Victim and Victor. #AtoZChallenge

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

In departing from the usual format of the AtoZ Blogger’s challenge and therefore, presenting two “V” words, I am writing for those who fight a daily battle.  They struggle with their own nature or issues of depression, anxiety, other various mental illnesses, addiction, self-doubt, obsession, etc.  Sometimes the person is both the victor and the victim.  They are a victim to their illness but emerge a victor every 24 hours that they’re alive to see a new day, wake up sober, or go to bed in their own home because they did not get lost or side-tracked.  Between the victor and the victim, though, one does not always destroy the other, but rather, sometimes they just shake hands at night and say, “We’re done fighting for now.”

Yet, for many, that battle picks right up the next morning.  For others, the battle rages on through the night, despite meds and various med changes.  Many of us suffer these things in one way or another at different degrees.  I get riddled with anxiety at times over things I can’t control or I feel I could have changed, had I done things differently. Sometimes I worry about the future. (If x happens, then I will….) I don’t know what I’ll do in the future, but I hope I’ll do it with love for the person who needs it.   I am fortunate to say that this is not a daily battle, but an occasional occurrence, perhaps when things just pile up for me.

Many of us have loved ones like this who fight that battle daily.  It’s enough to make you want to cry to see them struggle so.  There is a period of mourning.  However, I think there must be a co-existence with their struggle.  There needs to be a time of rejoicing for the victories they have made, like that of simply living and of not giving up.  Yes, it may seem odd to simply rejoice for the fact of a person going on living, except that many of us have almost lost them, a few times too many.  I’ve been helped by participating in online forums with others who fight this battle either with the illness or with accepting the illness in a loved one.  I can’t describe what goes on in my loved one’s mind; it’s not my story to tell.  Only learning to love the reality of who this person has become is.

We all mourned when Carrie Fisher passed away, but she was a victor who went on living for sixty years of life and wrote honestly about her struggle with mental illness and drug abuse.  There are many who have fallen victim to their struggle of the mind, but also, many who have been victorious.  I feel she was truly victorious, and several of her books opened my eyes regarding the struggle with mental illness.

I salute all of the victors who may have their coping mechanisms that seem strange to the rest of us.  We, their loved ones, cannot be victorious over their struggle, only they can.  That is a tough realization.  Especially if you are the parent.  We want to show our kids it will be alright, yet, we can’t guarantee that.  We want to tell them to keep taking their meds and the _______(voices, insomnia, sadness, racing thoughts, etc.) will stop. Sometimes they only subside.  Sometimes they come back.  We may feel a victim at times, but we can only be victorious over our own mindset.  We have to co-exist with their struggle and find our place in it, our purpose to them, and our standing as a co-defendant of the person instead of feeling like another victim of their illness.

I write this in honor of someone I love who fights a daily battle within the mind.  I am constantly working on my mindset and how to best accept the situation while always giving my unconditional love.  I won’t pretend that I know it all;  I’m turning to many places for information and support to learn how to respond to daily pitfalls and things I do not understand.  Sometimes, I know I fall short.

 

**The AtoZ Challenge theme for my blog is “Who I am.” Yes, it’s wide open.  In April, I will blog from A to Z to include little tidbits about me, poems I’ll share, and stories. Each day I will write something based on the next letter in the alphabet.  It’s been fun so far, yet it has really given me a chance to pause for reflection as well.  This topic is closely personal for me.  It has not been a subject of my fiction, yet it colors my characters and situations, no doubt.  It creeps into my blog posts, as well.  It has become a part of my experience.

Want to know more about the A-Z blog challenge?  Visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

P.S. I am currently reading a highly acclaimed book on this subject, titled I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help, written by Dr. Xavier Amador.  I’ve expereienced having to help someone accept their diagnosis.  According to Dr. Amador, lack of insight about one’s illness is suffered by several who have a mental illness.  I am still in the first few chapters, but perhaps I’ll give a more thorough review later.  Check this link for more info.: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0967718929/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_4

 

 

My House of Cards, #poetry

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My House of Cards  (c) 2017, Pamela Schloesser Canepa

The House of Cards had thrived on hope

And goodness, love, and light

The hope was that it was enough

to keep us safe and sound.

The House of Cards became cover

for turned heads and bitter words,

For selfishness and wrath.

But of all things considered,

at least we had a house.

The House of Cards can never beat

a beast that grows within.

For a House of Cards is still just cards,

almost paper thin.

I rid the house of one

offending sort,

and some of us remained.

There is a slightly haunted feel,

I wish it would depart.

But anywhere that I should go

a part of it would follow.

The House of Cards surrounds me now,

within a malevolent wind

I sometimes feel it will blow down

and I’ll have nothing left.

But this House of Cards is what I have

and I have made it mine.

I have sheltered others here,

even if for a short time.

And when it is all said and done,

I hope that mine will be

the House of Cards that withstood all

and always sheltered me.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

 

 

Happy WordPress Blogger Anniversary to Me!

wordpress-com-anniversary-2xThursday, 1/26/17, is my one year anniversary with WordPress!

