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Posted: October 25, 2020 in Uncategorized
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The ghosts are at it again.

I don’t quite know when they moved in;

They could’ve been here all along and

I just never saw them for what they were.

 I didn’t know hauntings can be bone deep,

 Crushing and breath-stealing.

It’s a dark night of the soul when a memory begins

 In the static electricity imprint of time and the whole thing is

A car crash I just can’t look away from,

Regardless of how desperately I try.

My head turns,

Eyes wide and void of tears from the exquisite maddening reverberation

That tastes gritty and seethes through the marrow of my bones,

All along the way to the

Broken nail I forgot to file and now it snags on everything;

It always turns to pain.

Once the shock wears off I’m left with the juicy sweetness of a play on a

Loop with no real plot;

An act out of time,

But not out of place,

 Because it’s there,

Embedded into the very code of what we know to be real and

What once was.

But now it’s soot soaked, full of spiders and condemned.

Demolition day is long past and did it even really happen?

I’m going to ask myself that while eating crackers over the kitchen sink;

The crumbs are hard to clean up with all of these ghosts.

It’s easy to look back at the past with rose colored glasses; thinking of the good times and perhaps downplaying or forgetting the bad times all together. When I start to reminisce, I pull out the books. 

I kept a journal from the age of 10 to 22; sometimes entries got written in random notebooks (every writer has several half-empty notebooks filled with nonsense and ramblings, I’m pretty sure) that I’ve held on to. Not only do I have detailed accounts of the events of my life in journal form, I also wrote poetry that fills a couple of books as well. 

You can probably see where I’m going with this… yes, I opened a book.  About 10 years ago, when I first started writing again, I re-read all the journals and that ripped open some incredibly painful wounds and made me angry and hurt and bitter about a lot of things and at so many people in my life that I told myself I really shouldn’t ever do that again and to let them just collect dust on the shelf. Well, I was trying to remember a poem I wrote in the 4th grade and ended up reading all the poetry (that is written in actual books; the stuff on my blog is after I went virtual) I’d written from 1994 – 2005 and…wow. I don’t even need to read my journals and scribblings to know EXACTLY what was happening and when it happened. The joy, the anger, the sadness… it was all right there, like it had always been and I’d never forgotten about it. 

What I find most interesting is to look at what I wrote during puberty, during drug addiction and before I was medicated.  I didn’t even need the journals to tell me when I had a crush on someone, when my heart was broken, when I was angry at my family, when my depression first started to show up, when I was high and when my drug addiction set my mental illness on fire with fun new side effects. I’m not ashamed of what I went through or who I was; I was a meth addict as a teen and have not touched it since November 10th, 2003. I also have generalized depressive disorder, anxiety and PTSD. When I was at the height of my drug use, I also developed visual and auditory hallucinations, which was intensely terrifying and I can in vivid detail describe a few of the worse ones I had, even 17 years later.  (fun fact: I still hear things on occasion; not words or voices telling me to do things, just indistinct whispers; I’m told this will probably never go away)

Taking into account my mental illness and not so great childhood, reading it all straight up haunts me. I can see the normal teen drama, but I can also see where I OD’d, where I tried to kill myself, when I was high, when I was cutting, when I started to hear and see things, and it all just breaks me all over again and puts things into perspective. Sure, my life isn’t perfect now and I have my struggles and mental illness is still something I have to live with, but being able to look back from ‘medication-tinted’ lenses, just makes me wish I could build a time machine and go back and give 19 year old me a hug and tell her that it’s going to get a lot worse, but it will get a bit better and after a lot of trial and error, a medication cocktail will join the party. 

I joke a lot about being on medication and there’s still soooo much stigma surrounding mental illness treatment and too many people still saying “blah, blah, you’re being dramatic, blah, blah, you just need nature, blah blah” and a bunch of other meaningless tropes we’ve all heard from people who either don’t understand what it’s like to live with mental illness or just think it’s made up and you just need to “toughen up” or whatever, but it’s a pretty big deal in my life. Well, anyone who struggles with any type of mental illness will tell you it’s a pretty big part of their life because it is; it’s a disease of an organ that needs treatment to either prevent it from getting worse or to stop it from getting worse faster. The result from untreated mental illness? Death. It’s death. Suicide, (usually) to be more specific.

