Monday, November 21, 2016

M is for Music

Anyone who knows me know that I love music.

It is no surprise at all. I remember the first song as a child that left an impression with me. It was at a pizza place called " Pete's Pizza" (btw, it is still there) and the song "Dog and Butterfly" by Heart came over the jukebox. I am not sure what drew me to the song. Not sure if it was the imagery, the lyrics, the vocals, or the amazing musicianship. Something drew me in and I never let go of that spark.

I grew up with music playing at all times around our home. Usually left on as background noise the radio hummed with tunes from the oldies station. It wasn't until, like many people around my age, i received my first cassette tape - Michael Jackson's Thriller- that I start discovering my own music.

I remember trying to memorize each and every note, hiccup, musical instrument. Shortly after that I started to build my collection. It included a who's who of pop charts: Madonna, Heart, Starship and anyone else that was featured on Friday Night Videos. It was my first exposure to the medium of music videos and watching the tunes in my head come alive was amazing.

I continued loving the pop starts of the day until a girl at my high school named Brie came in and said "you need to listen to something good. Have you heard of A Flock of Seagulls". I shook my head no and she insisted "I Ran" was a classic. I tried to picture how a song about Iran could be any good. She handed me a cassette of A Flock of Seagulls Greatest Hits. The minute that synth started I was lost in a whole new world. I turned to my friends Anna, Cresta and Jen for suggestions... My world broke open with sounds of Depeche Mode, Information Society, Pet Shop Boys , The Cure (Still my fave all time band), et al.

These new bands sunk into my head and grabbed them as if to tell me I was not alone with feeling lost and depressed. I felt like I needed to share my angst and so I started one of many incarnations of high school bands. I had spent years writing my lyrics down and I was approached by a school mate named Brian to work on some songs. We wrote a handful of songs the ones that stick out are "The Damaged One" and another one about the environment. We even played the songs for a class in high school. (Trust me that was daring for me. People were not a fan of me in those years). Brian was a gifted guitarist that was in the style of Steve Vai. Me- a burgeoning singer songwriter in the style of Toad The Wet Sprocket. Needless to say we moved on.

I continued to write and try to find a project. A year after high school I answered an ad in the local paper and I found Rich and Rich. We quickly hit it off and formed what started out as HIS Band, progressed into Cement and then became Glass Eyed Glenda. We wrote a few dozen songs and even made a demo. We also had a list full of covers from the early 90's grunge movement. Bassist Rich left focus on work; guitarist Rich chose to drink and focus on not having an "effeminate singer". I resolved to look for newer projects.

I ended up finding  people I have collaborated with over the years. One was an ex of mine but my favorite collabs were with my friend Peter. We did some great covers of 80's alt classics. The one song though that seemed to stick was "Collide". I submitted Collide to a show that was supposed to have been a real world/american idol type show and even interviewed with a producer but the concept fell through (or so I was told).

Following a strange bout of life, I did work near a karaoke bar that my roommate/friend worked at as a host. I would stop by a couple of times a week and order up a pitcher of PBR (classy huh?). I would sing two or three songs a night. I even earned the nickname of "Songbird".

Since then I have attempted to find a band or group of people to play music with. The search has dried up but I still sing when I can and I still love music. I cannot imagine a day when I cannot listen to music. I am enjoying discovering new tunes and in an odd sense hearing the influences that I grew up listening to as well.

Living in the age that we do, digital music has made music more accessible then ever. It makes listening to music so easy but I sometimes still miss the days of opening up an album and reading all the liner notes, memorizing facts about producers and engineers and such.

Sometimes I still go back in time and listen to "Dog and Butterfly". That always makes life a bit better.

Friday, November 4, 2016

L is for Life Lessons

Getting older is hard.

It takes a certain finesse to navigate all the changes. Seasons change us all inside and out.

