The Month of June

The month of June holds layers of love and grief toppled throughout each moment. As each day passes, I have new memories scattered in my brain that I wish were happening. I imagine that they are still here celebrating these times with us all. The “they” I speak of are my dazzling brothers who I painstakingly miss every moment of my life.

Yes, June is Pride month and we have so much to celebrate. At times it hard to imagine Adam is not here to be apart of it. When we lost my brother Adam, everyone lost. The world and the LGBTQIA+ lost a great eccentric, loving and magnificent man.

Being gay in small towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio was no easy feat and notably this was in the late 80s and early 90s. A beautiful queer boy wearing leopard print bikini underwear while doing his little sister’s makeup in a trailer in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. How could you not admire and look up to him? He was amazing.

Adam ended up doing some of the most fierce drag I’ve ever seen! Nikki Monte was a fabulous dancer, entertainer and loved by so many, especially in Buffalo, NY. He won many a crowns and had a standing act at a bar/club called Buddies (I believe that’s the one but I cannot remember). He was never afraid to be who he was and I admire that oh so much. He had a presents about him that made you feel light and airy. I miss how he made me feel. I miss our talks and reminiscing about the stupid things we did. Or how I’m still terrified of people curling my hair because of how many times he burnt me!

June is also the home of my brother Josh’s birthday. It’s memories like these that feel like a kick to the chest, just knocks the wind out of you. You know it’s coming, you see it barreling straight for you but there’s no jumping out of it’s way. This year I took the hit and decided to completely feel it. I went through every photo I own. I laughed, cried and felt sorry for myself, my nieces, my parents, and all the people who miss them dearly.

June holds so much in it. It’s a time to embrace all the shitty things that come with growth. To know that the people of the world can be cruel but that they can also overcome. June is about remembering where we’ve come from and how much farther we still have to go. It’s about never giving up on ourselves and standing for those who can’t. June for me represents strength, pain, light, anger, grief, sibling empowerment, and growth.

So until next June, I will continue to work to advocate for those who need me. For those little boys in leopard print undies just wanting to do makeup and for those who struggle with self love. You are worthy of your own love first and the respect of the world.

Living For Those I’ve Lost

Potential. There’s this phrase, “…living up to your potential.” Yet, we all have that potential to do and be great. That’s a weight we as humans carry around like an invisible backpack strapped tight to our shoulder blades. How are we using this time we’re given to reach that potential that people put upon us? Better yet, the potential we all know we have but at times just don’t feel like doing anything with.

I recently wrote about questioning my worthiness and grief playing apart of that. I’ve been examining my grief with a magnifying glass. Parts of it are still so foreign that I can’t make them out while others continue to sting like a fresh sunburn still out in the sun. Grief is a piece of my soul that vibrates with each breath that raises my chest.

I’ve been picking apart this notion of my own potential. I feel like I’ve grabbed those invisible backpacks of my brothers and thrown them on my back, too. I want to do so much but the thought of all this potential combined is just paralyzing. Where do I start? What do I need to do for them so that they have a spark of fulfillment within my doing? Living for those I’ve lost is interlaced with self doubt and an urgency for their legacy.

February is a grueling and exhausting month. I lost my dad (Bubba) on the 18th and my brother (Adam) on the 25th. I remember those days like a movie I’ve watched over and over again. It doesn’t feel as if I’ve lived them as much as experienced them on a level unknown to the mind and body. How can I live up to their potential if I’m unable to navigate my own movements.

Am I Worthy?

I find myself asking that question with “Am” in italics.

Many times thoughts float into my overloaded brain and stick on the top like a fluorescent note screaming in my face. Recently that note screams “Am I worthy?” and I’m taken back for a minute debating it. Then I get back to my task at hand until that beaming question sticks on top once again.

I’ve worked very hard to redirect my thoughts to be kind and loving words to myself. This has been a mammoth undertaking since I’ve wrestled with it all of my existence. Gentle and fierce love is one of the great qualities I have toward others but never inward. I’m proud of the person I’m becoming to myself because I believe it’s allowing me to love in a healthier way to those dear to me. So when this strange feeling seeps in deep with a feeling of uneasiness, I’m confused about what to do.

