This past summer, I had a bit of a situation…
Doctor: “Your blood work and culture all came back negative. Your pap came back positive. We need you to come back in for further testing.”
Me: “Ummmm, ok. What exactly does that mean? Positive for ….”
Doctor: “Abnormal cells.”
I’ve never experienced a moment of terror and calm at the same time. WEIRDEST shit ever. I hung up the phone. Stared at the carpet floor in my office. Noticed I bit two nails clear off while I was talking to the doctor. I grabbed my cell phone and sent a text to my best friend.
Me: I just got a call from my doctor. My pap came back positive for abnormal cells.
BFF: (freak out and mom mode prose)
Me: On the bright side… I don’t have any stds.
BFF: Oh BFF, You just made me spit my water out…Until you know the next step, pretend you didn’t get the call. Life can change in an instant.
Me: It is what it is, right?
BFF: I’m totally not sure, us women never really talk about shit like this.
I cried a total of 5 times that day. Not ugly, sobbing, Marley and Me cry. The kind of cry that creeps up on you when you remember reading the story about the little boy who had cancer and inspired an entire town and then died. It was terrible. It was terrible because I didn’t fucking know what to do, how to feel, or what was going on. I could be perfectly fine, or something could be wrong. The logical, sensible and un-emotional part of me was saying, “God Mercedes, stop being so dramatic. Be in the moment. As far as you know, you’re fine.” You know, the un-compassionate, rub-some-dirt-on-it, self-talk that I’ve perfected. The emotional side of me wanted to start hyperventilating, Googling the shit out of “abnormal vagina cells” and go home and hide in bed until my next doctor’s appointment. And then my inner dialogue took over…
Me: “Well, I might as well get a dog. I read somewhere that dogs can prevent cancer.”
Me: “This is going to completely fuck up my life…”
Me: “If only Brandi started hawking GMO free and organic living on FB sooner.”
Me: “My stomach hurts. I think I might throw up. What if they got the samples mixed up? That happened to my friend and for like 4 days she thought she was pregnant.”
Me: “Maybe I should call and make sure. Stop it. Stop all of this. Just breathe.”
So I did. Aside from my boyfriend, I didn’t tell anyone else about the call. I went on with my day as if there was no chance in hell alien cells could be growing inside my girl parts. I went home, put on comfy clothes, laid in bed and watched 5 episodes of True Blood. And then I tried to sleep. Ha.
I felt alone. I felt scared. I felt tired. I felt like reaching my arms out and grasping something, anything. I sat there in my fear and I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. That didn’t work out so well. I threw up. My body felt like it was one huge charlie horse. And then I just let go. Maybe it was the lavender essential oil I rubbed all over my body or maybe my emotions had enough and just gave in, but I took a deep breath, hugged my pillow tight and sat with the fear.
When I woke up in the morning, I recalled what my BFF had said in her text:”…us women never really talk about shit like this”.
It got me thinking, what are we all so afraid of? Why do we beat ourselves up over experiencing fear, why do we shut ourselves out from comfort? Why can’t we just talk about the hard stuff? Why do I automatically always want to pretend things are ok when they aren’t and if by chance I do get “vulnerable” with someone I shrug it off with the “it is what it is” bullshit. Shouldn’t I just cry in front of friend and say, “fuck, I’m scared I have cancer and might die.”
I always had in my mind that if it was in the stars for me to have cancer grow in my body, I’d handle it with grace. I wasn’t really afraid of dying, maybe because I never really put that much thought into it. I figured I’d be at peace and know that whatever was happening was for a reason and that there would be no use in getting upset. That was until I sat on my aunts porch after her first chemo treatment and she said she was almost positive she couldn’t do another round and that she told God she was sorry but she didn’t have the strength, it was way too hard. Then I watched as my two cousins bodies writhed with anger, sadness and fear as they heard their mother confess that she just wanted to die. Talk about a life altering and sobering moment. I don’t think I breathed for two minutes. For some reason, as we all sat there in silence, I thought about when she came to visit me in the hospital after I tried committing suicide. That’s when I found out about her cancer. That woman looked at me with a big smile, hugged me and just sat next to me for two hours. There was no judgment, no asking me why…just love.