I was just reminded that today is my 1 year anniversary with WordPress! Not a paying job, but a hobby, a compulsion, and a social act, blogging has been one of the tools of my self-care. They say to make writing a habit, do it every day. I’m close to it. As I’ve gone from crisis to crisis at home, blogging has been my go to for a quick smile when I write a cryptic flash fiction piece, or when I pour out my heart about the things I don’t understand in my life and my family and putting it into words relieves me. You know I’m not the type to sit on the phone for an hour moping. I don’t want to be the rain cloud in someone’s day. I’ll write it, and if you don’t like it, look away. Someone else will like it or at least identify.
Using the keyboard for expression, imagination, or simply venting has strengthened me as mental health issues have struck one family member, and anxiety wracks my nerves. There are times I cannot talk to anyone at home, as my mom is there sometimes but also has her own life. We all have some sort of issues. Swallowing them constantly makes a person ill. I am going to deal with the crap that has been thrown at me, and hopefully be an example to my son who is also dealing with it, my students who need healthy ways to vent, and anyone else who will listen. I’m so grateful for the chain of events that led me to discover that I could blog on WordPress as it led me to other writing avenues, too. I am encouraged and buoyed up by this blogging community where members express faith, humor, world facts, ideas of horror or fantastic visualization. I just love the way WordPress works.  It suggests reading to me and suggests my blog posts to others.  Never did I figure that out on the prior blogging site I used.  Now I’m a member of a blogging faith community, sci-fi community, writer’s community, poets, dog lovers, readers. It’s all here, and my year has been brightened because of it!

Sober….or Sound?

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Why Sober? I want to open an inquiry into the lexicography of the word “sober.” A sobering event is like a slap in the face when all we want to do is be cradled in warmth and comfort.  The problem is, we seek warmth and comfort from substances, whether liquid, pill form, or other.  I suppose it is a false comfort, a dangerous longing that takes us closer to the grave. However, when one must remake one’s own life, the word sober sounds daunting.
When the warmth and comfort of a familiar high wears off, we are left with the sobering effects of something akin to being plunged into a bath of ice water. There’s that word “sober” again. No wonder so many people are afraid to go sober. I am sure many who need sobriety are thinking along these lines.  The thing is, the word sober doesn’t sound like the reawakening that it should be.
Sober reminds me of somber, which reminds me of the saying, “I’m as serious as a heart attack.” We’d all like to avoid that. Therefore, sober also reminds me of a funeral.  It seems, to some, to be somewhat of a death. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s better to be oblivious or wasted. It’s just, so many have a hard time leaving that behind. So, how do I convince someone close to me that it’s better to be sober?

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Alcoholism runs rampant in my family.  I have seen my own father suffer from it, and recover.  Of course, it was a serious matter.  Our talks, when he went through recovery were very insightful and soul-searching.  No gray cloud took over his personality.   He can be just as self-centered and yet, just as encouraging.  He enjoys the outdoors, exercise, work, and his recovery community.  The process was truly a reawakening for him, and the things he says now just make more sense than they did in my youth.  He recovered when I was at the tender age of twenty-one.
Maybe it’s just me, but I far prefer the words ” being of ‘sound’ mind” to the word “sober.”  I associate sound with music. If you are of sound mind, then all is working in harmony. Music is life. There is no death, but rather an ongoing growth and evolution. Being of sound mind means dealing with crisis, with mediocrity, and with ecstasy with all of your faculties. Awake. Aware. Free from the influence of a substance. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like a change of words, please.

For the record, here is the etymology of the word, sober:   from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sober  Sober- “sedate, serious-minded person” is recorded from 1705. late 14c., “reduce to a quiet condition” (transitive), from sober (adj.). Meaning “render grave or serious” is from 1726. Intransitive sense of “become sober” (since 1847 often with up) is from 1820.

I want to be an example to young people and to the ones I love.  Yet, I often want to be more than “sedate, or serious.”  I want to live with laughter, music, and imagination.  Let my mind operate with the sound of harmony, a sound mind with the mellifluous ability to know my surroundings, to take in the beauty and music of life, and to continue without a confounding, tempting influence.  Therefore, I shall choose another word.

Anxiety, The Phantom (Poetry)

By Pamela Schloesser Canepa
Anxiety, The Phantom copyright, 1.05.16
A windy night brings it. Bam!
The back porch door slams
And I’m left to wonder what is there
What glowing eyes in the night will glare?
I am like a child, four years old again,
My fear and imagination bends.
What hoodlum or phantom lurks here?
I sense something evil crouching near.
Gone is all hope of sleep.
I must be ready in case he leaps.

“He” is my fear of things unseen,
Politicians and terrorists threatening me,
Bills, undone tasks, that won’t let me free,
Narrow minded people judging me
Worry for my son, in his melancholy
TV news feeding branches of my anxiety.
Things that make me think I have no weapon,
Realities that happen, with or without mention.
My canine detects no offending thief,
And only morning daybreak brings relief.