How do we convince ourselves that we are worthy of so much more than we currently have? Again, survivor’s guilt is a deep-seated sorrow that I carry on my chest as I maneuver through my everyday life. I want to be more and do more than they ever imagined but the question floats in like a fluffy, weightless feather that hits like a brick, “Am I worthy?”.

Grief Greetings

For many, the holiday season is fast approaching. Nothing can stop it from rolling on in, not even a worldwide pandemic. Definitely not the heart wrenching grief that fills my existence just weeks before Halloween.

You see, for me, it’s not Season’s Greetings. This is the season of loss and realization that I am much more alone than I like to admit. I’m also burdened with a deep sadness that strips me of all my fabricated happiness that I’ve conjured up. It’s the breaking point of where I cannot hide behind the success I’ve had both professionally and personally.

October 31st (or at least very close to it) is usually a fun and exciting time for many. They get to decorate their homes and persons, celebrate being someone or something else while surrounded by people they love or new possible friends. So many different things happen around Halloween for people of all ages. Most get a sliver of excitement within their own boundaries. My brother Adam absolutely loved Halloween. He went all out with decorations and parties. Adam made you feel light as a feather with his magical entrancement of the holiday that ended with the start of his birthday with the strike of midnight, Day of the Dead.

Of course, this is just the inauguration of the Grief Greetings. Not far behind is the blindside of December 1st. It seems to slide me off track like rubber on black ice. Never even seeing it before I realize that I’m spinning out of control with anxiety and flashbacks of that call. Wondering if this has all been a bad dream when I realize his number doesn’t call him anymore.

Then of course, everyone around me is making plans with their families and complaining about someone that they have to “put up with” at the family gatherings when all I want for Christmas is for my brothers to drive me crazy so I can roll my eyes at them and I laugh hysterically. The actualization of never experiencing these moments with them again steep deep into my essence. Moments overcome me when I want to wail my pain and frustration out of my soul and into the chilly air for all to experience.

Grief Greetings. Ah, I am not alone…yet I am. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will come and go. I will inevitably sneak off into the bathroom to cry for my brothers and Dad, wishing them happiness and peace although I really just want them to magically appear when I open that door back up with rosy cheeks.

So as you make your way to your Season of Greetings and Holidays, fully and sincerely enjoy yours for those of us who may not have that ability. Our journeys may not be the same but we all still have love to remember and give.

Who Me, Anxious?

I didn’t realize that I was having a panic attack until I was preparing to fly back home to Ohio when we lost my brother Josh. I was on the phone with my doctor asking about something completely different and the concern in his voice made me feel terrible! But of course, him being the amazing human that he is, he guided me into a small space of comfort and I began to breathe in a more relaxing state but not quite back to normal. That’s when he dropped the bomb of reality on me. “You’re having a panic attack.”

Boom! What? How could that be? Shouldn’t I know if I have a panic attack? Wouldn’t I be able to read my own body and know when it’s going haywire? Apparently not.

I didn’t have time to reevaluate my reality or perception of my emotions and reactions. My doctor said he was going to prescribe me something to help me on my disturbing journey home and we could talk about it when I got back to Austin. However, when I picked it up at the pharmacy the pharmacist told me to be careful because it would turn me “into a zombie” so I didn’t take it at all. Looking back I wish I would have taken it. It wasn’t until I got back and spoke with my doctor that I decided to use it when I needed it.

Fast forward to the current day and the state of affairs that are happening globally. My anxiousness can overflow my bloodstream as I read article after article and my heartbeats faster and faster until I feel it vibrating my brain. My mind goes straight to two main fears and unfortunately, with an anxiety filled mind or not, I fully believe them to be accurate beliefs and fears.

