Monday, December 10, 2018

Forgiveness and Repentance



What does it really mean to be forgiven or to forgive someone, and how does repentace play a part?

In the many stages of my life both words, forgiveness and repentance, meant different things. As a young girl being abused by her father, I couldn't understand the thought of forgiveness. No way in Hell. No, to a victim - the idea of forgiveness is equivolent of accepting the behavior, the abuse, or the pain that was being inflicted on them. I couldn't 'forgive' my father, so I chose to be angry and hate him instead. I was a child, and thought like a child, and carried around an immense pain and shame that wasn't mine to carry.

But as life carried forward and I had children of my own, I began to think like a parent, making decisions to protect my children, that put their needs above their wants, even if it made me the bad guy. But i still carried this anger inside, wrapped in unforgiveness toward my father and mother. But, there was someone else that needed that forgiveness too, ...me.

But, how could I? How could I accept what was done? How could I ever feel that what happened was okay? I didn't. But, I didn't realize that forgiveness wasn't accepting that what they did was okay, because it wasn't okay. It was wrong on the highest level. It was a betrayal of love and trust. Forgiveness was about accepting the truth, the whole ugly truth, facing the damage, and seeing it for what it truly was and what it truly did. Without the truth, I couldnt face that truth and rise above it, to learn to heal, to make reparations and to change the direction.

My pain was real, but my enemy, my true enemy wasn't the monster that abused me, or the other monster that failed to protect me, it was the monster on the inside that lied to me on a daily basis telling me that I was damaged, unloved, and unworthy of being loved, unwanted, and neglected. Those were truths, but it wasn't THE truth. But it was the only one I could hear.

I had to enter another stage of my life before I started to see the truth and power of forgiveness and repentance. I began to see that to forgive was not to say their actions were okay, but that I wasn't going to allow their actions to hurt me anymore. I started to love myself, and with that love begin to see the truth about me, and only about me. I could no longer judge my abusers, that wasnt my job. Truth judged them. It wasn't my job to punish them, I wasn't the way to penance, because true pennace is an internal thing between a person and their conscious, or God. People don't get away with the things they do, even when it 'seems' like it. They have their own monsters, and those monsters are brutal. I had to forgive, not what was done to me but what I allowed to happen within me. I had to forgive myself. I had to see myself for 5he dirty, ragged, angry, hateful person I had become - because that person was hiding the kind, loving, giving, selfless person that I truly was behind all that pain.

So, I forgave her.  I forgave my monster, because I know understood what made her, what empowered her, and finally what would defeat her. I forgave my other monsters too, because I realized they were blinded by their own monsters and their fight wasnt mine.

Don't get me wrong. I forgave, but I did not forget. They couldn't see their own truth, so they were still monsters, and I had the responsibility to protect myself from them. My parents died without ever apologizing, reconciling, accepting the truth of the damage they caused, and I am okay with that, because I will not allow that to happen to me.

My monsters never repented. That was another word I didn't understand for many many years either. Repentance isn't feeling sorry for an action. After forginess (you can't repent for what you first don't acknowledge and forgive. We think we can, but that's not the truth. The definiton of repentance is to make reparations, to repair the damage caused by our actions. Saying sorry is only step two, and the beginning of repentance. Finding forgiveness isnt the end of a matter, but the beginning of repentance.

We make a lot of messes. We create a lot of pain. We are all monsters at times, and its up to US, not a parent, a therapist, a drug, a pill, a program, or even a prayer to fix the damage we caused, it's up to us. It's up to me when i realize I've done something to hurt someone else, to make it right. It's up to me to face that truth, forgive myself, and then go apologize (I don't apologize until ive forgiven, else its a lie), and then work on trying to make it better, to repair what I've broken. If its trust, i work harder to build trust. If it's anger, I try to work at the root disease that cauaed the anger, to help control it in the future.