I was 10 the first time I attempted suicide, and it didn’t stop there. I’ve been put on psych holds and seen more therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors than I can even remember; I lost count many years ago. I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol for so long that I didn’t even realize I had a problem.  It’s only now that I can look back and see those years of partying for what they were: an escape from my own mind. I’m at a point that I know myself so well that if I feel like I’m even close to a point I would start considering suicide, I know it’s time to have my meds adjusted, and go on about my day. I don’t need to reach out and tell anyone, and to be honest, I wouldn’t dare anyway. From experience, you tell people you’re considering suicide and they either shrug you off or call the cops and that’s how expensive medical bills are born. So, I keep that to myself at all times. But, I know enough about myself to know when I need to seek treatment and I thank my lucky stars that I can do that now, because it definitely wasn’t always the case and it’s so incredibly sad to me to read about how incredibly ill I was then and had no real way to deal with it. When I was 16, the last psych doctor I would ever see told me that I was making everything I said up and had seen it all on tv, when I told him about my life and what growing up was like, so needless to say, I don’t have a high regard for mental health workers after that experience. 

Back to the matter at hand, I read the books. I read the heartbreaking and lonely poetry of a girl that I’m frankly kind of surprised has made it this long. As much as some of those wounds still kind of hurt, (yeah, there’s a few people I’m mad at all over again at this very moment but won’t say anything to because we’re adults and it’s really unnecessary for me to message someone at 12:23am that I haven’t actually spoken to in years but we like each others Facebook posts periodically that I’m still mad at them from what they did in 2000) I’m glad I opened the books in search of the poem I wrote in the 4th grade, because I actually feel a bit better knowing that when I’m absolutely miserable, it’s not really my current circumstances, it’s who I’ve always been and regardless of the events of my life as an adult. It sucks that ‘depressed’, ‘anxious’ and ‘moody’ are actual personality traits I have, but it’s comforting to know that I’ve literally been this way my entire life and if I’m “just being dramatic”, then I really should get an award for Longest Running Dramatic Episode, or something. And I can’t be more grateful for the medication because I may someday lose this fight and yeah, suicide is alway something I have to be cognizant of, but at least I have a tool to help me keep fighting and I guess I’ll have to read the books more often so I can see in ink how far I’ve really come. 

(If you also struggle and start to “plan” I don’t care who you are or how well I know you, I will listen without telling you how much you have to live for, or how it can’t be that bad, or how much worse others have it and probably won’t call anyone. ((unless I see you are an imminent danger to yourself or others, in which case I may have to call someone or go see you myself.)) When someone reaches out and tells you they are thinking of harming themselves, they are literally asking for your help to keep them from going through with it. The best thing you can do is research real ways you can help them keep fighting and NEVER treat them as though they are just wanting attention, because while that might be the case, you really can’t ever really know if they’re serious or not.)

And yes, I still write poetry from time to time because that’s also part of who I am. 

Cast Away

Posted: July 30, 2020 in Poetry

It’s there.
The colors painted in crystal brilliance
Above the mountains,
Serrated,
Poised and ready to
Slit the sky until the luminous blood
Of the clouds rain down,
Drenching the earth in the raw bitterness
Of Yesterday.

The scene is tired, smeared and faded,
Yet still alive in the
Tiny heartbeats that haunt me.
I can’t quite let go of the taste
That days long gone by
Left me with,
But they’ve gone stale and I’m discarded,
Clawing
Clinging
Desperate
To get the burst of flavor back
Until it explodes behind my eyelids and
I find respite for a brief, fleeting,
Sad little minute.

What a fucking journey, right?  Never in a million years did I think I’d have a debilitating mental illness that tries to destroy me on a daily basis while also still trying to be a human being and just live in the world.  So I’ll start out by saying, “Hi, my name is Lisa and I live with Generalized Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Anxiety.”

I miss writing.  I miss being able to get out of my head long enough to tell a story. I miss being able to go to bar or a museum with friends and not feel like my ribcage is collapsing in on itself.  But I’d be lying to myself to even think I was ever even capable of those things in the first place.  They only reason I was able to do those things with little effort in the past was because I was always either drunk or high.  Always.  For years.  But I’m not that person anymore and while I know that’s an accomplishment all in itself, it’s little comfort when I think of all the things I can’t do now.

