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  • Oh, That’s Just My Open Wound

    On the average day, I feel a LOT of feelings. I usually wake up with a deep dread, wishing I were still asleep because in that reality I don’t feel like a failure – oh and there was also that velvet couch I was eating covered in frosting. I then do a meditation and perhaps feel a moment of calm inspiration only to be punctuated by stress the second I open my eyes. I drive The Munch to school looking at her sweet face in the review mirror and feel like, “aww look at all that hope in her eyes that has yet to be crushed by the knowledge that Trump has raped her of a future.” This then transmutes into the drive back home where I start to wish the day were already over, only to sit at my computer with a mixture of creative energy and crippling self doubt… and its not even 9:30 am.

    By the time I’ve gone to bed at midnight I’ve gone through maybe 14 cycles of “life is okay,” and then “holy shit what is all this for besides facing the eternal misery of my futility playing the stings of my heart with the violin of delusions I call an existence.”

    Everyone goes through this right? (Insert nervous laughter)

    Yet if you were hanging out with me I don’t think you would say, “That Toni is one moody mother fucker,” because I keep most my emotional ebbs and flow buried deep inside, much like a dog with their bone. But instead of the fleshless carcass of an animal to chew on, I instead gnaw on the skeletons in my closet that I’ve come so accustomed to dressing up.

    That’s normal right? (Insert anxious hand wringing)

    The reason I try not to let myself get too carried away in my emotional self is because I know that feelings are ethereal wisps of wind that blow in and out of your consciousness like dandelion seeds. You can feel one way for one moment, and then the complete opposite the next. Although feelings are important and crucial aspects of the human experience, they are also somewhat absurd because of how unpredictable and illogical they are. As such, my internal world is much different then how I project myself to others. In the outside world, I come off as very unemotional. I don’t cry very often, I’m not quick to anger, I’m patient, I don’t overreact, and many think I’m easy to talk to. I keep a safe distance from my feelings because I don’t want to take them out on others. Of course all my close friends know my shadow side – I’m manic, compulsive, bossy, particular, controlling, excessive, and overwhelming… but because I mostly keep myself in check their overall impression is that, “Toni’s chill, and a good friend.”

    There is this dichotomy between how I feel and how I act because I ultimately want to be an emotionally mature human. It’s not that often that my feelings overtake my behavior, so when it happens, no one really knows what to do with me. I’m not really used to relying on others emotionally, so when the darkness comes, the black depths of my being is confusing to others. I’m not approachable when I’m upset, and therefor not that easy to comfort. Mostly I just want to be left alone to drown in my melancholy.

    I know we all have primal sores of our childhood, and there are plenty I have as well. Yet I feel like I’ve come to terms with most of them. Sure there are moments when I can access the sadness of my socialization, but I don’t feel ruled by it. I’ve tried to face my conditioning, forgive what hurt me, have empathy for the adults that disappointed me, and let go. I’m SURE there are aspects that still influence me greatly, but I don’t feel controlled by my past pains.

    Except for my open wound.

    When my best friend Bitty died, a piece of me died with her. Last Sunday, June 11th, was the 17th year anniversary of her death.

    17 years is a long time to have passed. They say time heals all wounds, but in truth time just means you get used to the pain. It doesn’t go away, but rather becomes a part of you. Like roots of a vine growing around your soul, the pain of loss entwines your spirit and tangles into your psyche.

    The tragedy of Bitty’s death affected everyone who loved her. It bonded us in a web of mourning. An entanglement that can’t be escaped because holding onto the pain is also holding onto her. I can think of Bitty and remember the happiness of our relationship and feel a certain sense of peace for her spirit, yet that doesn’t take away the core loss. There is a bottomless yearning that I feel because I can no longer look into her eyes, see her smile, or watch the way her lip curled when she was angry. I’m still her friend and our love is just as real as ever, but I miss her physical presence in my life and nothing can change that.

    I miss her.

    I miss her so much.

    The day of Bitty’s funeral, I couldn’t leave the graveyard. Everyone slowly made their way to the lunch, but I stayed. I stared at where her body was buried, still in total disbelief that this was really happening. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t turn back time and have stopped this from happening.

    I wept at her grave that day as the tears that over took me. The anguish was consuming. Possessed by regret that I had spent any time away from her. If I had only known all I had was 20 years with her, I never would have left her side. I would have sewn myself to her so as not miss even one moment. I would have given anything to see her again.

    There was this senselessness to her death that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Why? Why did this have to happen? The mystery of misfortune was plaguing me. There are so many disastrous things that happen every day, and those that live through them are just left with the question of why. Our brains want to solve puzzles, yet death is one that we can never decipher. Yet all I wanted was something to ground this horrible event.