Is the above the miracle cure and will solve all my problems and the problems of the people in my life? No. I can only forgive and repent for myself. I'm only one part of every relationship in my life.

Right now I'm having a real hard time with my youngest step-son. He's so angry and disrespectful that he pushes my buttons and patience beyond their maximum capacity. He is a monster. He has many monsters to deal with, and as much as I love him, I can't vanquish his monsters for him.  I didn't create the damage he's dealing with now, I've just come into his life these past couple of years, and those monsters run deep. But, I see the truth behind the pain. I see the beautiful soul inside. I see the man he can be. But he has to find forgivness and repentance on his own. He won't do that without truth, but right now all he hears are the lies, the same lies I heard ...being unloved, unwanted, damaged, etc. But their lies. He is deeply loved, wanted, and beautiful. I love him so much, and i HATE all the damaging and destructive things he's doing to himself and his family. I hate it so much, because I know it hurts him most of all. I will not accept his abuse. I'm fighting hard not to let it damage me, but that's hard and I fail somewhat everyday. Right now he hates me and believes I hate him, but I love him so much. I can't save him, but I'm going to keep fighting for him, whether he loves me or not, or hates me for it. I know his apologies mean nothing for now, because there is no acceptance of truth, but I am hopeful one day they will be authentic.

I'm also trying to fight against the monsters of his dad and brother, because I love them too. I can't teach them about forgiveness and repentance, it's a truth they will have to learn on their own. I just hope I can keep them both alive within me, and working in me.

Life is hard. Always. Love is worth the fight, and I love them all, just as God loves me.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Slavery Debate



Let me start this article with stating a fact, one that is going to change the perception of many of you who dare to read this article.  I am a white woman.  What do I know about slavery?

When the word 'slavery' is mumbled within our society today, it is almost ALWAYS associated with the African slave trade by the white Europeans of early America.  But that's only ONE faction, one truth, one piece of slavery, and it's not even the whole picture. Yet this one particular faction has rooted a segregated hate that is very prevalent in our current society, and continues to spread its anger and hate like a cancer through our youth with the access to social media - a place where that bias and hate is spread like a incurable disease.  However, I wish our  youth would use this amazing access via the internet to hunt for the truth and search history on their own.  But, most don't. It's too much work, requires too much time, and in this ADHD society, it costs too much focus.  It's easier to just listen to the lessons of more hate, more anger, and more division in our movies, music, videos, art, pop cultural, and political incorrect insensitivity.  It's easier to let others think for us and tell us what we feel, what we know, and what we should do about it. In ignorance, the issue of slavery has been relegated to racism, which in essence slavery has nothing to do with race.  YES, there was a race of slaves that were enslaved because of their race, but that doesn't make all slavery about race.  In truth, even THAT particular slavery was more about economics than race, yet the hate that was bred, nurtured, and spread came down to race - on both sides of the hate - and continues today in a generation that has never known slavery, only racism.  Lest we forget the millions of Native Americans that were marched out of their homes, across a harsh land in harsh conditions, dying daily along the Trail of Tears was a form of slavery too.

Slavery isn't a black or white issue.  Racism isn't really a black or white issue.  Hate isn't a black or white issue.  Hate is hate. To hate someone, belittle them, think them inferior or less human because of the color of someone's skin, because of their culture, because of their sex, because of their education, because of their status in society -  is simple ignorance. Ignorance breeds hate and fear, intolerance and indifference. Slavery is pure evil.  To own, to trade, or treat another human being as an object, as inhumane, as property, is wrong on EVERY level. To also turn a blind eye to it, is just as evil. Yet, we turn a blind to slavery everyday, often because we are too busy arguing with each other about our prejudice, intolerance, and privilege, or lack thereof.  While we are arguing about how 'unfair' life is -  there are child slaves working 15-20 hours a day in sweatshops and workhouses, there are young girls and boys being kidnapped from their homes and sold to the highest bidder to perverts, there are young girls being married off as young as five and six years old to old bastards, traded like pieces of property, and then raped and beat and expected to accept it as okay behavior, there are millions of women who are not allowed to speak, to be educated, to even be seen, raped and then stoned to death for being raped, and it is culturally accepted.  Yet, I don't see pop stars, rappers, actors, civil-rights activists, or political pundits out here fighting against this slavery. We think it's a problem 'over there'. Young Africans being kidnapped by their own people and sold to the highest bidding white European was at one time a problem 'over there'. Millions of Jewish people led to the gas chambers, stripped of all their dignity and humanity was a problem 'over there'.  A whole village of white Moldovian girls being kidnapped, drugged, beat, and sold to the highest pervert is a problem 'over there'.  A young woman being ganged-raped by a group of men being stoned to death in the streets for being raped is a problem 'over there'. Mexicans trying to escape to a better world and using their last peso to purchase their own enslavement from mules is a problem 'over there'.  Or is it? 