I am losing my hair. I miss my red wavy hair. I miss being skinny. I miss feeling youthful. I miss feeling overly hopeful about the dreams in my brain. I miss amazing music and better movies. I miss the chance to tell people I love that I love them.

 As I am writing this I am listening to the band October Project and feeling a bit reminiscent. One of my new favorite obsessions is re listening to music from when I was younger. Now that technology of Spotify exists I am able to listen to artists albums all over from the first album to current. Currently I am enjoying revisiting The Pet Shop Boys. I have listened to the catalogs of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, and other artists. I am three albums into the Pet Shop Boys and remember why I loved them so much.

 My cousin sent me via Facebook last week. I was 19 years old. I was about to marry a gal I had met through a music store in my hometown of Spokane, WA. I still remember when the picture was taken. I actually obsessed looking at the picture wondering what happened to that guy. I tried to emulate the smile and was not able to make it look the same as hard as I tried.

I started thinking though:
What life lessons have I learned from that time. I think about what I would tell that 19 year old kid. I would tell him a lot, here are a few things:

Hey Michael,
You will find yourself. You will morph and change and be reborn so many times you will be exhausted. You will lose your faith and gain it back more than you thought imaginable. You will find your birth family and your roots. You will find that you were placed in the best home you could imagine. You will not lose your wonderment of the world. No matter what anyone tells you, jaded views won't be part of your fate. People will find you funny. You will meet some of the most amazing people and some of them you will lose. You will learn that therapy works. You will find that you are very resilient and it will serve you well. You will struggle to find love and will find someone who makes you feel safe and makes you feel at home. You will lose your hair and gain many wrinkles. You will struggle to find work that you love but it will happen. You won't stop singing. most importantly you will be ok. You will find a peace in life and enjoy moments big and small. You will learn some lessons but you will also maintain a strength you did not know you even had. You will love and be loved,

I may not have life perfected but I think that is a good thing. Sometimes a little self reflection can make us better. I am excited to see what life lessons are ahead for me.

Monday, October 10, 2016

K is for Kindness

Sorry for the delay but K is the hardest letter to write about as I could not find a good K word that I could relate too. Then I was listening to a song (surprise, surprise) and it hit me- kindness.

According to Friedrich Nietzsche kindness and love are “the most curative herbs and agents in the human intercourse”. Take a moment and ingest that. How powerful are these words? Everybody has a heartbeat and everyone has a heart. We as humans get caught up in all the small things. We wake up, think of all the things we have to accomplish, and head out on our mission of daily tasks. We get in line and wait impatiently for our daily Starbucks, our bus ride, our standstill traffic. Walk into work with our tasks already backed up and hope we can get caught up before he head out for the day and zoom home. Then is the dinners, catching up with friends, kid time, pup walks, exercise, a few moments of downtime before bed time.

I grew up believing that most people are kind and good. I had a hard time believing that anyone had ill intentions. I feel that this type of philosophy kept me sane during stages of my early childhood. I see that my parents (all of them) did the things they did, right or wrong, based on good (albeit selfish in some cases) intentions. I have been told throughout my life that I am a too kind, give people around me too many chances, and that I need to learn to build a tougher skin. When I lived in Spokane and I had first come out I was told by a lot of the older gay men that I hung around that “you will learn to be bitter. Kindness gets you nowhere in this life except being walked on.” Well I say to life BRING IT ON!

I have waited years to become bitter. Still hasn’t happened. Trust me I have plenty of reasons to be bitter at this point in my life. The truth is that I have grown and changed. The human that I have become still believes that kindness is the way to peace and joy. I fall and sometimes I lose my kindness, like any human being, but I work hard to find kindness in any given situation that challenges me in life.

It is not easy in today’s world, one that binges on the negatives that society has to offer. One person pointing to another with blame on their tongue. It is easier to pass the buck. Easier to forget we are all fighting a battle inside our heads.

