“…I’m a (wo)man whose tragedies have been replaced, with memories tattooed upon my soul…”

Because I'm deep in the depths of my other writing, my writing to, and about, Chester, and cancer, but my thoughts, and heart, betray me so often I can't focus, there is this. Other thoughts that aren't those. They are all here, HERE, in my soul and my fingertips, the words I want to finish,  which I've been writing for almost a week. Today though, I've been riding the waves of memories from ages ago, tinged by anger, and hurt, or something, of right now, but I have to say something. Something… Because the other writing is as much about me as it is about him, and suicide, and depression, and cancer. But this one is about me, as I relate to him, and just me. And Liz Gilbert. (Eat Pray Love) And I don't know why I'm writing it, just that I'm supposed to.

This is not a cry for help blog. This is not an "I'm in a scary depressed place" writing. Because by the grace of what the fuck ever it is, as much as I am some insane mix of angry and sad right now, and clearly dancing with expansion that has left me exhausted I'm OK. I mean, I'm often these last few days on autopilot, and I would LOVE for now to be the moment of melting into the arms of the one I trust implicitly, who trusts me implicitly, and to just let go. (There, I said it, I SAID IT. I'd shout it from rooftops. If I could. Because as much as I'm scared to say I want {translation: need} that hug, I'm not scared to feel it at all, anymore. Mostly not scared. OK, sometimes a little scared but also, not. Fuck. Note to self: finish clearing fear of saying I need that hug, and of actually needing hug, etc.)

There's some sort of irony in the timing when need might be said (more than once) but… reality makes it not really possible to say. C'est la vie. I trust there is a reason to the timing of it all. Maybe now is a time for me to lean in, more than to lean on. Except I do know I'm not alone. That it is inherently impossible for me to ever be alone.

These things that I am going to say next are being "spoken" into smoke to lift them, carry them away, as they are what has been but does not still need to be. I will phrase them in the present tense as in this moment while I am writing, they to some degree still exist as my truth.

I have abandonment issues. Big fat the size of the Milky Way (galaxy, not candy bar, in case you weren't sure) abandonment issues. These stem from boringly typical, and fuckeduply atypical, events throughout the course of my life.

I have trust issues. Whatever is bigger than the Milky Way, (galaxy) is the size of my trust issues. I believe in the best of people. That people are inherently good. My half a hippy wants to bounce across the earth giving hugs, and cupcakes (except cupcakes with their processed flour, and sugar really aren't good for you, so that's kind of not a nice thing to give. But how lame would it be to give, like, celery, or cheese, which are actually better for you? I mean, I LOVE cheese, but, cupcake trumps cheese most of the time.) I will absolutely trust everyone, right until they give me reason to not. Or right up until I start to look for a reason to not. To look for, and find, the teeth that fit the scars, and then say the teeth came before the scars. And it's not just a male/female relationship trust issue thing, BTWs. I can not trust you irrespective of your gender. To not hold my past against anyone continues to be my quest.

My mind, if too much time is spent by me, alone in it, is a bad neighborhood. (I've stolen that from Chester, yes I have!) I over think, I over analyze, I "should" on myself, and have been known to spend entirely too much time looking over my shoulder, or into a figurative crystal ball trying to catch a glimpse of tomorrows. I have been prone to a melancholy I did not understand. I doubt my appearance, my intelligence, my worth, and second guess myself, a lot.

I have a fear that if I don't say everything I need to say RIGHT NOW, I will not have the chance to say it. I believe this stems in large part from ~ went to visit for a weekend, dude I was dating, who lived in another state. When time came for me to go home I said to him, in tears, "I'm afraid I'll never see you again." (Random, melodramatic, and clingy much, 19 year old Michelle?) He said "of course we'll see each other again, we have too much fun when we're together, to not." The following weekend I had a brief phone conversation with him. He said he was going to go for a ride on his motorcycle. He wrecked his bike. His injuries were catastrophic. I never saw him again. Each of his friends thought the other had called me to tell me. It was 5 days after his passing when I called to speak to him, and was told what had happened. So not random, melodramatic, or clingy, at all. I could genuinely have anxiety on the daily out of fear of losing someone I love, and not getting to tell them I love them, in general, or one last time. This is compounded by fear of something happening, and no one calling me to tell me.  So I often say too much, and its never enough.

I've made an art form of self-sabotage. Frequently because of attempting to fit into the boxes others think I should be in. As soon as I acquiesce and climb in, I start fucking things up, left, right and center, in a form of futile protest, as the only damage done is to myself. I can pinpoint every reason I have this tasty little habit, but, meh. Is it when I'm happy too, Chester? (Because he said of himself that he is {was. fuck.} never content, even when happy.)

