Archive for the ‘Essay’ Category

Something Transitional   Leave a comment

 

My head is really cloudy and I’m not sure where I’m going to wind up.  I’ve spoken with a good friend and I’ve explained a little bit to my girlfriend, but I don’t think I’ve said nearly enough to anyone.  The main reason is because I don’t believe I have much of a clue as to what is going on with me.

There is quite possibly a chance that I am actually doing really well and about to bust out with something amazing; some remarkable period of growth and enlightenment.  Or that could just be the budding development of a manic episode about to take me down a very dark road.  I don’t know.  I guess we will just have to watch and see.

What I am aiming to report here is this:  I know that I have been holding on to this, this life and this concept of existence for far too long.  So whether it is death in a final sense or death as a means of rebirth and growth or something transitional or what have you, something needs to change.  I am not depressed and hoping to leave, but I am not going to lie about my eagerness, my desperate need to move on from this state of being.  If I can’t find a way to make something happen then I will have little choice, so I am going to try with all my heart, all of my creativity, all my tattered faith, all of my hope, all of my childlike wonder, all of my love, all my sense of responsibility, all of my lust for joy and thirst for knowledge and anything and everything that can propel me and move me further and beyond to make something of this life.  I am not trying for success or fortune or fame, but for some sense of purpose.  Art and integrity and a personal value that is currently lacking, I need to believe in myself again.

Right now, with all of the pretty faces that shine on me with such love and devotion, while they find me and bring me warmth it is like the sun baring down on a dead body.  I need to be jolted with the spirit of life again.

To continue like this is exactly the same thing as being dead.  And I will not allow myself to lumber around the planet, a giant and wasteful, draining the joy out of those that love me, corpse that can furnish no purpose and offer no further hope.

So while I hope this letter is the end of this despair and the beginning of me kick starting my way back or some fresh start, if nothing changes then take it as the beginning of a goodbye that will not drag on and on.  I don’t have time to waste.  I’m tired of wasting.

I still love.  And that’s why I know it’s about time I start this process.

Jen Czahur

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Wildflowers   Leave a comment

wildflowers1

Wildflowers grow up in all sorts of random locations.  I suppose, all flowers that grow in nature are wild while the ones that grow in greenhouses, gardens and in pots along side windows and such are more like toddlers cared for by mothers in the suburbs.  They are still beautiful and full of possibilities, but they are less a ramshackle work of art then a landscaped carving of design.  They stand out only in that they modify what was predetermined and they foster little in the way of creativity or style.

Wildflowers come in all colors and they extend to all heights and varieties.  Upon further examination, someone with a particular knowledge of such things can tell you that this bud or that stem belongs to a certain weed or perhaps a variation of blossom that is common only to a specific season or climate or what have you.  While someone such as myself with little to no expertise on the subject will merely witness these charming blooms as the lively shoots of earth that break from the soil and reach for the mighty sun.  It’s poetic and inspiring and I don’t really need much more information about them then to know that they each, the short, the tall, the brilliant and the subtle stretch out in their own way for the benefit of the daylight.

It doesn’t occur to me to judge them by their colors or the heartiness of the leaves that brush against the ground or the way that some seem pleasant fodder for the ever present bumble bees.  I do not care to separate them based on how numerous some lay in the field while others are more rare and alone hiding perhaps on the shaded side of a large rock coupled with some bold mushroom or patch of grass.  They do not press me for status.  They simply do their best to soak up their share of the earth and water and take in their fill of the sun and leave me to do my walking or thinking or singing and we seem quite confident in one another’s ability to be exactly who we are without changing one another and that suits me in away that I don’t often find with those hothouse flowers.  Or those potted plants always begging me to trim back leaves or move them from shade to sun or back again.

No, wildflowers seem to understand me better even though they have never set root in my “neck of the woods” and I marvel at their capacity to learn my needs without so much as a word of lesson, a bark of threat, a grovel of bargain.  And this sets me to wonder just why I’ve taken so much time with these silly house plants and garden flowers who need constant reassurance and hour upon hour of pruning and watering and reference book after reference book of study merely to keep them alive let alone to bloom and flourish like my dear wildflower friends who just seem to always know just what to do all on their own without so much as a water bucket or stick of processed food from me.