My mind goes to the fear of my Mom being exposed to the virus that’s taken over our Mother Earth. Not only is she “high risk” for catching it due to her suppressed immune system, she’s SUPER “high risk” for complications of the virus. So I try to calculate how she can be exposed and how likely is it to actually get to her. Many times I believe she’s taking all the precautions she can and there’s a faint chance of her coming into contact with it. All her doctors are canceling her appointments & tests, she doesn’t leave her home too often and her friend is helping where she can. THEN! That’s when I realize! Starr has to go out into the world to help my Mom and she’s going to bring it to her unknowingly! Or my grandparents, one has Alzheimer’s pretty bad now, but the other one is dragging the other out to eat and whatnot. My Mom has stopped going to their house to visit. But that won’t last too long because it’s my Mom’s Mommy who has Alzheimer’s and she wants to be with her as much as she can before she forgets who her first born is. (My heart shattered into a million pieces as I typed that out.)

Next thing that flashes bright in my face like a spotlight heating me up and I’m sweating while panting out of breath; A thought that haunts me daily but it’s now under a microscope and I see it so clearly. The idea of me contacting the virus and due to my underlying health issues, I succumb to it and leave my parents childless. What an appalling thought to even stomp around in my body but it does. I can feel it in my spine, in my stomach, on the back of my neck.

Anxiety is something, at times, I’m not able to control and that’s extremely hard to admit. My mind races with fears and realities that I’m not able to contain and I can feel angry or I can feel overwhelming heartsick. The anger is something new to me so that’s even more combating. I try to recognize it when it starts oozing into my being, yes my being because it fills my entire body not just my mind. I can’t just snap out of it so I take walks, I take a shower and say everything I’m thankful for starting with the water. I cuddle with my puppy dog and sing or talk to her. I spend time with people who bring me happiness. Even then, it is still there so I spend sometime alone with my thoughts and let them be and try to talk through them.

Anyone else anxious like me?

Side B – To the Man Who Loved Me

I’ve never dreamt of a man who would come rescue me. I never anticipated a spark of a love that would glow bright in a darken stretch of loneliness. Then you showed up.

We spent weeks divulging secrets we didn’t share with other lovers. We laid our hearts bare at each other’s feet and had the deepest confidence in our affection. It was pure, it was profound. It was more than either of us could ever envision.

We cultivated a life that we cherished and shared with those around us. Before we knew it we grew into a family and shared all aspects of our lives together. Long enchanting road trips that never became boring, nights of laughter and new experiences that we both loved. We traveled, we entertained ourselves, we adored one another.

Life wasn’t always perfect and I made my share of mistakes. But I will never regret the life we shared. I will hold our years close with fondness and growth. You showed me that I was capable of more than I believed and helped me accept the success I was achieving. For that alone, I am forever grateful.

Thank you for sharing nearly six years of your life with me. Thank you for loving me. Because of the man you are, I am now the woman I am today.

I hope this reaches you. I hope you know that our love was magic and that no matter what, I will hold Side B much closer to my heart.

To the Man Who Broke My Already Broken Heart

I want to be angry with you because I feel like that might make healing easier. But I’m not angry, I’m saddened and heartbroken.

The lies that rolled off your curled tongue has stolen the trust I had for not only you but for myself. I no longer trust myself to believe the words that flow from another’s mouth into my ears. I question the genuineness of those who want to exist in my radius. The unprotected love I thrive to share with the world is starting to feel filtered. And that’s life altering.

Thoughtless phrases that trickled from your jaw to my center still ring in my head. Begging you to say something nice to me because I could not receive another put down no matter how innocent you perceived it to be. Replaying moments where I should have spoken up and loved myself more than I loved you. Allowing red flags to wave gently in my face as I pivoted away from them.

Through all of this pain and grief I’m searching for goodness, even a subtle hint. Although it’s uncomfortable to admit this, I feel like the goodness I’ve found is me. I loved you the best I could. I helped elevate you in ways that will stay with you forever. I was the other half of our home that I loved so much. Now I have to be that goodness for myself and do all those things I did for you, now for me. You exposed my weaknesses and through that I discovered patience & acceptance for myself. That’s a gift you gave to me through all the tribulations.

