people are mean... this country. It's almost like a sport. See somebody flounder, or struggle, or show need... kick them when they're down.

I don't know if people always realize that that's what they're doing. Sometimes they don't... but I think for the most part they do know.

It took me FOREVER to say what I really felt; to express a need for something, a sadness, anger. I bottled up a lot of things. I had asthma as a kid. REALLY bad asthma until I began to figure out that a lot of it was emotional... if I was stressed out or blocking a feeling, I'd get "stuffy". I bottled up stuff and didn't say what I was feeling, and I lost friends, because they thought I was snotty or stuck up. I didn't like to ask for help. I still don't really. It hurts to ask for help when you really need it, and have folk turn you down. Especially when you know they are capable of helping. It hurts to tell someone how you feel and either have them not reciprocate, or worse, belittle the feeling. But it hurts worse to keep it inside.

So now, if I'm sad or hurting I say so. If I'm mad about something or at someone I try to express it. If I love you, I tell you. And I've learned about myself that there are times in my life when I am very needy. But there are other times in my life when I gather my legs under me and I fly and I don't need anybody. Life is a cycle.

I have found that the old song "Nobody knows you when you're down and out" is very true. It's OK to be down or needy for a little while... but when it gets drawn out or protracted people start getting nasty.

And it pisses me the fuck off. Because life can suck. And it can suck really bad. For really protracted amounts of time. And it doesn't mean you're not trying. It doesn't always mean you're lazy or not doing the right thing, or are trying to mooch.

No doubt, there are people who are habitual moochers. Perpetual whiners. People will definitely bleed you dry emotionally or financially sometimes. And you need to be strong enough to let those people go. But there are an awful lot of people who are genuinely doing the best they can and life is just sucking really bad. Who really aren't asking for anything other than understanding.

I've said before it doesn't cost anything to be kind, to love freely... and sometimes if someone expresses a feeling to you, all you really need to do is listen. Or say "I'm sorry you hurt".

To keep it all that hell inside of you is hurtful to you. I know. I know because I still struggle with keeping it in... I write a lot of it out, but there's still a lot inside there. I chip at it, break it down, analyze it, let it go. I feel better because of it. The voices aren't NEARLY as loud as they were two or three years ago, when I first started writing. They aren't nearly as mean...

I know I put a lot "out there". Sometimes it's the same feeling, over and over and over. I know what I put out... I know what I'm writing. I know, because I go back and read what I write. I compare what I'm feeling today versus how I felt two years ago on this day. Or three. And overall, I'm clearer. My soul quieter.

But it hurts still, when I put a feeling out... and I get back a snide comment. Or a "suck it up". Or a flippant remark. And it hurts when I put out a feeling, and it's stepped on. It hurts when I know I've been struggling a while over something and folk start to disappear. But fuck you. I've decided that my own inner health is more important to me than your need to step on it. I'm sorry maybe you think you're carrying me too long, that maybe you think I'm not carrying my own weight. I know where I am now. But I know where I've been... and because I write and I know I'm clearer, I know where I'm going. And when I get there the people who were kind and patient... those are the folk I remember. The rest of them will kiss my ass.

And at the same time, I try to look out for those folk who hurt, who suffer. Because I know there is no set expiration date on pain. It just doesn't go away because you think it's been "X" amount of time. I do believe that it's your responsibility in life to always keep trying, keep moving, keep swimming. If you're beat down, you get back up. You try again. Never give up, never surrender. And when folk are kind to you and help you up... you thank them. You pay them back, or pay it forward.

I know it's hard when you hurt, and people lose interest in you, lose faith. I know sometimes they will tell you "Trust in God" and "Put it on the Lord", and I know it can seem a remote concept if you're not devoutly Christian. I know, cuz I'm not devoutly Christian. Matter of fact, I'm NOT Christian. But I do believe in a Higher Power, and I do know (S)He hears you when you ask. And if you read this, and you're still hurting or suffering, I do encourage you to try God... in your own heart. Talk to Him. Write your pain to Him somewhere. Go listen to some Baptist Gospel music. It works... because nobody can take the load of all that pain better than He can. You do feel better... I encourage you to try every weapon in your power... and the Higher Power is a mighty weapon--if you believe. Human beings are fallible, and can't always carry the load. They are only human afterall.

The other night, sitting in the memorial service for my M&A fam, in that huge place filled with music, I watched the faces of the family, distraught with grief, particularly his nieces and nephews. And I watched how the united power of voices in song and a belief in the power of Mightier Hand nearly blew the roof off the place. The combined voices of a couple of hundred people singing in harmony, clapping for God, stomping and shouting brought out a power you could see. The walls almost rippled. A power you could feel... a power that can heal...

It doesn't matter that I'm not Baptist, or that I feel the same or worship the same or differently than others. The point is, you take that healing power wherever you find it. When you're feeling weak or sad or small, you make use of every weapon you can to feel better... because people are cruel. They are short-tempered and short-patienced, and will give up on you long before God will. You do find, as you go through life, that there will be a few "ride or dies" to stick by you when you're down. And they come from the oddest of places... but sometimes it takes a while to find them and in the meantime you hold on to God, to yourself... keep believing and hoping, keep putting your true feelings out there. It hurts to put it out, I know... but it hurts much worse to keep it in.


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