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My Cousin is hurting…

Sacramento-driving home to NYC

Sacramento-driving home to NYC

My cousin is hurting and I feel so helpless

He needs a kidney because the two he has are bad, bad and bad
There are no kidneys available for him
He is on dialysis 4-6 hours twice a week

My cousin is hurting and I feel so helpless

He flew to California to drive back to NYC with me, car and a rabbit in tow
He moved to California a few years later while I, still, am, here
He has six dogs and I have two

My cousin is hurting and I feel so helpless 

Mi primo aka GI Joe

Mi primo aka GI Joe

He inspired me to write “GI Joe and the Betty Crockers” (short story)
He is my childhood friend and former nemesis
He is mi primo, who brought home cabernet and chicken wings on Friday evenings after work
He is mi primo who’d go out to get a second bottle after we drank the first while reminiscing about the elders-the McCallas-who have a way of attracting so much trouble and producing so much emotional drama

My cousin is hurting and I feel so helpless

I am afraid of his illness, of confronting it, dealing with it, flying out there to take over, to take care of him-mama’s illness took a huge chunk of me out of me and the scar tissue that covers what was once the me is thick and crusty

 

Celebrating a b-day with mom, my mom and his Tia, his aunt

Celebrating a b-day with mom, my mom and his Tia, his aunt

Mi primo está sufriendo y yo estaré allí para él.

(My cousin is hurting and I will be there for him)

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Compassion…

Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed. – The Buddha.

Practicing compassion on a daily basis is not easy and at times I wonder if it will ever be. I would like the practice of compassion to be infused within my being so it becomes like breathing -done without much thought, except when I inhale someone’s disgusting cigarette smoke.

But, every day experiences or situations where compassion is most needed, at times, is almost impossible to produce.

Situations like:

1. Dealing with emotional bats, otherwise known as emotional vampires-those lovely people who literally suck the marrow outta ya then fill the crevices with their overbearing problems. I prefer to use the term emotional leeches for literary visual impact. Bats are pretty cute while leeches, (those crafty blood suckers) are flat-out UGLY!

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OR

2.  Viewing yet another rape crime on the media and plotting with friends on how to introduce legislation that allows male castration as a form of punishment or better yet castration with a dose of Frank’s hot sauce after the procedure. Yes, compassion is not available at this time, only revenge on the p***s kind…now, what if the perp is a woman…?

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Yes, the examples are not nice but that’s the irony of compassion-it’s not meant to be utilized solely for the feely good things, the charities, the Hurricane survivors, the down on their luck person, etc.

For me, compassion does come easy when the situations or events fall under the feely good things. It flows endlessly, no questions pondered or second thoughts. But, place in front of me a complainer, an agitator, a supervisor who uses me to do his work while he sits in his office and watches movies on his NOOK, neglected animals at the hands of neglected humans, verbal bullies who hurt emotionally with words…this can go, but it stops here, and my compassion which normally resides in mi alma has conveniently moved to my foot.

Yes, the complainer may have painful things going on inside, the agitator may be acting from pain, the supervisor…well…the supervisor may feel his work is inferior and therefore engages in movie viewing on the job (while raking in a big salary) to pacify his deflated ego and now my compassion has moved from my foot to my stomach.

My meditation practice of Tibetan Buddhism centers on compassion, which is essential towards enlightenment. In order to put forth compassion unto others, I must first have compassion towards myself. There are a few things about me that do not permit my compassion. I can be a complainer, an agitator but not one who watches movies at work or neglects animals or bullies with words. If I disdain those traits in others, how do I deal with them within myself?

Right now, I read, I try to practice and hopefully in due time a teacher will find me and gently lead me on the correct path towards compassion.

**photos taken off the internet

At this moment…

January 30, 2013

At this moment, I find myself in the midst of transitions of the most unexpected and most gentle kind.

At this moment, I overheard mom talking to her half-sister over the phone. Another McCalla, Victor McCalla, my mother’s brother died. Death is usually the only reason a McCalla would contact another McCalla. The drama of he said, she said and there will be no burial, cremation, and the ashes will sit on the living room shelf until someone goes to Honduras mantra starts after the death announcement.

If I remained a Walsh, my reaction to this news, the mantra not the death, would be comic relief but since I became a McCalla my reaction to the mantra remains, trying not to react. I always cry at the news of death.

Mom’s side of the family is dysfunctional and I believe Webster honoured them with the definition. Mom’s family is also large. Out of ten children, only four are presently alive and only two communicate maybe once a year. Two are on the east coast, two on the west and east does not speak to west.

All the McCalla’s (except me…sigh) were born in Honduras, when Belize was British Honduras. Some were born in Tela, others in Roatan while La Ceiba claimed another. Some were born with Indian hair soft as silk, while others had coarse wavy hair that refused taming with VO5, while yet others had the kinky cotton kind of hair which only  a lye relaxer could control. The relaxer ruined the hair passed down from their ancestors. The hair from Africa by way of Akan, Bantu, Igbo, Fon or possibly Yoruba, way before Scotland via Jamaica than onto Honduras and mixed with a bit of India saturated the blood.

Mi Tío could not stand his African hair. He could not stand his last name either and changed it to Mangroo. It sounded more Indian, which he longed to look like but did not. Mom's brother045

His kidneys could not stand his body for they failed. His weekly battle with the dialysis machine was just that, man against machine and of course, the machine was in control. As the machine cleansed his blood of waste, it also cleansed his alma (soul) leaving it bitter and in disarray.

Was I close to my uncle?

No.

