communication

Propaganda Dispersal System vs Critical Thinking

This is intended as reminder for those of us who forget to use it, for whatever reason – I do include myself in this – and a primer for those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn it, for whatever reason.

“Critical thinking skills truly matter”

Our social media culture of “like, copy, share” has turned many of us, again, myself included, into cogs of the Propaganda Dispersal System (PDS).

Much of what passes in front of our eyes, through our FB news feeds and notifications lists, (as well as other places we like to hang out on the internet), regarding governmental, justice, social, and environmental issues, is both product and fuel of the PDS.

The facts are often true…except for a detail or two. There are frequent omissions or additions. Language is used in a way to slant and hook our emotions. This is why the term “click bait” exists.

If you know anything about fishing, the following may be helpful:

Fisherman = person/organization that wants our attention in the form of votes, money, and/or time.

Fish = us. Every single one of us is a target with thousands of goods, services, products, political parties, activist organizations, public and private institutions  ALL wanting our votes, money, and/or time.

Hook & bait = carefully crafted words, images, and videos designed to bypass the rational and analytical parts of our brains and hook into our emotions.

This is where fishing analogy ends and the virus one begins:


How many times have you heard the phrase, “it’s gone viral”?

Once our emotions are hooked, we then become carriers of the propaganda virus. Even the most educated and rational person can and does “catch the virus.” We all have some things we’re immune to. Things we can bypass without a thought or regret. However, all of us also have those things we’re almost always susceptible to. Again, this also applies to the well and over-educated, because we’re humans.

After that happens, we’re the carriers, propaganda is the virus, and social media is the transmission system. We get hooked by whatever powerful emotion the information in words and images and how it has been presented trigger in us. Then, we copy and share it so the people on our friend lists will see it and react. And the next cycle begins.

It has taken longer for you to read this than it frequently takes for the entire cycle to happen.

A headline. A meme. A 30-60 second video. 👍❤️😮😥😡 & share. Scroll and repeat.

If we will stop and take the time ask the questions in this chart, we can break ourselves free from the Propaganda Dispersal System.

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The importance of communicating when it’s the last thing you want to do.

Being codependent with the world is not fun. So, I’m trying to change it. Guess what? Changing ingrained responses and dealing with the reactions of the boundary breakers who’ve been trained to believe that I don’t have boundaries, is about as much fun as staying codependent.

Which is to say, frustrating, painful, and draining.

For those who’ve been reading along recently, you know I’m overwhelmed with multiple challenges happening all at once. The interplay between those things and the mental/physical health issues, means I’m not coping well in a lot of ways. Truthfully, I know I’m coping better than I have in the past, but not as well as I (and others) judge I should be.

At any rate, the last thing I feel capable of doing is constructively and compassionately dealing with someone incapable of being constructive and compassionate. This is especially true if there is more being demanded of me than I feel I have to give.

The whole turn the other cheek, give the cloak off your back, go the extra mile thing is really a bit beyond me, at the moment. As a matter of fact, I’m even having difficulty with “how you treated the least of these, so you treated me” thing. Whether it’s oppressors, those experiencing more difficulties than I am, or those on the same level, I’m running on empty and haven’t got anything left to give anybody, that’s worth having. I haven’t got the mental, physical, or emotional space to be able to open up the spiritual channels and let the Love flow through. It’s like the garden hose that gets kinked so bad the water slows until it stops flowing altogether.

I know what I need to do. I am just not quite able to do it, yet. I’m working on it, but I can’t do anymore than I can do in this moment. So, when I’m confronted with one more person in my life who wants more from me than I have to offer, I have to say, “No.” Repeatedly. With explanation. With rebuttal. With unwavering resolution.

My next door neighbor is a psychic and emotional vampire. She can’t help it, she really can’t. My understanding is that there is some untreated mental health stuff going on in addition to some pretty severe, chronic and debilitating physical health issues – all of which feed on and interact with each other.

She’s in between the ages of my two adult children. She’s a young mom, who started younger than I did. I recognize a lot of how my younger self was in her attitudes and circumstances. Although, her situation is more extreme and challenging than mine ever was.

