Change, Confidence, Learning

Redefinition Revisited: #sorrynotsorry

Someone very close to me asked, in retort of a public apology, why I felt the need for said apology.

I said something about, not being able to give my all relationships, and that I felt it wasn’t fair to other people, which, in turn, made me “feel bad” (i.e. sorry and guilty).

She, then, asked, “Isn’t that for those ‘other people’ to decide?”

That got me thinking . . .

Recently, I realized, . . . she’s totally right. It’s presumptuous for me to assume potential friends, lovers, what have you, would NOT “be able to handle” change in me.

I typed, only a few months ago, “Getting to know me takes effort because I’m never satisfied and always evolving.” (https://mariahrosesramblings.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/an-apology/, An Apology . . . , October 26th, 2015.

It’s not that “I’m never satisfied.” It’s that I’ll always strive for MORE. I’ll  “always evolv[e]” because I’ll always be looking for ways to improve myself. It’s, by no means, not because I’m “not good enough,” but because I thrive with change and get excited at new prospects.

However, I’ve always feared change. I’m afraid of a lot of things.

My “apology” was selfish. I was trying to protect MYSELF. That’s what’s not fair.

I think it took me, actually, failing hard at something to realize that (in a word: school).

One day, I was having a conversation about “perfection.” I WAS a self-proclaimed perfectionist (still working on that but that’s another story).

Anyway, the person I was conversing with asked, “How many mistakes have you made?”

I replied, “Actually, not many.”

Then, he listed off the many, huge mistakes he’s made to get to where he is. Behind success, lurk past failures.

There’s no shame in making mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. “Shame” is, only, a FEELING bred from doubt of the self.

“Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has flaws.” (https://mariahrosesramblings.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/understanding-is-reached-only-after-confrontation/, Understanding Is Reached Only after Confrontation, January 19th, 2015.) They are part of what it means to be human.

Again, mistakes are an inevitable part of the process of adaptation.

Once I get over that initial sense of impending doom and that need for “perfection,” I am in love with that change. It becomes natural.

Therefore, I need not be afraid or filled with self-doubt.

People are drawn to me so one of the other things that I’ve thought about is, “What makes me a ‘good friend?’ What am I physically, emotionally, or spiritually able to do now to show people that I care?” (https://mariahrosesramblings.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/redefinition/, Redefinition, June 3rd, 2015.)

Punishing myself by making MYSELF feel guilty never proved to ANYONE how much “I care.” The only thing that does is make me unnecessarily feel like shit.

I don’t have to explain myself to anyone and nobody owes me an explanation either. And I don’t have to take what people do choose to share with me as gospel.

At the same time, I need to be honest with MYSELF about what I feel. Trust in others begins with trust within myself.

Now, I know that being a good listener, with integrity, honesty, loyalty, conviction, tact (most of the time), and respect, is GOOD ENOUGH.

I am trustworthy.

I can say what I mean, and mean what I say, but that doesn’t mean, who I’m saying it to, will truly understand, much less, believe it’s the truth. And it’s not that I’m not trustworthy. Again, I am trustworthy.

In fact, it has little to do with me. When you’ve been through the ringer, it’s hard to know who’s on the level. I’m just as skeptical as the next person. However, I know how to suss out red flags and warning signs pretty skillfully. I can become less skeptical, sooner.

My point is: these things take time. How much time, depends on the individual situation. Patience is key. Relationships don’t blossom overnight.

I am a good friend.

I need to stop comparing myself to others, including my-past-self. Each individual is different no matter how similar they seem. Comparison leads to madness. Live and let live, and do the best you can.

“The best you can, is good enough.” ~ Radiohead

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Empathy, Love, Understanding

Support and Forgiveness

Through my many years of mental therapy, life experiences and reflection, I’ve learned to take lessons I’ve come across, not only with a grain of salt, but, also, to spread them to other parts of my life.

I am working on being less jaded and angry, and more forgiving. Don’t get me wrong: there are people out there who are just nasty and selfish; who don’t care about who they hurt and are human leeches. I’m talking about finding my own peace of mind through understanding and patience.

One thing discussed in therapy was the “5 Love Languages.” (Gary Chapman, “5 Love Languages. http://www.5lovelanguages.com.) Initially, I was figuring out what I wanted or needed out of a romantic relationship. Then, the discussion became why certain things meant more or hurt more, depending on the person and their role in my life.