As I re-read, I can say in all honesty, a lot of the above have decidedly been more my truths in my past than any time recently. But as they each have presented themselves to me tonight, they got included. Many of them find their origin in molestation when I was 7. I only mention it as it is one of the things Chester, and I, share as a commonality. Part of why I GET everything he said, in every interview I've seen, when he's spoken of his depression and where it has taken him.

*Cue smoke into which they will float away*

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I listened to a brilliant Ted Talk given by Liz Gilbert titled "Your Elusive Creative Genius." Only 20 minutes long, but, a game changer if you choose to hear what it says. As it relates to me, to Chester, to Chris Cornell, and too all of the other ridiculously talented creative feelers I have ever known, what I HEARD above all was (screen captured 'cause I couldn't copy/paste)

liz

This proved to me once and for all that she is my hero, and possibly my spirit animal. Because I have spent YEARS thinking about WHY so many of my creative lovelies, are so fucked up. But more than that, seem to almost wear it like a badge of honor. "I'm starving for my art." Well, go you! You go right ahead and be that stereotype. Imma be over here, trying to create something, and also, eating. Since you'd rather starve, I'll eat your portion too. You've seen my ass, right?

In all seriousness though, in the years I was working with bands, and in my interactions with artists, always, I have had a very clear train of thought, that starving for one's art, literally and as a euphemism for a bunch of other dumb shit we do because we are "arteests" and sensitive, isn't really cool. Or fun. Or interesting. Also, its been done, to death. Literally. Irrespective of at a point being the girlfriend in the "what do you call a musician without a girlfriend? – homeless" joke, I always ALWAYS walked away from working with those bands who by choice were starving artists. Music was too important to me, people were too important to me, to do either the disservice of saying "Yeah, sure I'll watch you be your own worst enemy, in the name of creating art." My standard line, which was never just a line, but really IS the song of my soul, "keep pursuing your dream, while taking care of reality." Read: get a mother f'n J.O.B. if ya got to, so ya not living in your momma's basement, while you're trying to be the next (Chester Bennington.) Don't be a drug addict while thinking its cool to be a drug addict, because its not. If you accidentally become a drug addict, don't decide it's cool. No judgement. I've got that t-shirt. But heroin chic, is not.

I am not saying that Chester did anything he did, ever, much less at the end, because of the paradigm of the tortured artist. I do not assume to know what was in his head, and heart at any moment in time, less the time he told me exactly what was in his head and heart. (Which is part of another blog, and of a blog to come.) What I am however saying is, perhaps as a group, we should stop accepting that this is who we must be. How we must be. I understand, with a capital UNDERSTAND, how that may not be easy, because we do FEEL, so deeply, so everything, and because when I was in my darkest, most horrible place, I might have told someone attempting to shine a light in, to get fucked. But maybe if we shine a different light on it, each for ourselves, which will then affect the group of us, maybe it will help a little, until it helps a lot? Maybe if we nurture the tiny ridiculously talented creative feelers while they are still tiny, instead of discouraging their dreams, it'll be a preemptive strike but in a good way.

As I see it, Chester did not "go gently into that goodnight." No matter how that goodnight came about. I believe that Chester with every ounce of his energy worked to shift what needed shifting, inside himself. For himself. For EVERYONE. He put his life into his lyrics, in the most raw, and vulnerable of ways. He furthered his transparency by speaking candidly, and frequently about his hurts, and fucked-upnesses. I know many people are watching his interviews and posting them as his alleged cry for help. I think that's absolute shit. I think he was just being his honest self because he knew on some level that to be so would help him, and others. So maybe we can shift that too. Speaking about what hurts, or sucks, doesn't mean you're crying for help, or crying at all. Maybe its just that you know it is the right thing to do, for yourself, for others. Perspective baby. Get some. See where yours takes you. Might not be the same place I go, and that's cool.

Why I put myself so fully onto these "pages"is a combination of my NEED to create a something, joined with my NEED to work through my shit, and my HOPE that maybe my words will give a someone the tiniest something when they need it most. Even if its just because they read what I write about myself and think "this bitch is CRAZY, and I am absolutely NOT" right when they need to think they aren't crazy. Maybe in me they will find a kindred, and feel not so alone, even if they never speak to me. Or maybe they will reach out to me, as some have, and say, "You have been where I am right now, you are giving me hope that I will able to be happy again, someday." And I'll have a new friend, and so will they. THAT is what it is all about, really. Touching lives. Experiences. Making a difference. Helping others. And not being afraid to show our crazy, while also being happy, and creating.

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To Liz Gilbert, thank you for being so wise, and bad ass, and inspirational. Please don't ever stop writing. I mean, unless you want to. Also, tons of love to you, and your Rayya.

