Walk on Water

 

Walk on Water (1)

 

I was maybe ten or eleven. My feet, dressed in navy blue Keds, dangled over the water. I could see the soles and my dark knee-length socks reflected in the water. I sat on the edge of a pier and found that peaceful part inside myself. It was a part of me that I could only find when I was alone.

I know my family thought I was odd. Sitting on the end of a pier over the calm waters of the Magothy River, I could feel their eyes on my back. From the warm den with its picture window, they wondered about me. They worried about a girl who would choose to sit out in the chilly, overcast March day, Easter no less, than in the warmth with her family.

But I was content here. I was wrapped in my own little world of magic and probabilities. I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming at the time, but a voice interrupted.

I knew the voice wasn’t outside of me. I wasn’t sure if it was me or someone – something else, but I could hear its words very clearly.

“Walk on water.”

“What?”

“Walk on water.”

I hesitated. How was I supposed to walk on water? Like Jesus. Jesus was a miracle worker. I doubted I was.

“Go on. You can do it.”

The bottom of my feet tingled, right through the soles of my shoes, and my body felt weird. Lighter. The water beckoned, and I wondered if I had finally lost my mind.

I felt like two people in that space between two moments. The breeze froze. Sound halted. Even the gleaming ripples held their place as if caught in a photograph.

I was torn between faith and terror. I knew in a very deep part of myself that this walking-on-water thing was a possibility. I understood on a visceral level that I was able to bend space and time with my thoughts. But was it probable? And what would happen?

My mind raced over the potential fallout. I could fail miserably. I’d sink into the water, floundering and freezing, and end up in the hospital. First the ER and then the sanitarium because I had clearly tried to commit suicide. And I heard voices. Tsk, tsk.

I could succeed. My family would watch me walk to shore, unharmed, dry as a bone, and serene as a perfect, summer day. I would be canonized as a saint by the Pope no less. My grandmother would be so proud. “I made her come to church every Sunday.”

And no one would leave me alone. I would be pursued, hassled, and asked to perform the miracle again and again. Scientists would study me, even want to dissect me, and I would become a ward of the United States government. Perhaps to use as a weapon against Russia.

Either way, I would die inside. I thought of my brothers, alone with the monster that consumed our father and helpless beneath the indifference of our mother. I knew I was all that stood between them and the madness of our home life.

I didn’t want any of it. And as the voice continued to cajole me, I chose to do nothing. Well, I chose to argue with the voice, and this was something I did not do to an authority.

“No.”

I waited for punishment, for reprobation, and for rejection.

“Why?” was all the voice asked.

“I’m needed here. This is the path I chose.”

I could feel the voice’s silence in my head like a pressure.  Weight squeezed me into something small and insignificant. I struggled against the heaviness.

Perhaps I was a coward. Perhaps I had chosen the devil-I-know. I’m sure I did. Fear is a many-splendored prison. But I knew that any way I sliced this bread, all the pieces were stale.

The scrutiny, the concern, and the potential for imprisonment was too great if I chose to act on the voice’s demand. Though I was in a different prison, I knew that eventually, I could escape.

I also knew I had work to do. I had children to raise and words to write. I had dreams to pursue and a life to build. I had my humanity and I had plans to develop it to the highest heights I could reach.

The voice stopped cajoling as it watched the visions that unfolded in my head. I felt the pressure ease and let out a sigh of relief.

“Very well. You have made your choice.”

I blinked. The chilly breeze caressed my cheek. Sound flooded my ears with the lap of water against wood and the call of a hungry seagull. The waves threw muted flashes of light into the dark cavern beneath the pier.

I was alone again. I was sane again. Mostly.

I rose to my feet, dusted off my skirt, and shivered. I had never remembered an experience like that. I had other instances of insanity, but none had made me feel as small and frightened as this one.

I studied my grandparents’ house, which looked like one of the models that Pop Pop would place around his beloved Christmas train garden. On Easter, the garden was carefully stored away for the next Christmas.

I returned to the stifling warmth of family. I picked through the basket of candy I’d been given. I pulled Easter grass from my hair. I argued with my brothers (“Stop touching me!”) as we returned home.