I believe one of the purest forms of love is support. Those two words are interchangeable for me. One thing I always stress is how I’m “feelin’ the love” or thanking people “so much for [their] support” throughout my stroke recovery. I’ve tried, however, to stay away from mentioning the disappointment and emotional hurt I encounter, out of trying to stay positive. Negativity is so easy! If I’m not careful, my head can turn into a very dank, dark place. I do my best to ignore the negativity of others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that. You have to filter it, according to your priorities and beliefs. You have to pick your battles. What’s really important?

With going through recovery, I’ve had to learn who my real friends are. That’s not very convenient, to feel disappointed in people, cast aside, and worthless, when you’re laid up. To be honest, I was perfectly okay with superficiality, pre-stroke.

However, sometimes, after my stroke, I was, silently, passing judgement on people who didn’t deserve it.

My realizations have layers.

Physical ailments are apparent from the get-go. I wondered, “How many people did I dismiss, before, when they were slurring their speech because I thought they were drunk and weren’t? How many people did I get pissed at when they were ‘taking too long’ to cross the street? How many sentences did I try to finish, out of sheer impatience?” So, I’m telling myself, “It’s not too late to change how I look at things.” It just takes a little more observation and awareness.

I want to understand, on all levels, what happened to me. I’ve been digging deeper and deeper. My research has been snowballing; with that, my understanding and empathy.

Stroke is to brain injury as PTSD is to anxiety and depression.

With interacting with other brain injured people and reading books and articles, I’m opening a whole new can of worms. I’m learning about people and human nature, in general. Any kind of trauma can shape a person; even if it’s as minute as getting cut off while driving.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Like cutting people slack, physically, I’m, also, giving them leeway, emotionally. Sure, some people are just toxic, but, “forgive them, for they know not what they do,” or can’t help it.

Again, it’s for my own piece of mind too. Rather than taking things personally and thinking, “It’s not [them], it’s me,” I’m choosing to think, ”Maybe, IT IS them. Maybe, it’s got nothing to do with me, at all.”

That brings me back, full circle (I love when that happens). I’m finding new comfort in the “5 Love Languages.”

Support can come in so many different ways, on various avenues; big or small, long-term or just a blip of time. I’m going to use http://www.5lovelanguages.com as references to illustrate key points. Once again, I’m taking something discussed in therapy and applying to something, I think, is along a parallel line: support during my stroke recovery.

The “5 Love Languages,” according to Dr. Gary Chapman, are “Words of Affirmation,” “Acts of Service,” “Receiving Gifts,” “Quality Time,” and “Physical Touch.”

The line between “Acts of Service” and “Receiving Gifts” is a bit blurry for me. I guess, one major difference is, I’m still learning to accept “Acts of Service” and know they’re out of the kindness, not pity. However, to me, a selfless “Act of Service” IS a way of giving. When I was hospitalized, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who pulled together to show me how loved I am. People raised money for me online and through benefit shows. A literal donation is a gift but time is money, therefore, any who musicians who played on my behalf were gifting. Whether it was reading to me or bringing me art supplies, making something for me or bringing food, I appreciated all of it. Whether it’s giving me rides places or putting me up for a night or two, cooking/baking for me or showing me inspirational or funny music, photos, videos, or memes, I’m thankful.

Kind words go a long way with me, if they’re sincere and not patronizing. I’ve honed in on where to get what from. For example, if I need a for-real, no-bullshit, conversation, I know know who to call (and it ain’t the Ghostbusters!). If I need, literal, “Words of Affirmation” and cheerleaders, I have plenty of places to round up those from, online or in person alike. That makes me more than grateful.

I love “Quality Time” with people I love who love me back. ‘Nough said.

There’s a time and a place for physicality. If a hugs last too long, I get awkward. Since my stroke, I’ve become more introverted. I, basically, don’t know where I stand on “Physical Touch.” Let’s just leave it at that.

So, why, sometimes, do I dwell on people or situations that disappointment me when I have so much support? I don’t know but I have to weigh what’s important to me versus what realistic expectations are. I have to have faith that the people who really care about me are doing the best they can. Maybe, they’re dealing with their own demons.

The reason I touched on what I’ve learned through research, earlier, and ”Maybe, IT IS them. Maybe, it’s got nothing to do with me, at all,” is because . . . forgiveness. It’s important not to forget but, I think, forgiveness is part of the process of understanding. I’m not excusing poor behavior. You have to, again, weigh what’s important to you, what realistic expectations are, whether the people in question want to change or are self-ignorant, etc. YOU have to decide what deserves YOUR forgiveness.

Maybe, some people didn’t visit me in the hospital because the setting reminds them of a time when they watched a loved one passed away.

Maybe, some people aren’t “available” because they’re, privately, dealing with something that is beyond anyone’s control.

Maybe, some people “know not what they do” because they’re living life superficially because anything else would just be too painful.

