Mourning Friendship

How can anyone who claims to love me and wish me well break my heart? I’m not the kind of friend who rejects. I believe in the good in people, I do what I can to support my friends, forgive them their faults, believe in them when they don’t even believe in their self, stand with them while they face their obstacles, and listen to them on the phone during their states of distress. I’ve been there from the beginning, been there when at their worst and best, endured their temper, hugged them even when they stank, kissed their dirty cheeks, even cleaned their faces and bodies when they’ve been sick. I have lied next to them while they couldn’t sleep, wept with them when they were hurt, and wished I could be there where ever they are when they have suffered all lone far away from me, leaving me feeling helpless and distressed over them. I’ve sacrificed my own health and comfort to make sure my friends are well, and I do not ask for anything in return, only that we remain friends, stay in touch, somehow…

But then there are times when I am the one who is in distress. I have my terrible moments of overwhelming emotion, and it is during these times when I ask for support I find out who are my true friends, or at least those who are truly the strong and helpful. As a rule, I do not turn to my friends for psychiatric support. I’ve dealt with my fair share of mental illness long enough to know not to lean too much on the shoulders of those who are not emotionally equipped to handle someone struggling with a traumatic episode they barely have a grip on, but what about moral support? What about sending soothing messages of hope? When I am in need of hope, I’m not asking my friends to fix my situation, and I’m certainly not begging them for their complete, immediate attention. Yet if they were in my shoes, I would drop everything, get on the phone, or the internet and start communicating to make sure they know I’m on their side.

I know what it is like to rough it alone. What it’s like to be attacked, have my life almost taken from me, and lie alone in the hospital without a visit from friend or family, and be treated better by strangers than any friend or family during the worst times of my life. Surviving traumas like that made me strong, and made me passionate about never letting it happen to my friends. Screw that. To anyone I come across. I have a huge heart. I see someone, human or animal, suffering anywhere and I get involved. It may not always be wise, and a few times I have been taken advantage of, but I care very much and I never let anyone play with my heart.

I like to think that my friends are just as strong. Some of them very much are and I am proud to have made such very powerful, heroic friends, yet no matter how much some of them aspire to, they don’t live up to the virtues of friendship that we all should put into practice. It makes me wonder if some people really know what it is to be a friend.

It confuses me whenever a friend decides to no longer be friends with me, does not matter what the reason, and they always end the relationship with a situational inappropriate oxymoronic statement like “best wishes” and “I really love you” and “I’m doing this because I worry over you” or “I have to do this not because you’re a loyal friend, but because you need help”, all of which are excuses sugar-coated to make the friend doing the rejecting feel better.  No one who really wants you to get help will abandon you in your moments of need.  I’m not stupid. I know what they are really saying. It makes the heart-break feel all the more cruel.  It should tempt me into hating the people who foolishly say these things, who may even truly believe they are being sincere, but I surprise myself at how not angry I am at them.

I believe sometimes people like to believe in the worse possible state of health when it comes to viewing me, especially when I have a diagnosis of an emotional disorder, one that flares up during a stressful circumstance, but not just any stressful one. The danger of being open about my condition is people tend to panic over it, they worry about triggering you into a bad emotional state, but it’s not you that they are afraid of, it’s the illness, they really don’t know what it is like to live with it, they’ve only read about it, or maybe they remember something they have gone through with you and that memory has built up over the years. I don’t know how these things start, yet I’ve dealt with them before, and some people don’t see me for me, they just start seeing the illness and paint any emotional reaction from me as part of my being unhealthy.

One of the friends who just broke away from me knew ahead of time that a friend of mine was going to suddenly dump me.  Anticipating my resulting breakdown, she was quick to write her “I have to cut you off because I need only healthy relationships in my life” and “I’m doing this for your own good” letter.  I was not surprised.  It has happened to me before and I was prepared for such a reaction.  Some friends only want to be around when you are feeling well.  They can’t take the stress of watching you go through something bad.  Shame on them?  Perhaps.  I just think it’s unnecessary.