American's don't often realize how much goes on right here in their back yards.  Human trafficking is a big business, and our society would be shocked if they realized how many humans - black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, European, child and adult, are transferred through our safe American streets on a daily basis. We're too busy hating each other over an atrocity that happened a hundred years ago.  Yes, African slavery happened.  Yes, it was wrong.  But, what Black America seems to forget is that freedom came at a cost.  There was a high price paid for that freedom and that price was paid by people who believed what was happening was wrong  - and that included a LOT of white people.  Slavery isn't a race issue, it's a bondage issue.  Ignorant racists don't hate black people because they were slaves.  Ignorant racists hate black people because they're ignorant and believe they are superior by their white genetics.  Ignorant black people don't hate white people because their ancestors were enslaved, they hate white people because of the racists acts that have been inflicted upon them and by them.  My Jewish ancestors were slaves many times, but I choose not to hate Egyptians, Germans, Americans, or even Africans because of it.  I hate slavery, period. I hate intolerance, period.  I hate hate, period.

I hate when I hear white racists try to justify their hate.  I hate when I hear black racists try to justify their hate. I hate when either of them try to placate their hate in a joke.  I hate when they spew their bullshit in public and want a pat on the back for their stand - but what are they standing for? Civil rights activists that marched across those bridges were not ONLY black. Civil Rights isn't only a black issue, yet I am literally told almost on a daily basis how I don't belong or don't understand, or that I too am a racist because I'm white. No, it's because I call them on their bullshit. Suck it up whiny babies.  If you want to do something to change the hate, then get off your lazy whiny asses and start doing something.  There are programs and organizations out there in the world that are currently fighting against slavery.  BTW - our welfare system is another form of modern slavery.  It promises aide, but it comes with a cost. There are programs that are helping free and rescue victims of human trafficking going on TODAY. There are organizations out there fighting for women's rights around the world, not just here in the United States.  There are people of all color, sexes, and cultures DOING something about slavery besides spreading hate. If you're doing NOTHING about it, then shut up. Shut your hateful spoiled mouth. I don't want to hear your stupid angry songs about how 'unfair' life has been.  I'm angry about it NOW. I'm angry about what happened in the past, what's happening now, and what's going to happen in the future.  I have had nightmares hearing victims tell of their plights, learning how children are suffering today, knowing that when I put my head on my comfortable pillow at night they are in pain, alone, scared, and living in conditions I can't even imagine. I have looked into the eyes of a young girl that has been rescued from human trafficking and THAT is worth fighting for. I didn't care what color skin she had, only that she had been freed. I understand bondage more than you'd expect. I have lived in bondage, been beat, abused, raped, held captive and forced to do things I knew were wrong and didn't want to do, and I'm a white girl living in America. So, excuse me when I don't think your racist song or joke is funny, or when I get upset when I hear someone who had an opportunity to bring people together instead want to cause more division, more separation because they are 'angry' about unfairness.