Everywhere we roam in this world there are wildflowers.  They grow because they grow.  We don’t have to tend to them we simply need to respect their right to be there.  And it serves us an invaluable lesson to be ever mindful that while we journey around in our travels, we too are wildflowers in the eyes of all those who encounters us.  Our roots are not always visible; our histories are not commonly known.  Who we are is simply what is immediately shown.  When someone else stumbles upon you during their journey, you have a choice.  You can be a vibrant flower that offers a unique, positive and triumphant take on your place in the world or you can be shabby weed that comes across as needing to be pulled.  But whatever you choose, however you present yourself, you are a wildflower.

As someone who spends a good portion of my time writing, I fuel my passion by meeting new people.  It’s the new people in my life that are the greatest source of my ideas and without these wildflowers I would’ve grown tired along time ago.  My friends and family are more the garden that I tend.  They require my attention, I have to water them, provide them shade and sun and make sure that they get trimmed and fed.  It’s a give and take relationship that can take a lot out of me and hopefully provides a great deal in return.  But magic doesn’t happen often in such stable, routine relationships.  It can, but not in the vast proportions that a creative type comes to expect and depend upon.

That’s why I wander.  That’s why I come to you, my wildflowers.  I talk to strangers.  I make friends with people for a blissful 10 minute conversation perhaps never to speak to them again, but for those 10 minutes I am completely invested in them.  I love with all my heart and I truly listen and care.  My church is made of the streets of each and every town I have ever walked or driven in and it will continue to grow as I drift through my life until my final steps are taken.  And all along my journey, gathered up on either side, my beautiful wildflowers will blanket my path and usher me from here to there and I will know that I am loved as I have loved because I allowed you to be you as you have enjoyed me being me.

And for that, my dear friends, I am not only grateful.  I feel I have finally reached the sun.

Jen Czahur

Song’s End   Leave a comment

 

I don’t know how I’m feeling.  I don’t really want to keep moving forward.  I don’t have it in me to fall back.  I’m not confused or delusional enough to think that the old life I lived was easy or fruitful.  Is blasting off into space an option?  I realize that’s what my youth was much like, at least in the form of attempt.  But what am I to do now that all my steps are to the side, back and forth and not nearly in any sort of coherent direction?  If you’re not moving for the sake of advancing what really is the point of it anyway?

I see everyone else, with their trials and their victories, making the most of things so that they have purpose and all that I have is this, these writings and these ideas about what I should and shouldn’t be doing.  I’m a thinker more than a writer, but I still have some daydreamer in me who hopes to measure up enough to be remembered when I am long gone and for that I realize I need something tangible.  So I tap thoughts out on the keyboard and display my name at the bottom praying to the gods of passion and art that someone will one day stumble upon me the way I once did Kerouac and use me for fuel.

But I am not so much a dreamer that I believe anyone will find me of value in the here and now and because of that I don’t much attach to this lifetime.  It’s really just about gaining perspective, choosing experiences over others so that I have a broader palette, strokes wide and varied in which to entice my future readers.  I tap out my code on this keyboard so that maybe somewhere down the line some eager soul will be able to unravel me in all my clustered mess of sadness, blurred rational and wild-eyed wonder and see within all of the madness some inner beauty that even I have not been able, with this mighty grip of introspection, to witness for myself.

And if they do, hopefully they will also have spied upon this bit here and know that I wish them to share what they have discovered with anyone left who ever has loved me because I am so very sorry that I was unable to convey that this life was enough to hold my attention.  It was not their lack of anything.  It was sincerely just my wandering eyes and shifting feet, the side to side motions of a girl unable to keep the beat of any drummer who bade me to keep a straight line.  Never moving forward, never falling back, all this time I guess I’ve just been dancing to my own tune and now perhaps this particular song is near end.  I assure you though, my music will play on.  I will keep dancing on my own.

Jen Czahur

Storytellers   Leave a comment

 

 

I grew up hearing people say to my mother that she should write a book.  It’s true, to hear her tell her life out in story form made her sound like some sort of wild and crazy character who had not only herself been interesting, but had also been invested and involved with other such colorful people and plots.  But as I’ve gotten older and I’ve met my fair share of people and as I myself have had many experiences, I realize that nearly everyone should write a book if all that matters is the story involved.  We all have something interesting to say.  What makes it worth telling isn’t the story, it’s the storyteller.

It’s a rare breed of animal that can captivate you with a tale.  Someone who makes you want to sit, mouth hanging open, eyes wide with wonder, ears pricked in awe and heart pounding with suspense.  It’s not the story; it’s the person telling the story.  Think about it.  Think about how many times someone has told you about something as simple as a trip to the store and it was a revelation.  We need to cherish our storytellers.  We need to prop them up and ask them, beg them if necessary, to tell us their tales because they are the essence of what it means to be human.