Unlike other kinds of illness, a mental illness you never heal from, it’s a condition you have to regulate. People fear the loss of control of their mind, just as much as they fear something like demonic possession, and they have no idea if your possible loss of control will lead to harm. People have rejected me out of fearing I will do things I have no history of, they don’t trust me when I tell them the extent of my crazy and think I’m hiding something scary, and when I do share I’m accused of using my disability as a crutch, especially whenever I really do have an episode and someone swears I have ignored them intentionally.

My heartache is that, no matter what good I try to do, and no matter how hard I love, when I get overwhelmed it seems to threaten any good I’ve done for my friends. A great relationship can be ruined in seconds after my friend witnesses me go through a meltdown. Or it can cement our relationship forever, as long as they realize I’m not asking them to be my nurse!

Yet I’m torn as to what to do. I have a lot of love and there is much I have wanted to do with my life.  I have held myself back from doing things I love for fear of being discredited due to my illness and being ridiculed, especially when my insight and lifestyle is controversal.  Living as a Solitary Witch has not always been satisfying for me. I have the passion of a priestess. I want to extend my friendship to the entire human community.  I want to write about what I know and experience.

Yet how can I help anyone when people view me as an unhealthy over emotional monster?

And why am I singled out? Am I that horrible? Have I really been the kind of person who is worthy of such rejection? Do I need to be institutionalized? (I found out I don’t have to be, thank the Gods) I tried to find out, reached out to my doctors, got the help I needed, and the friends who gave me the moral support I needed assured me I’m the same good ol Valentina I’ve always been for them, so what gives? Are, then, some people I love just defective at receiving the love I give? Why do they want to believe I’m not worth their time?

When something does not make sense, I obsess over why it happened. When I cannot find the reason, I weep over the senselessness of it. The senselessness of it is an ignoble violence as real as a bullet hitting the body of an innocent bystander.

And for some people to say, right after you’ve been hit with a broken heart, “your pain will pass” is like them patting your bleeding heart with a restaurant napkin as if it were merely a paper cut. For you, it’s a dire emergency, for someone else, it’s all about “you’ll get over it soon” and the saying of it is their way to encourage it to happen faster so we can all get back to fair weather talk and sharing cute kitteh photos again.

I’m not saying I have an over abundance of fair weather friends, I just have some friends who want fair weather between us all the time, and they would rather I keep my darker emotions to myself. However, even though it takes a lot of trust, and trust takes more involvement, I would rather my friends open up to me and share with me what is going on, dark or not, so when the time comes they can know to come to me if they need support. So I am an open book. I expose myself. You can always tell what page my picture is on. You can read my Facebook or Twitter and look-see and go, “Okay. So that is how Val looks and feels like today” as if it’s my own weather channel.

But… I’m now realizing that it’s not wise to do that anymore. My friends are getting scared off. I’m sharing too much emotional crap. My policy of being so open is influencing them to think I’m all kinds of unhealthy. I suppose writing down my every intimate, twisted, bizarre thought is alarming, albeit I don’t have an exterior monologue like that!

It is time for me to edit and update what I write to truly reflect only who I am on the outside.

How superficial.

Do you want me to be like that? To breeze through your lives like I’m made of  perfume and smoke and smiles and small talk lounging at some neon-lit bar… Because that’s what I liken a lot of social media to, like sitting at those seedy meeting places that can sometimes bore me to death, where people never have anything intelligent to say, only sometimes, but it’s all about meeting people to hook up with in the end anyway. Not interested here.

I only came here to dance.

But it’s impossible sometimes to dance alone. Especially when someone has suddenly stolen the music out from under you. “I’m doing this for your own good,” a voice over pipes in, “I’m taking your favorite song away. I know you loved it a lot, yet I’m pulling the plug. I don’t care how much you loved it. Was it the song or the dance that made you smile everyday anyway? Well, it doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care, you can always find another song, and I only wish you well…”

People destroy things they do not understand have so much value to someone else. They do not even understand what is really being valued. Assumption is the mother of all mistakes.

A friend of mine, someone I consider my personal hero, assumed I am obsessed with him, so he broke his friendship with me thinking that it was the best thing to do for my mental health. He blamed it on his lack of time to give and that he only wished me well. But he failed to really ask me what it was I wanted or even what it was I valued about him. His information about me is askew, much of it likely based on a past when I had a crush on him, and he has yet to give himself the real opportunity to know me as I am now. I’ve been a loyal, supportive friend, been there through many of his ups and downs, and he has hurt me more than he has done good for me by breaking away.