Life is NOT fair, but ALL life matters.  Not white lives, black lives, blue lives, brown lives, yellow lives, animal lives, or sea life that matters.  ALL life matters. Slavery is wrong.  Hate is wrong. I don't need a religion or a law to tell me that it's wrong.   It's WRONG, period.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Love, Eh, What Do I Know?

There are thousands of books, millions of poems, and uncountable interpretations of love in the universe. In every faith, every tongue, every history, every nation to the ends of the earth, there are many ideas, concepts and expressions of love. But what is it really?

These last few years have put many, many, many, if not all my ideas and beliefs of love to the test. Romantic, maternal, platonic, familial, friendly, godly, natural, spiritual and humane love - love in all ways, all forms, and all levels.

I 'feel' I have failed in many, if not most or even all of those various forms of love. But that's the problem, letting my feelings dictate my truth. Because the biggest revelation I've discovered through all my tests and trials is that how I feel has little to do with my love, the love I have, give and receive.

Feelings change. Feelings fluctuate. Feelings lie. Feelings confuse. Feelings are centered in expectation, fluctuation, and consolation. Now, don't dismiss feelings - at all. They're very important indicators to reveal the state of a matter. Not acknowledging or choosing to supress or deny feelings is often the key factor that leads to our most destructive and bad decisions, as well as our good and amazing leaps of faith. I'm not saying to ignore or deny our feelings, but perhaps use them, study them, recognize the 'why' behind them to aid in the discovery of truth.

Truth is the key to everything. It is the heart of love.

Here is an example of Truth and Love.

My stepson feels I hate him. He is at the height of teenage rebellion. He is at the apex of hormonal changes in his life, realizing he has some control of some things and he can no longer control other things. He rarely understands the consequences of his choices, and most of the time doesn't recognize who he is, who he was, or even who he wants to be. He's between the boy and the man he is to become. Of course, in this example he is making a LOT of bad destructive decisions that can hugely alter his life, diminish his future options, and even endanger his life.

My 'feelings' fluctuate from the desire to hug, protect, and encourage to wanting to throttle, beat the shit out of him, throw him to the streets, and lock him in his room forever where he will be safe, be protected and sheltered. But none of how I feel is love. My feelings are indicators how his behavior effects me because of the love I have for him. But it is not an indicator of love. Love is both praise and discipline, pride and shame, compassion and anger, etc.

I have learned the worst expression in the world is indifference, not love or hate, passion or pain. To not feel anything, to not care, to not be concerned with another ...that is worse than hate, more destructive than any power or emotion I have witnessed upon this earth. Indifference doesn't consider consequences, good or bad. Indifference allows the worst atrocities imaginable from slavery, serial murder, terrorism, hunger, desolation, etc. Being able to empathize, sympathize, to react, or to feel is what makes us truly human. Sociopaths and psychopaths are often indifferent and it's that indifference that allows their choices, behaviors. Indifference is to act without a soul, because the soul/spirit of a person is the center of who they truly are, and where you find all emotion, where reason dwells, where empathy lives ...all surrounded by love. Real love - not this shallow water-downed version. Indifference is the true evil. When we lose our ability or desire to care, thats when we've lost everything. All other emotion comes because we care - sympathy, anger, passion and even hate. We don't hate what we don't care about.

So, back to my step-son. I know he thinks I hate him because I've had to be hard on him. But, that's not the truth. I don't hate him at all. I love him dearly. But I do hate MANY of the things he does. My decisions to get tough are because I'm scared for him, I fear the consequences of the choices he's making. He's at the stage where he believes he's indestructible, and that NOTHING bad serious will touch him or his life. He hasn't had to face anything serious yet. His dad has given him a life where he was able to be a kid, because he still often acts like a five-year old spoiled brat pitching a fit to get his way. I'm not talking figuratively, I mean literally (it's really embarrassing sometimes). Now, he didnt live with a silver-spoon in his mouth, but he had everything he needed and much of what he wanted. He is disrespectful and ungrateful, because he doesn't yet understand the sacrifices his dad has had to make for him to have enjoyed the life he's had. He has a mother, but for the most part she hasn't been a big part of his life, that everyday living part. She's been gone since he was a very small child, and that created a huge hole that has grown and filled with anger, resentment, and confusion.