I did not like him. He favoured my light-skinned sisters with Spanish lessons and his version of Indian history. He was mean to me and spoke harshly to me and about me. He once accused my mom of jealousy towards her sister’s kids, for they were born with the wavy hair that refused taming with VO5. I was born with the kinky cotton kind of hair which mom coated with lye relaxer to control.

I hope my uncle, mi tío, is in a better place now. A place where there are no dialysis machines, where he does not have to endure living in his house with an ex-wife and her boyfriend because he refuses to sell and pay off the ex, where skin colour has no meaning and speaking Spanish is irrelevant. I hope the angels are soothing his soul or that karma will take pity on him when he returns.

Once, I could not stand my African hair and yearned to look Indian like my mother with her Indian features and Indian hair, soft as silk. But, God gave me what I was born with for a reason and I am grateful for his gentle everyday reminder of who I am and where I come from.

Emotional Pain

Pain-not the physical one but the emotional, deep down one that resonates from a memory of a conflict in which the receiver is left with the deposit of a throbbing, scorched, branded entity driven between the layers of the soul. And oh, so difficult to expel once its roots have found anchor.

Physical pain touches the internal or external surfaces of our bodies and produces a reaction.

A face will squeeze into a grimace, unstoppable tears flow, moaning, sighing, rocking back and forth, will dissolve once the pain ceases. Physical pain, on most occasions, leaves a visible mark for the trained and untrained eye to discover. It makes it presence known, outwardly or inwardly and arrogantly. It occurs with warning, sometimes without. It is unpredictable or predictable, quiet or loud. A simple aspirin may reduce its strength; a Vicodin will obliterate it.

Emotional pain.

Set to pounce, by way of a simple trigger, leading the soul into dark caverns without a flashlight, map or a tour guide. The bearer can easily present a smile to the world while the emotional pain carries out its silent torment inside.  It is a coward and adores sucking the fight out its intended victims. It is devious and rots away the foundation of the soul’s vibrancy and pulse. It strangles, suffocates and asphyxiates, leaving the soul disjointed, discombobulated and sucked dry like a prune in a vacuum-packed canister.

If a snap of my finger or the sucking of my lips (Jamaican style) could make the emotional pain disappear, I’d be moving forward right about now, skipping through the Long Meadow at Prospect Park and drinking ONE glass of wine a week, while aging gracefully with my weight in check.

But, no, it’s not that easy.

Analyzing, obsessive rumination, age, endless amounts of wine (preferable white) and most importantly FORGIVENESS helps at times to uproot the emotional pain from its anchor onto a more level field.  On other occasions, analyzing, obsessive rumination, age and endless amounts of wine (usually red) will impale FORGIVENESS and use it as fertilizer for the roots of emotional pain to attach deeper to the soul.

But, with darkness comes light…

With the help of therapy or alone, with a self-help book (New York Times bestseller) or a conversation with a close friend or stranger, healing emotional pain is possible.

Layer by layer or in a huge clump, dissected, torn to shreds or pieces, stomped out, extinguished or left to thaw out-emotional pain is healable.

Bring on the blow-torch and have the fire extinguisher nearby.

Change is a comin’ to my soul.

Self-medication or “What’s your vice?”

Self-medication as Wikipedia states is a term used to describe the use of drugs (including alcohol) or other self-soothing forms of behavior to treat untreated and often undiagnosed mental distress, stress and anxiety.”

At the mental health facility where I work part time, clients who suffer from various mental health issues abuse their antidepressant medications. As the abuse turns to recreational use, the dosage needed to dull the emotional or physical pain exceeds the psychiatrist’s recommendation.  Of course, the term self-medication applies to anyone who abuses prescription meds in order to self soothe. Seroquel, Zoloft, Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Prozac- whatever-the euphoric high these meds can produce is worth the abuse.

Self-medication does not exclude alcohol or pain killers. The bingers, everydayers, the necessary one drink a day to the one bottle a dayers, the wine or beer consumers to the hard-core whiskey and ryers, gin and tequila without the lime on the siders-alcohol is accessible and cheaper than antidepressant meds. Of course there’s, Vicodin, Codeine, Percocet, Hydrocodone, 10mg, 50mg, 500mg or one tablet or two and taken sometimes with an alcoholic chaser and so readily prescribed when sustaining an injury or as post surgical candy.

Okay. Self-medication is bad.

Is it?

What about self-soothing?

There are those who indulge in self-soothing forms of behaviour without the use of psychotropic drugs. Such as, the super athletes’ addiction to endorphins and the caffeine junky who consumes six cups of coffee a day so their internal body cruise control can fly quickly through time. In addition, let us not forget the foodie who grabs snacks of the most comforting kind during all commercial breaks while chasing it down with Coke a Cola (the carbonated sugar drink not the white powder) because a relationship fizzled (just like the Coke). Or, the female chocoholic who downs a 12 piece assorted box of Godiva’s in fifteen minutes because of PMS. Caffeine, endorphins, sugar-the acceptable kinds of comfort foods or exercise, all, legal, accessible and coveted.

There is harm in overindulgence of the self-soothing kind. Obesity, physical ailments and injuries, diabetes, high blood pressure may arise from too much self-soothing while abuse, self-loathing ,self-medication can come from too little.

Too much of a bad thing is not good and too much of a good thing is bad. The goal of self-medication and self-soothing is to numb the pain, which makes everything that will be, okay. Appearances are misleading with the pain, the stress, the anxiety, the paranoia-yes this can go on-of everyday life which at times are unbearable to handle but can exist comfortably under  grey clouds of distortion infused by the vice (s) of our choice.

So, what’s your vice?

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