Relaxing is Stressful

I am not a hippie, but sometimes I play one….  As a cancer survivor, a veteran with a touch of ptsd, adhd, and ocd; I am open to alternative treatments.  And did you know you can actually stress yourself out, in the process of learning to ‘de-stress’?  I have read several books this year, but a couple changed my perspective on how I see things.  The most recent book I finished was “It Didn’t Start with You” by Mark Wolynn, and he talks about how past trauma has a way of making its way to the surface even if deeply buried within a family. Even when we are unconscious of it, or unaware of the source.  The book details a series of exercises you can do to root out the causes of your issues needing to be released in order to move forward.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  (read 4 times) The book deals explains how our minds have the capacity to take those elements of our self and reframe them, even re-experience things to a better result. At the end of each chapter is an exercise to provide you with practical tools. There is potential to gain relief and healing in your spirit (and your physical body), or at least to heal the negative energy and learn how to replace it with positive energy (oversimplified description), but it works if you fully invest in the process to get you there and truly believe that you are worthy of healing and love.  

These exercises affect your ‘total well-being’ so by taking care of the self emotionally, we heal physically at the same time.  It is pretty cool from my perspective at least. A way to remain cancer free, is to maintain my stress levels in a consistent way.  I need to break the habits of fear and insecurity and root out any negatives that lurk in the back of my mind and tackle those one at a time. Cancer does not have a chance in this body, sorry myeloma.

Anyway, even if I should have known better, I tried an online dating app.  Because you are looking for a long-term life-changing-earth-shattering love… go to the internet?  *laughing sarcastically* AND Wow, what happened between 2000 and 2019? Did a trend start where sending weenie pics to women is considered normal?  Random strangers asking for your privates in picture form? Has this been going on for a long time? Where was I, and why does it not appeal to me?  Oh, because when I meet people, I shake their hands, and look into their eyes, I never asked a man to clarify his manhood with photographic evidence.  I deleted the account, but I learned a lot in that time.

Dating after divorce is hard enough, dating after trauma and cancer, is another situation entirely.  My life ‘now’ is similar to a plot line in the movie with Steve Carroll in 40-year-old virgin, except, I have kids… and technically, not one.  (so not that similar) Any who, the plotline and feelings he goes through as he tries to date are pretty spot on.  The movie, Crazy, Stupid, Love, shows Steve Carrol dating as tragically as I do, or the movie Bad Moms, when the main character tells potential dates all about her kids and her mom life while sitting at a bar with her friends… yeah, that is kind of me also.  And a question:  When is a good time to bring up that you have a cancer that could come visit again someday? In the beginning, or do you wait? I prefer to live as if I do not have it, but my disability status is a reminder at times.

I am attempting to talk less, when possible.  Haha When I meet someone, my introduction may be short, but you will have a million questions in your head within the first 5 minutes, especially wondering ‘How, Why, When, What, WTF?’  You may have to allow me to summarize the únsummarizable’ in order to really get to know me. Eventually the newness of a person and the awkward insecure hello turns into a good conversation, but beyond that and flirting like a 20-year-old, I am at a total loss of how to date in the new world as it is today.  

I don’t know if the cancer put my mortality more in my face… but I think of how much time I may have left, all the time.  I wish the doctors had never given me prognosis numbers, I just use them as dates to beat, and so far, I already beat my first 3-5-year myeloma mortality rate. My next goal to beat is the 10-year mark with MM, but I know many survivors that are living well beyond that mark, so there is definitely hope for me (when I manage my stress).  So, each day is significant, no matter how insignificant a moment may seem.   

Myeloma Update

The girls went to Johns Hopkins with me this time, and somehow I remembered these things much more painful during the process, but it is actually áfter’ a bone marrow biopsy to your hip that you ‘really’ feel what they did back there.

I have attached a photo for people with my humor.

They did not let the girls come back to the procedure room, so I had to improvise on the photography. You are welcome.