But my guess is it won’t take much to get them to start talking.  After all, a true storyteller is always merely awaiting her audience.

Seek these people out.  Live and learn and pass along the passion of this amazing art.

Jen Czahur

Trying to Make Therapy Work for Me   Leave a comment

 

It would be beyond fucking fantastic if I could communicate via blog with my therapist.  Not entirely because I happen to really get a lot out of sharing physical space with her which is not something I get to say about a lot of people and I need to say it more often.  I’ve been isolating myself pretty much constantly the last several weeks.  I only go out for therapy and to see the doctor unless it’s some kind of obligation that I can’t shake.  And I don’t even do most of what I really should do.  My poor girlfriend who is constantly is severe pain runs to the store for us so much lately that she has been taking her medication all sorts of incorrectly and I blame myself for it and that just leads to so many other issues for me and between us.  She’s great about it.  I almost can’t stand how great she is about it.  But that’s another set of circumstances for another blog.

It’s true, I am so excited by the present therapist I’ve been set up with that I wish there was some time warp where I could have her 3 times a week for 2 hours at a time.  Or some other crazy concoction of sessions like that because I am a big time talker and I want to dig into so many things that are bouncing around my messed up, super chaotic head.  She won’t be there forever; no one ever is at this place.  I feel like you have a better chance of forming a long lasting relationship with a Taco Bell employee then anyone who works at this particular “Mental Health” place.  But that is probably good because I doubt anyone could put up with me for long.  I am pleasant enough, but as in the case of this current chick, I will most likely stress her the fuck out as it is let alone if she had to spend even more time with me.  I can get rather intense in a multitude of ways and for someone who actually gives a damn and tries to pay attention and be present, well, she probably polishes off a few bottles of wine a week typically.  Dealing with my brand of crazy might turn the poor thing into a full blown alcoholic.

Anyway, I walk in there each week wanting to say so many things.  But I can’t.  I don’t know why.  I trust her and I want to open up, but I feel tongue tied.  I feel like if I open my mouth to let out something I will be betrayed and my usual carefully crafted monologue will instead rush forth, breaking levies and crashing all forms of structure.  She is a professional and just because I feel like she cares and I can trust her doesn’t mean she’s not going to call security or have me locked up for my own good if I start really peeling back the layers of my mind.  I am a sick girl.  I probably should be put away for awhile.

I actually want to be put away for awhile.  I just can’t bring myself to allow it because I know that I am not at the point where I will be honest once I have been detected.

And by that I mean that if I show a crack in my façade and they put me somewhere I will wise up real fast and turn back into one of the people I have perfected being.  I will say and do what I need to so that I show them I was only having a moment of weakness, some doubts or some time where I was a little overwhelmed.  I will get out of there and not get helped.  And it will be recorded as such.  And I will have missed out on another opportunity to be free of this.

I told myself last time that I wouldn’t do that again.  I wouldn’t be committed again until I was ready to be honest and to show them all what I was really made of because I am too old and too tired and way too on edge to keep pulling myself back from the edge.  And truthfully, if I have to play this game one more time I am afraid that the next time they let me out all bets will be off.

And it won’t be about getting help anymore.

It will just be about enacting the plan.  I don’t try things I know I won’t succeed at.  I only allow myself to fail at something once.  And then, I find a way to make it work.  I know the options.  I know what comes next.

Anyway, enough of that shit.

I asked the therapist if I could write some stuff down and have her read it when I first walk in just to get the ball rolling each session.  She seemed totally cool with it.  So that’s what I’ll do.  I want to start dealing with these thoughts, one by one, as they make sense to share.  So I’ll scribble down things and have her know where my head is at and open doors for us to walk through without me needing to verbalize them first.  I think it will assist us both well.

Wish me luck.  I really, truly need it.

Jen

Letter To My New Therapist   5 comments

I am fairly certain that I have a decent therapist this time around.  By decent I mean she not only inspires confidence in me as far as her professionalism and educational background, but she also seems to genuinely respect her clients and care about people in general.  I know that sounds like a low bar, but after the last few experiences that I’ve had, I was starting to question just what would make the average person in the field start down the path.  Everyone seems so quick and ill tempered.  But then, I know there are a lot of things stressing people and causing burnout that probably lead them all to the same pesky predicaments and I shouldn’t really read too much into their personalities.  At least they are trying to help, right?

