Ground Hog Days

Positive aspects of living and/or leaving Mississippi in various stages in life…. I ‘used’ to think going back to the ‘Sip after the transplants was just another choice poorly made. People said I looked good, but I knew I wasn’t. I am bizarre because I can process inconceivable events in ‘conceivable’ ways, using absurd logic. Most survivors present themselves as ‘capable’ and together, regardless of the turmoil underneath. That is part of the charm, and it drives me to invest my time in learning other stories before I make assumptions. In the beginning, my process might have been less healthy, but as I grow, a positive evolution happens.
Summer of 2014, I was still a chemo toxic zombie recovering from the transplant, and waiting for a divorce to finish, pay off debts and looking to plant roots. This idea seemed simple, yet elusive. I had ideas of healing and thriving with a core group of friends, hope and a faith I missed, plus an ocean view in the horizon. I hoped for opportunities in a place I thought I remembered; with people I knew I missed. I believed I could finish my education before I got sick again. I got sicker instead…
Sounds funny, …still have an insatiable desire to “handle my own business” and sustain in life like my peers and have intense shame when I fall short. For as long as I can remember, I believed myself, incapable. Having children made that pride a luxury I could not afford. I want to be in the position to help others. I believed it would make relationships easier to make or even rebuild later in life.
Psychology is mind-blowing… if you ever dig in and research your own motivations in life, …might be surprised how much we do because that’s how we were trained, not because it’s how we really feel or what we really want.
People in the last 20 years came across me in various stages of weakness, insecure. Personal stink in’-think in’ trains did not help my fragile ego. I was mentally tethered to past/present.
My mother-daughter connection tells me: I won’t pass on immediately when I die, not if I am not finished, so I may end up as Casper-the-Friendly but Vicious-Mama-Bear-Ghost-Energy-Ball radiating out of a time and space warp in order to foil any master plans to destroy my southern family line. snickers As long as my spirit self sees her kids living self sustainably and behaving like as good little humans they were raised to be, my littlest helicopter self will rest in pieces and disappear. I would like to stop worrying about what happens next. A bonus to having a job would be to stay busy and not have time to think what went wrong in life, right?
Ok, Mississippi life pondering. People are nice there, but you must be open-minded (for your own sake). Due to a deep cultural or spiritual belief system most of us have (depending on the person). Note irony, you may not be wrong about a thought or belief you have, but if you are visiting… it would ‘behoove’ you greatly, to be respectful when sharing your opinions… The south is nothing without our deep and abiding respect for Politeness. I was raised that rudeness or back-talk will get you nowhere, so you better keep that in your back pocket, if you want to experience that famous Southern Hospitality. If you do not behave yourself, we all know it’s your mamas’ fault, so just let that resonate before you forget to ‘check’ your Childs behavior in public. If you don’t somebody will. ;). This advice is only if you want to make new native-southern friends #friends4life *Tips hat 🎩 to tourists or yankees… You are welcome.
If you were born and raised southern fried, … mind your business, … go back home, but they will always remember … back in the day. Folks will remember the goofy expressions, colorful braces, the mullet & other Flow Bee-Looking haircuts, bad perms, umm… and a little 1979 Red Volkswagen Rabbit that broke down weekly in front of the high school when your poor brother asked a million times that you drop him off farther away so he could just WALK. And then HE still HAD TO Push-Start it again…
Back to southern ruminations… you may get a dirty look or ‘shocked expression’ if you swear in the wrong company, go to Wal-Mart without makeup, forget to say yes mam, or yes sir, or your kid does, or if you are out in your pj pants, or any clothes that don’t match in a pleasing fashion, if your kids don’t all match for the Easter church service, or in black clothes out of season or your daughter does not wear a big beautiful bow, in her perfect hair. Somebody may ask who your family is and they will actually want to listen, or you might hear “Bless your Heart” because you went on just a tad too long – knowing the different connotations, it’s up to you and your level of awareness to know what it means for you. 🙂
You may attend any church that has strict time schedules, and get ticked by the service running over, and you say Bless His Heart, shake pastors hand, thank him silently for FINALLY wrapping it up, because somebody new joined, and he had to introduce & everybody hug them, but you are starving and can’t wait to get to the buffet before all the other church crowds are letting out, (not Chick-fil-et, because it is Sunday), feel a little guilty for a lack of patience, then go back home for a football game and relaxation before night services. There are many poems, books, plays, films, art work and stories created about Mississippi life or generational-rooted southerners, BECAUSE, it legitimately is a different world to outsiders. It is cool and strange simultaneously. It is beautiful some days, ugly on others, and under construction during hot, humid or sticky weather. Layers, with heart and soul, triumphs, and tragedies abound within a diverse military and veteran population. People carry themselves with a certain level of dignity that is enviable. I think people should adopt the elderly, because we need them as much as they need us, plus they have amazing STORIES. If only if we slow down and listen… Maybe real healing social change could start truly take root… And the cool thing about Mississippi, for all her faults, she STILL holds Basic Etiquette and Manners in high regard when raising their young people, and this will help them infinitely in their future in this world. These young people are fast becoming Unicorns 🦄 in this society.
A reason I did not fit… was I had lost some of that pride I used to carry in my chest as a young person about being southern in general, the more I learned in school, the more I found myself apologizing? I was still broken and raw, still needing to be recognized as the soul I felt I was but lost. I had this impossible standard to present as “crushing it” 24/7, fooling only myself. My perception as a southerner is, we are proud of our self-sufficiency, and ability to rebuild from nothing. If a person is hurting, there is a bible verse to explain why, or to help you ‘turn off’ your fear about it, by believing in Gods ability to catch you or keep you from ‘falling’. Otherwise you would stop, so you press on fearlessly, but reality is often more than we understand once we leave that spiritual safety bubble, we were planted in. I think we were all hurting too much at the time to embrace the opportunities while we lived there.
