Truth Out – Six Things

1. Ever get tired of going along with people’s games? Everyone has at least one. Almost every game is transparent. Even the games therapists play. Sometimes it’s so tiring. There are times I want to smash the facades and say, “Have more respect for me than that.” Be honest or don’t fucking bother. I don’t mean that we should all be tactless. But, if I don’t feel you, it isn’t real. It doesn’t get through. It’s just another social game we all play. It bounces off the surface along with my social game response. Why bother? You get real for real, period. My own games piss me off the most.

2. The other day I was out of town at my uncle’s funeral viewing, which for my mother’s side of the family means we were having a family reunion and a kind of wake at the funeral home. It was getting toward the end of the viewing period when one of the attendants informed us a storm was moving in. I looked up the weather on my cell phone and that in combination with my intuition told me if I waited an hour or so I could likely ride my motorcycle home in relative dryness despite my lack of rain gear. My male cousins, however, kept saying that if I “left right away (I) (would) beat the storm” and “if it was (them) (they) would hightail it out of there right away.” As an avid feminist I hate to admit that I am sometimes, if not often, still socially conditioned to grant more weight to the opinions of the males in my life than to my own intuition and knowledge. I do this subconsciously when I do it, but I do it. So yes, I followed their advice and drove right into a severe rain storm. It was so bad I had to pull off the road, blind, three separate times and wait until the stinging rain slowed enough I could see a few feet in front of me so I could continue driving. Twenty-five miles (and an hour) down the road I came to the first available cover or shelter–a gas station. A kind gal working there offered me an armful of clean tea towels and I wrung out my clothes in the latrine, drying the inside of my boots as best I could, dried off and redressed. After mopping up my trail of puddles from the front door to the latrine, I waited out the rest of the storm trading stories of tattoos with her.

3. I keep having this nightmare: I’m in a room. I hear a kind of godawful wailing or howling. It’s loud. The hairs on the back of my neck, scalp, and arms raise. It sounds like an animal. Maybe a dog? I think “Who is hurting that dog?” I look around but I don’t see an animal anywhere in the room. It’s so loud I cover my ears with my hands. Finally it subsides to a whimper, then I wake up. I’m shaking and sweating and it’s hard to breath. I get up and salve my dry throat with a drink of water and pace the floor until the sound is a distant memory.

4. Regarding number two above, riding through the storm with no rain gear–On reflecting on it later it seems an apt metaphor for surviving the many storms of life: We get soaked through to the bone. We get pelted with stinging rain, or biting sleet, or pounding hail, or driving snow, or scouring sand. Sometimes we can’t see our way through the storm so we have to pull over to the side of the road until the worst of the storm lessens a bit so we can see well enough to ride on. We might find a bridge to wait it out under, or if we’re really lucky a kind store lady who loans us tea towels and trades stories of our tattoos. Sometimes we might have missed the storm altogether had we listened to our intuition rather than the opinions of others. If we make it through very bad storms, we often end up teaching others how to make it through them, or how to avoid them altogether. Always we wonder how the hell we managed to come out alive. And sometimes we wish our bodies had died where our souls did.

5. Did you ever wish someone would just look into your eyes and see you? I mean see YOU. Not what you look like. Not your story. Not their assumptions about you. Not their judgements about you. Not their agendas for you. Just. You. I can’t even imagine what that might feel like. How even more incredible it might feel if they also looked with love at the you they saw. If you could see that in their eyes and feel that from them. I think it might feel like oxygen and space. Like freedom. Like room to grow and stretch and explore. Like breathing fresh mountain air. Like learning to live–I mean really, really live. Maybe that’s why we have dogs. To give us a hint of what we could gift each other, if we would. What an incredible world this would be if we all did that for each other.