Anyway, this new lady seems relatively “open” and “accessible” and I need that in someone whom I am supposed to trust.  I play games with people that close themselves off to me.  I know that’s not cool, but I also have a really hard time stopping myself from doing it, so I don’t even bother trying with people in a position of authority because it just gets way too stressful for me.  If you’re a cop, doctor, teacher, shit – even the cashier at the grocery store or chick who cuts my hair- if you make me feel the least bit trivialized I will fuck with you.  It’s a defense I guess.  But it can lead us all down a very dark path and sometimes, people get hurt.

I am not really proud of this feature.  But after years of hiding who I am,  the one thing I have learned from being labeled “mentally ill” is that if I have to be attached to that phrase the least I can give myself is a bit of a break and allow for some room to be comfortable with some of the fucked up stuff that I do.  I am sick.  I can’t even pretend that’s not the case.  Some people can trust me.  Most people would be wise not to.  But you can only say that kind of stuff for so long before people doubt the first statement is true and just start pushing you away at every turn.  And you know what, that’s totally OK.  I’d rather someone I love mistrust me and be safe than someone who can’t trust me giving me too much power over their lives and both of us winding up in a situation where it’s gone too far.

That might sound like I have a heart or conscience, but it’s not about that.  I am just not a fool.  And I don’t want anyone blaming me for making them a monster.  It’s happened before all too often.  Too many girls and even some guys are walking around the planet with mighty big chips on their shoulders saying that “Jen Czahur is the reason I am fucked up.”  I did something to them and now they feel they have a right to wreck havoc all over the globe.

Fuck that.

I don’t blame anyone for my crazy.  It’s my weakness.  It’s my defect.  Maybe someone drove me here, but I choose to pull the trigger each and every time.  I like it.  I like being the one who hurts people and who makes them afraid.  That’s why I do it, because I want to. I don’t do it because of what happened to me.  Maybe that’s what pushed me to the edge, but I jump off of it each time, knowing full well that I am choosing to embrace the darkness.  And so is each and every one of the fools who have used me as their excuse.

And my new therapist, I am sensing, while she is far from a deviant on the scale of someone I would call a peer, is someone who can at least empathize with me and not judge me.  I am being honest.  I am not in therapy because I want to make excuses for my behavior.  I am in therapy because I’d like to unravel it enough to understand it and perhaps modify it.  I just need to feel like whatever progress I am able to make, whatever progress I am not able to make, I am still worth the effort.

My friends adore me.  My girlfriend loves me more than life itself.  My family is like a carbon copy of a picture of a family on a cereal box, they are meaningless and false and there is no lacking in my heart for what they do not offer me.  I have a lot, but what I need is someone who does not feel like they need me, not even as a friend.  I need someone with relative intelligence, who understands my mental health issues and who can hear my truth and, while still being incredibly honest and firm, continue to fucking care about me because she hasn’t lost sight of the fact that I am not a monster.  I am just a girl who chooses to do what a monster does from time to time because I have no sense of why I shouldn’t.  I don’t understand the rules.  I don’t care about the things that even I want to care about.

I need help.  I have goals, but they are lost inside of my careless self defeat.  I need direction and compassion and a little faith in something worth fighting for.

I have this new therapist and I hope she understands that while I am just another client to her, I am the whole spectrum of humanity and the entire concept of insanity wrapped up in a little girl who never stopped wanting to make everything OK for someone else.

And I just need someone to help me make things OK for me this time.

1st Mother’s Day without Mom   Leave a comment

 

It’s Mother’s Day.  I know that I should be missing my mom, that I shouldn’t be able to stay composed what with this being the first time I have to spend this holiday without her, but I promise you that I am truly OK.  My mother was a pure delight of a human being.  She was laughter and dignity and charm and compassion.  She could take care of you no matter what condition you were in and always leave you feeling as though you were the most important person in the world and at no time did she ever make you feel as though you were putting her out.  Her love and care were effortless, she was able to comfort you without putting someone else down, she was able to build you up without setting someone else to take the fall.  She could spot a liar from a mile away, but she wouldn’t always call you on it because she knew sometimes it was just what you needed.  She was nobodies fool, but from time to time, she would let you get away with murder.

