Memory Lane or Bust…

On days like today, I have to sit still and remind myself that everything is fine, I’m fine, and that the world isn’t burning down around me. Anxiety is a devil I wish for no one to possess. It lies to you, tells you that you are in hell when, in fact, you’re sitting in your living room trying not to lose your shit because the wave of anxiety is especially hard. Nothing’s burning, nothing’s horrible but the worry man… of the things out of my control and the things I cannot change are a constant.

Today, I opted not to give in to the feeling of impending doom and decided to sit on the front porch for a little while and I think it was one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done. I watched a little hummingbird approach our picture window as if he were trying to take a peek inside… casing the joint?? Who knows but he/she is welcome to steal everything I own along with my heart. I watched kids play tag outside, kids ride bikes, and older people talk to each other on their porches, (Which I see more now since we seem to think as a collective that “Pandi” has calmed.) and I also heard the unmistakable sound of the clanging of metal and loud voices and I knew instantly what was going on.

The sound tossed me back into a time where everything was so much easier. Being a kid of about 10 years old and hanging out with my Uncle Sam for the last summer I’d spend with him. I remembered one particular moment that summer that I’m surprised remained with me. Schizophrenia has a way of messing up my memories to the point of thinking I lived through a thing that I never even experienced or it adds things that never happened. But this moment in particular I remembered with surprising accuracy and it was confirmed with my mother before I sat down to write this post.

I was ten years old that summer… it was the weekend of my 10th birthday (A true Gemini to my poor little crazy heart) and we were having a family gathering to celebrate my birthday and a family member’s new job. Our yard was filled with family and friends, neighbors and strangers (to me) that wanted to stop by and say hi to my grandmother. It was hot. Like summers haven’t been that hot since then. We were kids that drank from the garden hose with no qualms about it. It was how we kept cool and hydrated. I and several of the kids from the neighborhood were throwing water balloons at each other as another means of keeping cool. We seemed to dry off immediately that day. It was that hot.

My Uncle Sam, another uncle, and his friends were playing a game of Horseshoes. It was my uncle’s favorite game to play – that and a card game called Tonk. Don’t ask me how to play – I’ve only played once and was accused of cheating because I won a treasure load of quarters. My Uncle Gary is still sore about that to this day, Lol.  Anyway – after the water balloons we were having watermelon and these gigantic popsicles that my Aunt Carol bought over. During that time – the game of Horseshoes was under way.

My uncle was three sheets to the wind – that is to say, the man was drunk but able to remain upright and still able to toss insults at his friends.  We, my friends and I, were sitting in the grass placing bets about whose iron would go the furthest and who would actually hit the post. I always bet on my Uncle Sam. Always – even drunk that man could play with his eyes closed both hands behind his back on one leg and win. Am I bullshitting? Maybe about both hands tied behind his back but otherwise, yes the man was a marvel.

We’re watching and my uncle’s friend is so lit that when he went to throw the horseshoe with one hand and hold his Colt 45 with the other hand, he tipped over and fell… but not one damn drop of beer spilled. We laughed, it was quite a sight seeing a grown up eat dirt. The iron didn’t make it anywhere near the post. He stood up and dusted himself off and told us to hush up. I kept laughing. My uncle called me over and said, “Red, Come show him how it’s done.” That was his name for me… Red. I stood up and walked over to him. The neighbor’s kid “Dee” who was my nemesis stood up and pushed me out of the way to pick up the horseshoe. My uncle snatched it out of his hands and placed it in mine. Telling him that he didn’t ask him to do it. He stormed off mumbling girls are stupid but tried his damnedest later on to steal a kiss… not gonna lie, the boy was dumb and still is.

So I’m standing with this heavy ass horseshoe in my hands. These were real horseshoes. Not small either. He gives me the directive to throw it as far as I could and if I got it beyond where everyone else threw, I’d get 10 bucks out of it. I lit up and said okay. How hard could it be? Then he said, you can throw it any way you want, just get past the last horseshoe thrown. Piece. Of. Cake. His friends were betting him that I wouldn’t make it, that I was messing up the game and passing bad juju.. all types of shit. Did I care?  Nope.