But I live for love. My policy is to pour love over anyone and anything that hurts me unnecessarily. It’ll only hurt me more to feed it with anger.  However, I am sad. I have a right to grieve over a senseless loss of a friendship.  Yet I am not sad that he’s hurt me.  I’m sad for him.  He has chosen to reject one of his most faithful friends.  And I’m sad that he thinks that I care for him in an unhealthy way.

His sudden break from me was a sword shard to my heart, and I screamed and screamed, and my screaming face and shaking body must have been one frightening sight. Imagine if I was in the middle of the street with a real stab wound, freaking everyone out who saw me, my blood squirting out all over the place, me creating a huge mess, people running away screaming at the sight, my neighbors helplessly looking on and frantically calling 911.  If that were the case, I would have immediate help.  A wound like that gives no doubt for help, but since it’s emotional, it can be seen as a cry for attention, or some would see it as an emotional manipulation on my part to get my friend to come back.  But what good would that do?

I would not want to cast a love spell to bring back any of my ex-lovers.  Why?  Because to do so would be forcing someone against their will to be with me.  Do you know what happens when you force someone to be with you?  You do not convince them to love you.  They will resent you for manipulating them to act against what they desired.  When someone gives up their desires to please you, it’s an emotional imprisonment, and not something I would want to do to someone I care about.  I want someone to be my friend or lover out of joy, not out of obligation and resentment.

So, if somehow I did or said something to make it seem like I was holding emotional power over a friend, and they break away from me thinking I am manipulating them, there is something going on I do not know about, something I really do need to fix.  How can I help?  What can I do?  But when I’m not given the tools to smooth the way between friends, I cannot do anything but wait for it all to be over, suffer the pain, and treat myself with love, praying all the while that somehow time will be on my side.

I do not like living knowing that anyone does not want to be my friend because they think I have mistreated them.  I am not a creature of malice.

The kind of attention I give my friends is the kind of attention I think is awesome, yet some people may think it’s weird. I have read about friendships in literature, especially heroic epics where friends really go to the deep ends for each other, and the friendships that took place in literary history where writers shared beautiful correspondences… I had hoped to encourage that kind of relationship with the friend who lost me because our rapport was always spot on when it came to discussions on magic and heroism.

My hurt is a hollow kind of hurt, a hole in my heart. I can walk, eat, breathe, do what I can to live, but for a long while I anticipate doing things all half-assed.  I was separated from him for seven years before.  I once thought that I had to break away from him because he had moved away to another city, had a wife, a temple, and therefore didn’t have any room in his life for me anymore.  I thought saying good-bye would make my mental health better, yet I made my life worse.

Missing that friendship felt like, at least to me, always missing a part of myself, like blurring out a big chunk of my memory that I really could not successfully shut out, yet the constant practice of attempting to shut it out kept my body tense and produced migraines.  He was never someone that I had wanted to strap onto me with some force to make it fit against me against his will, but even now, with him pulled away, he was this nice, warm blanket of a friendship that made me feel confident, like no matter where he is in the world, knowing he’s out there and still my buddy, we’re friends taking on the world together.

And that when we meet again, we’d share the worlds we’ve ruled, have a party, and clink goblets with the Gods. *sigh*

Instead of that vision, I’m left in mourning, mourning-knowing that I won’t have that friendship. And that I’ve waited, looked forward to meeting him again, supported and cheered him on from a distance for so long for nothing. The thought of him not wanting my friendship tries to kill me, but I won’t let it. It wants me to get bitter, but I resist that with all my might.

I only love, and love, and love some more, and stubbornly call everyone who rejects me the same way all a bunch of fools. Oh, and if people do not like how I am choosing to get over this by writing about it here, in this way, they can eat it!

This is my story. My heart. Me.

Why My Love is Constant

If my love is not enough to light your way through the dark, then let me be a conduit for the love of the Gods to shine along your way. I live in love, live for love, and love always.