There’s no elegant way to end this piece of brain matter that I deem necessary to share. So, to the man who broke my already broken heart, I hope you read this and feel something.

Beginning Self Forgiveness

I’ve made numerous mistakes in my life. I’ve also made right choices. It’s figuring out how to find that forgiveness for myself, the kind where I’m always open to understanding the shortcomings or imperfections of others and seeing why or how they feel and do those hurtful things. But I seem to hold myself at a different standard. Like I’m not allowed to have a misstep and if I do, then I don’t deserve the same love and understand that I share with those around me. How dare I not see clearly the first time and wade through all the bullshit and come out unscathed.

Now is the time I have to change for myself. To look into my swollen red eyes that burn with the tears that have fallen down my rosy cheeks. To tell myself that loving someone and trusting them isn’t something to be ashamed of when it ends up being a mistake. How many times has forgiveness fallen upon those who may not have earned it, at least not at the moment I gave it to them.

So how do I go about this forgiveness? Do I replay all the failures and misjudgments to see where I went wrong? Then will I understand why I did what I did? Or should I start with a clean slate, tell myself that from this moment on I will take care of myself. That I will fill my cup until it’s overflowing with so much self-love and respect that I will never allow another person to mistreat me again. That I will set boundaries with those I care about so that I can continue to learn about myself and have myself dignity.

But I know that I’ll make more mistakes in my life. I’m only human, right? So I can do all those things I just listed but I have to make sure I learn from what I’ve already lived through. I have to go back to how do I forgive myself, how do I trust myself? It’s important to rewind back in time and feel those emotions that I felt when I realized I had made a mistake. I’m still holding onto those mistakes today and not just the present ones that flood my heart and mind of all these misdoings I’ve allowed to happen to me or just accepted when I should not have. It’s reliving the past so that I can heal today because I deserve my own forgiveness. I deserve to truly forgive myself so I can learn to trust myself.

I’m going to take this journey of self discovery and forgiveness. I know it’s going to be a rough and painful descend as I release myself into the murkiness of past trauma but it’s something that has to be done. I’m not sure how long this expedition will last but I know it’ll take some time. I have to unravel the thread and find my way. Each knot untied should lessen the guilt and sting I have held onto for far too long. I have to focus on…me.

 

 

What and Where Are Your Fears?

Fearful Girl
Fearful Girl

What are your fears? Where do these fears come from? Which ones follow you around each day lingering in the background waiting to pounce as soon as you’re ready to make a leap?

Just like happiness, I’m working on recognizing my feelings and understanding them when it comes to fears. Fear is a feeling that I’ve always struggled with, even as a small child. I’ve been afraid of my own feelings, my own thoughts and my own needs, along with unrealistic scenarios. I would fall into pits of fear and become frozen in that moment making it impossible to do what I really wanted or even speak the words I longed to hear slip from my tongue.

Recently, I’ve been able to look at my fears and see them for what they are. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but it’s also one of the best experience I’ve ever had, too. I’m not saying that I’ve conquered all my fears because that’s FAR from the truth. I still have many fears that I’ve struggled with my entire life but I do my best to work through them each day and not just dismiss them until they creep up again and overwhelm all my senses.

One of my major fears is speaking my truth about my feelings and needs. May times my empathy can take over and I’m afraid that what I want or need will ultimately take away from what the other person wants or needs. I’m starting to understand that speaking my truth doesn’t take anything away from someone else. It simply releases my needs and allows someone else to know what I’m feeling. Sharing my feelings isn’t dismissing theirs but intertwining our truths. But it’s so much easier to write that out than to actually do when it comes to that time. When that fear to speak hits me it’s like my throat, tongue and lips have turned to cement. I’m literally trying everything in my power to move them and speak the words that are playing in my head but nothing comes out. I’m terror-stricken to the point of complete silence and my entire body is numb and feels like I’m wearing a weighted vest that’s suffocating me.