I’m probably one of the few people who doesn’t just write her off as a pushy, loud, crazy, obnoxious, unstable, lunatic. She can be very rude, scary, and out of control. However, I’ve also seen her be compassionate, caring, and generous. I’ve experienced her when she’s genuinely and sincerely trying to understand why her life is the way it is and I’ve seen the complete disconnection between her understanding of the role she plays in her own misery and her ability to choose different action.

In some ways it’s like Keith and his knee-jerk anger response to things not meeting his expectations or Luna not getting her way. Which, of course, is part of my difficulty.

Since Keith has been home, almost two weeks now, I’ve been struggling with the codependent aspects of my relationship with him and his emotions. There’s a ton of anxiety and anger. I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to maintain equilibrium, which is starting to look like self-imposed isolation. The physiological toll is energy drain, resulting in fatigue and exhaustion. Insomnia, pain, and irritability have increased as well. I don’t want to be around others when I feel like this, especially if I know I have to keep my failing shields up.

It would be like taking the battle worn and damaged Enterprise through The Neutral Zone toward the Romulans, and expect it to withstand and survive the ensuing assault. Yeah, I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek.

At any rate, because I have been “under siege” in coping with all the people I live with and their emotions and attitudes, while battling my inner demons, my capacity for constructive interpretation and response to others, especially my next door neighbor is greatly impaired. So, when she tried to pressure me into going to the store with her, I declined. I explained I wasn’t feeling well. She pressed on and I explained in more detail what I was experiencing and refused again. She continued to push by explaining that she deals with those symptoms on a daily basis – implying I should take what she was offering and do what she does, and go anyway. A final time I turned her down.

That seemed to be the end of it, until a few hours later she contacted me again with the following text:

You actually complain an awful lot. When your a mom you cant really say what u cnt do if it means …! It looks like an excuse after awhile. That’s what I mean when I say Fibromyalgia is an excuse. I wont allow some diagnosis to come into my world for an excuse why I cannot parent feed clean or raise my kids. That’s 100% BS in my opinion. Mothers keep on! I had a conversation with your daughter about it a while ago and she agreed that it seemed like an annoying repetitive excuse. Almost repulsive. You know?

I immediately felt under attack. I tried not to react, but eventually sent this message back:

Since you seem to feel it appropriate to assume and imply that I’m an irresponsible, excuse making repulsive parent, or at least imply it, I would appreciate it if you would just stop texting me.

You are not fully informed of the ins and outs of my life, what I do or do not do to take care of my responsibilities, or the factors that I cope with. I am tired of being subjected to your uninformed and unsolicited opinions of my character when I fail to meet your expectations or requests.

I have done what I am able to respond to you and listen at times. I am not able to provide what you seek and I’m really tired of dealing with this judgmental and pushy attitude toward me and my family.

Whether you intend to be so or not, your attitudes, words and actions, are often rude, hurtful, and not based on anything in actual reality other than your expectations and views.

We went back and forth for a while with her trying to explain it wasn’t meant as an attack on me, but was her talking out her feelings, experiences, and opinions about a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia her doctor has been talking over with her. She also asked what it was about what she’d said that made me feel attacked. I tried to explain the best I could.

The long and short of it is, despite my own issues and problems, because of things I’ve experienced in my life, I don’t have it in me to just completely cut difficult people out of my life and reject them, without attempting to communicate my reasons.

If we don’t let people know how their words and actions affect us and when we’re having issues with them, then neither they or we have the opportunity to know or understand where the areas of growth are. Even at my least willing and when I feel least capable of patience, compassion, and understanding, I still feel compelled to do this.

Part of me wishes I were different, but a deeper part of me understands this is a good thing, overall, even if it makes it more difficult and challenging for me personally.

Word-wise: Literal vs Figurative

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RIP… The word “literal” has died, and has been replaced by the word “figurative”. Unfortunately, the word “figurative” has been seen disguised as the word ” literal.

Don’t be fooled, if you see the word “literal” or the word “literally” around town, it’s actually the word “figurative” or the word “figuratively” in disguise.