    I made a promise to Bitty that day. I swore to her that I would live for the both of us, and that I would make my life meaningful to some how make her death make sense. I opened up myself to her, and invited her into my body. I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her with me, and I needed her to know that I was still there for her, even if I couldn’t stop her from dying. I blasted open my being so she could find a home in me. I knew her soul had traveled on, but there was still the human energy of her, I could feel it. I embraced it.

    I’ve tried to maintain inspiration from Bitty’s death because that’s the only way I know how to honor her life. Because of Bitty, I believe in magic. She is the guiding energy of my life. Every moment of coincidence, synchronicity, positivity, I see as Bitty. I feel her talking to me, looking out for me, guiding me. I attribute all the beauty in my life to her, because she changed me. Growing up I was never artistic. Bitty was the artist. Everything she did was creative. She drew, she made clothes, she made jewelry – her room was an explosion of her unique aesthetic. Yet since Bitty’s death, the artist in me was born. I don’t see that as random, and I am so deeply appreciative of that.

    Bitty’s death destroyed me, but it also awoken me. It connected me to the spirit world, and everything mystical. Without Bitty’s death I wouldn’t be who I am to today, and I’m so grateful to her. She’s been such a good friend even if she’s no longer on this earth to share time with me.

    But I miss her.

    I’m starting to forget our memories. I don’t have her to go through them with me anymore. As I grow older, my brain gets filled with new memories, making the ones with her harder to hold onto. I would trade any memory I have had of the past 17 years without her for one more moment of our time together. My memories of her are everything because they’re all I have.

    This is my open wound. One that is not always so raw, but when it is, it’s like my skin has been peeled off and all that is left of me is vulnerable organs unable to defend themselves against the elements. There are times when I can talk about Bitty and I feel almost nothing, because I can’t let myself. Yet there are moments when just the thought of her makes my soul scream so loud it’s deafening. My head filled with echoes of my heart crying in despair.

    This Sunday was a hard one for me, and I couldn’t escape it.

    But it’s okay. It’s okay that I go through this, and I always go back to the one and only therapy session that I’ve had in life. It was about 2 years after Bitty died, and I was still crying daily. Waking up thinking about her, going to bed thinking about her. People were worried. I was consumed with grief. The therapist asked me one question, and it was all I needed to hear.

    “How do you think Bitty would feel about the way you’re reacting to her death.”

    I thought about it, and I know everyone was telling me, “she wouldn’t want me to suffer,” but they didn’t know Bitty.

    She would be happy I was this upset!! She was my best friend! If I just moved on easily or wasn’t tormented Bitty would be like, “What the fuck Toni!!!”

    That realization gave me permission to feel, and I keep that with me. The universal spirit of Bitty that is all one with the cosmos of course wants the best for me, but the human Bitty that I knew also thinks it’s totally reasonable I’m this broken up about her death. I loved her. Of course I care this much. That’s just what happens when you lose someone you love. You never let go, you never get over it, and you always miss them.

    June 14, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Old School Stories, Relationships • Views: 867

  • My Life Pretty Much Sucks, How About You?

    Some of the happiest I’ve ever been is when I was on drugs. There was one time where I took liquid acid in nature, at 11 in the morning, and even though I was with two other people we spent the entire day alone – exploring the wilderness and laughing to ourselves at the absurdity of existence. I’ve done cocaine on the beaches of Costa Rica, ecstasy in clubs in New York, mushrooms on a mountain. I’ve giggled to the point of near insanity on weed, and truly felt the oneness of all things… also on weed. The common link of those experiences that brought so much bliss was this sense of freedom of forgetting myself. Allowing my identity to slither away into the background, leaving behind my worries about the future and anxieties about the past. Of course some of my worst memories are on drugs too – puking off a balcony for 3 hours, waking up on to the sound of my own puking on a grimy bathroom floor, and desperately shoving my fist down my throat attempting to puke because I ligit poisoned myself. So… everything has a price.

    Of course the happiness experienced with drugs is synthetic and manufactured. It’s not the same as the deep cultivated happiness that comes from a genuinely good time. There are many cases when I’ve experienced that authentic type of joy as well, but it’s hard to come by, and only visits in the most unexpected moments. You have to wait and around and see if it will come, and sometimes like that Dad that went out for cigarettes, it can take a minute before it comes back.

    What is happiness really? It’s such an illusive feeling, yet something we all seek. According to the American constitution it is even our RIGHT to be happy! Can you believe that? It’s my god give right to be happy!!! Yet despite our forefathers insisting on it’s availability I find myself chasing happiness, trying to capture it in a cage it can always escape from.