I felt relief as my head hit the pillow. The status quo had been maintained for everyone but me. My brothers were as safe as I could keep them, wrapped in the bliss of ignorance.

Only I was changed forever and to this day, that moment on the pier haunts me.

© 2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Curse of Sensitivity

The curse of sensitivity

Imagine being able to feel the slightest hair brush against your skin. Imagine being so aware of your body that you can catalogue all your aches and pains by location, intensity, and duration. Imagine ordinary smells having flavors: feet, body odor, plastic, etc.

This is the curse of sensitivity.

Many don’t feel this wide a spectrum of sensation. I think the world population would lose its collective mind if that were the case. But there are a few of us who can name the miseries and joys of life in excruciating detail.

I can feel the electromagnetic field of a television from across the room. The crazy part is that the television is plugged into an outlet but not “on.” It’s like nails on the chalkboard of my teeth.

I can smell when something is cooked to perfection in the oven. It has a specific odor and heat. I couldn’t describe the mechanics. I just know.

I purchased a new microwave, a standard 1000w, and my son says to me, “It’s so nice to cook without having to guess.” Or, “You cook it, Mom. I always mess it up.” I didn’t realize until then that my sons could not feel the same things I do.

I take this delicate awareness for granted. I swim in an ocean of sensation.

I can see a wide spectrum of colors too. I remember my sister-in-law, who attended university to become a chef and sommeliere, asked me how I knew the boiling potatoes weren’t done.  I speared one piece with a fork and showed her.

“See the center. It’s slightly darker so it isn’t cooked all the way through. I can feel the texture through the fork. If you don’t cook it all the way through, whipped potatoes become chunky.”

She looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was nonplussed by my haphazard approach to cooking. She couldn’t see the difference in color or even texture. Yes, the potatoes came out perfect.

I take this delicate awareness for granted. I swim in an ocean of sensation. I hear things that others cannot. It’s nothing like spirits. Instead, it’s the distant hum of every news station covering the same event. Snippets will come through but not necessarily anything that makes sense. I used to look around to find the source but no more.

There are some energies I’ve learned to interpret. Images form in mind as my skin and bones vibrate like a tuning fork. I can tell people things about themselves that even they don’t know. Some people call me a psychic, but that’s not what I am.

I am a walking, breathing tower of electrical lines, cellular receivers, and satellites. Only those who ingest LSD might understand the reality of my existence. I “trip” every day. There is no surcease except for the dark embrace of sleep, and even then, I’m awakened by the slightest sound.

The constant bombardment of cell phones, computers, and pollution take their toll on my constitution. Depression is exhaustion. Anxiety is hypervigilance. What will come next? Why do I sleep for hours on end? Why do I stay up all night staring at the ceiling?

Through this all, through the grief of loss and the sweetness of love, I remain stoic. I cannot function if I allow the depth of my emotions to manifest. I would be in jail if I lost a rein on my fury. Others consider me “cold.”

If the other 98% of the population could understand that my tribe is not broken but simply high-fidelity, I think mental “illness” would be treated differently. Our heightened senses would be acknowledged and fortification against the onslaught would be readily available.

Please. Be kind to each other.

Psychiatric research has established that trauma, an event or events that overwhelm baseline coping mechanisms, alters the structure and thus the chemistry of the brain. The findings are replicated through CAT scans and MRI images. The findings are observed in autopsies.

As a Sensitive, daily rejection would and did traumatize me. The threat of pain was enough to create that pain within me. Shouting was a fog horn in my ears. Ridicule was a stomach ache that would not go away. As a child I had no vocabulary, no experiences, to communicate my profound discomfort.

Even “non”-sensitives are traumatized to a degree, so it is in the best interests of our species to cultivate kindness and sympathy for each other. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable, and society suffers as a result.

Please. Be kind to each other. Show sympathy for the tribulations of others, even if you don’t understand. Kindness and sympathy may be the best tonic for a suffering world and you, as an individual, could be a contributor to the cure one act of kindness at a time.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

 

Insufferable existence

The Insufferable Reality of Being

My insides have been excoriated. Burned, salted, and frozen. I experience the agony like a physical pain that pulls my blood, my essence, into a pit of physical inception.

