because I was afraid he would steal everything and sell it. He had done that already when my grandma and dad were alive and had not been in their wills as a result, which is why he was asking my permission to go up there. I became aware of my ugliness, my selfishness. And I started to hate myself in earnest. This awareness started a downward spiral for me. I did anything I could to numb my feelings. I started to think my life would be better if I got a divorce and my husband was willing to support whatever I needed. So I looked at apartments and got really scared. Then cheated on my husband. I hated him then, unfairly. I turned everything that was miserable about my life into his fault. But I stayed and after awhile of hating myself and my husband, we reconciled..without ever discussing what had happened, although he clearly knew. I think he pitied me so much that he allowed all of my bad behavior. He took care of me and the kids when I was hungover in the mornings. I slowly returned to a stable place, but it was short lived.
It took a long time and a lot of struggles to get to where I am now. He’s been gone for eleven years. I can say that I’m happy that he’s not hurting anymore and I believe he is somewhere that’s better than here. I think he has that infectious smile on his face and giggles all the time.
When he died he was thirty-five and only 2 years younger than me. Emotionally and mentally, he was like a teenager, which is when he first started using anything he could to numb his feelings. There was no substance he would not eagerly and repeatedly use. From cough syrup to meth. I picked him up once at a crack house in Portland’s notorious Columbia Villa, a 1942 housing barracks for shipbuilders in WWII turned gang ridden ghetto to some 400 households, where drive by shootings were common, and I was terrified. When I parked my car and went into the dilapidated apartment, several people including Johnny were smoking crack on a sofa.They passed the pipe to me and I refused. The air was thick with smoke and I got him out of there as fast as possible, took him to inpatient treatment, and he soon ran away. There were so many of these incidents with Johnny, and they broke my heart over and over again. He abused my boundaries time after time, stole from me, and conned me in every way. But I still loved my brother fiercely. As much as when I hid him in a drawer to save him as a baby. As much as I do today.
I have forgiven myself because I could not save him. It was never in my power. I still feel ashamed that I didn’t do something for the toddler he brought to my home because I was ignorant and afraid to make Johnny hate me. I have forgiven myself for how I reacted to his death, for how I wronged my family. I accepted that my feelings of selfishness for preserving what was left from our ancestors were real, but forgivable, and that it was my great responsibility to protect the land they left. I have forgiven Johnny for leaving me alone. I know he was not meant for this earth. He was too sweet, loving, and hurt. He could never seem to hold onto a wallet or identification, but he always carried a picture of me. He would show it to his friends and say “You want to see the most beautiful girl in the world? My sister”. I know he loved me as much as I loved him. And I know he’ll be waiting for me one day. And we’ll build forts and climb trees, and it will be worth our time apart.