    Maybe the quest for happiness, that assumption that happiness is something I deserve, is part of the problem. Contentment seems like a more reasonable goal to strive for. I don’t need a happy life; I would just like to feel content. Perhaps I would feel more content if I wasn’t so focused on wanting happiness? I should see happiness for what she is… a flighty sprite who dips in and out of life at a whim – a gift not to hold onto, but to set free for others to find.

    CAN YOU GUYS TELL I’VE BEEN HAVING A HARD TIME!?

    This is what’s going on with me. For one… my back went into spasm. AGAIN!! This JUST happened to me last month so I’m kind of wanting to shoot myself in the face. The problem with my back going into spasm is not only am I in state of constant agony, but also my limited ability to move takes away my main sources of joy. I can’t dance when my back is in spasm, and dancing is my antidepressant. The minute I enter into the dance studio I feel like nothing else matters. I love teaching, I love my students, and I love the journey we go on together. I always leave with a renewed sense of purpose. Who cares if I just got rejected from that film festival, I taught a woman to twerk today!

    With my back debilitating me, I also can’t make my videos, or write because sitting is so excruciating; I can’t do anything that feeds my soul and spirit. I just have to exist. WHICH I AM NOT GOOD AT!

    Doing nothing but allowing myself to rest and heal is my PERSONAL HELL! Relaxing has become super stressful for me. So instead I try to be really proactive about my getting better, and work really hard at it. Yeah yeah, I get the irony too. But I have shit to do, places to go, and adventure to be had. I did not schedule in debilitating discomfort!

    So far on this back pain journey I’ve seen my acupuncture lady and had her jab her needles in me – 3 times. I’ve been drinking the Chinese herbs she gave me that taste like licking the taint of Satan. I’ve done meditations, picked tarot cards, sat with my suffering, did ceremonies of gratitude, and drank more demon brew.

    It’s been my thinking that I have to dive into the esoteric when I’m experiencing discomfort because there is this part of me that believes I deserve these moments of pain. I see my misery as a lesson – a teacher to tell me how I’m not living life right. So I self-reflect; convinced my back pain is an emotional necessity of my development.

    In the midst of dealing with this back drama, I wake up Sunday morning and go downstairs to choke down some Chinese herbs/devil drink. As I’m retching, I absentmindedly feel my neck. There’s something there. I knew right away it was an embedded tick. I hobbled to bathroom praying… but when I look in the mirror my stomach drops. There was a deer tick sucking away at my blood like a mini Dracula, yet with less sexual swagger.

    Now if you don’t live in New England and don’t have your prerequisite PHD on tick breeds, deer ticks are the bad kind – the kind that carries Lyme. Lyme is the most feared disease of the North East. There is no real cure. It affects everyone differently. It can fuck you up for life. Lyme is like the AIDS of New England. I checked the tick’s dick to see if it was wearing a condom.

    I knew it had been on me for while. Because of my back I hadn’t exactly been showring, so I was not doing daily tick checks. I also didn’t even think of it because I hadn’t been outside either, and was too busy watching old Twin Peaks episodes. But my cat sleeps in my bed so I guess it had crawled off her and on to me? I got tweezers and pulled the tick off, wishing David Lynch was directing my life because this was a great moment for red curtains and a little person to speak backwards yet forwards.

    I stared at the tick that was still holding onto a huge chunk of my neck with his little mouth-claws. I then looked at the bite. Holy fuck he was really in there.

    I put him in jar and sat there watching at him. He crawled along the sides of the glass, still carrying a piece of my throat with him. We were bonded for life now.

    I staggered to my car with my tick, threw some pillows on the seat so I could attempt to drive, and headed to the hospital to get him tested. Yeah… so it turns out hospitals don’t really appreciate you’re bringing ticks to them.

    Nurse: You need to have your physician call first.
    Toni: It’s Sunday… and Memorial Day weekend? How is that going to happen?
    Nurse: Sorry. You’re gonna have to take your tick and leave.

    So I did just that. I gathered up my tick and left. At this point I’ve fully developed Stockholm syndrome, carrying my tick around from place to place, feeling the need to take care of it. I put a piece of grass in the jar in case it got hungry, buckled him up in my kid’s car seat so he would stay safe, and then named him Noam – hoping that like his name sake Chomsky, this tick would fill my blood with knowledge about the political system in the Middle East and not Lyme.

    Noam and I headed to my acupuncture lady – for the 4th time in 4 days. She did her best to suck the poison out by stabbing the bite a few times with a needle. She then light some shit on fire and “cupped” the bite. With a giant hicky on my neck, she sent me on my way. Noam and I got back in the car, because of course I brought him in the house with me so he didn’t get lonely. Before driving off, I stuck my head out the window.