Every part of me hurts. Hurts out of love. I do not understand why a few people I love reward me with rejection. Yet still I love them the most. I feel that they need it the most. Perhaps more than I do.  The process of loving the people-who-hurt-me-for-loving-them is a hero-ing.  Puts me through fire.  I’m so tense, my swooning and melting hardens into steel, and my bending down to the floor in heavy cries of agony are the banshee songs of pre-mourning.

I cannot hold onto the pain alone and I do not protest. I do not weep in the dark for want of attention, or out of loneliness, nor cry for release of this life, no, not nothing as immature as that. My tears stream out of how unnecessary the rejection is — I have too much love and I find it so valuable, I must share it, give it unfaltering, like a holy mission, forgiving, wanting to pour it over everyone because I do not wish anyone else to feel the pain I do — yet this love I have is not received.  How can it be too much?

Why aren’t you taking it? Why can’t you see the good I’m giving? Why do you turn your back on me when I never will?

When your love is absent, I love ever the stronger, feel it the keener, and hear the voices of the Gods even louder… their light shines into me in my most painful darkness.

Yet I long to give it up to you.  Just so you know what constant love is.  Why it’s worth all pain, all sacrifice, and all the joy that can be come from it.

I may not believe in romance, but I believe in the holiness of friendship.  A life spent in devotion to friends means more than ever a romantic dalliance ever did in my past.  I gave up on the dreams of marriage and motherhood long ago. What I live for is friendship.  I mean it with all my heart.  Like religion.  I want to be a priestess of friendship. 

Good-bye, Romance!

When it comes to romance, I’m bitter. I’ve seen my fair share of loving relationships, mind you, it’s just I have yet to truly experience the kind of romance I have seen other people have. Most romance is a performance, but do not misunderstand me for a total curmudgeon, I am in love with love, I have a passion for historical romance and heroic love stories, only problem is — they do not seem to exist in the real world. I liken romance to a mating ritual men and women perform to convince the other that they are worthy of love, but it’s really just a plea for sex, not for a relationship. Girls grow up believing we will have fairy tale romance, the kind where real men all act like heroic princes and treat us to a happily ever after. But when we become women and fall for the charms of romance, we find out men only act like princes and the happily ever after turns into a one-night-only play. The “for real” romance some women have is rare. It’s like a special event, like a Sweet Sixteen surprise birthday Holy ceremony Wedding anniversary event celebrated between only two people, happening only at random and sometimes displayed in public to show everyone that the union between the partners, without any formal occasion, is awesome. That I can understand. But the whole act of romance intimidates me.

I want to believe in it, but I can’t. It just never happened to me. The boyfriends I had were not into it, and when they thought they were romantic, they really were not. It seemed like the only person who knew how to be romantic was me. I had dreams of romance that never came true and the only way I would ever get them was to ask for them. Yet, what was the point when the guys who supposedly cared for me already had me? They no longer had to try to win me over.  When I was romantic, I felt the fool.

When a man once asked to marry me, I thought it would be a grand event, but it took place in a mosquito-infested, muddy little patch near a pond next to a highway where our make-out sessions were rudely interrupted every few seconds by semi-trucks roaring by. Just before he proposed, one trucker hollered, “Fuck ‘er!” It made us laugh, yet gave me a sour knot in my stomach. We walked deeper into the woods, meanwhile getting more eaten alive by mosquitoes, and I wanted to get back to the park where we started from, where there were nice places to relax and reflect. I did not mind that we were in the woods, I just wanted to get away from the bugs and mud. I got clumsy, nearly slipped, and when he caught me that’s when the question came, and that’s when I sank to the ground. Was that romance? Did it happen without my notice? Even though my answer was ‘yes’ it still did not feel like it ‘fit’ into the category of the kind of romance I was longing for. I wanted something… more.

Almost a decade later, when we were no longer on the road to marriage and far from the days when we dated, I would witness him treat women far differently, using techniques and advice I gave him. It was like watching my dreams being given away. I did not want him back. Our life goals were different and we discovered we were not compatible, still it left my heart sore, and I wondered if I had given up all my chances at romance because I had literally given away my ex. It was true. Even at his sister’s wedding, when I caught the bride’s bouquet and some girl tore it out of my hands with greedy rage, and after people asked her to give it back to me, I saw how clearly it was more important for her to win that symbol, so I gave it to her. “You should not have done that,” my ex’s sister hissed, “that means bad luck!”  It was a superstitious warning: I would never get married.