Thank you to those who today helped me to walk through the mini fire that popped up. I am so very grateful.

http://wp.me/p6f5rK-1FEChester, your thank you is in another writing. But also in my heart, which I know you know.

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Title is an excerpt from "Into You" by Dead By Sunrise

Your Elusive Creative Genius – Liz Gilbert

 

 

To Elizabeth Gilbert and her Rayya Elias

My Dearest Elizabeth & Rayya,

When I first read the story of your love, of your relationship, I judged you. Not because you’re both women, to that I pay no mind. But because Elizabeth was married. Because she hurt at least one other person, to be with another person. Vows, and promises, and all that we’re supposed to hold sacred. I actually thought you were given a pass BECAUSE you’re both women. I thought if Elizabeth had declared her love for another man, she’d have been labeled a cheating whore, at best. But because it was another woman she fell (or realized she was) in love with, a woman with terminal cancer no less, passes were given.

But not by me. I judged. Because I am after all, perfect. Especially where love is concerned. In particular at that point in my life, where I was very much in the depths of being a hot fucking mess, clutching the pieces of my (repeatedly) shattered heart, because my (abusive, cheating) then husband, had a side piece. Again. But there I was busy being all perfect, and judgey, about you, your love, and your relationship. You, meanwhile, were busy living your lives, and sharing love. Clearly I had the upper hand in things.

Maybe I should have prefaced the formal announcement of my judginess with words about how you, Elizabeth, were a hero of sorts to me. When I read “Eat, Pray, Love” (the first of a thousand times) all I could think was “woah, I want to be as cool, and courageous, as her.” Beside the fact that you were writing as a profession, and funny, interesting, easy to read, but with real depth, writing, and traveling while doing the writing, you were also eating ALL the yumminess in Italy. Then being all one with Shiva, and Shakti or Ganesh or whomever, in India (OK, it took a minute for you to get there… I know! But you got there!) Then you went to Bali, and for hells sake, its Bali!! But also, love happened then. Oh how I wanted to be you! Also too, JULIA FUCKING ROBERTS played you in the movie based on your life, and book!! Amazing!

I don’t remember how long after EPL, came your book “Committed.” Such a different tone, but I marveled at the depth of it. All of the research you did, not just in books, but experientially, and conversationally, whatever it took to help you get to your personal truth, to walk through your biggest fears, and to deal with the curve ball life had thrown you, was amazing. Again, while writing, while traveling, while loving, and being loved.

Some of what you’d found in your research really dug deep in me, taught me history and traditions I’d never heard of. Also, it got me thinking about my personal truths around relationships. I’m a weirdo who digs learning, and thinking, and introspection. Your books brought me all those things because you’re cool! And then you got married to your Bali love. YAY!! Could I just BE you already?

By this point my then marriage had absolutely fallen apart, to put it mildly. Not that I was getting divorced. Oh hell no. My marriage was a horse that I was bound, and determined to beat to DEATH. Then give it CPR to bring it back. Then beat it to death, again.  More than ever, I wanted to be you. Eating, and Praying, and Loving, and traveling, and writing.

September 2016 when you posted about no longer apologizing for your feelings, a month after I’d found out about my then husband’s (newest) side piece, and having either not come forward yet about the abuse in my marriage, or having done so only to a couple of people, when I read about you, and Rayya, and your divorcing to be with  her, I was disappointed in you young lady! I was angry. I felt betrayed. How dare my heroine fall from the pedestal upon which she’d never chosen to sit. The pedestal where I’d placed her, and love, and commitment.

I a little bit broke up with you then.  Not the way I broke up with Shonda Rhimes when she killed off McDreamy, and I refused then, and now, to watch her shows. I still buy your books. But a little bit, we stopped being a thing then, you and I. I’m sure you felt it. I’m sure you being a public figure with a huge following, in a new love, with a woman with terminal cancer, and very full life in general, felt my disapproval from where I live in central Jersey.

I don’t know when it happened exactly, and I definitely don’t know how, or what might have been the events leading to it, but, sometime in October, I, to quote you Elizabeth, got tired of my own bullshit. Or at least started to. It didn’t have to do with the 2 of you. I’m not really sure what it had to do with. Maybe I got bored of spinning around on the nail in my foot. I’ve figured out that I have to stop trying to figure out what it was that caused the shift for me, but, a shift there was. I started to let go of my pain, and to remember to love myself again. And that I was (am) worth loving.

But it was in early November when the change really happened. When I opened myself, to myself, remembered who I am, what I believe, what I feel, and let go of a lot of crap that had been weighing me down for more years than I care to admit. Through a series of events, and choices, and some REALLY unexpected gorgeousness, my thoughts were, at least in part, turned to love. And when I say love, I mean, LOVE. Big, huge, glorious, take your breath away while breathing life into you, LOVE. Self love. Love for others. Friendship love. Global love. Just, love. Which brought me back around to the 2 of you, and your LOVE, and your relationship. And how I’d been Judgey McJudgerson about it, and was wrong for having been.