In this moment I couldn’t smile. The only thing I could do was hug her and my cousins and watch the tears well up in everyone’s eyes. I drove away that day feeling their pain, their fear and asking whatever celestial presence was out there to give her the strength to see this out.
Well, because of love, my aunt is still here. She gets to hold her two granddaughters, kiss her three daughters and fall asleep next to the man she loves every night.
Thanks to my vagina actin’ all weird on me and my aunts recent bout with cancer, I have a new appreciation for vulnerability even when it’s wildly uncomfortable and allowing myself to be real, raw and scared out of my fucking mind and not be afraid to let someone know. Because life isn’t about pretending to hold everything together when you’re falling apart. It’s having the strength to fall apart and then rising as a better version of yourself when all is said and done.
PS I don’t have cancer, but a lot of other people do…support cancer research and smile at strangers. You never know if they or someone they love just got terrible news.
I thoroughly SUCK at blogging while things are transpiring. I don’t know if that can be chalked up to me figuring out my writing style or if it’s something that I need to work on. Regardless, it’s almost the New Year and holy almond encrusted cheese balls was I busy in 2013.
January- Moved from CWE to Soulard. Finally found my perfect 1 bedroom apartment complete with a real brick wall, tall ceilings, tall windows and walking distance to cool places…bars. Also started re-dating someone I tried dating a few months back. Face palm. Still worked my second job serving at a swanky wine bar/restaurant. Realized there’s a difference between wine enthusiasts and wine snobs. Wine snobs cause me to set up my video camera, drink wine out of bottles (ya know, to upstage their hoity toity wine snobbery) and then proceed to vent vehemently about how I wish I was shitty enough of a person to knock their wine into their oversized louis vuitton. Bitches.
February- Realized I hated my job. The career one. Where I peddled paperwork and drafted documents and organized files and did legal research and fixed traffic tickets and pretended that what I spent 40 hours a week doing was somehow the logical and responsible thing to be doing with my life. Became angry at myself for spending 6+ years doing this shit. Tried inventing the next multi-million dollar idea over popcorn vodka and ginger beer. Lasted 5 minutes, realized my talents lie elsewhere. Drank with friends at the bar to dull the emptiness I felt when I had free time. Barely wrote.
March- Took a sharpie to my living room wall and wrote I was going overseas before the year was through even though I had no idea how I was going to get there, what I’d be doing or where I’d suddenly come up with the money to leave my responsibilities behind and become a traveling gypsy after I called into work one day to lay on my living room floor to cry, masturbate and figure out how the fuck I was going to catapult my life from soul killing and un-satisfying to what I deeply wanted. Quit serving wine to wine snobs and instead got behind a bar and started slinging everything but wine.
April- Worked 60 to 70 hours a week to save for impending jumping of ship and giving the US of A the middle finger. Met weird ginger door man who walked funny, at the bar I worked at – thought “he’s an asshole”. Somehow we ended up at same house party, I saw his gay-ass baby angel wings he has tattooed on his back. A couple of weeks later we were hanging-out eating pizza and drinking “hipster” beer and I was boastfully telling him how 1. I don’t have the time for a boyfriend. 2. Won’t be in the same county as him by the end of the year so it’s no use trying 3. Don’t really have the desire to date but I would be ok with occasionally making out as long as it’s at least 100 feet away from co-workers (Nothin’ but sophistication, ya’ll) Cooked for weird ginger to say “I’m sorry” for acting like a brat after “just three more songs” turned into 8 hours of karaoke.
May- Full fledged dating weird ginger. Becoming increasingly restless in “career”. Wanting to just quit and become a bartender until I figured out where I was gonna go.
June- Applied for resort position in….GUAM. Got said position. Informed weird ginger I would be leaving for 8 months…on his birthday. Face palm #2.
July- Work. Work. Ginger. Work. Ginger. Blooooooggggggggeed.
August- Worked little tail off…then quit career. Ginger. Blogged.
September- Said goodbye to everything. Got on a plane and landed on an island.
October- Island life. Glorified life-guard, babysitter and court jester for asian tourists. Got killer tan. Learned how to windsurf, arch and sail; saved rhino beetle from imminent death, met wonderful people and had the best damn time of my life. Someone got drunk and wrecked my car back in St. louis. Investigation ensued. Realized long-distance relationships weren’t for me.