I pray he never has to deal with true abuse, pain, incarceration, humiliation, rape, disease, death of a soul-mate, addiction, hunger, deprivation, destitution, yet he taunts these very things on a daily basis. He runs wildly toward destruction. He is determined to face them all.  Perhaps he needs to in order to alter his current path. Its better that he faces one of these than reach the level of indifference where he becomes truly evil. Right now, he's just a rebellious kid skating on thin ice, but if it ever cracks and he falls through, survival becomes almost impossible.

I'm scared, I'm angry, I'm worried, I have nightmares of all the things I want to protect and save him from, but he's the one holding the gun to his own head. So, I yell, I scream, I throw away his weed, I assign chores, I set boundaries, I tell him the truth of who he is, the choices he makes, and where they lead. I am ashamed and disappointed in the level of disrespect he shows his father and me. It hurts. But, I remain consistent, diligent, and steadfast. I have spent hours talking to him, encouraging him about who he could be, what he is capable of achieving, his strengths, and possibilities, to encourage him to dream, to hope ...to all be forgotten and traded for a high level of abuse and disrespect because he has chosen a path of drug abuse, skipping school, hanging out with thugs and addicts - and treating the people who love him most with disdain. Its so bad I fear going home. I've put a deadbolt on my bedroom door just so I can sleep, but I don't sleep - for fear of him or fear for him. Not sleeping is affecting my health, my well-being, my peace. But all that isn't because I hate him ....no, it's because of how much I LOVE him.

Love hopes when it seems hopeless. Love protects. Love is getting in an angry face. Love is saying No knowing it will cause a fit. Love is throwing the weed away. Love is laying down consequences in the face of anger, a fit, and being called every dispicable thing imaginable. Love is hoping for change, knowing change doesn't come until after truth, and truth comes at a painful price.

I hope I have strength enough to stick it out. Every day I want to run from the responsibility and pain of it because it's hard. But, love keeps me there fighting because he's worth it. He may never grow up and realize that what I'm doing is because of the massive amount of love I have for him. He may think I hate him for the rest of his life. He may forever believe the yelling and discipline is to beat him down, when I'm trying to build him up - to tear down the bad and build up the good. I see the ugly truth of who he is, what he's doing, and where he's headed. But, I am also able to see the good, loving, successful man he can be. I won't give up on that dream. He has the power to destroy or build. I only have the power to love.

So, all these expressions of love ...eh, what do I know?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Where Are You Going, Young Warrior?


Where Are You Going, Young Warrior?

You, with the world on your shoulder and bitterness on your lips, where are you going in such a hurry? You wear your flashy robes and wave banners of disrespect and disobedience high above you with arrogant pride and blind ignorance.

You say you don’t care where the road leads, only that your feet itch to be upon the pavement and impatience fills the air. You’re too busy to stop, to care, or to get your bearings. It’s too hard, too much work, requires too much time, and the disease of integrity. Do you even know your destination?

Listen to my heart, hear my words. I’ve been that way, walked that road, and know all its turns and edges. I can tell you every tree, every rock, every hole, and ever hiding place along the path. I’ve seen where it leads, carried the heavy load, and have felt all its infliction.  Yes, I survived, but barely.

I once believed I too was invincible, that the monsters lurking in shadows would not harm me. Not me!  They only exist to scare children or weaklings, but I’m was a warrior, a bad ass, and took no shit. Come closer, young warrior, and look at my scars and see the toll Road Demons have taken. Don’t only look at the visible scars upon my flesh, but gaze deeper and set your attention upon the inner wounds of my soul where the true nightmares live. That’s where Fear remains, writing his words on the back of my eyelids, on the inner-side of my lips, on the bottom of my tongue, on the back of my hands, and on the soles of my feet.

