Thursday, May 21, 2015

Run, TL, Run

I have Drapetomania. Sometimes I want to run and hide away from the world. Not because I can’t face a problem or am trying to avoid responsibility. If there’s anything I’m good at its facing problems head on and carrying responsibility. Those two traits have weighed me down most my life. No, I want to run and hide when I’m scared, hurt, or lonely. I’m not afraid for my safety, at least not when it comes to the physical, but I’m sometimes afraid my heart can’t take any more abuse, my spirit can’t handle any more pressure, or my mind can’t deal with any more torment. I sometimes run to save myself.

I’ve been running my whole life. I’ve watched people I’ve loved very much walk right out of my life. Well, that’s not true. I left them. When they’ve hurt me, I’d leave. But it doesn’t mean I wanted to go. It was my way of protecting myself. It’s my reaction of self-preservation. I used to not be able to recognize it until very much after the fact, and by then it was too late. But these past few years I’ve started to notice the triggers, see the signs, and understand why I feel that way. Knowing the why still doesn’t always stop me from running, but it sometimes helps me find my way back. It’s not just a simple choice I can make. It isn’t a recent development. It’s very deep seeded PTSD from childhood trauma. It’s like an addict fighting an addiction. They know what they need to do, but the only promises you can make is to take it one day at a time.

I don’t do any kind of drugs and I rarely drink. I don’t have any addictions that control me, and my mind is often very clear and introspective. By all logical common sense, I should be able to keep my feet firmly planted and not run, but I still find myself sometimes running really, really fast away from the people I love most – because my mind fears them and the pain they can cause.

This running reaction has destroyed just about every relationship I’ve ever had. The only ones that have endured are my children, and it’s because they refuse to let me go. I think that’s the key. I have a few friends, very good friends, that I’ve tried to push away so many times, but they refuse to let me go. They don’t put up with any bullshit from me, and tell it to me straight, but they’re the ones who showed me the truth about myself… but they had to show me while holding me down and not letting me go. (I’m not talking about physically holding me down, but emotionally not giving up on me.)

The thing that hurt me most when I left my husband of 20 years was that he never tried to stop me from leaving – not in any way whatsoever. It doesn’t mean I was going to stay, but it does mean I wasn’t deemed worthy enough in his estimation to try and stop me from leaving.

I remember watching my father abuse my mother, me, and my brothers, and would just wish and pray he would leave, but he never did. Not only that, he threatened anyone who tried to leave, which only made me want to go even more. I eventually did leave, but the whole time I stayed it wasn’t because I was afraid to leave, I was afraid of leaving my family unprotected. So, I stayed and endured the abuse until they were old enough to protect themselves. I then ran and never looked back. What hurt more than anything, my sacrifice to stay was for nothing. My mother and my brothers never loved me enough to try and protect me. They let me run, and some even became the abusers and manipulators I tried to protect them from becoming. I have no relationship with them as adults. Every time I try to get close to them, they’d hurt me by stealing from me, lying to me, using me, trying to manipulate me, – so I’d run.

I don’t run because I don’t care, but because I care too much. Every time I’ve ever ran, it’s ripped my heart to shreds. It hurts so much it takes my breath away. I still can’t sometimes breathe. Someday, I’m going to love someone and that love is going to scare me, and I’m going to turn and try to run away… but they’re going to love me enough to grab my hand, wrap their arms around me, and refuse to let me go… and they’re going to have to do it often.

I’m not afraid to run. I’m afraid no one will ever stop me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lie to Me, Go Ahead

Okay, so everyone should know by now that I’ve been busy, busy, busy trying to fill my previously defunct music collection over the past few years. Having only listened to gospel music for nearly two decades (nothing wrong with that… loved the music), I’m really behind on my pop culture, often missing cultural references. While I love the music, I mean… I really love music, being viewed as na├»ve and defunct probably bothers me most.

Filling this collection isn’t an easy task. I don’t just listen to song after song after song. When I listen to a song, I may listen to ONLY that song for days, really letting it soak into my soul. I might also put it into part of a playlist I’m currently working on. Or, I might put it into another productive playlist that I use to work out, or work to. It really depends on the song. MOST often, I listen to it over and over and over and over until I feel I understand it, or I feel the emotion of it, or I feel I’ll never get it –that it just doesn’t mesh with me or my soul. However, 99% of the songs do. I can’t explain what music does to me. It’s a lot like the way stories move me – somewhere deep on the inside.