I read the “Art of Happiness” by his Highness the Dalai Lama about 10 years ago. The Dalai Lama was asked repeatedly how he was able to stay so calm, be happy and not get angry. He stated many times kindness and compassion were the key.

I know that I sometimes get criticized for my taste in music. I do know that some of the artists I listen to can lean towards the poppy end. But I make no excuses. Sometimes hearing Howard Jones sing about the positives in life are better than any angry album I listen to. His lyrics purvey a kindness at the core. He is practicing Buddhist and it shows through all his tunes. I, of course, have my angry N.I.N moments and that will never change. On the whole though, I am much more inclined to find the perky positives songs my favorites.

Kindness is hard. It takes practice and taking moments to appreciate what is around us and not perceived. The perceived outcomes can make any good hearted thoughts spin on their edge and smash you hard in the head. It is easier to be kind than unkind. The results get you further as well. In most cases people will recognize kindness with kindness. Being unkind comes with more repercussions. There is hate, anger, violence, pain, you get the idea.

I will continue to choose kindness as often as possible. It is part of my wiring. I hope when I day it will part of my contributions to the world.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

J is for Journaling

I hate journaling!!!!!

It’s true. I find it tedious and time consuming. I feel as if no one is reading any of the words I put out in the universe.

I started to write when I was around 9 years old. I had started public school after a couple formative years at St. Aloysius School. In the world of Private school I had a number of friends.  I excelled in schooling. Then my family moved to a different part of the city. That meant a new school and public school at that.

I was bullied from the moment I walked in the doors of Westview Elementary. I was called nerdy (not a good thing at that time) for being smarter than most the kids. I was told I was odd, a sissy boy, strange. I needed an escape. I turned to music. From there writing took over.
Writing was always my escape.

I would sit down and write what I would call songs. I walked through the wooded area by our house alone and figured out the melodies of songs in my head to match the journal writings that I would emit from deep inside me. To this day I still think my first writing “A Bit of Wolf” was destined to be a #1 hit.

I would read about how to write the perfect lyrics. Finding anything at the library (these were pre internet days) I could on how song structure worked.  Verse A-- Chorus -- Verse B – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus out was the most popular though. I would write about 10-12 “songs” and put them together as an album, I even created very crude drawings for a “cover”.

I truly never stopped writing, it has continued in many incarnations. In Jr High I started to write my first novel. It was a science fiction epic that I had so detailed out that I had designed ships, societies, and political structures. I remember Mrs. Berkey would help me after school to work on draft after draft. I look back at that and think how patient of a soul she was to have done that. The hours she spent on a story that never made it past the third chapter was pivotal in my development of art and the written word.

High school brought epic poems, inspired by the likes of Poe, Emily Dickinson, and of course Robert Smith of The Cure. I remember writing a piece I called “The Pool” that was dark and makes me wonder if it would have sent me to the principal’s office this day and age. It was nothing violent just very morose.

Then the world changed and a new form of writing came out: Blogging. The early days of blogging introduced me to the online world of writing and deep thoughts that I could share with people all around me. I was signed up to a site that I needed a code to called LiveJournal. It became a social network for writers. I met so many amazing people and am still friends with many of them still.
The advent of social networking took off and soon everyone was blogging. My words tapered and I kept writing in some aspect. As I grew so did my writing. I keep saying I will go back and read all those old journals and songs. I also feel I am not ready to look back at them yet. I know someday I will sit down and write more and more and get the words I have imbedded in me out. I have stories and I have thoughts.

Truth is, until recently, I did not think anyone would care to read them and then it hit me….Who Cares?

The more I write and create the better my soul feels. The more at piece I am. The more I learn about myself.

OK so maybe I do not hate journaling. I think that it is more I hate deep diving into my soul. But as the –poem The Blessed Unrest by Martha Graham goes:

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased

Truth is that…

I will never be pleased!!!!!!!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

I is for Identity

What is an identity?