RIP -“literal”. ~ A. Nikander

My friend, having Luddite tendencies, still wakes up to a radio alarm clock and actually listens to the radio programming whilst going about his morning routine.

“I woke up to my radio alarm clock, and within about 10 minutes, I heard two grammatical infractions in the use of this word.

Apparently, if I give money to a Haitian missions organization, I literally stick food in hungry children’s mouths… That would be cool, but I’m here, in Portland…”

As a reader, writer, and lover of words, it pains me greatly to witness how often words are misused and misunderstood. It especially bothers me when “writing and speaking professionals” use words incorrectly. However, it isn’t just my internal Grammar Nazi rising its harsh, critical head and deeming those who use the wrong words as imbecilic dolts.

While that may have been my modus operandi in my past, I now am more forgiving and willing to concede that not everyone has the same educational access or grammatical aptitude with which many of us have been gifted. I’ve also become more forgiving of the grammatical imperfections of others as I realize my own grammatical challenges with punctuation and other mechanics involved in writing.

No, I think it is most bothersome when I realize that many relational conflicts occur on the basis of the words being used. It is overly easy to take a misplaced word and change the entire meaning and intent of the original message. Then I realize that, often, the conflict isn’t as much from a misinterpretation or misunderstanding as it is from one person’s need to assert the rightness of his or her knowledge and understanding over the person who made the mistake, thereby putting that one in a defensive position.

We get hung up on rules of order and right vs wrong, forgetting that we are interacting with people who have feelings and life experiences where learning grammar and proper word usage may not have been life’s priority.

If you, like me, are instantly irritated by text speak and find yourself becoming snarky and agitated when you read or hear the word “literal” used where “figurative” should be, I have a couple of ideas for how to cope constructively.

The first is listen to yourself. If your first thought is name calling, then you’re not ready to address the situation in a helpful manner and will likely create or escalate conflict – over how a word is being used. “Imbecile, you meant ‘figurative’ instead of ‘literal.’ Learn how to use the dictionary,” reflects more negatively on your character than the other person’s language comprehension skills.

The second is to ask yourself, “Is this the right moment to address the grammar and word usage, or is something more important happening?” A secondary question to ask is, ” Is this a battle worth having right now?” Usually the answer is, “No!” Pick your battles and decide if this one is truly worth your time, energy, and a possible rift in the relationship. By focusing on a nit picky detail and derailing the conversation, you could be distracting and detracting from something which is important to the one communicating.

Thirdly, determine if it is your “place” to offer correction. If you aren’t in a position of parental, academic, or occupational authority in the other person’s life, then you really need to think about whether or not the relationship is more important than correcting his or her grammar. If the person speaking/writing has not specifically requested assistance, instruction, or correction regarding his or her language skills, then, let it go.

If you absolutely cannot let it pass, then, be as circumspect and respectful as possible in offering the correction, especially if you are correcting someone with whom you are not well acquainted. Do not blurt it out in front of others and make sure you’ve let go of any attitudes of superiority or judgment.

Finally, use humor without malice. If you want to joke about it, find a way to joke about the issue not the person. Avoid snark and sarcasm, unless interacting with someone fluent in their use. For example:

“Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” responded Literal upon hearing the obituary (listed above). “I have actually taken refuge with a network of devoted Grammarians, who do their best to ensure my correct usage. While it may be true, Figurative, has impersonated me, it is not her fault. She has been taken hostage by a group of pseudo-Grammarians. Within each forced impersonation she makes a hidden appeal to be rescued by the same network which protects me.”

Good grammar is important in achieving professional success, it’s true. However, constructive communication is important in all areas and relationships. Until next time, practice being word-wise and not just book-smart.

Right to be wrong or wrong to be right?

Why is it we feel the need to invalidate and disregard others who don’t think and have the same preferences as we do? I ask this using the inclusive because I realize I do it too.

When I posted the movie review about Daybreakers, there were several comments made that it wasn’t the kind of movie some would ever watch due to the gore and violence. I understand that, I really do. I am not a fan of that myself. However, and maybe this is just a flawed perception on my part, some of the comments seemed to have a subtle hint of disapproval or disdain regarding these kinds of movies and those who watch them.