Sometimes I will skip meals because my anxiety is too bad to go to the grocery store.  It can take days for me to work up the energy to return a phone call or answer a text message; not because I don’t care, but because human interaction is exhausting for me.  If I spend more than a couple of hours with more than 1 person, it will take me no less than a full day in isolation to recover.  Yeah, there’s memes all over the internet joking about being an introvert and needing to recharge after socialization, but the reality is a lot more sobering.  If someone yells at me or even just near me, it can send me into the kind of panic attack where I end up hysterically sobbing in a closet for hours.  If I’m in a crowd and I lose sight of the person I’m there with, I will go into a panic attack that also ends up with me sobbing hysterically.  I might sound glib talking about that, but it’s so very real for me and it’s humiliating and the main reason I don’t go anywhere.  I don’t make new friends. I don’t date.  I spend my time at home, by myself and if it wasn’t for the internet and having to work, I would have zero human interaction.  But, I kind of enjoy that.  Maybe because I’ve lived that way for so many years I’m just conditioned to prefer solitude over human company; if that’s the case, then so be it.

All that aside, I do still try to be a part of this world because I know that the moment I give up trying completely is the moment I give in to the Depression and let it take over.  I love going to concerts.  I love rollercoasters, my fandoms and haunted houses and I’m even going to try a convention in a few months.  I like to think that I’ll be fine and it’s going to be the best but I also know there’s a good chance that I will get overwhelmed or something will trigger me and I’ll end up in a corner crying in terror; sounds fun, right?  It’s not unreasonable to ask why I’d put myself in situations where I know panic attacks are likely, but shouldn’t everyone get the chance to live?  When I can bring myself to go to an event and I manage to not freak out or get triggered, it’s literally the best feeling in the world.  If I can have a conversation with someone standing in line next to me without wanting to run and hide, I consider that a win; those are the good days.

What makes me lucky is that I have some amazing friends.  I have friends who may not know the details of how I ended up the way I am and thankfully never ask, but they accept that just trying to be a part of the world is insanely difficult for me and they support me and encourage me nonetheless.  I have the kind of best friend who’s willing to drop everything and drive 13 hours with me so we can meet Tim Curry in person.  So I can meet the actor who played Crixus on ‘Spartacus’ and thank him for giving life to a character I can relate to and inspires me to keep trying.  I wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for people like that in my life.  They’re hard to find but the few that have managed to force their way into my life because they saw something in me are the most important thing in the world to me and I wish I could even begin to express my gratitude for their compassion and patience but there’s honestly not enough words in the English language.

So there’s that.  I have people; good people who deserve more credit than they get.  There are days when I have to call in to work because the world is so heavy I can’t get out of bed.  There are days when I have to spend hours trying to remember how to breathe from the floor of a closet.  But there are also days when I can be in the front row at a concert and connect with people around the world online and get a glimpse of their lives.  There are days when I manage to get a good amount of work done on my 3rd book and hopefully those days will continue to happen and maybe even get more frequent.  I know I’ll always have bad days; medication and therapy to eliminate those completely don’t yet exist and probably never will but that doesn’t stop me from trying.  And I’ll continue to try; every. Single. Day.  Even when I fail, even when the bad days are consecutive and I think there’s no end in sight, I know that eventually it’ll let up and I can sing in the car on a sunny day again.

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There’s a hole in the bottom of the world;

Perhaps the world is fine and it’s just me.

I would think there was a hole inside but

The truth is it’s always been a void and no matter

How I try to fill it up, nothing ever stays put.

Sometimes I stare at your perfect eyes and wonder if

You still miss me or you’re just another item lost in

The blackness I tried so desperately to stop from spreading.

It didn’t help, did it?

I watched you pull and twist and run so far away;

It happened so fast that I’m not even sure when I lost you

Or if you were ever mine to begin with.

Maybe you were never here at all and it’s been just me

And my loneliness all along;

The withering empty that I carry with me.

I’m sorry it destroys all in its path and if I knew how to

Bottle it up and send it back where it came from,

I would.