So, saying all that… this brings me to my current song “Lie to Me” by Jonny Lang. Wow! Oh, man I could have written this song myself. I don’t just feel it, I live it, breathe it, and I weep this song with many, many, many tears. “Lie to me and tell me everything is all right. Lie to me and tell me that you’ll stay here tonight. Tell me that you’ll never leave. Oh, I’ll just try to make believe that everything you’re telling me is true. Lie to me. Come on, baby, go ahead and lie to me. You know what I’m talking about. Lie to me, it doesn’t matter anymore. It can never be the way it was before. If I can’t hold onto you, leave me something I can hold onto for just a little while, won’t you… won’t you let me dream?”

Damn! This is a place I had never wanted to go, never wanted to be, but one I know very well. It’s darkness, it’s pain unimaginable – knowing the truth, and the truth hurting more than any lie. So, I plead for the lie - just to breathe. I still haven’t learned to breathe. Yet (yep… this is the hopeless romantic in me) I’m glad I got to experience what I have – every ounce of pain was worth it. I can’t begin to imagine going through this world never having experienced this kind of love – lost and unrequited love. I’ve had both and they both nearly destroyed me. Hell, they still overwhelm me. I’m fucking crying my eyes out right now just thinking about them. Tell me he’s still alive, still fighting for me, still looking for me and will someday find me. Tell me I’m the one he thinks about first thing in the morning and the last before he closes his eyes - though he chose her, it’s me he really loves. I know the truth – one soldier is never coming back and the other one loves someone else. But go ahead, lie to me, please.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Defining Moments

We all have special moments, defining moments, moments that will live in our hearts forever. I have a few special moments in my life, scenes that will live forever, well, at least as long as I keep them in my memory. I’m sure I’ve had special moments in my childhood that I’ve forgotten, but there are some that are still precious and with me today.

I’ve had some exciting moments too, like the time I jumped out of an airplane… that was exciting. While I remember those, and the excitement that went with them, those still don’t compare to a few moments that melt my heart and bring me to tears.

Here are few of my special moments. They’re not in any particular order of importance, because they’ve all changed my life in different ways.

#1 – about 5 years old. I’m lying in the vibrant green grass. The sun beats down on me and feels like a warm blanket. A tin pail sits beneath a water spigot on the side of a dilapidated barn, and crystal clear drops are dripping in rhythm. I smell honeysuckle in the air. Clucking chickens strut across a dirt road. I watch an ant carry a piece of white through a maze of green. I roll over and stare into the big blue sky, make shapes out of the white puffy clouds, and watch the black birds soar. I feel so small in a great big world, so insignificant, so alone – yet, I know I’m not alone, that somewhere beyond what I can see, touch, smell, taste, and feel is something bigger than me, something that made everything - even me. I want to know the real thing. I want to know what the trees know. I want to know what the birds know. I want to know what the ant knows. And then I want to know more. I ask, “Why am I me? What is the truth?”

This was the beginning of a journey I still walk today. Those two questions have changed my life so many times and in so many ways. I still don’t know the answers, yet I diligently seek them. I’m still that 5-year old girl who doesn’t understand the life she’s been given, yet tries to make the best of it the only way she knows how – honestly.

#2 – about 2 years ago. I’m standing in a living room of a home I raised my family in for nearly two decades. I’m looking around at all the things I’ve collected, pictures, books, furniture, games, etc and I ask myself, “What do I want?” I had meant to ask what “things” I wanted to take with me, but instead I heard something else. My mind cleared, yet filled at the same time. My heart ached. I was facing the truth – a truth – one where I didn’t have an answer. Who am I? What do I want? I’m not a wife anymore, my husband didn’t want me. I’m not a mother anymore, my kids no longer needed me. I couldn’t hide any longer behind taking care of others, because there was no others to take care of anymore. I had to face the one I had neglected all along, and she was angry, she was hurt, and she was now in control.