But all of that happened when I was only 20 years old, and the next 21 years men would teach me a lot about relationships, and I would teach them how best to treat other women.  I thought I turned from fool to a wise priestess.

I am a Witch, so naturally everyone requests love spells and love potions, both men and women always have love on their minds, they want to know how best to win the love of their life, and I have made close to a lifetime’s worth of advising the lovelorn. Have I always been successful? Only for those most willing, sincere, open, selfless, and who put aside any notion of manipulating another person they know into loving them back. I do not know any love magic that has worked for myself, however, and any love predictions given me have never come true. I believe this is because I have hit an emotional block when it comes to love. Or perhaps… perhaps I am *gasp!* cursed! No, I take that back. I’m kidding! Yet people can curse themselves with bad luck by not believing in the possibility that they can encourage romance into their lives.

Maybe I am one of those women who denies herself the possibility of romance.

I am most used to bringing romance into other people’s lives. I like to play cupid! Valentine’s Day I have personally renamed Valentina’s Day because people sometimes assume I was named Valentina because I was born on St. Valentine’s Day. Instead of hating times when people celebrate romance and love, I decide to give in and take it up as my special day. If I am alone, so be it, I will create romance for my own self. Even on days when it is not Valentine’s Day, I will buy myself roses and fill my home with the sweet ambiance one would reserve when they expect a visit from their lover.

I have a lot of friends who are men. Because they are not attracted to me, they feel comfortable asking me questions about women, and I’m all too willing to talk about our romantic differences, seeking out more information about the opposite sex myself, hoping to discover how I became so defective at romance.  Most questions focus specifically on why more women do not appreciate romance and what is it they are doing wrong when it comes to attracting women.  I do not think I am the right woman to answer that question and yet I need to answer that question because I take romantic overtures as a threat!

I have one very horrible reason why I have trouble dating…  I was sexually assaulted on a blind date, a casual acquaintance who was very charming and romantic, the perfect guy that my friends thought was right for me.  This is the first time I am revealing why I fear dating.  I do not like it when a man I do not know, or even one I know only a little about, comes on to me and/or asks me on a date.  I panic.  I turn down the offer.  No matter how cute the guy.  I would rather bungee jump than go on a date with someone I do not know.  I do not invite any man I have just met into my home.  I do not go home with a man I have just met.  That’s how they take advantage of you.  They charm you out of your better senses.  It scares me out of believing that romance can lead to love.    The only way I can date anyone is to first get to know them and that may take a month or two.  Most guys are impatient.  They take that as a sign I am not interested.  But that is my personal story.  Other women have it less hard.

The questions men ask intrigue me because I wonder why they are having a hard time when it seems like they have it much easier, they have busier social lives than I do, and approach other people so openly, without a care. Several of them casually date, whereas the ritual of dating is a horror story for me, and I envy the friends I have who go out and hook up. I do not know what it is like to date anymore. I don’t have a normal social life.  Men who somehow manage to break through to me have not been keen to becoming my boyfriends.  I could just as easily ask them why it is men do not appreciate my efforts to please them. A woman should not do all the wooing, yet I won’t get anywhere when there is no real dating, right?

I put some thought into this, into why women do not appreciate romantic overtures from men. First of all, women are smart and sense when they are being had. No woman worth her smarts wants to waste her time on a relationship that will go no where. If she knows ahead of time that the man making a romantic effort is a flash in the pan, she won’t bother to invest her emotions and time in him.  She does not mean to insult a guy, she’s just looking out for her own heart.  Most women are not into temporary relationships, yet more men are.  Men can more easily have a consequence-free affair, but women have more to worry about because they can get pregnant.  A fling is rarely regarded as romantic, too. Women who are into one night stands, like men who are into the same thing, don’t want an emotional attachment, so romance is something reserved for a love involvement.  Purely sexual relationships are like eating a good meal, romance complicates things.

