I’m Not Mad

In life, and love, there is no joy without suffering. (Bummer, right? Wrong.) The experience of being is a series of movements pushing forward, and pulling back in a sequence of over and under correcting. Living is an emotional journey in which we gravitate towards the things and people that fill us with goodness, yet like everything else in the universe there’s fall-out, or an equalizing, diametric effect, think of it as a sweet and spicy barbeque sauce.

We feel the difference between the seemingly opposites because of the distance we create by our thoughts. If we just focus on the spicy our tongues are going to burn, but if we mix in the sweet, or just tap the roof our mouths with it, everything finishes a lot sweeter. Happiness and resentment grow out of the same root, they are emotions our minds pick. We have choices whether or not to see good, or bad, either way they’re linked because what is will always be, and for the most part we are powerless except for how we view our circumstances, or which flavor to taste.

This isn’t a new concept for mankind; this is something most religions, sages, preachers of enlightenment, (chefs,) and some psychotherapist have been teaching since our primate minds evolved into supreme thinkers. However, for me I’m just now getting it, eureka baby, finally, eu freaking reka! So now what? Understanding is just the beginning. Implementing the Jedi-mind trick is the next lesson; I’m looking forward to the practical, or the work portion, well kind of, (just keeping it real.) But, I am excited about tasting a sweet-flavored life even if it means working hard for the savory rewards.

My relationship with Susan is a great menu item to start with because my feelings for her provoke intense vulnerability. This defenseless order is as a gateway for extreme feelings of love, but also heighted fears of pain. My feelings and fears associated with her branch from an unguarded-artery. My heart divides freely for her but the opening is susceptible to old emotional infections, or a safety within the hurt. Our love holds both, finding the distinction is the separation that creates misery, but seeing it and not being able to put it down is perilous. All it takes is the right circumstances to rekindle my wounded little girl places. Once those raw layers are penetrated, I have a hard time overcoming the heaviness of my psyche, and find it almost impossible to receive love.
Essentially, sometimes I get in my own way. I see the possible harm instead of the abundance of gifts. I’m trying to change that automatic response even in the midst of polarizing fear. Understanding what’s happening is the first step, and the second is recognizing the triggers, and the third is to make corrections. Right? It’s a good theory but my crash test dummy often gets mangled. I usually get stuck between the trigger and the correction, sometimes I can even see myself there but time freezes as I watch myself collide in an emotional pile-up.

That’s what happened few weeks ago when Susan made plans without me, I felt turned inside out. It was like a wind that blew feelings of abandonment all over me. I was caught in the turbulence of perceived rejection. My heart felt trapped inside a twisted knot, and blood pooled making my feet heavy. Time stopped. I could see the absurd nature of my alarm, but I was already in the storm. I knew this wasn’t about Susan, other than allowing myself to be close to her; it was about my inner turmoil. Her behavior was completely normal and acceptable for the circumstances, but my reaction was uncontrollable, I felt weak and scattered.

After she left I decided to shelf her for the day by emotionally detaching. I tried suiting up in my she-ro armor of disguise, but I couldn’t make myself invisible to her. She could still touch me with discomfort, but the mom-show had to go on, so I forged ahead. My children needed me and at least I had mind enough not to let my dress-up parade, or problems interfere.

I swallowed, wiped my eyes against my elbows and went about my business. I got the kids dressed and off to Sunday school. Their usual complaints weren’t welcomed but I did my best.

“I hate Sunday school, it’s so boring. All we do is sing.” I’m sorry you don’t like it but you have to go, and besides don’t forget there’s a carnival today. (When all else fails, resort to bribery.) I’ll meet you inside at our usual meeting place. Bye, I love you, be good. I’ll see you soon.”

I drove home with two hours to kill before the carnival trying to figure out how to make myself feel better. I knew I needed a run, but my knees thoughts otherwise so I settled for a walk.

I tried working my new system by focusing on being grateful instead of the emptiness inside. I took note of the mild, sunny weather, and the unfolding of spring, the blooming salmon-pink azaleas and pollinating dogwoods. I looked for critters and birds, following their sounds and replying as if communicating. “Well hello there Mrs. Robin Redbreast, your tummy looks mighty round today. Hi Mr. squirrel, you sure are busy running those limbs. Tall tree, is that a woodpecker carving at your top?” I found childhood delight in the plants and animals and I thought curiously about maw-maw wondering if she could feel me. “Maw-Maw? Is that you, a pedal on a flower? I know you’re with me and feel my sadness.” I smiled with a drop of bitterness. I’d found my ancient remedy for age-old sores, but it needed to be updated.