    Toni: Wait? What should I do about my back? It’s still really bad?
    Acupuncture lady: Keep drinking herbal.
    Toni: Right.

    While driving home my physician finally called back and said I have to send the tick away to get it tested, but I can’t until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. She suggested I put a small piece of wet paper towel in the jar to keep some moisture in.

    I bring Noam home, and set up his new apartment in the jar with some Ikea furniture. He’s officially my pet now. I feel love for him. It’s not his fault that global warming means more ticks to destroy humanity. He’s doing his best.

    The next day I see my healer. My back is a mess. My bite is festering. My emotional state is borderline Jack in The Shining because I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been having nightmares every night about ticks and bugs crawling all over me, and keep waking up in a panic to check my body. And my stomach is a mess from all the herbs, aka the secretions of Lucifer’s loins.

    The healer and I talk about my back and the reality that I’ve been getting about five back spasms a year for the last five years and how to solve the problem of this chronic pain. I can’t take it any more. I don’t know what else I have to learn about myself. How much more self-reflecting I can do? I’m done thinking about me. I’m boring myself.

    Healer: I don’t think this pain is emotional. I think it’s skeletal. Your hips are so torqued and twisted.
    Toni: Do you think it’s from my pregnancy?
    Healer: No.
    Toni: Car accident?
    Healer: No?
    Toni: Well, I guess this all started when I was in the 5th grade. That’s the first time I remember getting this kind of back pain. At the time I was jumping on the trampoline about 6 hours a day so…
    Healer: It’s the trampoline.

    Right.

    Where everything stands now is not only is my back still all fucked, but also my hips, AND my right foot from walking so weird because of my fucked up back and hips. So now I have this shooting pain in my foot and can’t walk on it. Turns out it’s nerve damage. Cool. I look so hot in crutches – the perfect tool to impale myself with.

    Even though I can see how this is a physical misalignment of my bones, I still did learn a lot emotional soul searching from this current bought of suffering. Might as well since I have the time right and can’t work?

    First. I keep hearing about horrible things happening in other peoples’ lives – stories of friends that had a fire at their home, friends that lost a child. These real devastations that force me to realize how lucky I am. How lucky most of us are most of the time. There is so much potential for tragedy in this world, and it’s a blessing when you are not experiencing it. Perspective is crucial when feeling sorry for yourself because most of my pain is of my own making.

    I also realized that I’m motivated by the wrong sources. Much like a car that is powered with dirty fossil fuels, I need to shift what drives me. I need to become electric.

    When I was in my 20’s I wanted to change the world. I was politically motivated, and compelled by social consciousness. I had so many ideas of how I would make a difference, and even though my visions had merit, my executions never panned out. I got discouraged by life, and started to see the whole system as rigged. I felt useless in this paradigm of the New World Order and lizard elite with their alien DNA pulling the strings of the hallucinatory global economy. What could I possibly do considering all the massive corruption and greed that is the guiding principal of everything? I’m just some 25 year old that no one takes seriously.

    In the midst of this despondency and desperate feeling I was meaningless, I got pregnant. There is this assumption that a baby ties you down, but in a certain way it frees you. After the birth of my child, the world became so small. This infant was my world and nothing else mattered but her eating and sleeping. It was so simple. Just love this baby and keep her alive. It was this profound break from not only my own troubles, but also the troubles of the planet. This time in my life was like an altered state, the ultimate drug experience. I escaped into this sweet bubble of caring for my baby.

    As the Munch grew and I had more time for myself, I had to redefine who I was. I had to get to know myself again. There was less time to be spent on mothering, but now what? I was no longer living in New York City, and sequestered amongst trees. That’s why I started writing, and making art more seriously. I had always dabbled, but seen it as a hobby. Something shifted in me. I figured maybe I couldn’t change the world from the bowels of rural New Hampshire, but I could at least try to entertain it?

    Yet somewhere along way, my motivation of why I do the things I do got convoluted. I’m no longer in that adolescent state of my 20’s when anything seems possible. I’m in my 30’s. Reality and responsibilities color my every decision. I need to have a career. I need to figure out my place in this world. I want my art to be that driver. I don’t know if it ever will. But there is a pressure that sits on my chest making it had to breathe.

    Yet I can now see the only motivation I need is not one of success, or recognition, but rather to be propelled by the same force of my 20s – that naïve belief that I can make a difference in this corrupted world. Idealism gets beaten out of us so easily because of the overwhelming task of it all, but fuck that. I don’t want to be cynical. I want to be impassioned by the same ignorance of my youth. The benign belief that if you try hard enough, shit will change. It will get better even if it is just in your small corner of the world. Even if my only true contribution to society is that because of me, a woman can pulse her pelvis to the beat of hip-hop music at my dance studio.