November- I had to make a decision to come home or stay on the island. Made right decision.
December- Read many books. Spent hours upon hours listening to myself and reconfiguring the ins and outs of my life. Started outlining book. Finally had the time to study my many passions. Got two part time jobs.
A few days ago I received an email from a firm my old firm use to work with. They had heard I was home early and wanted to know if I was looking for a job. Proceeded to offer me a job. Logical and responsible Mercedes kicked in and said, “If you don’t do it full-time, you could make it work. The money would be good and guaranteed every week.” Ginger boyfriend pointed out that logical and responsible Mercedes was miserable, unhappy and not very fun to be around and that when logical and responsible Mercedes makes decisions, she usually regrets them. “If you take it, that’s 25 hours a week you won’t get to write, paint and do what it is you love to do. Who gives a fuck about the money.”
Free-spirited, unapologetic and true to herself Mercedes thought, “My bartending gig and wine-hawking gig make it easy to go to work. It doesn’t stress me out, I get to meet all kinds of different people, smile and talk about interesting things. I don’t have to sit at a desk all day and compete in office politics, I get paid to be social and informative and I have all the other hours to do my creative stuff because I’m not completely worn out from all the damn energy being sucked out of me because I hate what I do for a living.” Then one of my besties said, “First gut instinct: don’t take it.”
So, I didn’t take the law job.
I have a choice when it comes to my happiness and money and a certain lifestyle just isn’t important to me as it is to others. I told my dad on the phone, “You know, I’m sure there are tons of people who would love to be contacted out of the blue and offered a steady job without even looking for it. And would have taken it in a heartbeat. Maybe I should feel guilty for not taking it for the sake of others, but I don’t. I just feel like my sanity, my emotional well-being, hell, even my life depends on my living my life on MY terms.”
I may no longer be able to afford a shiny white (wrecked as fuck – but getting fixed) Lexus and to go out whenever I want and order scallops and invest in the frivolous things in life…but I am so ok with that. I would rather live simply and happy, than stressed out because I hate my job and hate the things I thought I needed because of how much it costs me to have those things in turn robbing me of my creative energy and love to give to others.
2013 was a BIG year. Maybe the biggest thus far. I guess we’ll wait and see what 2014 has in store. But now I feel like I can actually give concrete advice to others about living authentically and doing what it is your soul longs for…and maybe even coming up with a game plan to get there. Cuz let’s face it, I turned my shit upside down and inside out the past couple years to do just that.
Peace, love and chai tea
Last night, I got into a facebook debate with a couple of friends regarding who was more attractive out of the two following actresses: Olivia Munn and Rachel McAdams.
You all know I am a woman. The two friends I was talking with were also women. I’m sure women talking about how attractive other women are is no new concept to most of you. Girl crushes happen, oh well.
One friend said that Olivia Munn was too “masculine” for her liking, the other two disagreed. The thread took a turn to one friend saying that if she was a lesbian, she’d be a lipstick lesbian. The other friend made a comment about one of us being more attracted to “dyke” type of women. Then I said, “You love who you love, you’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. Gay or straight, it doesn’t matter.” Then the end of the thread ended with one of the women saying, “I love how we’re all different”.
I thought about it the rest of the night. I woke up a few times in the middle of slumber because I knew I needed to write a post about this, but I’m not going to lie…it brought up a lot of anxiety. About 4 a.m. I had the most horrific stomach cramps thinking about what if x person saw the post. There’s a good 20% of my Facebook “friends” that think homosexuality is a “sin”. I have family members that I’m sure have clicked on my blog and read things they don’t like and if I were to write a post on my view on homosexuality…well, being an empath, I’d pick up their opinion of me well before they had a chance to tell me about it. And then this morning as I was taking a shower, I thought what would happen if someone got mad at me for saying what I’m about to say.