To keep you with me,

The fight would be worth every burning battle scar;

I’d march onto the field sword held high and hope in my heart.

There could never be a winner;

I’ll lose the fight against myself every time,

But at least I’ll know I tried and I didn’t lose it all in vain.

It doesn’t matter now, does it?

I’m still blood soaked and stained from trying

And you weren’t paying attention anyway.

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It doesn’t get easier walking the streets as I dip and sway;

Eyes half-mast; feet stumbling along the cracks in the sidewalk

That mirrors the cracks in my makeup and in my resolve.

Any moment I’m going to chicken out and turn around to crawl

Into my bed late

Late

Late and overflowing with the regret of words unsaid

And actions that never had a chance

To see the light of an audience.

I am triumphant in this defeat as I know I can throw my heart with every ounce of strength

I can muster and it will hit the ground;

“Splat”

And I’ll cringe and you will keep walking because you never heard the sound

Nor saw the throw and it was all for naught.

That’s seemingly the point of it all, isn’t it?

One will always love with every breath

And the other won’t care enough to even manage to be gracious

That another human being sees such great and illusionist ideals in them that can’t ever be real.

If they were real,

Then it would break the swan song of unrequited love

And the longings hidden in the darkness would lose their magic and their light

As they slowly die and fade out.

It’s better I keep walking and try to forget your name as I

Shroud myself in the heavy pewter cape of bitterness and regret;

I picked it up at the flea market last weekend and it compliments

My bitterness spectacularly.

It was never about me;

Only you and the wink you left me with to accompany

The smug satisfaction of brining me down off my unicorn of make-believe

And now you’ve stolen my pixie dust;

I can only hope that it gets in your eye and you get an infection

Leaving you forced to live out your days of decadence wearing

A stupid eye patch that will never match anything you try to wear.

Never one to wish ill on another, I can say,

Quite certainly,

A pox upon your house.

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It’s just another rejection.

More tears splashing onto the keyboard and another call comes in to remind me of the mistakes I’ve made and karma has come to collect

another piece of my soul that will be ripped away while I scream and shed more tears.

More alarms that get ignored and more traffic,

only to scramble and push and be knocked down yet again and reminded that I’m still just an imposter living a life that isn’t mine.

 It’s another pile of responsibilities and expectations that I’ll inevitably fail to meet

and the domino effect of disappointment on the faces expectantly staring at me will rise again and in their eyes

I will see the pity and the irritation of inconvenience and the stinging, bitter smell of failure will wrap its arms around me;

an old friend come home to stay.

There was hope; I tried so hard to cling to it,

 not knowing that the cotton would fall away and the teeth would come out and

I’ll be the fool once again,

left wondering why

 no one ever says what they mean

and whole human race is just another empty reality show and I’ve lost the remote and the channel won’t change;

it’s interactive now so I have no choice but to sit here staring at the makeup caked acting hopefuls that radiate their disappointment and disgust from the screen.

Airbrushed faces still crossed with distaste;

they’re not wrong.

“February shouldn’t be this fucking hot,” she thought to herself idly, taking one last drag off her cigarette before snubbing it out into the tray of sand and going back inside the plain, single story building she spent her weekdays haunting.

Focusing on not tripping over her own feet, she stumbled back to her desk and proceeded to open her custom pill dispenser.  Acknowledging the haze already coursing through her bloodstream, she settled on a half-dose of her meds and washed it down with what remained of her 3rd cup of coffee for the day.  Trying to get her eyes and her brain to work as one so she could continue working on the latest client request flashing at her from her inbox, she stopped to let the daydreams flood her mind.

“I should continue working on the book,” she tried to tell herself as her mind continued to race through a flipbook of thoughts; none of which were useful in the moment.  It had been almost a week since she’d thought about ending it all and she couldn’t help but feel a little proud at the thought.  It seemed odd to her that last week she’d been huddled on the floor in the corner of her dining room, sobbing at every noise from outside her modest apartment, as in her mind, it all signaled They had come for her.  Terror sweat ran down her neck while she attempted to breath like the woman on the phone was instructing, but it was all for naught.  All the pills, all the tricks and games and techniques were lost to her in that panic state.