Well the dictionary states:

Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing:

Identity seems like a simple thing. You are X, Y, or Z. In reality this is oversimplification. The issue with Identity is that parts of our being are not obvious. People in our day to day world make assumptions about who we are and what makes us tick. The fallout of these assumptions is damaging. In essence, you discount the character, as well as, struggles a person has had to overcome to get the place the current you see them standing.

In light of the several factors that have occurred recently in my life I have been frustrated by assumptions of my own identity. It goes to show that we should never think we know about a person’s identity; what is even deeper in our soul and not just skin deep.

In most cases, we are all truly fighting a battle most don’t know. I recently learned that almost 19% of people suffer some form of mental illness. How staggering is this? It surprises me that it I grew up thinking that it was a rarity.

Here are few parts of my identity:

I am Michael Lee Howard:

I am a husband

I was born male and Identify as a queer person (some options only list gay but I feel that is too constrictive)

I feel that I can relate as a male and female. I feel at home with both sexes and feel that I can support and be open to learning all sides of the coin of gender.

I am HIV positive and have been since 2005

I believe in a Higher Power and the power of spiritual energy. I call myself a spiritual Christian and believe that both can exists simultaneously.

I am a son to many parents (3 fathers and 2 mothers) and a brother to 3 brothers and 2 sisters

I am a highly sensitive person and feel very deeply. I can sense energy around me.

I have suffered with depression all my life and recently diagnosed with borderline bipolar disorder.

I try to always find the good in people.

I am a people pleaser and a recovering co-dependent.

I have body issues and struggle to be ok with my body and the way it looks.

I have suffered and working through trauma that has existed in various aspects of my life.

I am introverted extrovert.

I am a musician and actor at heart that never realized my dream. It is still hard to not wish I was on stage at concerts.

I talk too much when nervous and then question if I made myself seem a fool

I love superheroes and the idea that we all could have superhuman powers.

I love to laugh.

I am middle age now and the fact that I am losing my hair makes me feel ugly

I am an adventurer, I love to try something new I even started running because of it.

I look like my grandfather, who was gay and had HIV

I am overweight and can’t seem to lose these last 15-20 pounds

I feel lost often

I know in my heart of heart life is good.

These are core parts of me and who I am and do not questions these parts of me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bonus-- H is for Happy Birthday

14 years ago I started a new tradition of picking a "SONG OF THE YEAR" for my birthday. The song is a vision of where I have been and a glimpse into where I am heading ... the past years have been:

Precious Illusions - Alanis Morissette (2002

) Good Enough - Darren Hayes (2003)

Kinda Hard - Eric Himan (2004)

Farewell to the Old Me - Dar Williams (2005)

Whole- Casey Stratton (2006)

Phoenix Rising - Dan Paul (2007)

Lessons Learned - Carrie Underwood (2008)

32 Flavors - Ani DiFranco (2009)

Coming around - Christopher Dallman (2010)

Let the Rain - Sara Bareilles (2011)

Stronger - Kelly Clarkson (2012)

I'm Not Your Hero - Tegan & Sara (2013)

Fall Asleep – Jars of Clay (2014)

Elastic Heart – Sia (2015)

So this year I debated stopping the tradition and then realized that is part of the growth process is to continue traditions. So in true Michael fashion I have chosen a song that truly encompasses me in general this year. This year I chose Madonna - Rebel Heart (2016) Upon listening to this song I felt I could relate. I have always done my own thing and it has led me down some unique twists and turns. In the past I have written about feeling like I do not fit in and I think that I have tried and failed and I have just moved forward. It has been a bumpy and often confusing world for me to navigate but I am very happy to know that I have taken a road less traveled on and I survived through the darkness.... So here is to another year and another track... "Rebel Heart"

I lived my life like a masochist/ Hearing my father say: "Told you so, told you so./ Why can't you be like the other girls?"/ I said: "Oh no, that's not me and I don't think that it'll ever be."