#3 – yesterday. I’m hanging out with a friend, someone I love, admire, and adore with my whole heart. There was a moment when I was watching him play his video game and the world stopped. It felt like it was in perfect alignment and at perfect peace. It was just a moment, nothing special happening, just an average moment, like one I’ve had a dozen times before. Yet, there was something different this time. The light scent of coconut oil, the sounds and whirs of the game, the warmth of his arms holding me, a laugh escaping from my lips, a heartbeat, life. It’s like a curtain was pulled back for just a second to show me that life was made for these kinds of moments… free of expectations, free of demands, free of disappointments, free of troubles. Happiness, true happiness, isn’t in anything we could obtain, any goal we could reach, any obstacle we could climb. Those are all great and they bring on their own version of joy, but for the first time in a long time, I was at complete peace with just being me. I wasn’t at war with the girl inside. I don’t think it had much to do with the friend that was next to me, but more to do with the friend that was in me. Too bad that moment only lasted a few seconds, but it’s now one of those precious moments I’ll treasure forever.

So, what are your special defining moments? I have others, some are great and magnificent moments – birth of my children, my first publication, graduation, starting my own company, jumping from an airplane, experiencing lightning at first sight and first kiss, meeting a great love at the airport, exploring a new world, surviving a hurricane while at sea, finding out the love of your life has died, etc, while others are small yet just as powerful – playing games with my kids, reading to my kids, watching my kids sleep.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, May 11, 2015

To Love Somebody

Change is a part of life they say. Who is they? (TPTB)The Powers That Be, the people in this universe who pay attention, observe, and speak about this life we live. Do they have all the answers? No. No one does. But we don’t always have to have all the right answers to understand parts of our existence. I know change. I’ve experienced it in many forms, and without doubt, without scientific evidence (though that really does exist), I agree with TPTB – change is a part of life.

I have a love/hate relationship with change. There are parts of it that thrill me while other parts scare the hell out of me, literally ripping my heart to shreds as I desperately cling to the things I don’t want to change. Yet, I also work like hell and push myself beyond limits at other times. I’m learning change defines us as human beings in how we adapt.

Life evolves. Love evolves. Relationships evolve. Understanding evolves. It all moves from one state of being and understanding into another, regardless of what we want or think. That makes problems for us, especially those of us that are creatures of habits. One thing I’ve learned – nothing stays the same no matter how much we want.

Who the hell am I to think I can stop change? I’m not God. Trying to stop things, or to make things happen, has only hurt me worse than has ever helped. I look around at my life and sometimes my hands start shaking because I’m so fucking lost. I see where I’ve been, but I can’t go back. I see where I want to be, but I can’t just go there. I want so many things, yet I am powerless to make any of it happen. The only choice I have is to breathe. But if you really think about that - I don’t have complete control over that either. I can choose to hold my breath, but there’s a safety mechanism in my body that when deprived of oxygen causes me to pass out. Once my conscious gets out of the way and goes to sleep, my body will resume it’s breathing due to natural self-preservation.

Life changes and so does everything in it. I’m not the same person I was a few years ago. I won’t be the same person a few years from now. The only thing I can define is who I am in this moment. When it comes to change, I will either learn to adapt and survive or suffer. I’m so fucking sick of suffering, so I must adapt. It’s only those who learn to adapt to the changes in life that succeed. I need to learn to adapt in everything… in how I live, how I believe, how I trust, how I approach, how I treat others, how I love. If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you’ll know that I only know how to live one way – honestly.

I can have all the best intentions, the best ideals, the best PLANS laid out for my life all the time, but change will fuck them up – every time, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Some days I hate myself for compromising, for being weak, mostly for being human and needing to bond with another human being. I want to be tough. I want to be independent. I want to be in control and strong and not allow another person to hurt me. So, I often isolate myself, put up my walls, and shut the world out – until I’m so lonely my body is starving for human contact. I want the fucking fairy tale, only I don’t believe in the fairy tale. But change will come, and there’s nothing I can do to stop from getting hurt. That’s the true lie I tell myself.

I listened to a song this morning, and it hit me hard (Yeah, once again a song tears me up.) It goes, “There’s a light, a certain kind of light, that has never shown on me. But I want my life to be only lived with you, yeah lived with you. There’s a way, everybody says, to do each and every little thing. But what good does it bring when I ain’t got you? When I ain’t got you? Baby, you don’t know what it’s like. Baby, you don’t know what it’s like - to love somebody, to love somebody the way I love you.”

Someday that certain kind of light will shine on me. I KNOW great love exists, because I possess it. I know others are capable to love completely- that somebody can love me – the way I love. It’s possible. Life is constantly changing – and one day it’ll change for me too, and this dark loneliness will go away. Even if not – I’d rather to have loved the way I have loved, than to have never loved at all. God help me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Broken Hallelujah

I’ve heard so many interpretations of Hallelujah by Cohen. When I was in a different place in my life, this song meant something different to me. That’s one of the beautiful things about music and songs… the interpretation is not just on the singer/writer, but on the listeners too, each unique.