Anyway, I survived, but did not see my doctor that day, nor did I see him for the follow up, due to another schedule conflict. No news, or no calls from your oncologist after this procedure is always a good thing. It did not necessarily say there is No cancer in my body, but it did say that it is undetectable, therefore I am still in remission, and it is showing signs of being more of a plasma cell myeloma, which maybe? Is why I managed to stick around past the original doctors diagnosis? I keep the tumors away… the cancer doesn’t have any chance taking me down. Easy Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy is what I say. Anyway, all my tests look really good for what my body has been through in the last 5 years. Praise God is all I can say. There has been nothing but glorious… nothing happening in the myeloma world, I get to pretend I never met the beast most of the time. 🙂

I try to work on de-stressing, by staying busy, and attempting to live as if cancer never showed up in the first place, and I am only here to live every day to the fullest. Do not research myeloma excessively, do not ask too many questions about every ache and pain, you will find more aches and pains the harder you look, I am an example. Myeloma messes with our state of mind, our well-being some days.

The next plan on the agenda is to go back to Art School and start doing more creative projects to process all the life changes in a more therapeutic way than my usual ‘stream of consciousness’ style of writing I have done for the last several years. As I tidy up the baggage in my soul for a while longer, and clean out the clutter, I will try to at least make small updates before attempting any more long & slightly terrible blog thus far… although therapeutic, it can be done =better.

I’ve been thinking lately…

Like every 44 year old woman… I secretly love rap music (haha)… Welcome to my mind.  When OCD/ADHD shows up – I start listening and exercising, doing yard work, cleaning house and this prompts deep thoughts. Much of my present day life is spent isolating for hours at a time just to think about what to do next. I have been suspect (more than usual) of the Bible’s content – since I studied Environmental History and Women Studies last year. Last night I decided to dig out a 26-year-old Bible that was given to me as a gift by the first man to propose to me at age 18. No clue where this man is now…

Without fail, I open to a passage, and something hits me deep (much like an 8 ball answering a question with no definitive answer, I have to keep mentioning – not to be disrespectful, just an observation at times, reminds me I control my mind’s eye, but if I don’t control it, it will do its own thing without me).  But for God’s sake, remember humans wrote that book from their experience and perspective and it was passed on … years, which should leave some room for us to question and make logical conclusions (in my opinion), (maybe it should have a warning label like coffee cups at McDonald’s) some folks take everything out of context and run out stoning people. *crazy thinking? Sorry… not sorry. Anyway, this often leads me to other rabbit trails of thought that are surprisingly… inexplicably helpful…. I should have joined a spiritual convent decades ago; but I would have none of these interesting stories to tell. haha

This book is tattered, highlighted, and torn in places, but I cannot bring myself to let go of a book I carried through the most spiritually formative years of my life, for me, the book has power because of my belief in it. I am going to compile a list of all the scriptures as super cool ‘truth-fortune-cookies-. I will call them “Bless your heart,” cookies…

Motherhood

*My 3 day roadtrip to Mississippi was an emotional energy rollercoaster that stayed inside my body 3 days prior, until maybe 3 days after.  *now compute that.   – My best friend rode along to make sure I did not snooze at the wheel, and… did not over-react like a crazy mom (externally). I neglected to factor ‘sleep’ into the trip equation, so I was unable to make all the visits I hoped for.  I attempted ‘restful sleep’ most of the week, in between appointments, without success.

My temporary insomnia meant, I finished “Big Little Lies” on HBO – and the series wrecked me a little. I would have avoided it a decade ago, because I would have been unable to see past the heavy subject matter to enjoy the acting, filmography, pacing… blah blah blah.

None of us really see things as they are; we see them as We Are. —  Big Little Lies.  This is true… I mean, this is the core of human happiness or suffering (at least mine).  How do we see ourselves? Good or bad? Can we think of positive outcomes to our situation?  Do we believe we have intrinsic value and purpose when we suffer for a belief?