Most of my fears are emotional fears, yes, but I have a few that go along with my grief. A fear that I now hold since my brother Josh passed and I was made a lone sibling. I’m afraid I’m going to die before my parents. That fear follows me no matter where I go and it’s the heaviest of all my fears.  I’m afraid that I’m going to make them into childrenless parents and that breaks my heart over and over again.

So what do we do with our fears and how do we handle them? Well, we have to make a game plan. We have to decide to take steps each day to recognized them and see them for what they really are. For me, writing them down, reading through them and breaking them down has helped me. I try to make a timeline of when I first felt that way and why. Was that fear founded in truth of the situation or was I just afraid to speak my truth, know the truth or accept the truth? Some fears have been there so long that we don’t know where they initially came from so you break it down from the last situation you felt that exact fear. Fears like to hide and manifest in many different ways. We have to do our best to stop ourselves in our tracks when we see our fears taking over. Even if you have to walk away from the situation for a few minutes to understand yourself, it’s worth it.

Fears are scary! They can do a lot of damage but they can also help us grow. Let your fears help you and take control of them.

 

What and Where Is Your Happiness?

What is your happiness? Do you even know what or where it is? Are you afraid of your happiness?

I’ve been working on finding my happiness or should I say happinesses. Sometimes I forget that I have happiness in many different aspects, in different moments, feelings, activities, shapes. Sometimes my happinesses last for seconds, minutes, hours, and days. But it always passes which is apart of happiness. It can’t last forever.

Yes, that’s the phrase we all hate to hear, “It can’t last forever.” because we never want the happiness to leave. We want to be happy forever and never feel sad or hurt. Our goal is to always be happy but that’s not life. Happiness is fleeting but only in that specific moment. It finds its way back to us even if it takes longer than we’d like.

For me happiness is something I feel a lot of guilt having and truly feeling. This is a topic I’ve spoken about many times. The guilt that I am privileged to experience sincere happiness when my brothers, Josh and Adam, and my Bubba (my step-dad) no longer get to have is heartbreaking. The guilt, in an instant, can be paralyzing. My happiness disappears and I feel angry or sadness about losing them. And people say, “But they would want you to be happy.” or “They wouldn’t want you to feel this way.” That doesn’t change the emotions I bear during these times. It makes no difference what they would want, it’s how I feel.

So what is MY happiness? How do I find it and accept it? I have started telling myself that I’m worthy of happiness. That no matter what I have or haven’t done in my life, no matter what I have or haven’t said in my past, I am worthy of feeling happiness. And since happiness leaves us so quickly, I can’t allow a split second of it to pass without fully participating in that moment.

So some of my happinesses come from little things and big events. My happiness is living back in Texas where I am able to be physically active each day. I can walk my pups in the morning and the evenings no matter the time of year. My happiness is being with my nontraditional family of my significant other and our pups. My happiness is laying on the couch with my dogs and man watching tv. It’s tasting that delicious dessert I’ve been craving for days (sometimes weeks!) and just allowing the pleasure of tasting it to take over my mind and body. My happiness is getting a text of the campsite where my Dad is staying or a SnapChat filtered picture from my Mom. My happiness is having a career that I enjoy. My happiness is planning for my future and things I want to accomplish. My happiness is laying in the sun reading a book. My happiness is talking with my best friends. My happiness is exploring new cities.

But I also have happiness in other aspects. My happiness comes from learning to love myself. Looking at myself in the mirror and actually LOOKING at myself. The happiness of being able to enjoy being myself fully and completely. The happiness of setting goals for myself and knowing I can accomplish them all. My happiness is knowing that I have talents and I cannot waste them any longer.

So, I’ve found happiness again. And yes, it’s always fleeting just like yours. But we have to know that we are worthy of our own happiness. A happiness that no one else can give us but ourselves. A happiness that no one else can take away from us. Remember, we can never be happy always. We have to have moments of growth in pain and anguish. And happiness may hide away from time to time. But keep working on finding that happiness again because you are worthy of it. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you are. If I’m worthy of it, so are you.