My goal is to break free of this intense apathy as the spirit roils within the bonds of flesh, tethered by a soul that desires manifestation. I am fighting the animal of my body whose bones have been programmed to fight, flee, and survive.

Before, I was too ill to wrestle with this demon. Though I am mostly well, the demon has grown toothier, hoarier, and sharper of claw. Survival is a traitorous bitch.

…now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face.

I have not escaped. I have not been ripped from my fate by the cold hands of medical science. Where before I had done everything imaginable to escape the horror of inception, now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face. I refuse to turn my back to it. I’m willing to name it.

About once every two weeks, I wake and know it will not be a good day. My body will ache, my head will throb, and my core will compact into a small, burning coal that sears the space below my rib cage. The Ego knows I long to escape. The Id throws temper tantrums that dance upon my teeth. I struggle within a concrete vise of emotional sterility.

I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose.

Sanity is a lipstick that smears my mouth. I’ve been raped by too many dark truths, drowned in too many deceptions, and hung too many times for crimes not my own to subscribe to this world’s idea of what is acceptable.

I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose. I am labeled insane by a society that does not see the wonders or the dangers that I do. I feel for a wounded world. Your hurts, his despair, her anxiety, are all within me. And still I smile because your joy, his relief, and her laughter are all within me too.

I often wonder if I have feelings of my own. Perhaps I do, but they are buried beneath the demands of this reality. I long to escape, and in the moments of agony, I realize that I cannot.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

 

 

When Legends Rise

When Legend’s Rise: Godsmack’s Pluto Transit

When Legends Rise

April 27, 2018

Spinefarm Records

Godsmack has always been the one artist that voiced the feelings that I locked away beneath a smiling façade. As the band grew, my appreciation for their work grew.

Until—1000 HP.

I called it “canned” Godsmack. I demanded something more, something better, than revisiting a past that no longer held relevance. I wanted the grrrr and the soul. I wanted the contained release of fury tempered by experience.

Every good composer has a formula and it’s one that works. It gives a frame work, but it isn’t an excuse to stick to the tried and trope.

I admit, I avoided listening to the new album, When Legends Rise. Disappointment feels the same as heart break and I don’t have enough heart left to afford it.

But Godsmack delivered this time around.

Is it gritty? To a degree that it blends the old with the new and drops bombs of nostalgia (bitches). There’s still a few growls, riffs, and groovy rhythms left in the ol’ fellers.

Is it pop? Eh, for those snobs who act like Godsmack is the Yanni of the hard rock/heavy metal genre, maybe (may you rot in your self-importance along with your testosterone-poisoned idiocy).

Was it meant to appeal to a wider audience? Yes.

Was it manufactured or “canned?” I’ll give that a no.

“When Legends Rise,” is a perfect front-load song. It felt like a nod to power metal, rather than an attempt to be heavy. There is an epic quality to the lyrics and the cleanness of Erna’s vocals showcases the range and depth of his voice.

Of course, there’s “Bulletproof,” another pleasing front-load that was issued as the first single with an interesting video accompaniment. I’m still trying to figure out if Pasquale’s leisure suit was ashes of lime green or ashes of goldenrod in color, but I digress.

Once we get past the hit-makers, things get interesting. You can see the formula. Every good composer has a formula and it’s one that works. It gives a frame work, but it isn’t an excuse to stick to the tried and trope.

Treading a path of authenticity is an evolution. Sometimes it devolves into mimicry and many times it opens a doorway into unexpected creativity and fulfillment.

Frameworks give the freedom to experiment, and what I really enjoyed about the remainder of the songs were the sudden changes, unexpected changes, in the melodies, especially demonstrated by Rombola’s guitar.

I enjoyed the addition of hand drums without going overboard. I enjoyed how the children’s choir kicked off the song “Unforgettable.” A ballad in “Under Your Scars,” no less? (And I loved it??) These risks may be calculated but still frightening as hell if you wrestle with the continuity of a career.

I’m a lyrics person. I want to know every word that is sung. I want to know what it means, and while familiar themes of Erna’s past efforts are present, they are coupled with new imagery that is deeper and burns a hell of a lot more because no one shakes mortality or loneliness.