For the past year, I have been kind of isolated socially, attempting to figure things out I guess…   Lack of sleep + stress + mini panic attacks = exhaustion… Or (fretting? Mood swings?).  I get intrusive ‘thought trains’ running through my head: my mortality (see oncologist for bone marrow biopsy on July 2), the daughters health & future, a touch of temporary loneliness, anxiety rehashing family conversations in my head to fill silences… questioning why my universe is upside down, if others is right-side up?  Or my shame over time, money and effort spent pursuing lofty goals… How was I able to lie to myself for so long?  What if This, or What If, That… Classy AF Brigitte Jones-Diary scene with tears, singing and bad driving – American-style… Surely, awkwardly painful epiphanies would irritate most people, but my bestie never gets mad or impatient.  (I get in patient with myself).  She reminds me of a hiker in the woods that instinctively knows to be very quiet (to avoid bear attacks) in those moments.

I come from a family tree where most of the branches have cut themselves off and re-planted themselves in better soil in order to thrive.  In the past especially, my lack of ‘helpful’ communication skills or how to navigate conflict did not help me reconnect.  (However, I get all the feels and the words inside my head, regardless).

My irrational words poured out, but she only had to say a few words to bring me back.  I think she deserves a medal for her patience when I am losing my @#$%…   sometimes, life gets heavy when your teenagers outnumber you.  To have this diagnosis of cancer hanging over my head, but being in remission feels like I am in a boat in the middle of an ocean, nobody is sinking at the moment, but I am still waiting for the next storm, unable to rest.

Motherhood IS hard from my perspective… ‘feels’ – body and soul intertwined with 3 others. I wonder if the mom position is appreciated enough, beyond the holiday shout-outs, memes, or media mom characters.  I can attest to the fact that this mother-psyche-emoting-condition is partly conscious and unconscious… A mom can choose to numb the connections, but they never go away, and they always catch up to you.  Imagine, feeling something, or deciding a ‘thing’ is something you would ‘rather would’ choose to feel again… A mother will most likely get to ‘re-visit’ whatever positive or negative emotion from her past, with an opportunity to change, accept, hurt, or wrestle with a feeling/memory until she truly understands a lesson of some kind, no matter how benign.

I find simple life experiences intensely painful.  Without going through the tough experiences, I would not learn new ways to be better. This helps in living in the ‘now’, not could have, or should have been.  My internal struggle relates to the fact that I had little maturity or self-awareness before I had children, leaving me in a position where kids outgrew my level of experience.  (yes, I realize I am not unique, but I felt I was in this instance).   As a mom, I made assumptions, that my children deserved any-one-other than me.  I reinforced a learned belief when I walked in and became mentally/physically trapped in situations that only reinforced what I already believed for too long.  I lied to myself to survive and  became unrecognizable to the people that I thought would never forget.  Now I can see life as it is, not what I – hoped it could have been – in the grand scheme of things, things are pretty good.

So, Now What?

“Why am I still here?” To be here – Add some health related issues… extreme adversity and you can really experience – Life… I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at age 37, given 3-5 years, 5-7 years, and now at 44, and off chemo and in a remission – also told not to ever expect that. Not Giving the cancer extra attention serves me best.

I have been a spiritual person for as long as I can remember,  the Re-Education of Christina has been a slow process.  Cannot control what happens, but can control what I do with the excessive-energy – left over from surviving.  In the past, the Red Letter portion of the Bible provided me much comfort, when I was looking for answers to the ‘unanswerable’ questions that arise during traumatic events.  The bible can also be a good source for shaming or punishing myself (inadvertently). I still have much to learn about harsh realities and the corresponding verse solutions.  Not dogging the Bible, just to clarify.

I need to be honest with myself and others to share experiences and hope to inspire others to keep fighting for a better life. Fear, shame, guilt, and insecurity were emotions that ruled the greater part of my life (even still). I had to go through a series of extreme events and come through on the other side, before growing the lady ‘ball’s to share stories. Maybe a cautionary tale, but also something that I can now see positively… and it strangely makes sense.  I earned the title of Wonder Woman, but it took a long time to come to this belief.