Thought I belong to a different tribe/ Walking alone never satisfied, satisfied/ Tried to fit in but it wasn't me,/ I said: "Oh no, I want more. That's not what I'm looking for."

So I took the road less travelled by/ And I barely made it out alive/ Through the darkness somehow I survived/ Tough love - I knew it from the start/ Deep down in the depth of my rebel heart

I've spent some time as a narcissist/ Hearing the other say: "Look at you, look at you/ Trying to be so provocative."/ I said: "Oh yeah, that was me./ All the things I did just to be seen."

Outgrown my past and I've shed my skin/ Letting it go and I'll start again, start again/ Never look back, it's a waste of time/ I said: "Oh yeah, this is me/ And I'm right here where I wanna be."

I said: "Hell yeah! This is me/ Right where I'm supposed to be"

So I took the road less travelled by/ And I barely made it out alive/ Through the darkness somehow I survived/ Tough love - I knew it from the start/ Deep down in my rebel heart

In my rebel heart

Thursday, March 10, 2016

H is for Healing

When I was 15 I wrote a song called “The Damaged One”. In the lyrics I stated that I would always be a damaged one to the unknown person that the song was directed towards. I am no long 15 but that song still swims in the recesses of my memory.

“here I am standing beside before/ and I wonder how you’re doing now/and I think of you when I think of loving/and I wonder what you’re doing now

I will always be remembered as the damaged one/If you think I am going to sit here and take the pain your wrong/ because I remember every moment that we shared

I will always be your damaged one”

In less than two weeks I will be another year older and it will have been 27 years since I wrote those lyrics. That does not seem possible but time is a cruel animal. I never see New Year’s as a new start but instead I do that with my birthday. The reoccurring theme this year does seem to be revolving around healing. In the past year I have made conscience effort to heal my body, mind, and soul. I have opened up my inner self and found a beauty that I was not expecting. A few examples:

*I ran my first half-marathon. My sister-in-law asked me to do the huckleberry run and I at first laughed and then decided “yeah why not”. It was one the most amazing runs I have ever been on and I loved it. I am also running at least three miles every couple of days a week on my lunch. It feels good to be goal setting and reaching towards those goals.

*I found a job that is more than just a job. I feel I am part of an amazing community and working to be in the environment that lines up with my own personal standards and desires as a career. I assist people with things that I never thought I would. I also have many roles and every day I feel challenged and ready to go in; even when I feel less then mentally.

*I have gotten closer to my Mom. This has been a lifelong goal; to be larger part of my mom’s life and not just seen as a long distance son. As a lifelong Mommas boy I have looked up and admired my mom for so many reasons. It was hard that we could go months and not talk. I had enough and stood up for myself and now we talk, even if just a text, at least once a week. It has brought me a lot of joy and to have that connection is priceless. I feel like I am getting to know my mom as an adult and it is so awesome to be able to have someone to talk so openly with.

*I have made the decision to return to school after a lengthy hiatus and I am ready to pursue my Nursing degree. This was something I have debated about, for what feels like, a lifetime. I am not sure the exact quarter I am starting but recently applied to the Clackamas Community College and was accepted and found out even some of my credits will be transferable. It is so exciting and I feel that it is a niche I can fit into very well.

*The biggest change has been the discovery of family I didn’t know that existed. In September I was found by my biological younger sister (We share a birth mother). It was a surprise and shock. Since then I have connected with my two sisters and multitude of nieces and nephews. In a shocking twist as well I have actually semi re connected with my birth mother. I do not know all where all this reconnection will lead but I do know that one of my sisters and I talk almost daily. I have reached out to parts of all my family and let myself be very open and transparent. This has brought down a few walls and has left me vulnerable and yet stronger.

All these have had the same effect on my psyche. I have been healing and cracks are getting smaller that and less fragmented (see earlier post). Reaching out and setting limits and knowing that you are worthy of more than your internal critic gives you credit for is an amazing discovery.