    Noam with his paper towel.

    Noam’s apartment.

    My tearful goodbye, sending Noam away.

    The culprit… my cat.

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

  • Whatever Doesn’t Kill You… Puts You in a Really Bad Mood

    You can’t avoid pain. It’s an inevitable part of life. The only thing you can do when you experience pain is to wallow in it dramatically and complain incessantly to anyone within a 10 -mile radius. Or you can try to learn from it. Whatever, who cares?

    Last Monday I got home from dance and had a bad feeling about my back. I woke up in the middle of the night, and it had gone into spasm. My entire lower back had seized up, and even sitting up was incredibly challenging.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. If I were to trace my lower back pain, it started when I was in the 5th grade. Maybe it was the super intense stress I was under at school making dioramas, or maybe it was the trampoline I spent 10 hours a day on. Who knows?

    But this particular back spasm episode was the worst it has ever been. I called my acupuncturist and made an appointment. She couldn’t see me until 3:30, which was a REALLY LONG TIME TO WAIT! I called my friend Grace hoping that she would have some maxa, which are Chinese herbs you light on fire to smoke your hurt body as it draws out the bad chi. I needed her help because I couldn’t reach my back or butt, which was where all the tightness was.

    Toni: Can you come over smoke my ass?
    Grace: I sure can.

    Even after a good ass smoking I was still a wreck. I laid on the floor helpless.

    Grace: Do you want a blanket?
    Toni: No I hate blankets?
    Grace: How can you hate blankets?
    Toni: I hate seeing people under blankets. I hate being under blankets. It’s too vulnerable.
    Grace: You look cold.
    Toni: Just grab some of the sweaters over there, and throw them on top of me.
    Grace: Oooookayyyyy.

    I lay under sweaters, WHICH ARE NOTE THE SAME AS BLANETS, until it was finally 3pm. I then pathetically got in my car, in hopes that some needles would help. Now my acupuncturist isn’t just any acupuncturist. She’s a 5th generation acupuncturist / Chinese herbalist, and she’s a goddamn sorceress. But she’s also not fucking around. She doesn’t just put needles in, but she turns them in farther the entire time – tuning me like an instrument. She is about as large as Thumbelina, and as strong a linebacker. She seriously scares me.

    She jammed a bunch of needles in me, pressed my pressure points, gave me some herbs, and sent me on my way. The next morning I woke up, and I was worse. I knew this would be a possibility because sometimes acupuncture draws the pain to the surface. I couldn’t move so I asked if she could come to my house. She said she could be there at 3:30… which is A GODDAMN LONG TIME TO WAIT!

    My mom called so I complained to her.

    My Mom: Why don’t you come here and I will put castor oil on your back. You can sit in the sauna so you don’t get castor oil everywhere and make a huge mess. I will sit with you. It will be cute.

    I hobbled over and my mom greeted my in her Anne of Green Gables nightgown.

    My Mom: I wore this so I wouldn’t worry if I got castor oil on my nightgown.

    It took me about 10 minutes to take off my clothes and lay down in her sauna. I couldn’t fit because my stupid body is too tall, so I squeezed myself in so my feet and head were pressing up against the walls. My mom put the castor oil on me, added a heat pack, took off her nightgown, and sat her naked bum inches from my face as she chatted away.

    My Mom: This is fun!
    Toni: Uh huh….
    My Mom: Good thing you are too weak to get your camera and write about this.
    Toni: There’s still time mom….

    After an hour I extricated myself from the sauna and still felt terrible.

    My Mom: Why don’t you get in the shower?
    Toni: I really can’t. I wanna die.
    My Mom: Well, you are going to get castor oil everywhere if you don’t so….
    Toni: Okay… okay.

    MY MOM OBVIOUSLY HAS A REAL FEAR OF CASTOR OIL MESS!

    I leaned against the shower wall, and let the castor oil spread all over my legs. Not really sure if that’s what my mom had in mind, I took my slicked body and got dressed. I staggered home and waited for the acupuncturist. When she arrived she had a bag full of different healing remedies. She pulled out a giant brown stick.

    My acupuncturist: Do you have this?
    Toni: Tree branches?
    My acupuncturist: Cinnamon.
    Toni: I don’t know anyone who has this.

    She gave me the massive cinnamon stick and showed my how to make tea. Then she heated up some herbs to maxa me. She worked on me for a few hours, but still the spasm persisted.

    That night I did something I never thought I would.

    I took the white man’s medicine.

    For the first time in 15 years, Toni Nagy took an “Aleve.”

    I woke up the next morning and the spasm was over. (uhhh thanks Western medicine)? The tightness had remained however, and it was still really hard to move.