6. My neighborhood used to be friendly. All the yards were open to each other. All my neighbors would wave across the space and invite each over for coffee, or beer, or cookouts, or bonfires. Eventually the neighbors behind me moved out and some isolationist Jehovah’s Witnesses moved in. When they started building a crappy tall privacy fence that cut my catercorner neighbor and I off from each other she got upset and raised the rallying cry. For weeks we followed that fence building venture every weekend from one section to the other with cookout parties at various houses around them. I felt kind of sorry for them because they received a lot of razzing over that fence which, truth be told wasn’t very well built. But you could tell they were doing their best, under the circumstances. And really, if they wanted to be isolationists that was their right. They did own that property after all. The whole thing culminated when the last section of fence pole was going in by the front of their house and the best view could be had by standing on a tall ladder on my deck, which my catercorner neighbor did and reported to the rest of us as we enjoyed laughing between bites of the hot dogs, hamburgers, and other fine cookout edibles we had all managed to throw together. Suddenly an odor of gas began to permeate the air coming from the direction of the hated fence. It grew stronger until we realized what had happened. Several things happened instantaneously:  I yelled,”Turn off the grill!” My next door neighbor rushed her two little boys into her house. My catercorner neighbor yelled, “He’s lighting a cigarette!” And she dived to the ground. Several voices screamed, “Oh fuck!” and  “Holy Shit!” and other such obscenities, as people scattered in every direction. But nothing happened. So we all slowly came slinking back to find my catercorner neighbor climbing up the ladder. She said the firemen had arrived and wrestled him to the ground and grabbed his cigarette and put it out and were “reading him the riot act.” We later learned he had to pay a bunch of money for the gas company to turn off the gas and fix his mess because he didn’t call first to find out where the lines were before he dug, and for the fire department having to come out because hitting a gas line is a fire hazard. The neighbors all had a good laugh and felt somewhat vindicated. But now we have two more new neighbors and they’re putting up tall privacy fences too. My catercorner neighbor has moved to a new place where she has built a new privacy fence. Things just aren’t the same here anymore. The neighbors’ kids don’t walk across the yard for cookies and milk and to play with the dogs, or so I will babysit while their mom runs a short errand or because she is late getting home from work. We don’t even know their names anymore. Some of them we haven’t even seen. Everyone stays to themselves. It’s just a place to live in a house. There are too many places like that now, and not enough communities. I feel a bit sad about that. I miss the way it used to be. Sometimes my catercorner neighbor irritated me, but she was the driving force of connection.

The Phoenix

like the tiny birdling breaking through its own shell

something inside my chest pecks with its sharp beak

stabbing at my breast, painfully, cracking

open the shell of me, one tiny fracture at a time

it will have its way out eventually

this Phoenix

and in the process I will die

someone will light my funeral pyre

and from my ashes it will rise into the sky

this great and beautiful feathered freedom

while I lie cracked open and dead and burnt to ash

it will soar beyond anything I ever could have become

— Able Boodha

A Side of Inhumanity

If only I could take back things that men have taken from me

things that filled me full to the brim

joy in my heart, and love

hope in my soul, and inspiration

and in my womb, you my child who were all of these

 

If only I could give back things that men have given me

things that emptied me completely

scars in my vagina, and twisted useless womb

dried shell of an empty soul, and desolated aura

blackened heart, with a side of inhumanity

— Able Boodha

Memorial Day

For Memorial Day I had a cookout with some good friends. Family friends. Sister warriors and our families. I couldn’t ask for a better time than that: a safer and more relaxed time, a day where I was free to be just me, no social anxiety, total acceptance, and unspoken understanding. And …

In honor of Memorial Day, and all it stood for, we had a moment of silence and a table setting for the missing “soldier” to represent all our sister and brother warriors who never returned from wars (MIA-missing in action, KIA-killed in action). I included in that, those who died slowly of diseases caused by agent orange and other chemical exposures or issues caused by military service–including PTSD, MST/PTSD, and POW (Prisoner of War) victims who were consequently murdered, or who died by suicide (whole separate kinds of wars in and of themselves) . We honored all the fallen, which felt right and honorable.