Young warrior, that I would save you the dark journey is my fondest wish.  Let me feed you. Let me give you a place of safety to rest this night, and with the dawn of acuity, set your fervent feet on a diverse path that will lead to greener pastures, smoother hills, greener woods, and beautiful beaches.  That particular way, the dangerous way you’re headed, is only filled with dead things – lost things – dark things.  You think you’re strong enough to defeat what lurks in the shadows, but you’re not.  You’re just a man, not a god.  

If you can’t heed my words, heed my scars. If you can’t see my scars, close your eyes, young warrior, and listen to the pain that fills the earth.  Listen to the weeping and gnashing of teeth at the cries of injustice, the pain of abandonment, the bondage of addiction, and the cruelty of indifference waft like a low mist. The world of that path grieves because it’s filled with sorrowful songs.

© T.L. Gray 2018

We


We

We speak from pain, words of pain, in cries of pain, we sing.
We speak from love, acts of love, in songs of love, we dance.
We speak from truth, move in truth, in steps of truth, we feel.
We speak from touch, inflict in touch, in response of touch, we reveal.

© T.L. Gray 2018



Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Days of the Gentleman ...Over?




Where have all the gentlemen gone? Can the world even recognize a gentleman anymore? What is the definition of a gentleman?

According to Webster, a gentleman means:

gent·le·man
ˈjen(t)lmən/
noun
  1. 1.
    a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man.

    "he behaved like a perfect gentleman"
    • 2.
      a polite or formal way of referring to a man.

      "opposite her an old gentleman sat reading"

    Again it seems we've come across some words that have lost its definition in today's society. Where are the examples of chivalry, or courtesy, or even honor today? When everything from our music, to our movies, to the leaders that are before us gives us the complete opposite example. What of the future generation? What would they know of traits of chivalry, and courtesy, and honor? Has the gentleman gone the way of the dinosaurs and become extinct? I can say within my circle it has become something of a rarity.

    Being a gentleman isn't being a b**** or commonly referred to as a pussy whipped man. Being a gentleman isn't about the behavior that the man displays FOR the women in their life, it is a reflection of the behavior of who they are as a person. If you do something kind for someone else, that does not make you a kind person. Any a****** could have a kind moment. Being kind to someone else because you are kind, and choose to be kind, determines the state of your being. Being a gentleman doesn't mean you are submissive to a woman. Being a gentleman means you choose to be a kind, chivalrous, and respectful, because you are a gentleman.

    Do the women of today deserve the treatment of the gentleman? That is also another debate. That is another conversation about being a lady. Spider-Man choosing to be a gentleman has nothing to do with the state of the woman. It has everything to do with who he chooses to be as himself.

    So what does it mean to be a gentleman, what are some of the examples? Well let's start with being kind and courteous. How do we speak to the people in our lives especially a man to a woman? Does he speak down to her, or as a partner? It's about respect. The way we speak to people denotes the type of respect we have for them, but much more the type of respect we have for ourselves. When we choose not to listen to our partners, thats reflects our own character, not our ability to listen. We listen to what we want to hear. When we refuse, it's because we don't value or respect what's being said, or who is trying to speak to us. That's not a bad thing within itself, because sometimes we need to shut some people out of our lives to preserve our own dignity or safety. But when it comes to people we have a relationship with, choosing not to listen when they're trying to communicate is a form of the highest disrespect. That doesnt reflect on the person being ignored, but the one doing the ignoring. Its wrapped in pride and ego.

    Where you were born, how you were raised, and what everyone else is doing isn't an excuse. They may be reasons and contributing factors, but they do not excuse the choices and actions we take.

    I was watching a movie yesterday where this hood-rat rapper, who made it big in the music industry, got lots of money and women told his girlfriend it was a sign of respect him claiming her as his Bitch. His side-bitches were just whores and meant nothing, but she held the place of honor, his Queen, and his boys respected his Bitch. Her response - she smiled. My stomach hurt. Is that today's equivolent to "You're my Lady?"