When I was tattooing, I handled everyone like they were sick, for their sake, for the sake of future clients, and for mine. You hope that people are honest when filling out their release forms but you never know. Hell, they may not even know they contracted something and some point.

Sometimes, people have deficits that aren’t apparent at first, if that all. The brain injured, chronically ill people, people with debilitating mental disorders, etc. are everywhere. You just never can tell.

I’ve spent too much time holding grudges, when people didn’t even know I was hurting. That’s called “Passive Aggression,” folks, which breeds further negativity. It’s what happens when you ASSume and drives you insane.

So, take a step back. Assess what’s really wrong. What are you really bothered by? Then, decide: Is this really worth getting this upset over?

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Art, Change, Learning

BREAK the Cypher

I spent my New Year’s Eve, going through my artwork from high school up through college; some after too. The idea was to refresh my memory as to what influenced me at different stages in life; what motivated and moved me. I wanted to ramble about art and not leave anything out. I still plan on doing that but I came across something I forgot about. Something along similar lines but not what I was looking for.

I forgot I used to use writing as an outlet. I remember, I took a creative writing class but I didn’t know I ever wrote anything relevant or that I attempted to share.

In my hoarding, I found three issues of “Galerie,” a yearly student-run publication, put out by my high school. I was on the staff for two years. I had, at least, one visual piece, as well as one piece of writing, in each issue I found.

I’d like to share a piece I passed off as “fiction” in my senior year. Bare with my eighteen-year-old self, as I’ve had 12 years to fine-tune my “voice,” grammar, vocabulary, etc.

“She looks into the mirror stares into the face of a person longing for change. She is a girl of eighteen with dark hair and blue eyes. She has a pale complexion and her lips are rosy pink. As she looks into her own eyes, she is distracted by the leaves outside the window, rustling as the wind whistles through them. They remind her of how restless she is. She has been a part of a twelve-year routine that she has wanted to end for so long. The end is so near but so far away. She covets a new beginning. She can’t wait to start over. She wants to cut ties with all those surrounding her. They are all so boring because they are all the same. She wants to be with people have goals. She wants to be with people who are like her. She’s different. She likes being different but she’s so lonely. She’ll be glad to go. She won’t cry when she does. She’ll smile. She will be sad to leave some people because even the important ones in her life right now might not feel that she is important enough to stay in touch with. She knows, however, that the people who care about her most will always be there.

“She hopes that some of those people will support her when she begins a new life for herself. She is so afraid of what the future has in store for her but she welcomes it with open arms. She will rise to any challenge that faces her and conquer it so that she may do what she wants to do and become what she wants to become. She’s not sure what she wants to do or become, but she’ll know when the time is right. What she does know is that she wants to succeed. She know that she is capable of accomplishing anything that her heart desires. She is intelligent and interested in so many things.

“Some people might not believe this, though. When she tries to speak about what she is feeling, she sounds stupid and ditzy (for lack of better words). She knows what she wants to say but struggles to get it out. Her cheeks become flushed and she stutters. When she finds the perfect words to say, she often forgets them before they escape her mouth. She fidgets and slumps. She has horrible posture. She’s not confident in herself and in order to counter her nervousness around people, she talks and talks. Actually, she babbles. She realizes she does it but she needs to feel less nervous somehow. The only way she can truly express herself, though, is on paper. The only way she can say what she wants to say without interruption is on paper. She wishes she had more time for her paper, whether it be lined or Strathmore. She wishes she had more time but she’s tired. When she thinks she can finally rest, there is something else to be done. She relishes the thought of a world where money is no object and time is on her side. If she could, she would spend all of her time utilizing that paper. She is sick of work and school and anything else that gets in the way of her and herself. She wants everything to be finished. She wants to be settled in a house with the perfect job. She wants to be in love. She wants to have time.

“In the middle of her thought she blinks and realizes that she has been staring into those blues eyes for quite some time now. She has been caught in her own gaze for what seemed like an eternity. She rubs her face with her hands and sighs. She looks her own face over a few timed and asks herself those age-old questions, “Who am I? What is going to become of me?” We’ll see.”

Again, I wrote that when I was a senior in high school. Sure, I want to pick it apart and edit it but the nature of the content would be similar. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to man-up, because the character I was describing was, clearly, 110% ME. I was trying to express myself while attempting to be, somewhat, cryptic. Some of my favorite authors (namely Chuck Palahniuk and Tom Robbins) “taught” me to use my sense of humor and not be constrained to the “rules” in writing. I cling to them because I’ve found that, like my influences in art and music, I respond and relate the creative people who aren’t afraid to let their personalities shine through in their work.