Inner dialogue went like this:
“What’s the worst that could happen? Well, they could delete me off Facebook. Or stop following my blog. Or continue to judge me based on my beliefs….Mercedes, why the fuck do you care? I care, because I do. Yeah, I’m admitting it. I want my dad to be proud of me and tell other people that he has a daughter who stands up for the things she believes in and follows her heart no matter what anyone says when I come up in conversation. I want him to see that his little girl who used to write stories about alien baseballs falling from space and beautiful flowing poetry and “I’m sorry” letters is now a woman with a purpose that just wants to make the world a better place. To bring love and hope where strict religion and feelings of judgement and un-acceptance boiled to the brim. I want the things I write about to help people. I want someone to mistakenly come across my blog and see themselves differently. To slough off the idea that they are not good enough and that’s it incredibly possible to be a real fucking human being, mistakes and all, and still be the most magnificent thing on this planet. If I, out of all people, can somehow connect with the “light”, be the “light” (most days) and still want more and to do more and to be more and see more beauty…then fuck, I’m onto something……..pause…….Well then, since you’ve realized that the worst that could happen is someone having an opinion you really don’t need to concern yourself with, what’s the best thing that could happen? I fulfill my purpose. The people who are meant to see it will and the people who will get pissed off will do just that. But I make an impact regardless.” Then I washed my hair for the third time because I kept forgetting whether or not I did it already.
So world. A person loves who they love. Male, female, it does not fucking matter. A person is a person. They have a heart that beats just like yours and are capable of all the same emotions that rest inside of you. Who they choose to give their heart to or marry or spend the rest of their life in a committed relationship with or sleep with or date for two months is none of your business; Unless you want to celebrate the fact that they make your life that much better by seeing them happy. Because you know what, it is not up to you to dictate what makes another person happy. It is not up to you to tell someone a feeling they have is wrong. It IS your responsibility to act like a decent human being and treat other people with respect. Just because it doesn’t work for you sure as hell doesn’t mean that it’s “wrong” for it to work for someone else. And it’s everyone else’s responsibility to stick up for themselves and not let other people make you “feel” a certain way. They are either with you or they aren’t. Simple as that.
It’s time to stop with the labels and stop with the judgements. Your sexual preference doesn’t make you any better than the person to your left or the person to your right. So why do we need to label it? Fear? Are we that afraid to just get to know someone for who they are inside and risk learning something new or having our concrete ideas shattered that we immediately put up our defenses when we find out someone is “gay” or different from us? Our religions do not give us the right to play God. It may be 2013, but some of us still have our heads crammed so far up our own asses we choose judgement over acceptance. Can we just pull it out already?
I challenge you this week to talk to someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. Ask them an off the wall question and see what happens. Afraid someone might think you’re crazy? Good, it’ll get you out of that comfortable little bubble your stuck in. I challenge you to give a warm and loving smile to that stranger you would normally just walk past. I challenge you to tell your friends/family members/co-workers that are different from you, “Hey, seeing you live your truth is inspiring”. You don’t say things like that? Do it anyways. It might just change the way you see yourself. Afterall, the views we have of the world mirror the views we have about ourselves.
It’s about god damn time we start a revolution around here.
A couple of readers asked about forgiveness and how to continue on when you’ve been really hurt and put yourself out there again. How do you just forgive when you really don’t fucking feel like it and what do you do when people are telling you “you just need forgive”…yeah right, easier said than done.
This topic really hits close to home for me. From parents, to friends, to lovers, to myself and every other face in-between that has “hurt” me, I have had multiple occasions to fuse myself to the alleged “wrongdoing” and have a sleepover with self-pity which turned to anger, that sometimes upgraded to rage, which led for wanting to seek revenge, which then turned to guilt. Then the cycle would repeat itself all over again, sometimes, maybe not for a few months or even years. But then a piece of the story would surface, I’d start feeling really sorry for myself and bam…I’d be curled up in my robe, in the corner of my couch with snot everywhere.
I will never forget the last phone call I had with my ex…I was angry and I was not holding back on anything I said to him. I told him exactly how I felt, what I thought about him as a person and how deeply I wished that I could have him alone for 5 minutes because I needed him to physically feel the pain he put me through. His response, “Mercedes, don’t go there. That’s not you. Don’t let my mistakes steal the goodness inside of you.” It angered me even more. I know the words I said cut deep, and that his response was just another carefully calculated group of words to manipulate my emotions because he couldn’t deal with the reality. I spouted off a very colorful “fuck you, don’t you dare tell me what to do” and I hung up. Though I felt as if his words were just another lie, there was cold, hard truth to them.