I’ve experienced three different versions of this song in my own life, and each just as powerful as the other. It never fails to touch me, every time, every version, every note… taking me on a journey, allowing me to feel every note, and then becoming overwhelmed. Tears stream down my cheeks right now as I write this blog post, because this last version is hard and hurts like nothing… well, it hurts like hell.

I don’t know what my mind understands at this moment, but my soul is crying out… with a broken hallelujah.

As best as I can, I’ll try to explain what this song means to me… today.

Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. David was always my favorite character, not because he was a king, a great warrior, or a forgotten son raised to greatness, but because he was the most human of all the characters, one that I could relate. He wasn’t perfect. He made a LOT of mistakes, he faced a lot of bad situations, but what set him apart was his heart. That’s how he did everything – with all his heart despite what anyone else said or did. The world operated out of logic, but David operated out of passion.

My greatest struggle in this world is the overwhelming passion that stirs inside me, and for so long I’ve had to stuff it down, hide it, suppress it, keep it hidden in a practical world. When I let a little bit of it out, I lost my whole world – it cost me everything. I found my broken hallelujah.

Many times I’d find myself sitting and holding my guitar, unsure of what to play. I had no conscious idea of what to do. I would close my eyes, lay my ear on the top of the body, and let my fingers slide along the strings. With each twang, I released the pain, the fear, and the passion with every chord. I’d play and play and play… and sometimes I would sing, but not with words… just sounds…it was just another string playing another secret chord.

I’m not being religious here, I’m trying to be as real as I can. In those moments, I can’t explain it, but I was just a baffled king – a failed, confused, and hurt human – composing a broken hallelujah. I played from my heart. Not in my head, I couldn’t replay what I played if I tried, but from my heart.

Music moves me. It always has. It always will.

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah


I know these are the stories about David and Bathsheba & Samson and Delilah. Again, each person has their own interpretations, and I’m not here to argue them. To some it’s a warning about allowing your heart to rule over your practical sense, especially duty. For most of my life, I thought these men weak for allowing a woman to come in and cause them to fall from their greatness. But experience has since taught me things are not as black and white as we’d like to think. These men weren’t weak, they were passionate. They were led by their hearts – the same hearts that led them to their victories, their greatness, their strength. When you let your heart lead you, the consequences are both good and bad. Yeah, they fucked up… but did they really? I see two men who loved just as passionately as they did everything else, and even when they fell to the lowest point in their lives (David committed murder, Samson to become a slave) they STILL cried out with their hearts. I could imagine them both in their darkest hours, humming the chords through their tears, composing yet another broken hallelujah.

But baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah


Who’s ever been hurt, been disappointed, been abandoned by those who were supposed to love us? How many of us have fell victim to the wars of ‘love’? How many of us carry those scars… again, and again, and again? Nobody wins when love fails. To love is to be vulnerable. It is to be real. You can’t love without handing the banner (flag) of our hearts to someone else, to entrust it to them. That banner isn’t to be waved, but protected. I think of our passionate soldiers who risk their lives protecting the freedoms our flag represents. That’s the same passion love requires. It’s not fluffy… it’s cold, it’s marble hard, and impenetrable - and in the wrong hands or unrequited - devastating. It will bring the strongest among us to our knees with another broken hallelujah.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah


Fading love. Sometimes I think it’s better to never have loved, to have known a great love, and helplessly watch it as it fades away. Love is the one thing we can’t control. Even God himself can’t make us, his own creation, love him. We can’t make who doesn’t love us to love us, or make ourselves love who we don’t, no matter how much passion we possess. God can’t make me love him. These last few years I’ve had a major crisis of faith – heart-broken from stepping out in the greatest hope I had, to fall on my face. There was a time I felt so close to God and knew I walked with Him, and He opened my eyes to the things of the world around me. I’ve experienced and felt too many things to ever doubt …but my understanding is in chaos. All truth isn’t pretty. I walked away from all I knew. No, my volitant heart took to the sky as fast as I could. I couldn’t breathe. Hell, I haven’t been able to breathe right ever since. I shed my robes, stepped down from my mantle, removed my mask, and have been standing naked in all my shame, covered in all my scars, with tears rolling down my cheeks, and a broken hallelujah on my lips.