I see myself as a woman that took on several responsibilities that were not hers, but through faith in a Creator and her strength of will… was able to make it through… yet, until recently I could not see – except to tell myself

I was “missing The Mark”. I believed I did nothing of value (because it was not close to anything imagined). I finally stopped living with a narrative that no longer served me, and honestly … when I read anything I wrote in the past (yes, I realize it has not been that long), it is still difficult to recognize that woman and not pity her.

Sometimes we can all think we are ‘completely ‘fine’ but still keep living under intense life stressors… We look around, people are on life’s hamster wheel or LIFE’S big highway, going someplace new. Once I stopped running in whatever direction I ‘believed’ was the ‘right direction, I could appreciate the ground on which I stood.  Every day, focus on now, and ask – What needs to be done? What can be done?  Many times I begged God to remove circumstances, or lesson the pain, or to remove me, but the answer I  always got was Nope. Can’t Quit… You SURVIVED, sorry, your story is not finished.  The past is gone, thank goodness for that, I needed to let it go a long time ago. I have been out of circulation online for a long time, but feel it is time to start sharing some funny, albeit; depending on your perspective, sad stories. I hope folks will stay tuned, I can promise I will not write as much as I have in the past, but I do have things to say (shocker)… and for once, will not be talking out of my ass.

Take a Ride with me…

 I carry around a backpack that doubles as a family records filing cabinet.  Most days you can find me in a lobby waiting at any point.  I have time to learn a lot about myself and my children in all this ‘down-time’.  If a child is struggling with depression aggravated by an all-consuming-Eating Disorder… parents/caregivers are left standing in a wasteland of incorrect information, and often standing alone.

Specialists are there to give you folders and binders full of education on the disease… add family therapy, and parent support groups and some are able to convince their children to believe they can trust the process.  The message is: choose Recovery… Eat, Please? Giving to the physical body nutritionally should make them feel better than whatever relief the starvation OR self-harm may temporarily give.   It should be SCIENCE…. and guess what these kids do?  Flip the middle finger in the face of Science, every single day.  To these boys and girls, Eating, is not a form of nourishment, it is considered a form of torture or punishment.

Looking at hospital stats… the success rate of ED recovery is low.  You check your child into these facilities they will most likely be in a holding pattern until you can find hopefully, a better solution.  The idea is to change the direction of which a life has started to head horribly off course.  Once a child gets entrenched in some types of disordered behaviors, it ‘quite literally’ feels near-impossible to reverse.  The options are CBT, EMDR, ECT, DBT…. grasping attempts at every letter of the alphabet.   All you need to have is energy, money, and enough hope to keep grasping at the sands of time as it falls through your hands.  What then happens, the kids just dig in their heals, learn new bad behaviors, they get physically healthy, you bring them back home, and the process restarts.  Not unlike the recovery process with a drug addiction.

Dear Insecurity a little song my daughter shared with me.

Time has become a foreign concept to me.   I often forget what day of the week it is …

Merry Christmas?

Not so much.  But let us walk down a nostalgic lane for about 2 minutes…

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Imagine some “metaphoric” moments in my life with me… the elf is aka ‘life’ tells me:  “This is whatcha get, move along, there are more kids behind you” and shoves me up the stairs a tad, as I freeze, knowing what I need to say, but choking when asked: “What do you want little girl?”… landing in some cool & not so cool churches… with teachings in self-sacrifice, 💭 daydreamer me: we get what we deserve, Elf: ‘Shut it, kid’.  Me/Ralphie:  this highly sensitive, deep thinking, spiritually unsettled kid with high hopes and dreams. In this Christmas Story, Santa is God or the Universe (metaphorically).