I think the only song that didn’t quite fit the album was “Eye of the Storm.” It felt like an add-on, and that always bothers me. Perhaps a few more listens will warm me up, but I am very pleased with the album overall and glad I spent my cash on a preorder.

Treading a path of authenticity is an evolution. Sometimes it devolves into mimicry and many times it opens a doorway into unexpected creativity and fulfillment. If you’re in a group and they’re on board, ready to deliver solid musicianship, then you’ve got a platform for artistic integrity.

Rating: 4.2

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Images may be subject to copyright.

Why Im single

Why I’m Single and Why You Might Be Too

Divorce is almost inevitable for a married couple in the United States. The psychologists would have us believe that only fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. They gloss over the constraints of the trials, which measures the three years between marriage and divorce. Another constraint is the observation of only heterosexual marriages.

Privilege is a Dirty Word

This is a terrible topic to touch, but I will explain my understanding of what privilege is and what it is not.

It isn’t that rich, attractive, light-skinned, Christian men are too “clueless” or not “intelligent” enough to understand the concept of privilege. But the way the media has twisted it, privilege has become a buzzword that ignites the indignation of the very people ensconced at the top of the hierarchy.

Privilege is not a moral failing and it certainly isn’t exclusive to Caucasian men. The wealthy have privilege over the poor. Light-skinned people have privilege over dark-skinned people. Men have privilege over women in almost every country in this world. The righteous have privilege over the morally deficient. The beautiful, whatever society deems attractive at the time, have privilege over the plain.

Privilege is a social construct. It is conferred to and received by those named deserving of such treatment. If the practice goes on long enough, say for centuries, the privilege given becomes entitlement.

Entitlement in this context denotes any treatment that one has come to expect. Expectations are assumptions and to assume makes an “ass” our of “u” and “me.”

If you assume someone will be a certain way, if society demands that a woman behave a certain way, that is the point of reference from which you operate. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.

When I use the word privilege, it is not to chastise an individual. I only want to make the individual conscious of the “super-power” possessed. How you use this super-power determines the person you are, not the actual treatment you receive.

Society’s behavior toward a “beautiful” person is markedly different from that of the “plain” person. After meeting a few of these genetic-jackpot-creatures, and I think a majority of us would agree, you discover that they are vain, demanding, and rely almost exclusively on their appearance to command admiration and what they feel is theirs by right.

Fat-shaming is another example. Since slenderness is a societally desirable state of being, everything to do with fashion, to do with body image, how one eats, and even one’s perceived state of health is assumed by society.

Here is a totem pole of privilege in America:
• Color of skin
• Gender identification
• Wealth
• Appearance
• Religious affiliations
• Personality

Others have different opinions as to the order, but from observation and study, this is my statement of the hierarchy and only in America and only by the majority of Americans. For those rare birds who refuse to adopt these societal norms and struggle daily to challenge their assumptions, I salute you.

The distinctions above represent our subconscious assumptions. To the individual with privilege, the treatment received from others is equivalent to a fish swimming in an ocean. Immersed in the water, acknowledgement of the sky and earth exist is not required or desired. Arguments would ensue should a dolphin come along and describe the sky.

This is why America is in turmoil over so many issues. Like the teenager our country is, compared to other countries in the world, we wish to prove that we are right in our assumptions. Belligerence is a normal side-effect of having assumptions challenged. Hopefully, recent setbacks will mature the American perspective and the election of the current Administration is the last gasp of the beached fish of our country’s sense of entitlement. My hope is endless.

For those who rest at the pyramid’s point, you have a responsibility to acknowledge your good fortune and use it for the betterment of those who have, by no fault of their own, been relegated to a supporting level of the pinnacle. Failing to do so will create a chaos that grows exponentially as the established order attempts to keep the “lid on the boiling pot.”

When a class of individuals loses sight of the fact that their privilege rests on the backs of the others who have helped them to rise to such heights, resentment simmers beneath and at some point, the pyramid will erupt like a volcano.

The eruption could be Pompeii or it could be *** in proportion. This pattern has been witnessed over the course of human history, reflected in the cycles of the Earth, and also experienced on the personal level many times over.