Secondly, romance is often considered insincere.  We don’t forget that it’s used as a superficial ploy by some men to lure normally inhibited women out of their panties. If I woman is more reserved, she’s that way for a reason, be it for religion, health, or simply because she’s holding out for a long-term relationship. A man handing out candy and hearts and whispering sweet nothings could very well be just playing, and if he’s someone she does not know at all or not well, no amount of romance is going to win her trust, especially if she’s been burned. Sometimes it is part of the game for a woman to play hard to get to keep his interest, not to torture him, but to make sure he knows that she is not the type who is easily seduced. She wants to show him that she is faithful and worth the wait. His charms do not go completely unappreciated, the appreciation is temporarily suspended.

Besides the obvious fact that it could be she just is not interested, the third reason is a man putting on a romantic act is trying too hard. When it’s seen as desperate, you are going to turn off the person who you are begging to impress. I should know, I do this sort of thing without realizing it sometimes when I am making friends and trying to get attention from my friends. I believe romantic men whose efforts go unappreciated are as lonely as me. When we sit back and grumble about why we go unappreciated, we create bitterness and that only builds this dark cloud that will rain on our future attempts to attract love into our lives.

Perhaps women and men do not know what romance really is because we are given the wrong blue print at childhood. We read the fairy tales and were inspired by the heroes who won over evil (and won the girl) and wanted to be beautiful damsels who magically turned into princesses by just one kiss from a stranger. We want to rescue and be rescued, or screw that and just rescue each other from the dragons of despair and deceit. We go on quests and do all kinds of stupid stunts to gain each other’s affection and raise our swords and scream “PICK ME!”  We tell each other what we think is the pathway to our hearts, but I feel like it all leads to disappointment, we cannot live up to our heroes, because they are ideas, they are not meant to live up to reality.  Romance is not reality.  We have to create something else to replace our old notions of romance…

Romance is not the way to the heart. Say good-bye to it. It just does not work. Reality is better than romance. Be for real. Write a new love story. Redefine romance! The reality of togetherness is far stronger than romance. Give me dedication and devotion over the fine trappings and temporary glamour of romance. I want to wake up in the morning and go to bed without someone pestering me with constant pretty reminders of love — those are for those who do not worship love.  I do not believe romance is the glue of togetherness. But woo me all the time, nonetheless! Togetherness does not come out of romance. Togetherness happens when there are no questions or doubts, when it just is there and there is no denying it, only the having it, when hearts agree and stick together under any circumstance, existing long past any predictions of not making it. Is that my true definition of romance? The very thing I am missing that no one has given me? Even without it, I make a shrine to it, I hug it, and will never give it up.  No matter how many times I’m given excuses.  No matter how many times I’m told no one can provide it.  And no matter how many times men tell me I’m wrong to long for it, I see it in the eyes and arms of lovers who last, and even if I do not ever find my togetherness, at least I prayed it everyday.

Postcard #43: To Make Up for All the Lost Days

Forgive me for the days I surrendered this body to the wind. The days I lost my voice and forgot to sing. I did not realize you would miss me so much. Those were the days I took for myself. Days of a sacred silence so fragile, gossamer-precious, and so fine — I wore it all — a gown made of breeze, with dying flowers and leaves for accessories, leaving nothing to cover the delicates — and I moved in worries and whispers, sore lonely, exposed for attention, and yet not receiving it. Like a nude on frozen block, I grew chapped and bitten, and as night made sun shrink, and with each growing less-and-less day, each twilight the shadows sought to cover me. Quickly they had their way with me, kind, warm fingers and hands preparing me for the winter. And as their stretched-all-too-long forms grew darker, denser, heavier, their arms stronger, lifting me up, carrying me home, putting me back to bed, they remind me that as the darkness makes the cold harder, you are disappearing further away. But, to the Shadows, any thing moving away is disappearing. And I tell them dis-appearing does not mean no-longer-being-a-thing.

“For look at You, in the darkness You yet live,” I say, and soundlessly they scatter about as if dancing in and out of flickering firelight.

We start the day in darkness. We end it in darkness.
Just as we end and begin each year in darkness.
All things are born in and return to the dark.

Darkness is not a no thing. Nothing. Darkness is not nothing.