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Anyhow, as far back as I can remember…  I think I used to “think” I knew” – Right vs Wrong, and I believed would always choose Right (given a choice). If I could not control my vulnerability to assert myself and make myself more “tolerable” as a personality as I got older – I would find a way to use my cautionary tale life 😉 to benefit others.

Ralphie:…  I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! Santa Claus: You’ll shoot your eye out, kid. Santa Claus: [Santa pushes Ralphie down the slide with his boot] Merry Christmas. Ho!Ho!Ho!   {slides down ‘dumb-founded’}

Back to reality, awaken to Life kicking us in the teeth, per the usual, we laugh at ourselves 24/7, because it makes it all less Real (we almost die)… Then dig in, pray, hope to Affirm our purposeful requests to our Creator … – But the requests or decisions we make, harm us, and Life kicks us – down the tunnel …we slide – even farther behind than we started… ironically, the climb to the top starts all over.  *Classic Pun*

I have been out of touch with most people since October 2017. This post may have sad undertones, but not completely sad, just not ‘feeling’ much Christmas Spirit this year.  I grieve for multiple things… and merely needed to punctuate how I felt this Christmas Eve-Eve, and how blessed I am to be in a position to look back at my life and ‘some’ of the pain in becoming UnBreakable.  Making slow changes… or rapid depending on your vantage point, but I am thankful for the inner strength to pick up and begin again.

Grief

Ever have A DAY that changes YOUR life in a way that you did not feel possible?  Ever have more than one?  Quite disorienting.  Please forgive the sad tone… it has been a day, of a sequence of days….  I am unsure of who reads my words or if they make any difference in the grand scheme of life.   To feel this profound loss – but simultaneous peace?   I know in my heart that the child my friend lost is not gone completely (in my opinion), because I believe she is inside of every person she loved and I believe her soul is at peace.

I wanted to write because my heart hurts so much for my friend, losing her Angel.  Her child helped her grow into the amazing and resilient woman/mother/friend she is today.  She was a spirited girl that learned how to survive in the harshest climates of all… “Suburban American Public School”, and to be different in school, these days.  She held her head up, battled jerks, bullies, terrible humans, all the while battling chronic pain, chronic discomfort, hair loss, vision issues, stomach issues, an entire human condition in a tiny girls body, and STILL found a way to smile and PLAY and be kind to her friends and boyfriend.  She taught us all lessons every day and we did not know it was happening.   Her friends will tell you… She was capable of much more than even she knew.

At around 2 am this morning, I finished talking with my daughter, and I realized in an instant how much I still MISSED in the every day business of living… with all my worrying about the past and the future of our lives… She shared with me how T-bird was there with her during the most hard days of her life.  She told me how her spirit made her feel calm, and how all she wanted was to love her and be her big sister.  She had plans to get better at ‘adulting’ together, with their moms not ‘too far away’ in case of emergency.  She told me that she held her when she was scared, always lifted her up and made her laugh, but she knew she was very sad and always hurting.  She said she feels she will never be the same.  Another daughter remembers playing as kids as far back as she can remember.  Summer 2016 was overwhelming an painful for everyone.  Even when t-bird and her brother visited us, she could sit with the girls in silence and be happy as clams, like sisters, just easy, no stress, no mess.

I regret missed moments, and making assumptions about our kids behaviors, and the WHOLE time, the kids were connecting, sharing and supporting one another.  I have always known that kids can change the world, if adults would just let them speak.  If we could all attempt to truly listen in this world full of noise and distractions. Try not telling others what to think… let them talk – They just might surprise you… they are just resilient and so insightful.  I guess that is all I can say for now on that.

It. Bit. Me.

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Hey!  “Keep your Tetanus shot records up to date.”

What had happened was…

On my way to group therapy.  Text message to buddies:

I am so glad we have group this morning!  My fight or flight brain circuits keep me on alert, physically watching for anything. Takes too long to relax the mind, fall asleep at random times, but stay deep asleep, I wake up in panic because I fall asleep trying to solve too many problems.   Fried my brain with the stress.