I think this next birthday year will be a stellar year and I will see myself doing some new and exciting things. I have some of the most amazing support in this world. People who let me be me and don’t care if I am too anything. That is the way it should be…My story is far from over and in some regards I feel it is just beginning.

I can still be YOUR damaged one but I know now that I am not Damaged …. I am healing and phoenixing…

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

G is for Gratitude

I have a gratitude jar. I started it almost a year ago when feeling very lost and not sure what positives that I had going on in my life. In truth, the life of someone who deals with depression is not very blissful. From the moments of sheer social terror with the desire to hermit with my DVR, to the outbursts of sheer joy where I am bouncing around like a kid who ate too much candy, mood swings have been a part of my life.

The challenge I face is sometimes seeing the blessing I have in front of me. I started to research what ways I could show ways I am grateful. Funny enough there is a surprisingly a lot of information on this topic.

I came up with a few new things to try and increase my gratitude awareness.

My Gratitude Jar: I read about this online. It was suggested that you find a jar, can, box, anything that can hold stuff basically. I then took colored construction paper (because it is pretty) and cut up little squares to write things that bring me gratitude. Some of the things are simple things such as coffee or being able to wake up. Others things are being able to speak with someone about an important topic, job change, or any of the like. I fill my jar and hope to just fill it up and watch my gratitudes fill up.

My Gratitude List: This part of my gratitude is less tangible. I use this as a tool when I meditate or have insomnia. I have always been prone to bad sleeping habits. Insomnia had been a friend of mine for years and I feel like I have tried all the techniques; tea, counting sheep, meditating, baths, exercise, no exercise… basically tried it all. The newest habit that I am finding works very well is to first read a bit before sleep and then to lay down and count gratitude’s. I start to list off the things that I am thankful for on a daily basis. Once again this can be, for me at least, anything from sweet potato chips to family, health, my furry kids, or just being able to breathe.

Gratitude Journal: This is one I have not spent a great deal of time on but I do know that some people do prefer to have a journal they keep where they write daily about what they are grateful for in their lives. I have not found this worked for myself simply because I am not that focused honestly.

The one common thing in this day of digital media, instant online fights and negativity we all forget is to find what we could be grateful for around us. I would be remiss to say that even I have my moments that I forget to be grateful. I complain about mundane things and then catch myself.

I think what I enjoy about the exercise of gratitude is the daily reminder to find good around the world and to have a documentation that I can pull out when it feels like so much is caving in around me.

Surprise someone with a card, smile, sing a song, go outside and see what is going on and try and view the world differently. You may be surprised how much joy is around in the middle of the chaos and rough times. Life is not perfect but by being grateful I feel I get to see how blessed I am to have the life that I do.

Monday, January 11, 2016

F is for Fragmentation

“Where do think this anxiety is coming from?” My most recent experience with my therapist consisted of me talking at length of the past few months until I paused and this one simple question popped out of her from the chair across from me. I recognized that look of “dig deep Michael”. I hate that look.

I was always intrigued with people who had multiple personality disorder growing up. It actually made a lot of sense to me even at a young age. The idea that someone could actually suffer so many traumas that they actually split parts of their psyche into separate entities in order to survive the pain makes complete sense to me.

I have found over the years I learned to fragmentize myself. Not as extreme as someone with personality syndrome. I found that when things got to be too much, I just put it in a little mental box and shut the lid. I think this manifested in my teens. It was my survival technique my brain chose to separate reality from perceived reality in order to make it through the trauma I endured on a daily basis.

I never had the “luck” to be able to forget about moments or events. I know of people who remember trauma years or sometimes never after the fact. My brain has never worked that way. Instead I would fragment pieces and put them into that box. For years this practice worked. I would be able to speak about past traumas in a disassociated way. It was always like looking at someone’s life story. The details were there but the emotional connection was light years away. That worked well until I started therapy. The first round was pretty challenging. It broke down some of the walls and helped me let go of some of the pain in a healthy way but then I stopped for a while.