In that moment, it felt damn good to verbally hurl my anger, sorrow, disappointment and all the other terrible things I felt inside. Did that “good” feeling last? Nope. I knew I had betrayed myself. Instead of “being the bigger person” as they say, I got down on his level, looked him in the eye and pretty much took my tit for his tat. I ended up feeling worse about myself, thus starting the cycle all over again. I wasn’t really “Standing up for myself and making it known I’m not one to be fucked with” or “Loving myself enough to take recourse against someone who has wronged me” or “Shifting the energy so he’d really feel how bad he hurt me and how horrible of a person he is.” (All things I told myself to justify) It wasn’t any of those things. Because, I shifted the energy and stood up for myself and loved myself enough when I chose to no longer be in the relationship.
It didn’t stop there…Forgiveness, I’ve found, is a moment-by-moment, conscious decision to choose to love yourself first. You don’t make a sweeping hand motion and breathily pray to God “I forgive this person” and then your filled with an abundance of forgiveness practically bursting out of your little heart for all eternity.
Hell to the no. Why?
1. It’s really fucking hard to do – No shit, it’s really hard to forgive someone who cheated on you, or abandoned you or abused you physically, emotionally, mentally or sexually or spread a rumor about you or betrayed your friendship or didn’t stick up for you when they should have or disrespected you. Or countless other things that cause us pain, sorrow and anger. But with time and more self-awareness and more willingness to just admit “Yeah, I’m fucking angry and THIS is why”, we start to own our emotions and decide whether we want to continue commiserating with them or if we want to say “Hey anger, you are making me feel extremely unattractive and depleted…I need to do something about it” and not buy ad space on I-55 and announce to the city that so and so has x and x STDs. But rather, recognize the anger and let it transcend into understanding of why YOU are so freaking angry and then move forward from there.
2. That’s why you gotta practice it – You don’t refrain from playing your favorite sport just because there’s a chance you’ll lose. It’s like the mentality that’s ideal for love to blossom and deepen: Just because there’s a chance that it won’t turn out favorably or last forever, doesn’t mean we don’t do it anyways. That’s how you get better at anything…you have to practice. You’re gonna strike out a lot. Trust me. When you’ve held onto hurt and all that dark crap that covers your heart, it can be really tough to let go of it. But until we start, that pain will still resonate deeply and control us.
3.Remember, no one is walking the same path as you – They haven’t been exactly where you’ve been and you’re only doing the best with what you have. Someone forgiving the person who raped them can feel the exact same as someone forgiving their parent for making them feel inadequate when they were a child. You cannot tell someone your pain is more intense or justified than theirs. And the amount of time it takes you to forgive and for someone else to forgive will be different. We are all on different courses, working with different energies. You also cannot tell yourself you don’t have a right to feel your pain when so many people have it worse than you. That’s nonsense. Pain is pain. If someone is telling you that you just need to forgive already, they are most likely projecting their own inability to forgive onto you or if they are the person that needs to be forgiven, they are just trying to emotionally bully you.
4. How you react or move forward, no matter the circumstances, is all on you – One of my favorite quotes reads, “You are responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.” How wonderfully powerful. We can choose to not be victims of our circumstances. You do NOT have to be casualties to the things that knock you down in life.You do not have to keep re-telling your stories of “woe is me” and “all men are lying, cheating assholes” and “I was abandoned, therefore I am un-loveable and will always be abandoned” or “why bother, I just keep on getting hurt” or “I don’t trust easily, so you’re gonna have to hop through every fucking hoop in the book before I don’t look at you like all those other people who betrayed me”.
Okay Mercedes, this all well and good but what do you do in the moments that you just can’t. Don’t you have a little trick that you do because we know you’re not perfect and you’re only teaching us the things that you yourself are learning?
Duuuuuuh. When I’m stuck and can’t quite forgive I un-tense my shoulders, take a deep breath and say, “I send you light and love.” It may take me 5 minutes to talk myself into even uttering those words to someone/something that is making my life, for the moment, so seemingly incredibly miserable, but when I say it…I feel better. And if I don’t feel better as soon as I say it, I say it again. About 13 chants into it, the energy has changed and I feel better.