I’m going to address each of my relevant fears and points, and turn this depressing, albeit optimistic, piece, into a lesson.

When I first wrote that passage, I was a naive, gullible virgin, who had never ventured outside of Rochester, NY with anyone except her immediate family. I’d never been in love and was completely lost and lonely.

I’ve been through a lot in my life. Some of it was my own doing. Other times, I didn’t know any better. Sometimes, it was just a matter of timing and/or placement. Whatever happened (or happens), I’ve always try to learn and grow from it; evolve.

I’m neurotic and methodical, which can be blessings or curses. I think EVERYTHING through. When I say, “I don’t care.” It’s not because I’m indecisive. It’s because I, genuinely, don’t care because the outcome won’t have that much bearing on the bigger picture.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much I want to share about my past but I will say, my stroke is the single-most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with in my entire life. However, I’m doing just fine a year later because of all I’ve experienced up to this point.

A cliche I use once in awhile is, “If I knew then what I know now . . .” Listen, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s kind of a joke to me. It’s one of those *wink wink, nudge nudge* types of things.

I tattooed over my knees, “No regrets. No worries.” I do worry a-lot-a-bit but I’m forever trying not to. Life is a lot of trail and error. Sometimes, you get second chances. Sometimes, it’s one and done. Sometimes, people hurt you. Sometimes, you hurt others. I’m sincerely sorry for the people I’ve hurt. But, at the same time, I don’t regret getting hurt because it’s made me who I am. You have to think about each situation individually because, even if you’re experiencing deja vu, no one is exactly the same. If you don’t think things through, when you can, you’ll never grow and the results will send you around that same vicious cycle.

That’s why I’m analyzing my priorities from 12 years ago; because I want to see how I’ve grown and see what’s no longer important and what I still need to work on.

Here it goes!

I’ve always been restless. I’ve realized that I’ll always be restless. I can’t sit still for too long. I love, love, love traveling. Just a change of scenery for even a day satiates my nomadic tendencies, if only for a little while. I’ve found, if I don’t change things up a little bit, every once in awhile, I get stir-crazy.

A friend shared a quote by Robert Holden. It states, “Beware of Destination Addiction . . . a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” I understand where Holden is coming but part of the reason I’m forever restless, is because I’ll never be satisfied. Another friend and I were talking the struggle with being an artist. You’re your own worst critic and mortal enemy. For artist like us, nothing we create is ever “good enough.” If we created THE perfect piece, we’d implode and there wouldn’t be anything left for us to achieve; nothing to work toward. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Yes, I need to choose goals that are reachable but I’ll never stop trying to do better; to BE better. That mindset has gotten me through my recovery so far. I’m not striving for absolute happiness. I’m trying to be content, moment to moment. Like MOST HUMANS ON THIS PLANET, I have good days and bad days. You just need to seize the days you can. If you have a bad one, dust yourself off, and try again.

“You pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick friends’ nose.” Well, I “pick[ed] . . . friends” who would let me “pick [their] nose[s],” as it were. But, seriously, I have so much love surrounding me . . . I’m so grateful. It’s been hard to let people go who hurt me and there’s a lot of disappointment involved in that but the feeling passes, eventually, and the love and support of those ones who stick around, fill up those voids. I still get lonely from time to time but I think it’s another part of the human condition.

I’m not afraid of the future anymore. I still maintain, “[I] will rise to any challenge that faces [me] and conquer it . . . [I want] to succeed. [I] know that [I’m] capable of accomplishing anything that [my] heart desires. [I am] intelligent and interested in so many things.” And I, once again, have so much support that it doesn’t matter if I talk slow or stammer. People wait to hear what I have to say. Also, I’m just as forgetful as I ever was, if not more-so. I’m working on using my resources and tools to make things easier, memory-wise (See “Memory Lost, Memory Found, Repeat.” mariahrosesramblings.wordpress.com).

I still get nervous but I’m working on that too but my “babbling” and “fidgeting” has become part of my awkward charm. People who don’t appreciate it . . . well, ya know.

I’m still working on time-management. I’ll probably never get it right but I’ll always keep trying.

I’ve changed my mind about “settling in a house.” I don’t EVER want to be tied down. There’s no such thing as the perfect job, although tattooing comes wicked close, for me.

As far as love goes, there are no rules and it’s painful. With romantic love, comes stress, sex, insecurity, tests of trust, etc. I’ll probably never figure out that whole mess but what I do know is that I can’t worry about that right now anyway. I have too much on my plate. I feel that in order to truly be with someone, you BOTH have to be content with yourselves.

With that, I suggest making a list of what makes you content and if you’re not one thing . . . start.