There was no way for her to effectively communicate what it was like; unless you’ve been there yourself, you can’t ever completely understand what it feels like to be consumed with terror, all the while knowing somewhere deep inside there was no real-world basis for your fear.  She’d spent so many years trying to translate those feelings into words and they’d fallen flat on the ears of every medical professional and friend and relative and stranger.  It was like speaking a language that no one else spoke, and never being able to find any sort of common understanding.  They could nod their heads and look concerned all they wanted to, but she knew it was an imitation; the real empathy could only come from those who’ve been there.

Some call it ‘The Edge’, while others chalk it up to insanity and a general state of crazy.  She didn’t even fully understand how her entire body and mind could be taken hostage without any notice or forewarning.  Hostage.  Yes, that’s the word for it.  A terror normally reserved for actors in a horror flick wells up inside until it’s eaten every last visage of normalcy and rationality, leaving behind confusion and panic.  Her chest would tighten and her heart would race and suddenly every sound, every sight became malicious and nefarious and there wasn’t anything that could save her.

She had a team of medical professionals assisting her.  She tried as hard as she could to express the phenomena to the people she loved, but it was always to no avail.  She knew she was destined to walk 2 very different realities; never truly belonging to either and wishing to any god that would listen one of them didn’t exist.

No, that wasn’t in the cards for her.  She took a deep breath and put her pillbox back into her purse, acknowledging the floating fog that drifted through her mind, chaining her to illusion so she’d never be able to connect with what was real, or who was real.  Instead, she embraced the high as though it was her salvation and she was no different than the junkies stealing cars to pay for their next fix.

There were clients to assist and novels to write and cats to feed and a house to clean and bills to pay, so the disconnect would have to wait.  The hopelessness and fear and frustration would all have to be put on hold while she worked as hard as she could just to appear alive.

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“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.  For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

Those are the words the American President Elect, Donald Trump spoke while meeting President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, just two days after the election. These days will go down in history and generations to come will learn about this undoubtedly historic event for our nation.  However, civic unrest is high.  People are rioting in the streets, vandalism is abundant, acts and threats of violence against minorities, Muslims and Gays are happening so frequently, the news outlets can hardly keep up.  As a result, fear is prevalent and the concern for our safety is real and justified.

No amount of pointing angry fingers at the DNC for steamrolling over a better, more qualified candidate to push the Clinton agenda will change that.  Those avidly opposed to Trump are free to protest peacefully, as is their right as citizens and Trump supporters are free to celebrate the hope of real change that was promised.  Those who voted for Trump did so because they are tired of seeing rural America be forgotten and forced to suffer through a Recession with seemingly no end in sight.  Images of drones bombing festivals and celebrations overseas incited fear and anger and it’s completely justified.  And here was a man willing to shake up the system, do something for our flailing economy, and get America back on its feet again.  Who could argue with those goals?  I don’t live in rural America; I live in one of the few cities that didn’t suffer much of a Recession and has a relatively stable and growing economy.  Still, I know it’s not all about me and I want everyone who lives in this great nation to prosper.

Those who voted for Clinton did so because of her stance on social issues, such as equality for women, minorities and basic human rights.  They saw Trump and read the stories from women claiming he assaulted them.  They heard him demean Muslims, the LGBTQ+ community, encourage violence, and basically prove that he is a shining example of what being a shitty human being looks like.  They also saw a businessman who built an empire on bankruptcy and bad investments; with that in mind, can you blame anyone for voting against him?

Now that it’s all said and done, the question on everyone’s mind is: What happens now?  Trump made a lot of promises.  He pledged to create tariffs on imports from China and Mexico that will irritate us as consumers because it’s going to raise the price on pretty much everything we buy.  By doing so, the hope is we can bring back manufacturing jobs to the states, which will give the rural areas the much needed economic boost they need. Yes, this will piss off China, Mexico and all the companies that outsource these jobs to a cheaper workforce, but America is a consumer powerhouse and if they want to stay in business, many corporations will have no choice but to move those jobs back here in order to continue to make money off our spending habits.

Trump also proposed a one-time tax exemption change that will provide a large chunk of tax payers a giant refund come tax season.  That money will then be put right back into the economy and the wealthy who invest those funds, will end up creating jobs.  This is a good thing and I support this 100%!