My mother had a strong faith, she talked about God and Jesus all of the time.  So often that it was easy to forget everything you had ever heard about them from anywhere else and find yourself starting to have a relationship with them through her.  But she didn’t use this to her advantage like most people would have.  She wasn’t interested in controlling anybody or gaining an upper hand.  She just wanted everyone to be able to have the same peace, the same satisfaction that she was afforded by sheer virtue of her closeness and trust in what she believed.  Her faith was so simple and pure that when we discussed it later on in life and came to points where we disagreed about religion and even the existence of god, she was very comfortable letting me have my own mind provided I allowed her to have hers.  She didn’t need to dominate my lack of faith.  She just didn’t want me attacking her need for it.  And I respected my mother’s beautiful relationship with her religion so much and was so grateful for all of the comfort and strength her faith and concepts of god had provided her over the decades that I never wanted to debase those ideals now at the end of her life when she was so frail and ill and they could stand to serve her most.  It was a deal I was more than happy to strike.  I found no greater joy than in merely accepting my mother for whom and what she was and in being accepted for the same by her.

My mother and I always had a close, odd relationship.  It evolved like everything does.  We were very dependant on one another the last handful of years even when I lived in Georgia.  I would make calls to her several times a week crying about how sad I was in what I could only classify as the “completely backwards, backwoods south”.  She always urged me to come home, which might sound like a typical mother but it wasn’t my mother, not typically.  And when she needed money or advice, she would call me, her youngest.  And when she was ill, she called me.  And I came home to care for her because my heart was always with her and in her illness I was dying and being reborn.

But the last two years of our time together were two of the best years of my life.  Yes, my mother was dying.  And yes, I was basically jobless, near homeless, suffering from a manic episode that would not pass, in and out of mental health treatment, dealing with many other family crisis-type issues and flat out broke, but I was there for my mom when she was sick, when she was scared, when no one else could figure out how to be.  I was the one she called and I was able, while going through all else, to be there for her.  We would stay up all night talking and laughing.  We got to discuss things that I’ve always wanted to, we got to gossip, we go to philosophize, we got to hold each other while we cried, I got to spoil her rotten on whatever food she wanted to eat and all the ice cream and back rubs she could ever want.  It was like heaven for me because for a while there my mom got to finally be the center of the universe and in my mind that was what she always deserved.  It took old age, 4th stage cancer and an overall tiredness to allow her to let me give it to her, but finally I was able to show her just how special she was to me.

I wasn’t perfect at it.  I would go a few weeks here and there where my own mental illness symptoms would flair up and she would have to take a back seat to my raging.  But in a way, that was a certain kind of blessing.  I needed some of my mom that I hadn’t been able to get up till that point.  And having me on my best behavior 85% of the time gave my mom a clear comparison to see just how hard being bi-polar really is and she could finally sympathize with my struggles.  It broke down walls for us so that I could explain what my life was like and so she could ask questions and get more involved.  My mother passed on knowing all about therapy, medication, symptoms and other treatments.  And that’s really important to me because now when things get hard on me it helps me to know that my mom understood and would want me to seek help and take care of my problems and not just hide or deny or pray it away.  She was proud of me for all that I dealt with and she loved me for exactly who I am.

Last summer, my mother and I were up in the middle of the night talking.  She was sick, coughing a lot and having a hard time catching her breath.  She was a few weeks away from going into the hospital for the last time.  She was telling me, between struggling gasps, about how when she was pregnant with me a lot of people thought she was too old to have another child and how maybe, just to keep the peace, she should have an abortion.  I already knew all about that, but I figured she needed to say it for some reason so I just listened.  She stopped talking for a few minutes and her expression changed.  I can’t really describe the look on her face.  It just warmed my heart in a way nothing else ever has.  She looked at me for what felt like forever, only now I know it wasn’t forever and a part of me wishes that it could’ve been.  She smiled at me and then said, “Can you just imagine if I did what they said where I would be now?”

You hear something your whole life and it goes from being too complex to comprehend, to too painful that first time you get it, to too numbing because you’ve just had to find a way to make it not matter anymore.  I’ve known my whole life that I was the kind of pregnancy that made my really Catholic mother contemplate an abortion and on many levels in many ways I have had to wrestle with that knowledge.

But with that one shared moment, all the pain washed away and I was reborn.  I still have a lot of struggle in me.  But my mother adores me and trusts me and knows that all the pain and sacrifice was more than worth it because she raised the kind of daughter who would always be there for her mother.  And that is because she was always there for me.

So today is Mother’s Day.  And I assure you I do not miss my mother today.  Not because I do not love her dearly, but because she is more apart of me today then she was the first 37 years of my life.  She is in my heart, on my mind and all around me.  And in her love, I have all the faith in the world.

Jen Czahur

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