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Shrinking Violet – No More Hiding

“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.”  Marianne Williamson

The dream goes like this:  I am sick.  I cannot speak or make a single sound with my mouth.  I hear beautiful music and it frustrates me, yet pleases me at the same time.  I open my mouth and feel pain, but cannot produce any expressive noise or words. I move closer to a plant that is growing beautiful flowers; they are orchids or lilies.  I take the outer petals of the flowers and eat them.  Suddenly, I am singing beautifully.  I am growing, and I am life.

In a training session for elder duty at my church I was asked to look at this poem in relation to my faith.  The first thing this line reminds me of is the term “shrinking violet.”  While my reasons for being a “shrinking violet” were probably not to protect others feelings, my role as shrinking violet certainly was not enlightened.  Digging deeper into my faith has caused me to dig up a lot that I haven’t thought about in a long time. There are dark spaces inside, but there are also places that filter in the light.

Among the dark spots on my faith journey are the many times I stuck to being a shrinking violet, not to prevent others from feeling insecure, but to avoid conflict.  Avoiding conflict was a constant goal of mine, or perhaps we should say it became more of an instinct.  Needless to say when avoiding conflict is your ultimate goal, one is not living fully to their potential. There is also a saying “Don’t squander your talents”, “Don’t hide and your light under a bushel.” Evidently people do this all the time, and I’m not so unusual. But when we were singing that song about this little light of mine in Sunday school, I suppose I didn’t get the metaphor. Or maybe survival was more important to me.

My upbringing in a household with one alcoholic parent and the other frustrated and constantly the peacemaker taught me  that I should be the person to avoid conflict. Maybe because the peacemaker was the woman? Perhaps that’s how I learned my role ? Maybe I took the role of man to be “rules the house with anger.” To this day I can’t stand sitting at a table when someone pounds it in excitement, anger, or frustration. Fortunately, my dad went on to rehab when I was 20, and was no longer a drinker. By that point, my habits and misconceptions were set.  However, I must give my dad thanks for strongly encouraging me to go to college, because when I went through high school, my life was not geared towards that. The only honors class I took was English, because I just love that subject and wanted to see if I could do it. It seems that drying out helped him become more supportive and encouraging, even if it was through long-distance.  So I have to say, I went to college and excelled because he told me I could do it, so I wanted to prove him right.  He even funded my first two years.

Flash forward to age 25.  I am about to get married to an attractive guy I met at a party.  He blew me away with his ownership of me.  How he could not live without me or bear to see me with another guy.  I actually did have second thoughts the day o f the wedding.  I did not heed them.  I am a sort who usually sticks with a choice I have made.  Abandoning the relationship would have hurt him.  Calling off the wedding would as well.  Everything seemed to hinge on preserving his feelings.  What about mine?  They were on the back-burner.  I had to be the peace-maker.  His heavy drinking did not help matters.  But I was still the peace-maker.  I had earned a college degree and a professional job in management,  but he overshadowed and made me second guess every decision I made.  Saying certain things at a party could set him off as well.  I obviously wasn’t growing as a person.  My spiritual growth was stunted.  Sunday morning would be a hung-over day just as much as Saturday.  Then came my pregnancy, and the birth of our perfect baby.  Keeping the peace was more important now.

Let me tell you, that only lasted so long.  Knowing my son would one day understand all the horrible things my husband was saying to me, the accusations, the name-calling, even thinly veiled threats, made me fear the way his perception of a mother’s role or even a wife’s role might turn out.  Would he one day believe all those things his dad was saying TO MY FACE and I would just try to go into the other room, being a survivor, never a fighter.  My only way to fight back was to preserve my dignity and my sanity and leave.  Looking back, it is apparent that I was forever shrinking so that he wouldn’t be insecure around me, or because of me.  But this was also motivated by fear.  Insecure people grow angry, they manipulate, they try to cut you down to size.  I would allow that so his anger would JUST STOP.  I did not want my son to grow up in that household.  Sadly, he later came to see his dad as the outcast family member, cut-off.  For years, he would fight to defend this perceived “underdog.” But that is an entirely different battle.

For the most part, I have raised my son as a single parent.  There were some relationships.  They grew stale or were revealed to be the wrong situation, for one reason or the other.  I pride myself on the fact that I did not get married prematurely again.  I did not jump into another family situation or have another child,  thus making myself dependent on a man.  I can’t see how some women go through pregnancy alone, my hat’s off to you.  I have often used my gifts as self-therapy, not always to help others.  But I would like to share them with the world.  It still purges my spirit to produce something with my gifts, words, a song, prose or poems.  The world may take it or leave it.  And I still have my voice.  I feel an increasing need to speak out with this voice.   I want to speak and plant seeds with my words.  Ideas will grow, and there will be no more shrinking.      violet--isolated-on-whi