There will be a price for the good promises Trump has made, and the fear is that anyone who isn’t a straight, white, Christian man, will end up paying it.  Racism, Xenophobia, Homophobia and Sexism are alive and well in our great nation and Trump and Pence have not been shy about supporting them.  He’s promised to deport immigrants and Muslims.  He’s promised to overturn gay and trans rights.  He’s promised to overturn Roe vs. Wade.  He’s called Mexicans rapists.  He’s notorious for treating women as objects that only exist for the pleasure and amusement of men.  All of those promises are so completely fucked on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.

America is a primarily Christian nation.  We were founded by people escaping religious persecution for their beliefs, and ended up doing the exact same thing to anyone who didn’t share their beliefs.  I have no qualms against religion.  I was raised Christian, attended a Catholic college and have taken classes on all the major world religions.  As a result of learning about others’ beliefs, I was able to move from fear of the unknown into curiosity and eventually, acceptance.  Religion was created as an early form of ethics and law and that is awesome and I strongly encourage everyone to practice their faith as they see fit.  However, if by living your beliefs, it starts to affect the lives of others, that’s where problems start to develop.  Live your life the way you want without causing harm to others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matthew 7:12 NCV; Luke 6:31)

 

Now that we all agree that Every American Citizen deserves to be treated fairly and equally, here’s what we can do:

 

We have a new President with great ideas and epically (yes, I’m making up words) awful ideas.  It is up to us, as citizens, human beings and voters to support the ideas that will help our economy and put Americans back to work.  It is also up to us to stand up to hate and suppression.  Remind every woman in your life that she is important and you will stand up for her right to live without fear of assault or persecution simply because she happens to have more chromosomes than you.  Let every person of color in your life know that they matter and you will stand up for their right to live and work beside you, free from fear of persecution based on their skin color. Let your Muslim friends and family or anyone else in your life that practices a faith different than your own know that they also matter.  That you will be there to protect them against hate crimes and Xenophobia.  That you will fight for their right to live and work and raise their children right alongside the rest of us.  And finally, let the LGBTQ+ people in your life they too, matter.  Remind them that their rights and freedoms are just as deserved and important as your own.

No one should ever be forced to suppress who they are because it scares someone who doesn’t understand it.  America is a melting pot of ideas, cultures, religions and talents.  We’ve fallen and thrived as a nation on many occasions and this should be no different.  We’ve been going through a rough patch and we’re all worried about our jobs, our families, and our rights, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t seize this opportunity to make the positive changes that will improve the quality of life for us all.  Every American matters.  Every human life matters.  Keep that in mind when the time comes to decide on the changes our leadership presents us with.  If we all lead by example and work together as a nation, there’s no reason we can’t continue to be the Land of the Free.

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Whether you are crying or celebrating, today, November 9th, 2016 will go down in history as a date to remember.  The American landscape has been viciously divided between Trump and Clinton for so long, it’s going to take time to heal the rifts this election caused and the future of many is uncertain.

Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America.  No amount of cheering or jeering is going to change that.  For better or worse, this is our reality for the next 4 years.  But it doesn’t actually matter.  The President is a figurehead, who still must work with Congress.  Sure, he can make a decision, but it can be overruled in the House or by the Supreme court; we call that “Checks and Balances”.  Likewise, he can veto bills they present.

Some call this a victory for Christianity and some call this a loss for the social and equality battles that have been raging on for the last 100 years of our history.  And with any argument, both sides have valid points.  Many sided with Clinton due to her views on equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBTQ+ communities, while many others sided with Trump due to his inexperience in politics and platform of “shaking things up”.  Both sides are valid.  In truth, we do need to continue to fight for equal rights for all Americans, as that is the foundation our country was built on.  We also need to restructure our democracy, eliminate career politicians and corporate sponsored politics.  We need jobs.  We need affordable healthcare and access to better education.  We need affordable housing and food, and we need to stand against threats to our home.  I doubt anyone would disagree with any of those statements, yet the arguments and quarrels rage on.