Must change be so violent? If an abuse is named in the current order of assumptions, wouldn’t it be easier to integrate the awareness with deliberate and mindful steps that are implemented with kindness and respect? And for those who have named these abuses, wouldn’t it be prudent to start with a respectful and informative approach rather than accusations that, while valid, would alienate the participation of those who have the power to initiate change?

In theory, yes, that would be marvelous and the ideas of mindfulness and deliberation are worthy of consideration and constructive discussion.

I am not promoting a revolution of any sort because I am not interested in holding power over others. I have the privilege to be in a place where I can make that decision for myself. Others are not so lucky, but I will not use my privilege as a weapon against others.

I will harness my privilege so that I’m not an asshole to the waiter or ignoring the suffering of others. I will use my privilege to help others become.

Fury + Fear = General Anxiety Disorder?

My Fury embodies the energy of Kali: Goddess of Rage and Resistance.

Fury is what I feel when I’m helpless. Plus fear is what I feel when my amygdala kicks in with the fight-or-flight reaction (FFR) and I can’t make it stop. Equals General Anxiety Disorder.

Looks pretty simple, but it isn’t. If I broke into rages instead of a panic attack, then my fury would be diagnosed and treated. The anxiety expressed in those rages would not be addressed. If I have panic attacks instead, because I’ve been victimized one too many times, only the anxiety would be treated.

Therapist: What are you afraid of?
Me: I don’t know. I’m safe, there is nothing to fear.
T: Then why do you think you have panic attacks?
M: Because that was the only way I could express my fury.

It leaked out of me 24/7. How do you treat that kind of fury? The helpless fury that must find an outlet or I’ll explode.

Most therapists are at a loss of how to treat fury-induced anxiety. They don’t consider the other emotions that are tightly woven into the panic response.

Especially for women. Women cry when they are frustrated and feel helpless. This feeds the angry fire.

I’ve learned to embrace my fury. I treat her like a long, lost child who has grown to a strong, even vicious woman. Anger is so destructive when it isn’t given a proper outlet.

For those of you with imagination, anthropomorphize the fury. What does the fury look like? What gender? What species? Build up this image in your mind.
When you know what your fury looks like, embrace it. Tell it you love it and that it is a part of the collective of you. You might have to do this a number of times before Fury trusts you enough to listen.

Once the Fury relaxes enough to have a conversation, you can hit these bullet points:
• I love you as a natural part of who I am as a person.
• I’ve neglected you and I’m sorry for that.
• I understand why you have sabotaged my efforts in the past.
• To show you how sorry I am, I’m asking you to turn your attention to what hinders us.
• Your destructive nature is necessary to sift the wheat from the chaff.
• Let us work together as a team to overcome any obstacles that come our way.

You may have to have this conversation with Fury a few times before it takes, but it will take. Fury will settle into your unconscious mind, where it has always resided, but now Fury has a new directive and will fulfill your request with a focus that is monumental in proportion.

After I did this, my whole life changed. The decisions I made when Fury was not acknowledged were cut and burned. Some of those decisions were salted as well. Fury doesn’t play.

Another role Fury can take is as a defender of the child you were, the child you must raise. This is anxiety. This is helplessness. Have Fury protect and care for this child. Fury was given to us for this purpose.

Many call Fury the Shadow, but this is only true if you deny its existence. Otherwise, it becomes a tool of the heart and mind. You’ll make better decisions. Toxic people will shed from your life. This will be true even if you have a mental illness. I think one of the reasons I survived so long with the illness was because I acknowledged all the icky parts of myself. Just know that Fury is the biggest “shadow” of them all and must be addressed first.

I am not a licensed therapist. I make no claims to having any experience other than my own. If the above practice resonates with you, you’ll have success. If it doesn’t I recommend that you not continue the matter and seek professional help.

Either way, if you are seeing a therapist, discuss the ramifications of a guided meditation. Remember that you are paying the therapist for their expertise and that you are the boss. You are the owner of all the feelings inside of you. If your therapist isn’t open to working with you on anger issues or just recommends prescriptions to the psychiatrist to deal with the anxiety, it’s time to find a new therapist.

Take charge of your journey to wellness. You are mighty, not helpless. Let your Fury become your guardian. Fury will tell you when something isn’t right. Fury will protect you.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text only. Image may be subject to copyright.