I’ve seen it play out over and over again, sometimes participating. One person’s preference, opinion, belief, or method is taunted, ridiculed, rejected, or shunned, treated as invalid because it goes against what another or group of others think or are accustomed to.

A friend of mine posted an article that highlighted this very thing. It was regarding one family’s history of having a lot of children with the eldest son and his wife carrying that choice forward and having a third child. Apparently there is or has been a reality show about the family, although, I’ve never seen it. The article stated that our society has a “My body, my choice,” attitude of acceptance and normality for a woman’s right to choose abortion, but not if a woman chooses to mother a large family, especially if her religious beliefs factor into her decision. Apparently, there were a lot of horrific comments made to the original article announcing the family’s expansion. Name calling, vilification, and death wishes were the message of the day.

On the flip side, we’ve all witnessed at one point or another the open hatefulness that has been displayed toward staff and clients braving the picket lines of pro-life protesters.

I don’t have the answer to the pro-choice/pro-life debate – and it isn’t the topic at hand – but I will say this: I am both pro-choice and pro-life. I believe that each and every person has the right to decide for themselves what actions they are going to take. I believe that each person’s body is their own and no one has the right to impose or determine their will over another person. I believe in the sanctity of life and that life happens for a reason. The decision to end a life, regardless of how valid or senseless the reasoning is, has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the one making that decision and ripples into the lives and psyches of those connected to both the life that is taken and the one doing the taking.

Moving on.

I saw a post from a group of introverts who were frustrated and upset by an article stating that in order for introverts to be happier, they need to act like extroverts. Some of their responses were as denigrating to extroverts as they were accusing the article’s author of being toward them.

Drivers vs bicyclists

Horror vs drama

Vegan/vegetarian vs carnivore

Male vs female

Generation vs generation

Rich vs poor

Science vs religion

Religion vs religion

Race vs race

The list goes on and on and on. There are a lot of prejudices and isms in our world.

We use words and phrases that could have been sung by the character, Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Even if we don’t say it, we think it:

Those poor, unfortunate souls are mistaken, misguided, brainwashed, deceived, evil because they don’t think/look/act as we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable and somehow threatened that if their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perspective are valid, then we are invalidated.

I am learning that right, wrong, or somewhere on the multi-colored spectrum between white and black, every human being has validity and the right to be wrong, as well as the right to believe they are right. Someone else being right only means I’m wrong if I said two plus two was anything other than four.

Even if I disagree and think someone else is wrong, I’m learning to let go of my need to be vindicated and validated by having them agree with me and tell me I’m right. I’m learning to try to understand how they arrived at their conclusions and why they believe as they do.

I am teaching, or trying to teach, Luna that how she feels is how she feels, but feeling a certain way doesn’t give her the right to treat others badly when they don’t accommodate her feelings or say and do what she thinks they should. It’s a difficult lesson to teach a four year old. It’s especially difficult to teach when confronted with the reality that it’s one I’m still learning myself.

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Hypomania is breaking my brain…

Click for BfMH2013 posts

Click for BfMH2013 posts

I started writing this sometime late last night, I forget exactly what time. Then, midway through I finally was able to go to sleep – fitfully, intermittently, for several hours. The hypomania is over, but it triggered the fibromyalgia and I hurt everywhere and have a lot of fatigue in every area of my body’s core. My brain is foggy and disorented. I want to try to get more sleep, but it’s 8:30 a.m. and I want to try to capture these thoughts before they disappear in the midst of the hustle and bustle after everyone else wakes up…they just woke up, crap. Well, let me try anyway.

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I know I need to finish the story I began about managing hypomania, but to be perfectly honest, I think it’s managing me at the moment and today, erm yesterday by now I guess, was a a hellofaday.

I can’t quite remember what time I first woke up on Tuesday morning, but I’m pretty sure it was some time between 3:30 and 4:30 am, after not getting to sleep until well after midnight. I guess that should have been my first hint, huh?