In moving away from the bat shit crazy woman I’d become in the last few years of my marriage, and closer to the me I’ve always really been, I remembered that, beside the fact that how you live your life is none of my business, love is what is most important. YES, there was at least one person who was no doubt hurt as a result of your having realized your love, your IN LOVE, for Rayya, but had you chosen to stay with him, instead of allowing your love for her be known, you wouldn’t have loved her any less. You wouldn’t have been living as your “authentic self” which is a buzz phrase I hate, but suited to this moment. It likely would have affected him in negative ways, too. 

Also, sometimes love comes from very unexpected places, with timing and circumstances you’d never have dreamed possible. When that love becomes in love, as yours did, I can just imagine how overwhelmingly beautiful that feels. How right, real, and meant to be. How impossible to deny. Especially when you know time is short. 

I don’t think there was a right or wrong choice in your situation, because to each his or her own, but I think you, Elizabeth, made a choice that was brave as fuck.  You knew there would be people like me, who judged you. Some people who judged you were probably publicly mean, and terrible to you about it. (As opposed to me just silently shunning you, from a distance.) Because you live your life in the public eye, and because you wrote the book on your love, and marriage, well, I can’t even imagine what might have been the mental process for you. The emotional process. 

In leaving your marriage you likely left what was comfort, and security, and love, for a love larger than all of that. And to have whatever time you are able to, with Rayya, out loud, in public because your life sort of demands it, and unapologetically, because your love just IS.

When I read 2 days ago of the ceremony you had to celebrate your love, and understanding that you probably don’t know how much time Rayya has left here, the words “does sometimes love come too late” crossed my mind. I immediately answered my own question with, shut up Michelle, because it’s never too late for love. 

Then I got sad for a minute, knowing  your time is relatively short. But that’s sort of silly because you may not have as much time together here as you would like to have, but you have an IN LOVE that many people don’t EVER have. An IN LOVE that I hope to be lucky enough to myself know in this lifetime. And really, that’s the antithesis of sad. 

I’m sure you, Elizabeth, want to know, are BURNING to know, that we’re back to being a thing now. I mean, I know you’re all in love with Rayya, and we’ve never actually met, and I don’t mean it “that way” anyway. But you are a heroine of mine, again. A really human, really “normal”, really just taking life as it comes, and working on your stuff so you can make your way through it as best possible, heroine. You’re brave, and honest, and courageous. I can only hope that I am as gracious, and graceful, and just damn funny, as you, if the really difficult stuff comes my way again. 

I thank you for all the valuable lessons you’ve taught to me, all you’ve helped me to learn, how you’ve helped me to take a deeper look at myself, a deeper look at love, simply by being you, and living your truth. Thank you for reminding me that love is love is love, and helping to reopen my heart to it, no matter what it looks like. No matter if the timing is “off”, and the situation not what would be called ideal. 

To you, and your brilliant Rayya, I’m sorry I judged. I send my love, my light, and my hopes that you get as much time as possible, and then some, together, to share your in love, in this time, and place.

And to Rayya, I can’t begin to know what you in particular are feeling right now. But I’m so happy for you that you have this love to hold you when you need it most. May angels, or whatever comforts you most, wrap themselves around you, now and always. 

All my Love,

Michelle from  8A off the turnpike

 


As a very important PS to anyone who may read this: Please don’t read into what I’ve written. IF you think this is about you, directed toward you, referencing you, unless you’re Elizabeth, Rayya, my ex-husband, (who I’m loathe to mention because my past is really behind me, and its just a history lesson now,  but is indeed part of the history of me) or me, its none of those. Although I did sort of quote a (beloved) someone, if you read this, you’ll know that one thing is you.  And also the other thing you played a part in. But other than that, this isn’t about anyone else’s lives. 

Please don’t think I mean its OK to bang random people if you’re married or in a committed relationship. Random sex isn’t IN LOVE. I mean, if you want to do that, its not my life, just don’t think that I’m all “woo hoo” about it. (As if my opinion matters.) Please also don’t think I feel that one should be keeping their eyes open for greener pastures. Or other pastures. But sometimes pastures make their way to you, or you’ll accidentally come across one.  Also, if one finds new love, but chooses to stay with known love, that is their business, their right, their life. Same same with choosing new love.

To anyone who doesn’t know who Elizabeth and Rayya are, and want to, links below to Elizabeth’s Facebook page.

And also, to quote Ed Sheeran

“…People fall in love in mysterious ways. Maybe its all part of a plan…”