    I envy her ignorance, for it truly is bliss. It's amazing we've fallen so far and what we now accept as right, and honor, as respect. I'm no saint. Far from it. I'm dissappointed because I know there's a better way in humanity, I listen to that voice in the pit of my gut. I long for a real gentleman, yet relegated to being a bitch.

    Heres a good read: http://nextluxury.com/mens-lifestyle-advice/rules-of-a-gentleman/

    Till next time,
    ~T.L. Gray






    Monday, June 11, 2018

    Somethin' for Nothin'



    We live in an age where we want something for nothing. Where is the sacrifice? Where is the sweat and tears? Where is the fear of failure? Where is the desire to try?

    We want love, devotion, faithfulness, loyalty, and respect, but we don't want to give those things first. We want to enjoy the fruits of our labor but only give a half-assed effort for those fruits. If we fail there are always those to enable us and bail us out of our responsibilities. We want to be loved, but only love with the smallest part of our hearts in fear of gettimg hurt.

    We are asshole, to ourselves, to the people in our lives, our family, our friends, our coworkers, and society in general. We then pass that asshole-disease onto the next generation.

    Where is truth. Where is real compassion. Where is real love, real devotion, real passion, real sacrifice, real spirit of excellence?

    I will not wait to receive these things to give them. I don't trust the world or anyone in it to step up. I've been disappointed too many times to hope. I do believe there are those out there that do give their best, that do live with a spirit of excellence and with honor. If I'm capable, so are others. I know I may never meet them. I do it for me. I do it to be proud of thr woman I am; the woman I choose to be. I treat the world and the people in my life the way I would want to be treated.

    Choosing to live this way will win no popularity contests, in fact, I often lose family, lovers, and 'friends' that feel intimidated or can't handle the truth, or get butt-hurt when they're called on their shit or they want enabled or receive lame excuses. I won't do that. I can live with mistakes, bad decisions, and poor choices ...but I won't just remain silent as they're being made. As a friend, out of,reapect, I'll speak truth, just as I would want to be given the truth.  If it hurts, deal with it, face it, and be responsible to correct it. If you need help ...I'll give my best to help. Want to hate me and be an asshole because you're butt-hurt ..,I don't want family, lovers, or friends like that and will walk away without blinking. This is my life and I've had enough vampires suck the life out of me too many times.

    If you're an asshole vampire, you will remain an asshole vampire until you can grow up and face the truth. If you're still holding onto anger and unforgiveness, and its affecting your life ...get the fuck over it. Its only hurting you.  If thats the excuse for your asshole behavior, you're just an asshole.

    Listen to how you would want to be listened to ...
    Forgive the way you would want to be forgiven ...
    Speak the way you would want to spoken to ...
    Love the way you would want to be loved ....

    Be kind, be honest, be diligent, be faithful, be loyal, be courteous, be thoughtful, be giving, and hold your head high in the midst of persecution. You will not have to defend your actions, because your character - the actions taken over time - will reveal your true characters. When the vampires rise and try to attack that character, they will fail ... But only if its real and not a half-assed laziness, or an attitude of something for nothing.

    It's up to us who we are ... Not our parentage, not our childhood, not our experiences, not all the horrible things that have happened to us, not our financial status, not our educational level, not our titles,  or accomplishments. Not ANYTHING that has happened TO us by others, but in how,we respond and what we do on a daily basis from the smallest thing to the biggest.  We are either men and women of character or assholes. I do me. You don't have to like me. I've learned to love the woman I have become and like me enough.

