Saturday, March 15, 2014

I'm Not Afraid of The Darkness Anymore

            It’s so odd how people will assume they know a person without ever getting to know them. They’ll see someone smile and interpret their easy-going demeanor to mean that their life has been just as easy. I’m not the one that loses when you make assumptions about my life or judge me. My yoga teacher told me that when they first tried to grow trees in the Biosphere, they all flopped over because there was no wind to blow them around and strengthen them. Strength doesn’t come from sitting on the sidelines.
            The other thing about strength is that you have to work for it. I look back at how far I’ve come and I know how hard it was to get to a place where I woke up in the morning feeling gratitude instead of wishing I were dead. Sometimes I don’t know how I’ve come that far. Surely, someone must have carried me – but no. I carried myself. You have to carry yourself. No one else is going to do that for you. I wish I could tell you that my faith in God got me through it all, but it didn’t, though I hope that works for you. What did was the intervention of a few very special people and a realization that the sun and the birds keep rising every day no matter what has happened.
            You find a way to move yourself through the pain of whatever situational horrors you’ve experienced. Feeling it makes you stronger. You learn something from being a victim. The pain hardens into scar tissue, and if you’re lucky, you can figure out a way to melt that back into a place of love and acceptance for others who struggle. Again, people see you smile and they have no idea what or who has hurt you. And they won’t know, because you just don’t. Want. To talk about it. Any more. Rehashing the past no longer serves you. You’ve walked away from whatever tore holes in your psyche. You’ve healed your own wounds and there’s nothing more to say.
            Strong people still have dark days. This depression that lives inside me still fights like hell to win. Kill it one day with an ax and it comes back another day as a rock. It’s like the Hindu story of the Warrior Goddess Durga fighting the evil God Mahisa, who changed into many different forms throughout their battle in the hopes of confusing her and winning. Only time will tell if I will win like Durga, so I keep fighting. Most people will never understand. Most people don’t even notice. If by chance they do, they’re never satisfied with the answer to “What’s wrong?” when it’s “Nothing,” or “I don’t know,” or “I’m just having a hard day.” Or God forbid, “Mahisa came back as a rock today.”
            Empathetic friends are nice. I don’t want or need your pity. I’m not a charity case. I’m not an invalid. I sure as hell am not fragile. I feel I have a debt to repay, to those who pulled me out of the water when I was drowning. It’s impossible to pay someone back for saving your life. The best thank you I can give is to have my friends’ backs, and I do. I won’t try to fix your problems. That wouldn’t help either of us. I will stand by you while you fight your battles.
            Still, I’ve stopped keeping it all inside. It’s exhausting to hide sadness and joy behind an empty expression, so I don’t do it anymore. Maybe it looks like I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. I just think I’m being honest. True, some people aren’t ready to hear what I have to tell them. Maybe it’s scary to let someone care for you, especially when it’s offered without a request for anything in return. I’ve been told these people just have walls up. I understand - I have them too. I’m a warrior, remember? Belonging to no one, living in a marble fortress. I just put doors in mine to let you in. It’s up to you to walk through them. I’ll leave the light on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sorry Ukraine, You're On Your Own

Oh yeah, that guy scares really easily.
 They say you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. This is a pretty accurate observation. You also can’t win a war if you don’t participate. Most people would probably consider the end of the Cold War to be signaled by the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991. I am certain that the US government considered this the end, and thus discontinued their participation. I, however, have an entirely different view on this whole scenario – while the US stopped playing, Russia did not. Russia kept playing. We lost the Cold War, back in June of 2013, when Obama decided the US could cut back on its stockpile of nuclear weapons and then SUGGESTED that Russia do the same.
            It’s hard not to laugh at that last statement. It’s hard not to laugh at the idea that Vladimir Putin would get rid of his nuclear weapons stockpile just because his nice friends in the US decided to get rid of theirs. It’s hard not to laugh at the fact that someone could be SO NAÏVE as to think that any surface conversations with someone who was KGB for 16 years would be honest and gentle. It’s hard not to laugh that anyone thought the Cold War was over when you examine that the current president of Russia made his move from KGB to government official in the same year the USSR lost so much ground. And then, I think about what is going on in Ukraine, and remember that Russia still has stockpiles of nukes, and think about how many people died when Russia decided to invade Georgia, and I stop laughing. Not only do I stop laughing, but I feel ashamed that the man who is supposed to be leading our country and military recently went head to head with Russian ally Bashar al-Assad with warning of crossing his red line – which for all intents and purposes was a pissed line in the snow.
           Russia lost Ukraine in the breakdown of the USSR. Now they’re taking it back. Despite what the news-watching Americans may have been led to believe, this action was YEARS in the making. If you don’t know who Yulia Tymoshenko is, it’s safe to say you don’t know your head from your ass about what’s going on in Ukraine. She is pro-Ukrainian nationalism, against a customs union with Russia, doesn’t support violent uprisings, and up until about a week ago has been in prison since not long after she questioned her loss by only 3% to the most recent president Viktor Yanukovych. What does this mean for the US? Absolutely nothing.
           No one in this country lacking ties to Ukraine batted an eye about Tymoshenko being in prison or in ill health. This country sat idly by, talking about the Kardashians and having their leader appear on late night television. The only problem with this is that in 1994 Ukraine was guaranteed territorial integrity by the US, Russia, and Britain in exchange for renouncing nuclear weapons (The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances). Russia has clearly decided that there was no real commitment there. RUSSIA DOES NOT PLAY BY THE RULES. I keep seeing op eds on places like Forbes and Huffington Post saying that Putin loses if he takes Ukraine. This won’t end well for him, etc. This isn’t a card game. And Putin is not playing for laundry money. Putin will get what he wants. And there is NO ONE to stop him. He is not afraid of Obama. He is not afraid of the EU. He’s KGB and he just won the Cold War. He’s also just sent a warship to dock in Cuba – uninvited. Go ahead. Talk about grave consequences. What could possibly scare that man? We flat out told him we were getting rid of our nuclear weapons. Oh and by the way, Syria’s chemical weapons have not yet been destroyed. Is there a real man anywhere in the US government or are they all 13-year old babysitters with no clout? You can hate the game, but I’m going to go ahead and hate the players.