I know that for some groups, it feels like the last 50 years have been a war on them personally.  The fact is, for the last millennia, the world has been designed to cater to wealthy, heterosexual, white, Christian, cis men.  So for anyone in those categories, seeing the focus on women, minorities and the gay community probably feels like they no longer matter and only these small interest groups do.  However, if you consider history to be a story, then really, anyone born in the last century is walking into the movie as the plot thickens and the major story developments start to take place.  None of the small interest groups are trying to take the proverbial ‘throne’, only be elevated to stand on the same platform.  If you don’t believe that, ask someone belonging to these groups what rights they feel are most important to them and what rights they are fighting for; I guarantee their answer is a right you already have.

Of course, I am one person, with my own opinions and beliefs that don’t necessarily align with everyone else’s, and that’s okay.  We’re all different; that’s what makes us so great.  However, I think by dividing ourselves into our own special interest categories, we lose sight of the big picture.  For instance, why are we still disputing equal rights?  Why does any citizen deserve to be treated as second class?  Yes, we understand your religion has certain views and values that pit you against Americans who don’t share those values.  However, in a country founded by individuals seeking asylum from religious persecution, who set out to build a country where all men are created equal, doesn’t denying someone else access to healthcare, parental rights, and the option to sign a binding government contract stating two people will act as partners, seem a bit counterproductive?

Currently, the most pressing issues are the economy, healthcare, education and housing.  That’s the same for all of us, regardless of religion, skin color, sexual orientation, etc.  So, why aren’t we focusing on that?  Why are we still fixated on the things that make us different instead of our similarities?  It comes down to the fear of the unknown, which has been ingrained in our DNA from the start.  We are comfortable and familiar with those who look like us and share our values and the only way we’re ever going to make any progress on the issues that matter, is to move past the fear into curiosity.  Instead of hating someone because their religion is different than yours, why not get to know them and learn about their religion?  Education doesn’t change what you value and believe, it only gives you knowledge.  Think being gay is disgusting?  Get to know your gay neighbor; even if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, you’ll probably find you both enjoy the same TV shows and feel the same about our struggling economy.  When common ground can be found, so too can tolerance.

I, personally am an Atheist.  I was raised Christian, went to a Catholic college and as a result, was required to take classes on religion.  For this, I chose a course on world religions.  I studied Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism and Wicca.  You know what I learned?  When you look at the origin stories and fables in each, they all look very similar.  They all have parallel teachings about love and acceptance and respect for family and elders.  That being said, why are we all so at odds about it?  I think religion is awesome!  Each one has wonderful values and teachings that lay a solid ethical foundation.  Of course, every single one also has a splinter faction that takes those same teachings to a dark place filled with fear and hatred.  That’s how we ended up with groups like ISIS and Westboro Baptist.  I know many Christians who are staunch in their faith, but agree that Westboro Baptist doesn’t represent all Christians and ask not to be judged as though they do.  The same can be said for my Islamic friends about ISIS.  Both are SMALL groups of people who garner a lot of attention because of their extremist views and actions, but don’t actually represent the majority of their respective faith.

The point is, we need to let go of our hatred and focus on our commonalities.  We all deserve the same rights and privileges, regardless of color, creed, race, nationality, sexual orientation or gender.  If you don’t agree with abortion, that’s fine; focus on making adoption easier and education and career assistance for low income households more accessible.  If you don’t think being gay is right or natural, that’s also fine; don’t be born gay.  If you fear Muslims, meet one.  Research their faith.  Enlightenment will always trump fear and misunderstanding.  If you think there is a threat to your faith and people are trying to destroy it, get to know an Atheist.  You’ll probably find that they have no qualms with your faith and share many of the same values.

If you don’t agree that at the end of the day, we are all Americans and we all deserve equal rights and the opportunity to pursue our happiness as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, then ask yourself: Is my personal belief that being Christian/Muslim/Gay/White/Black/Brown/Male/Female/Trans/Straight/Rich/Poor coming from a place of fear and misunderstanding or do I honestly believe I am more deserving than those who are different than I?

It all boils down to improving the quality of life for all citizens.  Our economy is in dire need of help.  We have hungry and homeless that need our compassion and assistance.  Healthcare, education, jobs… all things that desperately need our attention.  Let’s concentrate on these issues; issues that affect us all.  And God, Allah, Goddess and all the other religious figureheads Bless America.

(I’m not perfect either, so Scientology can suffer on its own, because fuck Ron L. Hubbard and his science fiction nonsense.)