My List:

My own space

Travel

Working out

Doing research

Reading

Writing

Yoga

Decompression time

Being creative

Feeling healthy

Being around people I love, who love me back

Mariah Rose’s Ramblings: youarenotalone138@gmail.com

E-mail me if you want to comment on my “ramblings” but aren’t comfortable doing it publicly. I’d ask you not to abuse this gesture. I WILL NOT respond to inappropriate inquiries and I WILL NOT give out my phone number.

This e-mail address is meant to help people, survivors and caregivers, alike.

I’m not a medical provider. I’m not a therapist of any kind. I’m just a survivor whose willing to share.

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Art, Identity, Tattoos

Identity

I am Mariah Rose and I chose as my identity to be a tattoo artist.

What this meant for me was my clients always came first. Many of my life’s decisions came with that in mind or, at least, anticipating my future clients’ needs.

I think my first life altering decisions in regard to tattooing was leaving my fiancé and making a conscious effort not to bear children. I knew that tattooing would take all of my gumption because I’ve never wanted anything more in my life. I knew my fiancé would make a wonderful father someday and I didn’t know when I would be ready to be a mother and that wasn’t fair to him. When I chose to do something I put all of my eggs in one basket. Motherhood is no joke to me and tattooing isn’t either. So, for the first time, I chose tattooing.

The second decision was when I chose not to be full-time at my job. I turned down a promotion to assistant store manager to focus on what I needed to succeed in tattooing.

What I did do was finish school. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I started college in 2003. I started tattooing in 2006. I graduated from Monroe Community College with a degree in Visual Communications, in other words advertising, that year, ‘06. I graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2008 with a degree in Art History with concentrations on painting and drawing. Why did I bother, you ask? To cover my bases. Not only did I learn some valuable skills but I laid the groundwork for a career in case tattooing didn’t work out. In my studies, I learned to use Photoshop which created shortcuts with design. The art history provided the knowledge to seek out references. My drawing and painting classes helped my technique.

Anything I do or see I try to learn from. Whether it be a class, experiences, a lover, or an enemy. This way, I’ll always be evolving, forever changing.

So, I spent from 2006 on, learning to tattoo; taking little pieces from everywhere I worked and who I worked with. I learned the basics from a few people during my apprenticeship. Then, the floodgates opened. I attribute being able to pack in solid black into a piece and discovering the perfect colors for a harvest moon to one person. I’m grateful that another person took my machine out of my hand and showed me that it’s okay to go deeper. It was specific lessons like those and trial and error that kept me on my toes in the beginning. Then, I began honing my craft and making it my own; all the while, learning, growing and evolving.

Technique isn’t the only thing I’ve taken from tattooing. I’ve also had to learn lessons the hard way. Those who know me well, know that I’m gullible and too quick to trust people. Tattooing gave me a harsh dose of reality real quick and, as with everything, I adapted. For instance, I learned not to work for “free” because I can easily be taken advantage of. There are the people who do it on purpose and you might not even see it coming until it’s too late. And then, there are the people who don’t realize they’re doing it. Maybe you both catch on and correct it. Maybe you don’t. The point is, it’s up to me to lay some ground rules. Sometimes, they don’t need to be spoken and, sometimes, they need to be spelled out. It’s also up to me to have the tact to know the difference.

Another lesson is: don’t shit where you eat. That’s one that’s universal, though.

Tattooing is very drama filled if you aren’t careful. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is: ‘’Concentrate on your art. The rest will follow.” It’s easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. I’m still guilty of placating to everyone around me but it’s about finding a balance.

One of the things I’ve found with tattooing is I’m exposed to people from all walks of life. Now I’m no stranger to soccer moms, bikers, Marines, nurses, reformed drug addicts, pizza delivery dudes, and everyone in between. I know alcoholics, narcissists, sociopaths, models, and just your average Joes. And you know what? I love it. Not only do I learn something from the tattooers I work with but I learn something from every person who sits in my chair. I’ve become a student of the world. I’ve always said, if I feel like there’s nothing left to learn I should quit while I’m ahead.

Did I mention, I love my job? Not in so many words but I do. I love being able to make people happy. I love being able to memorialize a person or event and trying out new colors or techniques. I love being able to pick someone’s brain that I admire. I love to travel and the atmosphere at conventions. I love being in my own space and surrounded by my knick-knacks and my books and putting a piece of myself in everything I do. My clients can see that, and are so grateful because I’m grateful too. I’m grateful for everything.

I always said I would stop tattooing if I physically couldn’t do it anymore; like if I got arthritis or something. Imagine my surprise when I had a stroke at 28 years young.

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