Yet why do we fear these Shadows inching close upon us? Stay in the light and go into the light! so often is said to lost and wandering souls, because the darkness seems an enemy, a void, dead and vast, the eternal black without escape. Light projects the sense of salvation, but only because it allows us to see what is ahead of us, and to know what is all around us gives us no need for faith or trust. Light is the easy way out, the drawing away from all that is profane and not heavenly, the point out of this tenebrous Earth.

But… to make friends with the dark! That is a true way to develop faith and trust, in yourself, in your Gods, in all the invisible things that stretch out to you and support your life. Shadows have no need to deceive. They project no thing. No thing ceases to exist when it disappears. When a thing is lost, it has moved, no longer in sight, yet lives beyond our reach, becomes a thing now living past our sense of sight and touch, like a spirit, or existing in spirit, or might as well be a spirit. And we can talk to each other like we do our spirits. We can conjure up a chat. Create an astral coffee-house. Sit a spell in a space within my mind and dream up embraces…

But you are not a thing, not just spirit, you are a Being. There is the difference. And when I wrote ‘Being’ a crow in the distance calls and the wind kicks up the leaves just outside my window as if to answer it.

Last half of August and all of September I was truly naked, now you can find me in the woods with my full winter cloak on, and dancing with all the happy shadows, and it is almost as if I cannot feel the cold. There are so many happy shadows in October, ever so eager to talk in that silent way that wolves and cats do, you know, with their eyes and the simple movements, but they people-mimic-it as all shadows learn to do. They spring out behind me, dance from tree to tree. Sometimes take to sky, glide from branch to branch, ride on the crisping leaves and shake them — the only way they can try to sing — that whisper-rustle that happens without the wind, or you could have sworn there was no wind, yet there must have been… And anywhere you are they can follow unseen, get mistaken for other living things that walk through the leaves, just a step behind or in front of you, more than one of them, happy in the knowledge they can do anything they want to without you freaking out. Because the Shadows are darkness and humans associate anything black with evil. But it is such a lovely secret I share with you and I dare you to come out into the darkness with me. The shadows are especially beautiful when they cast themselves over the big full white moon on a clear sky, shaking the last October leaves left on the skeletal oak branches, making the moon seem to move like a globe filled with black glitter. We can stare at that for hours, sit on the hard ground while our cheeks and eye-lashes get dusted by frost, watch as the shadows only seem to disappear as dawn convinces them to change form, and delight at how it is not yet too cold to sleep outside, but how sweet it is now to drag feet back home for a hot thing to drink.

More crows gather on the very branches where I saw the shadows dance over the moon last night. They sing their crooky-crackle songs that always seem to announce that, yes, this is October. Grease blue-black wings look best against a background of reds, oranges, yellows, and the last of the green.

The days I did not post cards from home, I spent in dis-appearance and in dis-courage, retreating into bed. I was not lost, more like hidden, in love with my own shadow, grieving over no thing. I felt ‘what I do has no meaning for anyone else but me’ especially after a loved one casually told me ‘did it ever occur to you that what you write are things no one wants to know?’ but they did not mean it to hurt me. Never is it the critique of strangers, but the innocent and disparaging comments of our closest loved ones who are the hardest on us.  (Why is it that family is does that so well?)  And then, just as I am about to believe all I hope to achieve is pipe dream, an audience finds me, writes back to me, asks about me, voices from faraway tell me how much I mean to them, and a different pressure pokes me, ‘now that I’ve created meaning for others, what is it do I mean?’

To make up for all the lost days, I write thousands of words, start over, re-write, trash that, make more starts, think I need to erase and edit, tighten and try for something better, but there is no excuse! Shadows release me from doubt. After a long while of restlessness, it is not sleep I lacked, it was the healing that darkness brings to sore eyes and mind, it shelters and cradles me like a mother’s womb, and it is from there I revive.

I am not starting over. I am smoothing out my feathers. I am picking up where I left off. It no longer matters why I am writing, who I am writing for, what I am writing about, only that I write, and that what I write is out of my own truth. Whether or not everyone I love reads it, you, out there, the one reading this, you are my reader, my muse, my unknown lover, the subject I write to, what ‘you’ is all about.

I am here.  I’ll be here.  Devoted, visible, not a no thing, friend of shadow, always your girl, no matter where or who or how far you are.

This is for you as much as it is for me.