I got so much accomplished with my writing and organizing the online and digital aspects of what I’m trying to do with my life that morning. I picked up a number of balls I had kept dropping and started getting the guest blogging project a little better connected. It’s still kind of in the organization stage, except, it really isn’t. Although, I have taken steps forward to make it happen.

Anyway, since then I was pretty much awake throughout the entirety of Wednesday, until I catnapped off and on some time between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. then it was time to get ready to go walk almost a mile to pick up the Zipcar to get Keith back on the truck so he could get back on the road and hopefully start getting consistent miles and loads that will start supporting our family and let us catch up on the bills again…but that’s all supposed to be in the other post I started writing yesterday and couldn’t stay focused on. I will get to it, I promise. Unless I don’t.

So, anyway, I think I slept between 3:30 – 5:30 this morning…again with the dozing off/on. I crashed listening to my iPod with actual headphones, on this uncomfortable excuse of a couch the cat destroyed at the beginning of February. It wasn’t much of a sleep because I remember being semi-aware off/on during the time trying to tell myself to take the headphones off because the music was not helping me sleep and the headphones were uncomfortable to sleep in. Yet I was in such a state that I couldn’t actually take action on those thoughts.

I use actual over-the-head ones instead of ear buds because earbuds hurt, are uncomfortable and make me feel a bit crazier than I already feel. But I digress…again.

Thankfully? LaLa and her SpiritLove were here Thursday night because I knew there was no way I was going to get to sleep and Luna, having had to say goodbye to her daddy would be clingy and needing to have that physical contact with me to get to sleep or stay asleep. I knew there was no way I would be able to stay in bed with her and that me leaving the bed would eventually cause her to wake up. Since she had been woken up at 5 am so we could take him to his truck and she’d had a VERY busy day and needed rest. So, I had them lay down with her in the bedroom. I figured those who can actually fall asleep should be in one room actually sleeping on a bed, while I was awake in the other room, otherwise I was going to be lying awake, fidgeting and fussing inside of my mind all night and resenting not being able to do anything because all the rooms I could be in had to be kept dark and quiet so they could get the sleep I couldn’t

Sleep envy isn’t pretty. Just sayin’.

I did wind up napping off/on for a couple of hourse between 3:30 – 5:30 but don’t know how much actual sleep I got then either.

I guess the basic point is that from Tuesday morning around 4:30 am until about 1:30 am this Saturday morning, I had barely any sleep at all.

Yesterday was spent with me trying to stave off the bitchy irritability and stress reactions that come with sleep deprivation. On top of it, I discovered that some REALLY IMPORTANT PAPERS, I thought I knew where I had put them for safekeeping needed to be taken to the management office of our apartment, and I couldn’t find them. There was some relational tension happening between LaLa and her SpiritLove and the combination of their tense energy mixed in with my frustration over not being able to find the papers and I wound up tamping down on the rising feelings of panic and anxiety in order to not overescalate any of it.

The combination of all of that with the sleep deprivation and the hypomania I was still experiencing meant that as the day got further and further along, my ability to stay focused on what I was trying to write about diminished. So by the time the five o’clock hour came that evening I was hyper irritable and feeling rather explosive.

Luna was tired and crabby, and as kids tend to be, the emotional barometer of all the frenetic and negative energy that had been building up. So, she was basically acting out, not listening, climbing over everyone and everything, whining, demanding, and just generally acting like an exhausted and stressed out little kid.

I wound up snapping at her and yelling. When I yell, I don’t use harsh words or statements, but my voice booms and pierces. I try really hard not to go there, but I did. LaLa told me to stop yelling and I got really angry. I got up and walked out of the room. I can’t make the quick exits I wish I could, so the agitation further increased. After a couple of minutes I came back in and got Luna and carried her into the bedroom and told her I was sorry for yelling at her and explained that mommy wasn’t feeling good right now. I told her I loved her and asked her for a hug. Then let her go back to the living room.

Then, I went and took a shower.

When I got out of the shower, I grabbed my phone and went an laid down on the bed and just let go of the fight to hold up the wall against the overwhelm of everything and allowed it to take me under a wave of exhaustion.