I…

Walk downstairs, aim my body & parts towards my car…

Nice Ginger neighbor is outside right ahead of me… She has 2 rather unfortunate-looking -really-old-pooches…  This one fur-girl has serious problems, she tries to attack anybody she sees.  Her owner is an older disabled woman, so its sad, because the dog wants to kill anything she sees, but she obviously really loves the ugly old thing.  *insert. haha?

Anyhoo… I immediately – submissively, try not to look at it’s eyes, and attempt to scoot away from these two unfortunate beasts… Lest they try to kill my ankles.

And as fast as you can glance to the left or right… that little M*Fer lunged at me… Ok, it is probably a little over 40 lbs, imagine a really-Retired-Not-Cute- Mash-Up between a Pug, and a really obese Chihuahua… Yeah…  Ok, so back to the little beast…  “omg”. (found out it was a Beagle/Basset mix, guess I am blind as well as a tasty treat for a pup).

That little TURD jumped UP to bite the back of my arm, and bite to marks on my inner thigh (should I be worried Universe?).  Like soooo fast. haha, but I am a super hero, so… yeah.

I immediately assumed a safe position, the woman was upset… Sorry, oh my God, I am so Sorry…  um, what else can you say if your dog just attacked someone?  I don’t even know, but… in my non-confrontational, snazzy, or (spazzy) – but classic Tina-style, put up my hands… wants everyone to be ‘All Good, No Worries, Have a Nice Day‘… No time to stop and look at these bites, or stopping to think.

Jogging to my car, putting on my shades, saying: It is really OK, I love dogs, really, I don’t even know if I looked at her wrong… lol I JUST apologized for … walking out of my front door, and getting bit by a rabid dog?  *just making notice of the absurdity that has been my life as a Chronic APOLOGIZER from everything to going to the bathroom, to breathing in your directions.

Anyway, my default is to be sorry for every. damn. thing. going wrong in the universe.  But I am legitmately sorry.  Oh Yes… let’s take a walk on the wild side of… Christina’s brain… Ha… too late.  Awe, I think…that lady is probably going to lose her dog now, *insert my sad emoticon* she’s really sad…

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But, the new Survivor in me said: realistically, that little beast has bit three people this month.  We have my babies (and other babies) in my building.  So, we had to file a report.  So… I suggested this…

Anyway, back to my story:

I got into my car because… BY GOLLY, I GOTTA do that PTSD THERAPY… Cuz, some of us have to work on better coping mechanisms to respond to highly stressful situations.

Here’s my Brain talking to itself:

Uh Oh, bleeding, oh oh, it burns, it actually still hurts? Like Seriously? Pulling down waist band, looking at my leg, Oh Man!  I have to go to the dumb doctor!  Ridiculous… Don’t EVEN HAVE TIME to go to Stupid Hospital…  *Enter: the new and improved- handy-dandy-survivor brain. It says: Hey me, if you do not get it checked, you will always be wondering if you could catch something else, and if you die TOO SOON, your kids will be so pissed… oh and Charlie too, and  blah blah blah (you know, the usual).  Several hours later, after seeing a Vet-Tech who cross-trained to a Nurse, and a Doctor I could not understand, and none of them cleaned out the wounds, or did anything.  So I felt really irritated, especially the fact I had to go to buy more First Aid crap and take care of my stupid dog bites my self.   *tiny violin & boohoo emoji* Currently taking my amoxicillin, in case my mom asks.  😉

Ok, a reason I blog this stupid event, because it is significant, because it is one of my life’s first, legitimately, unprovoked dog attacks (hope its the last).  The event did, however, connect some mental dots for me on multiple unresolved traumas.  The traumatized brain recalls info quick when events leave indelible impressions on it.  Anyways, going backward in time… today was a rough day.  But… still.  Hi Ho, it’s Off to Life I Go!

Because, this BS – CANNOT last Forever.  I mean… For realzies.

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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