Music Without Lyrics

Why do I feel sad today? Not super sad. It’s just this minor chord playing itself under the notes of my day. I woke up in this tune, and it doesn’t seem to want to stop playing. Maybe that’s not the truth. Maybe the truth is it was there before, but wasn’t quite loud enough for me to hear. Now that I think about it, I’ve been hearing it for awhile. Whenever I got very, very quiet I could almost make out the chord below the other notes. Maybe it’s just been getting slowly louder and louder over a few years, until there is no mistaking it. Maybe the real truth is it’s been playing under all the notes of my life for decades. Truthfully, maybe I was born with it playing. Maybe I heard it at that moment of my first breath, and that’s why I cried.

It’s just … Without lyrics, how am I to know what it means?

— Able Boodha

The Ride

every part of my skin feels the constantly changing temperature

colors shimmer under the sun in multitudinous neon shades of green

small pools of yellow, white, and blue beckon in shadowed groves by the road

the scented air changes its perfume with each roll of my wheels along the pavement

so rich the odors of the growing, they linger on my tongue like the finest of wines

a hawk soars closely above, her shadow riding beside me along a newly planted field

feeling the road beneath my tires, my body leans to hug its curves like a lover

I hear the engine beneath me whine or hesitate, and shift up or down to meet its need

all my senses are alive, I am awakened and fully present in the moment

I am not thinking, I am feeling, only feeling–with every part of my being

resting in my primal instincts, I experience unity with all that is and am immersed in joy

like the wild thing that I am

— Able Boodha

The Rose Grown Wild

do not pluck the rose grown wild

leave it on the vine and love it there

entice the bud to open its petals

fully gifting itself to you

breathe in its fragrance

more fully alive than any

that is cultivated in captivity

spill its fine and sweet wine

drink in every drop of it

lingering through every last quiver

however many times you spill it:

the rose grown wild is always there

more heady than any you can buy

but if you cannot love it as it is

know that if you pluck it, it will die.

— Able Boodha

Triggered

I’ve worked through everything in this CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) group which, by the way, I am just about to graduate from. I thought I was getting better. A couple of weeks ago I was triggered by something another vet was describing about her experience. Memories from my own experience started flashing through my mind, and feelings, and sounds. My body physically shook. I couldn’t control it. … I had a hard time grounding myself so I could keep listening to her. In fact, I don’t remember really hearing anything she said after that. I was too busy trying to get myself back under control. It took awhile, but I managed. It turned out okay.

Tonight though. Damn. Tonight I was in a conference call  with other organization members addressing the needs of a woman vet who’s MST (Military Sexual Trauma) experience was similarly brutal to mine. There were questions about her behaviors, which I knew were consistent with someone who has been through this experience so I shared that I had been through this also (without going into details) and that I also had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that it was common and legitimate that she might exhibit some of the behaviors she was exhibiting, etc.

We made the decision that I would be the one to primarily deal with her via conference call (along with only one other member on the call, so she wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or “ganged up on”). I’m fine with that. But then someone started going on about her story, questioning details, almost blithely describing details that for me had been gruesome and brutal and painful. … I had to yell “I’m sorry I have to get off here.” And I punched the hang-up button on my phone. My whole body was shaking. Again with the memories flashing in my head.

I’m still shaking. I can’t get this shit out of my head. It’s been four and a half hours and still my body is in knots. I thought if I wrote it down it might help, nothing else seems to be working right now. Got the headphones on, cranking up the tunes.

One and a half hours LATER:  How many times can you smash your head against a brick wall before the wall moves? None. That’s not the wall moving, that’s your head caving in.

I’m feeling a little better. But I still can’t shake off the memories. And now I feel depressed. Or maybe that’s sad. Who knows? It’s been so long since I felt anything much besides numb, it’s really hard to tell. Someone please tell me I’m not alone in that.

One hour LATER:  It’s 0404 hours. I think I can go to bed now. Except I’m starving. Dogs are so loyal! My buddy’s laying on her bed in my office, snoring so loud I can hear her through my headphones, when I know she’d rather be upstairs sleeping in the big bed. How can you not love that?