Luna came in and tried to tell me something – I think they were finally leaving to go to the park – but I was non-responsive. I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. They left and I slept.

They came back and I woke up. I thought I’d slept for a couple of hours, then realized it was only an hour.

I was wide awake again and it was before 8:30 pm. I prepared to be up all night again and told them I would be in the living room again. About 1:15 this morning when I completely misinterpreted what a friend was saying with her commentary on her blog link post, I realized that hypomania was breaking my brain.

Be kinder to yourself

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I created this a couple of weeks ago after trying to take pictures of LaLa’s cat to send to her. I thought it would be fun to create my own little meme after seeing all the same images of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the angry Persian kitty being used for all kinds of pointed and sarcastic statements for a variety of issues.

Sarcasm has really developed into it’s own art form and specialized communication device. It has transitioned from being the method of showing a character as mean and unkind to becoming the tool used to appear cool and superior. It is trendy and comedic, a laser of cutting wit designed to illuminate the failings and flaws of others in a no-holds-barred game of verbal and intellectual King of the Hill.

It is the preferred communication method of the cynical and jaded, walking wounded of our generation. Social, emotional, and spiritual death by a thousand verbal cuts.

It isn’t new. It’s merely the sophisticated, grown-up version of playground taunts. It is both shield and armor in our daily battles of social and relational interaction. At least that my perception of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have wielded and wounded with rapier wit. Probably as much or more so than I’ve been damaged by it. I used to take pride in it. I used to admire others for it. It’s what we do to move through and survive in an unkind and unforgiving world.

However, as I have been moving through my healing and recovery journey, I seem to be losing my appreciation for sarcastic wit. Instead, I am experiencing mental fatigue and psychological pain whenever I encounter it. It grieves me to see it being used in direct and indirect ways, even when I am not the target.

Something I have noticed in myself and witnessed in others is a tendency to use sarcastic self-talk.

I had a brief chat with one of my favorite people, who is a generous, gifted, and wise soul – a beautiful spirit.

We had a communication glitch and it turned out an error had been made when she had provided me with the wrong email address. Once she realized her mistake, this was her response:

idiot . . . lol, multi tasking and fuck-ups good title for a post lol

This was my reply:

Um, you might be being a little harsh on yourself. Mistakes happen to everyone – idiots and geniuses alike. The difference is idiots don’t realize it, pay attention to it, or care about it. That doesn’t describe you to me at all.

A few days ago, while I was laid up in bed with my back pain problems, I began watching Shipping Wars on A&E. It’s a show that follows several independent shippers as they try to earn a living working for themselves by transporting unusual loads by underbidding and undercutting one another. As is typical for such shows, competing cast members have running commentary on the foibles and failings of each other and sometimes their customers.

The young man known as The Rookie, for obvious reasons, seems to make more than his fair share of costly and comedic mistakes that the others gleefully and snidely remark on.

As I was watching one episode, I made this observation:

“Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.” ~ Jarrett, Shipping Wars on A&E after getting a wrench stuck in the engine of his van while he was replacing his alternator.

Funny and sad.

A friend responded with, “It’s sad and true we bring much of our difficulties on ourselves.”

My overarching thought was this:

I think what was sad was hearing him say that about himself. We want perfection of ourselves and expect it, when the reality is that everyone makes mistakes and has judgments in error. We’re human, it happens.

We take in so many negative, demeaning, and undermining messages about ourselves not living up to the expectations of others, that we start believing those things about ourselves and, sometimes unconsciously or because it hurts less, we start repeating those messages to ourselves.

Another friend posed this question:

Why is it that that not just one person can change the world with just a look, a question or opinion anymore?

I replied, “I think each person can do exactly that by starting where they are in their own life and sphere of influence. If each person who wants to change the world begins by changing one thing in their world then the shift would wind up being experienced around the world.”

What if each of us stopped being unkind to ourselves with sarcastic self-talk? What if we started treating ourselves with more kindness by practicing P.E.A.C.E. within ourselves? What if we Practice Empathy, Acceptance, Compassion, and Esteem in the things we say and think about our thoughts, deeds, and words? Would that one little change affect how we relate to others? Would it impact how others respond to us? Might it have a constructive effect on how they relate to themselves and how they affect their worlds?