    I will spare you the details of the rest of my week, but it was pretty dismal. I had to have my back smoked every day – a half hour process that is NOT exciting for the other person I was dependent on. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only human who has ever has been maxad by someone watching the Patriots game. Although I have to say, having burning hot coals over your body as someone is swearing at the TV isn’t as relaxing as you would think. I also took over 90 Chinese pills a day, and forced anyone who was kind enough to visit me to also massage my back/ass. By the time it was Sunday, I must have the loosest ass this side of the Mississippi.

    Yet the pain persisted.

    I went through the usual psychological journey of trying to understand why I did this to myself. Even if we don’t want to admit it, we are the architects of our own suffering. No one else came up to me and hit me with a tire iron on the back. I hurt my back, me, for whatever reason.

    I journeyed deep into a philosophical questioning of self. I tried to deconstruct and reconstruct every part of my being. I meditated on my 3rd chakra, and chanted a variety of primal sounds to bring my inner core strength. I connected to my ancestors on the astral plane, and visited my original self on the quantum shelf. I repeated the mantra “life is wasted if we don’t appreciate every part of it,” and bowed my 3rd eye the eternal oneness of all beings.

    Yet the pain persisted.

    I was useless, cranky, and sad. I went to Munch’s best friend’s birthday party, and was so antisocial I spent the entire time making endless grilled cheese sandwiches and washing dishes. I think I have a pretty good career as a dishwasher if nothing else works out – or at least that’s what I was told.

    I left the party early in total despair. Then I did what any reasonable person would do who had been dealing with debilitating pain for 6 days. I smoked some pot and went for a walk. I thought about movies I want to make, and characters I want to create. Then I got home, smoked some more, and stretched while The Munch took her bath. While I was stoned stretching, it was almost as if I was accessing my spasms. I could feel the tremors, and I just breathed into it. I let the shivers and the intensity of the stretch feel like a massage. Then I got up, and felt almost fine.

    I guess in truth I did think a lot during this week. I realized I’m becoming sort of cynical and jaded. Taking a step back to look at my existence is never a bad thing. Maybe I will do it more often. Before my body goes into total mutiny. Or maybe I should just smoke pot and stretch more often.

    Do you guys have this kind of cinnamon at home???

    cinnamon

    January 18, 2016 • Health • Views: 704

  • Only The Best Picture of All Time Can Cure Depression

    Lately I’ve been feeling super depressed, sad, and full of anxiety. You know those days where life feels like a meaningless cavern of emotional torment, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t dig yourself out of the headspace that your life is totally futile?

    No? Neither have I.

    I’m soooo fine. Really.

    I’ve tried a variety of efforts to inspire a different feeling other than hopeless despair. One was to binge watch Game of Thrones, which surprisingly only made me more despondent. I guess super violent rape, murder, and incest isn’t the best way to cheer yourself up. Go figure.

    Usually music and dancing helps take me out of emotional funks, but I couldn’t fake the funk.

    I tried eating hotdogs, because hey, hotdogs can be good.

    That didn’t work.

    But then I saw this picture. And even though I can’t say my heart isn’t a black abyss of suffering, I did get a good laugh out of it.

    Isn’t Munch’s face so priceless here?

    It’s like she’s saying to herself, “When is that goddamn beat gonna drop?”

    best-picture-blog

    June 10, 2015 • Musings • Views: 995

  • Dealing With Your Addictions

    I have never been addicted to anything, but I have abused a variety of substances. Even though my relationship to drugs and alcohol was excessive – and would lead to my doing things like being at a bar and falling onto a glass table full of drinks, breaking said table as my entire body became submerged in cranberry juice and vodka, then getting right back up to dance like that never happened – I never got hooked.

    So I can’t say I personally understand the struggle of addiction, but I do understand the urge to fill the existential hole in your soul with cocaine. It happens!

    I think the root of addiction lies in wanting to satiate your emotions with something outside of yourself. It’s a way to deal with the monotony of existence, or mask the pain of life. You turn to a chemical compound that will shake shit up inside your mind, and dull your heart from having to feel.

    I know my kid is only 4, but I want to set up good patterns of behavior even now. I don’t expect that The Munch won’t ever experiment with drugs. I am sure one day she will get super fucked up, hippy flip at a festival, and then have to vomit on her best friend because she mixed nitrous with an ecstasy acid combo. These things happen! I can’t shelter her from wanting to party in her youth, but hopefully I can build the groundwork so she has the mental fortitude to avoid being consumed by chasing the dragon – because that guy is fast!