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Some of you will understand. Some of you won’t. This is all I have. I have nothing else. But if you have ears to hear… you will hear my broken hallelujah.



This is the version I like best:

Monday, May 04, 2015

My New Obsession - Halo

Most of you know by now that I love a good story, and I especially love a coming-of-age or the making-of-a-true-hero story more than anything. And… if you’ve been following my blog posts over the past several months, you’ll also know that I’ve discovered FPS video games on the XBoxOne… starting with Destiny and now picking up the ever popular Halo. I dabble a bit with other games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and MineCraft, but I’m mostly a Destiny gamer girl… and now Halo.

What draws me to Halo isn’t really the game play, which is a lot like Destiny, but the fantastic storyline. That’s where Destiny fails. They had the potential for a great story, I’m not sure the true reason for its incompleteness, but they really skimped out and the plot lacks drastically. It’s a good thing there’s enough game play, combined with the fact I’ve met a GREAT group of fellow players, that keep me involved in the Destiny universe. But with Halo, it’s the complete opposite. The game play so far (before you jump down my throat, I’m currently only on Halo 2 in the MasterChief Collection) I find is a bit lackluster, but the storyline is absolutely out of this world. I hear the game play gets better as I get more into the newer games. Part of me wants to jump ahead, but I’d really love to let this story unfold in somewhat of a chronological order. I’m excited and really looking forward to it. I’m already fascinated by the MasterChief and I want to know all about him, all about Halo, all about the Flood, the Covenant, the Spartans, Cortana, the Forunners, and everything else in the Halo universe.

Other than the game play, what was it that drew me into this new path of Halo discovery? A friend of mine, a fellow Halo fan I will call Zero (that’s part of his gamer tag), turned me onto the SoundCloud audio series called “Hunt the Truth” by narrator, journalist, and war photographer by the name of Benjamin Giraud . OMG… I spent half the day listening to audio episodes and can’t wait until the next one comes out on Saturday. I was pulled deeper and deeper into the mysterious origins of the MasterChief – John 117. I’m hooked. As a companion to the story, there’s also a Youtube series that breaks down each episode by Ben Halo Canon. I’m hooked on this too. I’m literally giddy with Halo nerdom.

Wow, the nerd inside me is having a serious nerdgasm. I haven’t been this excited since the Harry Potter universe exploded. Well, what can I say? A good thing is a good thing. I hate that I’m so late to this Halo party, with Halo having been out for some time now, but I’m just so glad that I made it at all. This is something I think that I’ve been waiting for - for a very long time. I’ve been searching for something new, something different, something exciting in the science-fiction/fantasy world and gaming and Destiny was the closest thing I had stumbled upon. (Yeah, yeah… I know gaming has been out for a while… I’m late to that party too. I’ve been hidden in the literary world and gaming just hadn’t appealed to me …yet. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it being a part… just like when I first discovered books.)

I heard about Halo a year ago, incidentally from the same friend who sent me those links, when I saw part of a collection sitting on his entertainment center, but I couldn’t fathom the draw. Not because I didn’t think there was one, or that Zero was strange for having one, only because I knew I didn’t know enough of the story. I admired his devotion, but hadn’t got around to poking around it to see what it was all about. Well, damn it, that nest has been poked now, and all I hear is the roar of the loud buzz. I like it. I’m a little miffed at Zero for not sharing this with me sooner, but perhaps timing is everything. I might not have appreciated the draw a year ago, not having played a single game, and now when gaming is such an important part of my life, I can fully appreciate it. However, knowing my love for heroic stories, I’m sure my eyebrows would have arched and I would have went sniffing. Maybe he thought I would think him weird (which would have so been in his favor) so he didn’t share. It doesn’t matter what could have been, the fact is… I’m in now. I’m totally immersed. I doubt Zero realizes the beast he’s unleased. The Halo universe can thank him for this fan… and the dozens of fans I’m going to help create as I continue to blog about this journey.

So, here I am. I’ve got a long list of Halo books, comics, games, companion references, and videos that I must read, watch, and study in the days to come. I’m a complete Halo novice at this moment, but just watch me… before long, I’ll be a Master. LOL!

Now… to find a copy of the book Halo – The Fall of Reach … and so it begins.

Till next time,

~KV Kvothe