Please forgive my memory… I was born and raised in Mississippi and left and returned many times over the last 2 decades. Starting with the summer of 2014, I am thankful for my brother’s family, among other things, they helped us in the initial move and even donated my first decent bedroom set. I am grateful for my mother’s texts, calls, visits, and financially when we struggled. She offered funny-memorable escapes for the girls when she was over and took me any place I asked at the most inconvenient times. Family members made holidays special, which we had not been able to feel in a long time, and we all made great memories with our cousins. We attended huge bon-fires in my aunt and uncles back yard, and huge bonfires on the beach. Fishing, paint-balling, more fishing, creepy homeless guys on the Biloxi Pier fishing, and oh fostering all those animals from the shelter. *I am truly LAUGHING OUT LOUD as I type this.
I made new memories at a Water Park & July 4th with dear old friends from Junior High. priceless I have this cool uncle angel that secretly helped us for years following my hospitalization, and another boy cousin who delivered ’emergency’ groceries a time or two, neighbors help with gardening tips, furniture, helped packing. Another boy cousin and wife helped with flat tires, and even transferred a title on a car too. My little sister bought and remodeled our last family home, put us in a minivan, and invited us to stay a decade ago. Her family shared good cooking, the Fairs, the Circus, a Snake friend, and real Southern Mississippi life… and our first and only southern Sea Hawks Hockey game with them. But sleeping in my old bedroom as an adult single mother, was not my finest hour.
I spent amazing moments with my favorite aunt, I was present when she left us… as devastatingly as she entered the universe I imagine. I held the hand of a Christian woman dying, and love her through the process, and lastly, I was able to spend several year’s worth of quality time with my grandmother, and she held each of my daughters. In fact, most of my closest friends held my first-born daughter at least once. This is what it means to me about being Mississippian. I am thankful.
With my daughters, I got to ring some Bells at in front of the church; attend Dinners on the Ground at Handsboro “like old times”, little Red went to Harry Potter Land with my bros family, my stepdad took my family to Disney World and they LOVED on us – in spite of whatever emotional state we may have been in at the time. My dream was to at least visit Disney World with them once before or ‘if’ I got again. I went tubing, and on family canoe trips, attended birthdays, we did Crawfish Fests, photographed weddings, brides, newborn babies, cared for others precious grandparents, got stuck in traffic Cruisin the Coast, July 4th Fireworks on Biloxi Beach, connected with high school friends and learned about Advocare, and what Faith, Love, Hope, Drive, and Determination looks like in several families. I got inspired seeing old friends again. Hmm… ok… Mardi Gras, and other Cajun treats, seafood for miles, dirty beach water, casinos, and pretty white sand. Mississippi is famous for the underdog rising from the dirt-poor fiery ashes like a phoenix to become SOMETHING… ANYTHING… but at least, you rise to become SOMETHING, BY GOSH…. Now that I think of it… “Why did I leave again?!” Oh… medical and education… teenagers… moving on…
Remembering random acts of kindness, makes me happy. Restoring some relationships over time is a blessing. I have a particular friend that went above and beyond to keep in touch with me, and she did not live close by. She set a little time aside from her schedule and met me for lunch at least once a month, and always treated me like a sister. I am grateful for all relationships I have had in my life. In spite of my sadness some days, or displays of self-loathing, prayer armies have been amassed since… (Jr High?) I wish I still had that kind of faith; I wish I were the friend I used to be.
I do have a couple of friends that I still talk to on the phone across the country or the globe or those that still send me the occasional message. Friends across America and the United Kingdom that send me handwritten letters or cards, are priceless gifts in today’s instant ‘everything’. I used to struggle with the solitude once I got sick. I lost my way at times, unable to find the spiritual or inspirational boost in constantly struggling to do something right and failing (at least from my perspective). Loosely quoting from the song “Heavy” by Linkin Park, “sometimes there is comfort in the panic”. My days were monotonous, just surviving and striving against currents of life. Life on autopilot, obsessing over everything. When I looked at myself, I saw a grumpy fat man with a curly Afro.
If I did not have my dog to talk to, Hmmm. That would have been really sad. Hahaha I even had decided to stay single because 16 years married left me off-balance. I cannot fathom being in a romantic relationship *shudders. (However, I don’t feel the same I did years ago). If I can, when my children are old enough, I will spend my life serving others … whatever that looks like, because I know that is something, I am good at. *Fun Fact: Radiation + 2 transplants + heavy chemo = indescribable changes to your brain (cancer survivors will relate).
notes internally to self- “Hey Christina – High Five for standing!”
When I fail before this audience, I created… Do people judge me for being a naïve idiot? I am curious, asking these questions. From my intense psychological self-study, I see: hyper, obnoxious on social issues, think too much, love deeply, get excited over small stuff, obsessed with my children’s happiness level, talk-thinking-rapidly, self-deprecating, goofy, weird, sensitive, generous, honest, anxious, self-doubting, funny, but it is my practice to not seek to harm another living thing if it is possible. #humanproblems
The greatest part of Groundhog Days is once you get it RIGHT, you get brand new days until you find yourself stuck again. This, my friends, is my current status. :). Thanks for hanging out.

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