When I was little I spent hours outside exploring the unknown looking for something I didn’t have, or trying to get away from my mother. I’d ride my bike up to strange mailboxes as if ordering food from a drive-thru. “Hi, I’d like a happy meal with a coke.” Imagining someone would answer back, “Would you like a cheeseburger or hamburger with that happy-meal?” “Oh, I’ll take cheeseburger, thank you. And can I please have some ketchup?” I’d pedal on squinting my eyes, and wrinkling my nose against the sun until I was hungry again. “Hi, I’ll have a large dipped cone and a small fry.”

I met unknown animals along the way, following them until they were out of sight. I’d scoot off my bike and crouch down under shrubs with my palm extended toward a cold nose and long whiskers. “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, here kitty. Come on out kitty.” I searched trees for nests with little candied eggs, and in creeks for salamanders and turtles. I picked flowers braiding them together in halos and blew dandelions making wishes in the air. I’d pray for the madness to stop, and for my mother to love me.

And on certain nights when the screaming wouldn’t stop, I’d pull the blankets up around my ears crying in bed, calling out to my dead Paw-Paw, “If you were here you’d never leave me. You wouldn’t let her do that to me, would you? I know you’re watching over me.” I’d fall asleep squeezing my pillow tight with a stuffed animal on my head. The next morning I’d get up careful not to wake her and get myself ready for school, leaving without anyone saying goodbye.

I learned how to make adjustments according to her moods. She did as little as possible, and I picked up the slack where she left off, in whatever means necessary. I coped by escaping, and left out of fear. She only wanted me when she needed me, a secret in the void of protection. “Shannon, do you love me?” Um hm. that’s good. Momma’s had a hard life. Oh, as my eyes shot side to side looking for the chance to lock myself away in my room, in my world of make-believe and nice families. I’m going to play with my Barbie-dolls. Don’t ever get married Shannon, and don’t ever have kids.

As I walked, everything reminded me of my childhood. I found contentment and connection in nature. I made up my own rules, and tried repressing my deep emotions except for when speaking to the dead. I felt innocent and temporary relief from burden, but it didn’t last. In order to make it stick, I knew I needed to combine the lightness of my childhood imagination, with the choices of an adult.

I didn’t get to hand-select my mother or childhood experience, but as an adult I have more control over how to feel, and I want all the goodness life has to offer. I’m the only way out of my childhood, and I’m not going to keep myself locked inside and locked out of love.

When I contemplate an exit, it’s an invitation to free myself from my past, by understanding more about who I am. I’m working on forgiving my mother and hopefully myself but they are intertwined, one enables the other.
Through this process I’m honing in on my strengths although my insecurities sometimes prevent me from accepting them. It’s always been easier to embrace the negatives as they kept me free from self-evaluating, and accountability. The things I disliked most about myself provided a constant excuse to blame everyone else for my failures. I hid behind past resentments instead of searching for the changes I needed to make. In the end, it’s about me and how to atone for my mistakes.
My book is the vehicle, and writing it is where I’m finding and sharing my gifts. I’m wounded and scarred but I’m uncovering beauty underneath. Hopefully my words will heal my spirit and smooth out my jagged edges by helping others as well. We all hurt, but we’re also resilient, and capable of living triumphantly despite our hardships.
I’m beginning the process of organizing a book proposal and I need your help. You’ve become my focus group and I’d like to hear from you. It’s recommended that I do market research within my audience. Will you help me? If so, please let me know how my writing makes you feel? What types of response does it elicit for you?
Do any of these titles move you?
Baby You’re No Good
Flattening Under Cars
Hiding under Cars
Jumping from Cars
Raw Rainbows
Nurturing the Rawness
Broken Dishes
The Unconventional Rainbow
Breaking Dishes
Breaking Dishes and Healing Hearts
Sticky But Not Tragic
Somewhere Other Than Tragic
Wounded and Breathing
The Wounded Side of a Rainbow
The Scars of a Rainbow
Wounded and The Softness of White Vinyl
Blame is Lame
Crazy is better than Fiction
Thanks for your input, SK