This past year (2015) was one of the most challenging for me on a very personal level. Between family of origin boxes being ripped open, past abusers popping up in my life and dealing with relationship challenges in my marriage I have learned to let go of some of those boxes and approach the steps to healing. As each of these fragments slowly started to merge into parts of the whole me, I was left very raw and felt very naked and frightened. It was the first time in my adult life that dealt with or was exposed to the trauma I lived with so many years. I could no longer share as much for fear of my own reactions to this vulnerability.

The last year has been like a plane crash of UPS boxes… everything just became so scattered and it I was left walking around the wreckage and slowing adding a piece here and a piece there. Putting it back like a puzzle that is just slightly off mark. I know that it is still being pieced together and I think that is causing a sort of mental arrest in my brain.

The best part is the parts of me that have closed off for so long are forming back and less and less is buried. My mom said recently I was the Secret Breaker in my family. At first I was at a loss of what to say because all our secrets are not only mine to share. But I know that I am willing to peel back the closed boxes on me and let them release a bit one by one. I do not want a Pandora’s box of emotions running rampant.

But then it all clicks and makes sense. “Where do think this anxiety is coming from?”.

I will tell you where it comes from …. It comes from holding way to much in for way to long. It is from never sharing my true hearts thoughts and content. It is from the fear that I will not be loved unconditionally when sharing my soul. It is the notion that I will be treated different for being so open. It is the fear that when I am healed who will I become? Finally, it is from all this merging of all the fragmenting that has existed in my brain for years. But in the end instead of pieces I will be more whole and the picture will be brighter. I know that I still a journey but slowly pieces one by one are fitting together and the fragments are less.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

E is for Excommunication

ExCommunication: to exclude or expel from membership or participation in any group, association, etc.: When one hears the term “excommunication”, the first reference that comes to mind is the idea of church and being expelled from ones church of choice. That is a topic I will definitely hit upon at a later date. The last few weeks have been a challenging one to say the least. Speaking with my therapist I have started realize the loneliness I have recently been feeling was deeper engrained than I had originally thought. A lot of it started last fall. Truthfully when my friend, Steve, decided to take his life he left me with a giant hole. Steve was that friend you can message anytime and get the support you needed even if you felt like everyone else around you did not get you. I think that it is so important to have friends outside of your relationship that you can vent and get your frustration out. The problem as I see it is society has twisted and turned on itself. Today’s forms of communication involve very little human contact along with minimal empathy. It is so much easier to send a FB message or text instead of a phone call to reach out. The trend though that I have noticed though is an utter lack of courtesy. The idea that you can “unfriend” someone and they are removed from your life seems too simple. Recently I had an experience with a friend that was proof positive that communication in today’s world is broken. This friend and I reconnected after a few years of distance as well very little contact of any kind. After reconnecting we picked up right where we left off and he even started setting in motion plans to move back to the NW. After offering a place to stay as well as a possible timeline, everything halted. A cryptic message on Facebook was posted and I messaged him to find out what was happening and since then nothing. After attempting contact every form I could think of still no answer. I would love to say that this was an isolated incident but unfortunately it is not. This has happened with former coworkers, friends, and even relatives. The part that I am still baffled by is what happened to us, as a society, that “unfriending” comes so easily. Like a click of a button and then …BOOM…no communication. So few people actually will talk about the issues surrounding them and work through the rough times. Instead we live in a world that just cuts off and never hearing from the other person again. Someone like me is not built to withstand being cut off. My solution is slowly disconnecting and playing dangerous games of “I will not send a message or call until they call me”. I find then that I become the problem. My fear of communication has actually developed into an anxiety. Mostly the anxiety has become so huge because now I have no clue how to communicate when outside of a work environment. The result = a lot of silence.