    I want The Munch to be able to express her inner being, and not feel confined by the confusion of the human condition. I figure the more we confront things head on, the less she will feel the need to escape later in life. Sure, I am not dealing with any hard-core strife right now. I mean, it isn’t that complicated to process your tears after losing a Frozen flip-flop. Yet I have noticed that when The Munch hurts herself, her first request is to watch something on TV to “take her mind off it.” And when she is bored, and doesn’t know what to do, she always asks for a treat.

    I decide that we needed to unpack these instincts so she doesn’t one day move to Tampa, Florida.

    Munch: Mom, my sunburn really hurts. Can I watch some Carebears?
    Toni: Munch, you don’t want to watch something just to run from being in pain. You need to face it head on.
    Munch: But I really wanna watch something so it doesn’t hurt.
    Toni: Yeah, but life is full of pain. And sometimes you have to just sit with it. That’s the only way to realize that you are not your pain, and you can overcome it.
    Munch: Can I overcome my pain tomorrow morning and watch something tonight?
    Toni: I’m not sure it works like that.

    THE NEXT DAY

    Munch: Mom, can I have a treat?
    Toni: You already had like 5 chocolates today.
    Munch: But I REALLY want another treat.
    Toni: Munch, if you have a treat every day then it’s not special any more. You are just eating sugar all the time and cultivating a sugar addiction. Remember when we talked about how sugar is addictive?
    Munch: Yeah but what does it mean again?
    Toni: Well….
    Munch: Oh right. Addiction is when you can’t control yourself and you just want more and more and more even though it’s not good for your body.
    Toni: Exactly.
    Munch: How about I have one more treat today and none tomorrow. I will work on my addiction, and I won’t have treats every day. Just sometimes. And a lot of them.

     

    addiction-blog

  • The Heartbreak of a Broken Heart

    Do you remember your first broken heart? Did it feel like someone peeled back the layers of your skin only to pry their fingers deep into your aorta, and scrape the inner walls of your ventricles with their nails? Were you writhing in agony as the seething suffering traversed your veins and settled into a cantankerous cavity hidden inside the bowels of your being? ME TOO!!!

    My heart was broken for the first time when I was 15. He told me we lived too far apart, and he couldn’t be my boyfriend anymore because he wanted to finger-bang other girls. I wasn’t just devastated… I was destroyed. Forget the fact that I had another boyfriend who went to my school. The loss was too profound to bear. I would think of him every night when I went to sleep, and he was the first thing on my mind when I woke up. I sometimes wouldn’t leave my house in hopes that he would call. (The tragedy of being a teenager in the 90’s, pre cellphones *tear). I thought of him obsessively, and would look for him in any crowd I was in. It took me an entire year to move on emotionally, and of course as soon as I got over him, he was like “let’s date again,” – so we did.

    Being broken hearted is a helpless and vulnerable feeling because it is rooted in rejection. No matter how the other person tries to rationalize their reasoning, the piercing truth is that they don’t want you. That sinking reality is so painful because it also digs at the core of your self-esteem. The ego becomes enmeshed with the heart. Not only is the object of your love leaving, but they are also scarring your sense of worth with their disinterest to stay.

    The Munch is going through her first experience with heartbreak, and it has been breaking my heart to witness her sorrow. Her baby sitter since she was one year old has decided to move on. We had a conversation about it last week, and I think at first Munch was in a state of shock or denial. She didn’t really mention it, so I was hoping maybe it would be a smooth transition. Then the other morning, Munch came in my room while I was meditating wondering what I had done with a picture her babysitter Liliana had drawn her. It had been hanging on the fridge, and I had taken it down. At first I didn’t want to admit that, and tried to claim I didn’t remember – but Munch kept asking me where it was.

    Toni: I took it down.
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: It made me sad to look at it.

    That was when everything hit her. Suddenly Munch had to face reality. She started weeping in my arms telling me how much she missed Liliana. I held her, and began crying right along with her. Her pain was so relatable. Of course wanting to discontinue employment as a babysitter is drastically different than ending a relationship – yet in Munch’s world, the sentiment is the same.

    Munch: I still want her to be my babysitter. I don’t like those things she said. They really hurt my feelings. I don’t want her to leave. I miss her. I can’t stop thinking about Liliana!
    Toni: I know baby. It is really hard. But people can’t always be who you want them to be. Sometimes they have to be who they want to be. And when you love them, you have to give them that space.
    Munch: But I miss her so much and I want to see her. I am so angry that she doesn’t want to see me any more. I want to be with her. My heart is broken. She broke my heart.
    Toni: It hurts, I know. But Liliana wants to go back to school. And we want her to be happy. She needs to find her happiness. Don’t you want her to do that?
    Munch: Yes, but I also want her to stay with me.
    Toni: It doesn’t always work that way baby. Sometimes happiness means you have to leave.

