life day

Lucky 13

It's February 18th. That means it's MY LIFE DAY!!!!

I celebrate this day every year because I almost didn't live to see it. Every year is one more punch in the face to Depression and a notch in my belt. Friday February 18, 2000 I almost committed suicide. I was ready to do it and if it hadn't been for a dear friend being a bastard and calling the campus hotline on me, I probably would've succeeded in becoming a statistic. (At best I would've gotten the, "Dude a chick died in that dorm room and haunts it to this day" urban legend around campus. They probably would've spelled my name wrong, too.) But that anger was enough to say, "Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow after I've punched Jesse in the face."

One day at a time. One reason at a time. One step at a time until 13 years later you're looking back at it and celebrating one of the oddest anniversaries imaginable.

Today is February 18th, 2013. I am not dead. I'm not depressed. I'm not blinded by that depression and I can see the love I had then and cherish the family I have now. I'm a wife and mother. Friend and soul sister. Creative partner. Sworn nemesis. Auntie in the making. I'm an author celebrating a novel and short story sale (did I mention that? Yeah, I sold a short story that will be appearing in an anthology later in the year)... It's not perfect by any means. Still overweight. Still dealing with the occasional back tweak. Life still deals out little traumas and speed bumps, friends are lost and time rolls on. But this existence is mine. All of it. And I have to say that Life. Is. Good.

It gets better. Hurts mend. Dark turns to light. The soul finds its springtime so new life can grow from even the most scarred soil. It gets better. It gets GREAT. And even the great gets better.

It's been 13 years and I'm still here.

(Fuck yeah. Because I feel a 'fuck yeah' was necessary.)

Mine Goes To Eleven!

For those who know me or have been following me for a long time, you know that February 18th always gets a celebratory post. It's not my birthday or wedding anniversary. It's not the day my daughter was born. No, this is a different kind of anniversary. When I was 8 or 9, my parents got divorced. Mom and I moved into our new apartment together on February 18th. I remember something else similarly bittersweet coming to pass on February 18th, but for the life of me, I'm not sure what that was, only that I remarked on the date coming up again. But that's not why I celebrate today, either.

February 18, 2000 was the day I almost died and chose to live.

The short version is that I was suicidal (again) and almost did it. Someone called me, a stranger. She told me that my friends had called the campus hotline and said I was having a "rough time"....that I'd been "thinking of hurting myself".  I lied my way out of that conversation within a few minutes. I wouldn't talk to my friends about it, why would I talk to a stranger? I was so fucking pissed off, so angry that my friends could be so worried about me that they would pawn me off on a stranger then go out for half-priced appetizers, that I stuck around so I could bitch them out the next day. I chose not to kill myself out of sheer spite and vitriol.

They saved my life.

At the time, I didn't see it that way. I saw them as traitorous bastards, but in the past 11 years, I've been able to look at that time with more experienced eyes and I know that I needed that kick in the gut. I needed that anger to light a fire in me to stick around even for just another day. That gave me purpose and it was enough.

I had a cycle. Every five years I fell into this dark place. In 2000, I thought that cycle could only end one way. Thankfully, I was wrong. Five years later, I threw a party. February 18, 2005, I had moved to Arizona, I was with my Ohana, my very own Bee People. Sean and I had been dating and we were talking about getting married. I was at peace and I'd broken a cycle that had started turning when I was in single digits. Five years had gone by and not only did I not want to die, but my life had blossomed.

Last year marked ten years and two broken cycles. I haven't used self-injury as a coping mechanism in ten years.

Because I chose to stick around, I experienced some exquisite hurts and drama, but also some of the most amazing moments of my life. I auditioned for Blue Man Group with my idol! I found a place of peace. The story of my molestation ended with the biggest punch line imaginable! I would've missed that belly laugh! I am surrounded by people that love and support me. My relationships with my parents have deepened. I have an amazing husband and a child that I just can't stop hugging. I am on the cusp of realizing another life-long dream.

I know it's become a bit of a cliche, but I have to say that hell yes, it does get better. It took me a few years to develop it, to find it and to understand it, but it has gotten so much better! I know that I will never fall into that place again. I won't be allowed to. I have too many hands to support me and catch me. I had that before, I just didn't see it for what it was.

I would have missed this.

That would have been the real tragedy.

So today, I celebrate not what happened, but rather what didn't happen. I celebrate that I am here to write this.

Twue Lovee

Yup, the calendar has turned and it's that day again. February 14th. Saint Valentine's Day. Stores and cubicles are festooned with red and pink hearts, people stand on street corners hawking roses and over-sized teddy bears, and the lament begins. Happy Singles' Awareness Day. Every Kiss begins with Kay (TM). I even saw a commercial with a guy in satin pajamas lounging in a candlelit bedroom imploring men to give their women the ultimate gift for Valentine's Day - self-exam for testicular cancer. The tagline: "Why give her a diamond when you can give the family jewels?" Are you fucking kidding me?

I know it may seem blasphemous of me. That I might have to turn in my woman card or that as a married woman I should just shut the fuck up, but I hate Valentine's Day.

I had the typical childhood experiences with this "holiday". I actually liked it back in the day when all you had to do was take a shoe box, some glue and construction paper and BAM! you've made yourself a little mailbox. Everyone in your class got a list of names, so no one would be left out. On Valentine's Day, you'd get a bunch of pre-made, store-bought cards with cartoon characters and super heroes slinging bad puns about love when you're still at an age that the opposite gender has cooties. Back then, it was enough to know that your mom paid $3 for someone to bring you a paper heart with a mint Scotch-taped to it in the middle of class.

But then...

Oh, dear God... PUBERTY! I'd say that's when my utter loathing for Valentine's Day began. Gone were the days of indiscriminate card giving. Down with conversation hearts and shoe-box greetings. Candygrams became a status of your worth! If Cupid sent you something it meant that you had value in the world. As you can probably tell, I never got one. I spent many a Valentine's Day single and hating it. Spent many dances in the corner wishing someone other than my probably-gay friend would ask me to dance. Then, I got a boyfriend and I basked in it. I overcompensated by being disgustingly cute and ignoring everything else in the world except for him and marching band. When that relationship ended, I got used to flying solo for February 14th...and hated it even more.

Many years later, after it has "gotten better" just like they say, I am a married woman with a spectacular family. I've married my best friend, we have a daughter... I smile so much my face hurts and can't stop thinking that I've either won some kind of lottery or I'm in a coma and got really good drugs. But, even still, I find myself cringing on Valentine's Day. Maybe it's performance anxiety. Maybe it's just a lingering habit from my single years. Or maybe, this "holiday" is a bunch of bullshit.

Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers = Affection and Worth in the World

This is the equation we're given to believe. And Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers received on a specific calendar date = Exponentially More Affection and Worth?

I don't think so.

We're told that we're alone if we don't have that ONE special person on this ONE day of the year. That we are meaningless to the rest of society. That is bullshit. You can still be alone in a crowd of people who love you? It goes like this: you define your worth, not a Hallmark holiday. Being loved by one person? Eh. My friends and family love me and that is pretty damn cool. As my friend Giorgos commented, he is blessed with not one but DOZENS of people who care about him and take pleasure that he is in the world.

My point? Every day is an opportunity to tell people that you care, that you love them and are blessed to know them. You don't have to have a "special" someone to be loved. No one day with its red and pink frippery can contain the amount of love there is in this world to give.

So, I've come full circle, in an odd way. Where once Valentine's Day was a thing for kids, just another day with silly cards, now I come to it with some bitterness toward the consumerist nature of the day, but with a sense of juvenile humor.

Happy Valentine's Day from me to you...