About Runs With Tigers

I'm like air, forever flowing, moving, changing, gaining and losing myself, undefinable. View my complete profile
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12 Responses to I’m Not Mad

  1. Kendra says:

    Your writing makes me feel period. I relate, I contemplate, I laugh and hurt for you. Not sure if my relationship with you makes me feel more than I would if I didnt know you.
    I liked the “You cant make this sh__ up” title but out of the ones you listed… not sure, just thought a touch of humor would make it more appealing as a read of non-fiction because its nice to laugh at problems. But that’s just me… maybe Crazy is Better than Fiction.

  2. Monocurious says:

    I forgot about that one. I love it, but would the book stores?

  3. amy says:

    I have known you since you were a child. I knew then what you are learning now and I love that you are putting a voice to this life of yours.
    I like baby your no good and crazy is better then fiction.
    I love the lyrical way you write. That it brings the reader into your breath, your moments.
    I am proud of you for having the courage to fearlessley plant your feet and look at life square in the eyes and say “uh-ah, no more witchy woman.”
    May you continue to be a blessing and be blessed.
    I love you.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I like Hiding Under Cars and just The Softness of White Vinyl. I could see those titles on an Amazon list and I would want to know what they were about. So happy to hear you’re taking the next step. Your writing is so good and it grabs you. Keep it coming.

  5. kat says:

    Hiding beneath cars. Sticky but not tragic. Crazy is better than fiction, but research that to make sure nothing too similar is out there.

  6. kat says:

    Someone mentioned the title you cant make this sh*t up and you mentioned being concerned about the bookstores. You could use You Can’t Make This Up which woukd have a double meaning.

  7. Alecia says:

    Of course your writing brings out many feelings for me…. I think everyone can relate to some degree, which is beautiful because it reminds us that we are all connected. I like 4 of these titles… here they are in preferential order.
    Baby your no good, The scars of a Rainbow, Breaking Dishes and Healing Hearts, The Unconventional Rainbow.

    Love You!

  8. Susie Lazega says:

    I sent my first reaction response from my phone in Florida and it didn’t go through. I like to share that response more than a belated one, so bummer. I enjoy your writing style. I am typically captivated by the story and wish that it wouldn’t end, and I am dissappointed when it’s over for that week.
    The title that keeps running through my head as my favorite is Raw. I also like Breaking Dishes. Broken Dishes sounds a little too close to the last Twilight book
    “Breaking Dawn.” There are several other options given that are catchy, and today they made me think of great titles for chapters or short stories within the book. I have a visual image of you under a car, squshed inside a closet, making yourself so small that the beast might not find you.
    Again, sorry for the delay. The response won’t go through from my phone. xoxo, Susie

  9. Susie Lazega says:

    I purposely wrote my 1st response before I read the others. I agree with Kendr & Amy about “Crazy is better than Fiction.” For some reason I am stuck on the short attention span of (some or most) people. Probably having to do with holding my own interest. I think that is why I went to the shorter titles. I also mention this becase I am regularly thrilled that your writing makes me concentrate and not want to be interrupted, engrossed. That is a great thing to be able to say about someone’s writing!Susie

  10. Kelly says:

    I am having a hard time putting my reaction into words, but here goes….I am not trying to be too blunt, just giving you my honest reaction, uncensored. I agree with the comment that a lot of those titles sound more like chapter titles vs. book titles. Your writing carries with it a humor and a sense of hope that I don’t feel is captured in those titles. Don’t ask me why, but I feel like there is something there with the “XXX Scary Doll Warehouse” (not sure if that is the exact title).

    It is inspiring that you are taking such a brave step, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I am sure whatever it is, it will be absolutely amazing. You have a strong voice and a story that will captivate people. Good luck!

    • monocurious says:

      Kelly, that wasn’t too blunt at all. I seek the opinions of those who only tell the truth. I appreciate your feedback-all of it. I was actually thinking about the comedy thing a few days ago but wasn’t sure if other people get my humor.

  11. Ellen Kaplan says:

    I like Baby You’re no Good

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