Let’s try it and find out.

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Depression is like Meth Addiction

I don’t know this for a scientific fact. I don’t even necessarily know it from a first hand experience with Meth addiction. However, I am stating this because of a recent conversation I had with a loved one.

My heart is aching and breaking for this person. Bright. Beautiful (inside and out). Stronger than strong to have lived through what life has thrown her way and to have survived and made it through the choices and consequences of those choices. She is a miracle.

She used to be a scrapper. She used to do extreme things to feel alive and drown the pain. Self-harm, street life, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. A juvenile felony record. Injuries, homelessness, and bad relationships. She’s under 21.

Yet, she has now taken a vow against violence and daily tells me to remove the word hate from my vocabulary.

We had a conversation the other day where we were discussing some of the current events of her life and she said that when people come down on her for her use of marijuana her response is, “At least it’s not meth.”  This statement usually generates a laugh and, “That’s true.” As though she made a light-hearted joke in order to avoid dealing with the marijuana issue.

“Every single day, I want to use. I’m dead serious.”

She told me she makes choices every single day to deny the craving that never goes away. She chooses to fight for her dreams in spite of permanent concussion symptoms from being hit by a car a year ago. She is battling to change her future while navigating the consequences of her past. She fights to focus on happiness, peace, and forward momentum. Yet, she can’t hold the tears and the fears at bay all the time. She is human after all.

“People tell me they envy me, that they want my life. They don’t even know,” she says as she works to stave off the tears and prepare to put on her happy face, to chase her dreams.

She jokingly says I’m an emotional vampire because she always winds up crying around me. I suggest that maybe it’s because I recognize her battle and she’s safe to let go.

For days I’ve been thinking about her statement, “Every single day, I want to use.” Understanding the gnawing, almost undeniable craving.

I have mine too. Only it isn’t an external substance that can be tangibly put aside, avoided, or consumed.

Mine lives inside of my brain, it has shaped the grooves, distorted the receptors, and sheathed every thought and perception about myself and the world. It’s name is depression, it’s companion is anxiety. It has been part of who I am for close to 30 years.

I have gone through therapy of all kinds. I have sought spiritual healing through prayer, laying on of hands, Reiki, salvation, and full immersion baptism. Jesus is my Lord and Savior who understands my open minded skepticism and inability to fully attach and commit.

Capturing thoughts, replacing negative for positive, focusing on what’s right and true can be shifty and shaky propositions when the net is torn. the poles are reversed, and perception is wavy and distorted.

How do I think myself better? How does she? She self medicates with the herb that helps sooth the raw and exposed nerves and enables her to quiet the cravings in order to function and fight to pursue her dreams. She offers me some, knowing that with my fibromyalgia I could qualify for a medical card. I choose not to for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my parental responsibility to Luna.

Go get help, then. Go get the medication you need to manage the chemical imbalances that keep the poles reversed and perception distorted.

I can’t. I don’t have insurance. I don’t qualify for state medical. I’m too non-functional to hold down a job with benefits, if I were functional enough to find one and beat the competition to get the offer.

I appreciate the encouragement. I appreciate the well-intentioned advice. But please, don’t read what I write and tell me to think positively. I am doing the best I can with what I’ve got and to be able to get out of bed each day, write, and hold on by my fingernails to look Luna’s teachers and service providers in the eye and be honest with them about where I am at and the things that I am doing to ensure both of our well-being within the context of what IS in our lives, is all I can do.

I know that others have it worse. I understand that this level and depth I am at is not going to last forever. I’ve been here before, with less understanding, less capability to recognize it, and less inclination to do something about it. I am more than I ever have been, even when I appeared to be more in the eyes of the world.

Matthew 5 – The Beatitudes

“How blessed are the poor in spirit!
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

“How blessed are those who mourn!
    for they will be comforted.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Bible Gateway

I dare not ask how much more blessed can I be.