    Till next time,
    ~T.L. Gray

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    No Aplology

    I'm a hopeless romantic. While logically I know there is no such thing as happily ever after, there is also very little true repentence, Prince Charming doesn't exist, and people don't often have existential moments where they apologize for being the assholes they are, and there are no best friends forever. Not in the real world. But that doesn't stop me from hoping, believing and wanting that Hallmark, Disney and Lifetime ending. I make no apology for that hope. I make no apology for believing humanity can be kind and love one another the way God says is possible. I know its true, because I exist and I have chosen that kind of love.

    This world is so beautiful, so amazing. I can just watch the fish swim around my boyfriends saltwater tank and be overcome by its simplicity and complexity at the same time. Just trying to understand all the elements that have to come together in order to be the beautiful display is overwhelming. Jon has to work so much, so precise, and with such care to get it to that beautiful state. It takes lots of time, devotion, money, and care. Only in nature can the world produce such beauty, yet he's recreated it in a small tank.

    But that beauty didn't happen overnight and with no effort. Its not magic. It takes dedication and sacrifice, it requires attention and priority.  Jon can stand back and be proud of his effort because he puts in what it takes to be successful.

    The same kind of effort has to be put into raising our children. They don't wake up being lazy, disrespectful assholes. Those traits are developed over time, and it will take even more time to retrain their brains IF we want them to be kind, thoughtful and reaponsible adults. Isn't that ultimately our job as a parent?  Life isn't magical and people dont just wake up and decide to change who they are. It usually takes a tragedy or great loss to move people to change. Lazy parents expect adulthood will change their disrespectful children. It doesn't. It just produces lazy, disrespectful and neglectful adults. Lazy parents are abusive parents.

    I've experienced true physical, mental and emotional abuse since before I was born. My drug addict mother was shot in a bad drug deal when she was 6 mos pregnant with me, and since being born I've died twice, been beat, raped, neglected, and abandoned by those who claimed to love me most. My soldier love and hero died and left me alone. I have fought cancer, obesity, and Southern religious condemnation. I was married for 20 years with love, but no passion, feeling unwanted every day of my life. I've had my children run away from me and lived in torture every day scared not knowing if they were safe, hurt, dead or alive, feeling hated and rejected, praying everyday for mercy and protection. I have to fight thoughts of giving up and killing myself on a regular basis. But I'm a fighter and survivor, and I love myself, and I love my family whether they love me back or not. I understand abuse. In my experience - the most damaging abuse isnt physical,
     ... its neglect, apathy and indifference.

    In spite of all that I've endured, I'm a passionate person. I care. I love. Because I care and love ...I will scream, shout, cry, pitch a fit, apologize, talk it out, say the hard things, and then do the hard things again and again and again, even if it costs me everything. My relationships are like that fish tank. It takes a lot of work to gain the right balance, the right salinity, the right buoyancy, the right light, the right temperature, the right filtration, and the right maintenance to be something beautiful, or become a pool of ugliness and decay. I won't aplogize for that, even if it means I end up alone.

    Want to abuse me - its easy, just ignore me, be indifferent, neglect me, be a coward, make excuses, push me out, unfriend me, put your fingers in your ears and act like a 5-year old spoiled brat, neglect or not provide for your children, see me hurting and not comfort me, take advantage of me, use me to pick up your responsibility, don't hug me, make me feel unwanted, ignore my needs and then break your neck helping others that use and abuse you, don't respect me, my time, or my space.

    No, life isn't a Hallmark, Disney or Lifetime Movie. Meghan may have married a prince, but there is no happily ever after. There's pain and tears and lots of heartache, but ...I have hope that someday someone will care enough about me to help me create my beautiful aquarium. I dont apologize for having that hope. In fact, it breaks my heart because I know its possible, even in the middle of all the shit.

    So, be an asshole all you want. I'm not going to apologize for caring and loving, even when I'm not loved back, and I lose friends or everything for it. I can stand in front of my mirror and know that I give and have given my best. Fuck everyone that can't or won't appreciate that about me. Just as other friends in my life ...keep abusing, neglecting, or ignoring me and I will walk away. If you dont care about that, then I've lost nothing.