    We sat, talked, and cried. I didn’t want to talk her out of her feelings, because that seemed like a fruitless effort. We can’t rationalize our way out of loss. We have to go through it. The only thing I could do was to listen, and suggest different ways of seeing the situation. After a while, we got up, got dressed, and got in the car to go on an adventure. We decided that we would listen to music as loud as we could, and sing as loud as our voices would go.

    As I was driving I realized the universal truth of heartbreak. The other person is happier with out you. That is why they have to go. Suddenly I felt elated by this knowing.  Even though there is a sweet sadness, there is also hope. Your aching has meaning because the person you love is happier. Even though that bruises the ego, the true self wants the people you adore to find their bliss, even if it means they take a different path.

    I know Munch is still hurting from this separation. She will go through her iPod, find videos of her with Liliana, and then cry as she watches them. Although the tragic rawness is brutal to witness, I also respect that this is a process she has to go through in order to let go. All I know is that I considering Munch is only 4 and feels this deeply, I am seriously in for it when she is a teenager.

    heartbreak-blog-(i)

  • Unleash Your Inner Teenage Girl

    When I was a teenager I would come home from school, put on really sad music, and cry. Just to drive this point home and make sure you have the visual… every day for four years I would blast Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, and *insert any 90’s angst- ridden singer songwriter here – just to make myself weep FOR HOURS! When I look back at that time in my life I have to wonder what the fuck was going on with me?

    The obvious answer is I was a hormonal mess, controlled by the insanity of estrogen pumping through my system at an alarming rate as it surged through my veins. Yet at the same time it was deeper than that. It was the one part of my day where I actually felt alive. For whatever reason, being a teenage girl made it possible for me to easily access my sorrow. It didn’t take much for me to feel infinitely sorry for myself, or even for all of humanity. I could tap into grief with a calm effortlessness, and access that intensity more than any other emotion.

    I didn’t know how to make myself feel boundlessly joyful, but I did know how to drop into sadness. Even though the melancholy didn’t feel good, the extremeness of the sentiment was full of vitality. The heightened sense gave meaning to everything, even if the moment was blurred by my salty vision.

    I don’t suggest this as a daily practice – unless I can get a book deal, in which case sign up for my 3-week course “Weep Your Way Into a Better You,” – but I do think there is something profound about releasing into the chaos of desperation. Perhaps if we were more willing to feel the truth of the lows, there would be more room for the altitude of the highs.

    Pain is also terrifying. I don’t want to feel hurt, nor do I want to see other people suffering. I once saw a cat that had been run over and was lying on the side of the road. I stopped to help it, but I didn’t have the capacity to handle how much the poor creature was in agony. Another car stopped right after me, and the driver went right over to the mangled animal and held it in her arms as it died. I had so much respect for this woman. She was able to bear the burden of this being’s transition when I was rendered impotent by my own excessive empathy. I felt so deeply for the cat that I couldn’t be there for it because I was too lost in my own feelings. I would like to think that if that woman hah never showed up I would have pulled myself together, and been more proactive then sobbing uncontrollably. Yet I am so grateful that she did, because she was there for us both that night.

    I was once part of a hippy new age shaman ceremony celebrating the descendants of grandmother moon, and go figure, I was actually feeling pretty good. Then this woman started writhing in discomfort as her primal cries filled the room. I found myself totally distracted by what was going on with her. As much as I wanted to help, I also knew that there wasn’t much I could do for her. She was on her trip. The best way for me to have been there for her was to visualize her as the perfect self. Yet it was so challenging not to get caught up in the drama of her experience. I had to repeat the mantra “this is her healing” in order to maintain my own sanity.

    Even though I felt terrible for this woman, I also wanted her to stop being in pain – not only for herself, but for me too. Her anguish was harshing my mellow! I felt so guilty that I was feeling fine, and she wasn’t.

    Isn’t that a metaphor for the global suffering that is going on all the time? When you are having the best night of your life, someone else is having the worst night of theirs. That is why it is so hard to really contemplate about all terrible realities going on. I feel awful when I really allow myself to think about child brides, therefore I don’t want to think about it. It is too hard for me to be happy when I remind myself of the millions who are not.

    So that is why we all need to unleash our inner teenage girl, and allow the totality of suffering to pass through us. Not only for ourselves, but also for all the beings on this fucked up planet we live on. To run from the hurt doesn’t mean it goes away. Maybe the best thing we can do is to truly turn towards it, so we can actually deal with how much it all sucks.
    (Look at me! I am on the verge of tears just sitting around xmas eve when I was 14)

    teenage-girl-blog

    January 15, 2015 • Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1609