I lifted it with both hands and turned to the side and lobbed it down the dirt path and it struck the iron… it didn’t hook it, but it hit it. The object is to hook the iron around the post. My uncle lifted me off the ground and kissed my cheek and he smelled like every ounce of alcohol he drank. Lol, he put me back on the ground and put 10 dollars in my hand. Penny candy money attained and I quickly ran off my with my 10 bucks before he could change his mind. No sooner had I left the presence of my uncle did the bully (neighbor’s kid) come chasing me down trying to steal my hard earned money away. I ran right to my grandmother and asked her to hold on to it for me and she did exactly that.

It was the sound of horseshoes being played that caused me to remember all of that, I’d know that sound anywhere. Tonight the neighbor’s are enjoying their weekend with a gathering, a barbecue, and a game from my childhood. Seeing and hearing all of that.. kids playing, music, clanging metal, and the smell of the barbecue makes me wish for simpler times. What do you do when nostalgia comes knocking with force on your door? Do you go along for the trip or write it off as just another memory?

I decided to go along for the trip. Summer is upon us and I feel the need to do some of those old things I used to do. Water balloon fight might happen, a trip to a candy store might go down (I’m never too old for candy). A game of Horseshoes, Trip-o-ley, or Tonk definitely. No matter what, I want to expose my young people to the things that I grew up with. I don’t know how many more accurate memories are left in me.  My mind becomes mush after stress and meds. I have to fact check my memories more often now. I thank God my mom took a ton of pictures when I was a kid and that I did the same with my kids. I’m doing the same with my grandson as well.

I just hate that it’s so hard to hold onto some things. Is it a thing of age or is it the mental illness? These are the things I talk to my counselor about. Life just tossing out curveballs as it see fits and them landing on my noggin is par for the course I guess.

Somethings are solid – like the things I did years ago. Yesterday??? I can’t even tell you what I did or how. It happens like that quite a lot. My biggest fear is that the mental illness becomes a precursor to dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s a very big fear that I struggle with so I do things like write, play Chess or board games  – things that help strengthen my mind. I journal a great deal to log my thoughts and how I feel from day to day. I pray over my mental health, keep my appointments with my psychiatrist and other doctors and take my meds religiously because falling into a set back hurts.

I struggle with feeling myself lately. Some days I’m good and can carry out the tasks I set for myself. Other days, I don’t even attempt it because those are the days where the will to live is relatively low.

I wish I had answers to all the questions I have or that there was someone who knew. It seems that some things even escape doctors. So what am I to do?

I do what I know how to do…Survive and some days that’s all I can ask for… survival.

Today isn’t horrible – the anxiety has lifted and I’m writing. I can breathe a little easier and that makes everything better. I’ve been kicking around writing another memoir and I don’t know that it will happen but there is definitely enough material to log now… with a more structured approach than I had with the first one. We’ll see.

I’m okay and I’m glad summer is here.

Have you ever had something trigger a memory? Care to share? Leave a comment, let’s talk. What has managed to trigger a good memory for you?

The Struggle is Real (PT. 2)The TRUTH

So, when I envisioned this blog, I talked about wanting to talk about the truth of the struggle we each have. I’m not sure that I truly understood the meaning or ramifications of the word ‘truth’. I know that it is a word that we toss around a lot but I don’t think I have ever really considered the word, not in any strong way.  I just used it as a synonym for fact. But, while it may be slightly true, that doesn’t really capture the word. Not in its entirety.

Fact: Until recently, I was homeless and have just recently gotten an apartment after almost 5 years of living on couches and streets. Truth: In my head, I’m still homeless. That’s just an example.

The fact is I’m not homeless. I’m sitting in my living room, writing this blog post with my cat, High King Margo, Destroyer of Worlds, laying ever so peacefully under one of the chairs taking a nap. But I’m still that homeless guy that slept on benches and bathrooms (when I needed to escape the weather) and sat at libraries or movie theaters to pass the time while I wasn’t at one of my jobs. And I sit here, my second month of being in a home, and I haven’t really done anything to make it a home.

Because I can’t shake the feeling that it’s temporary.

I haven’t filled my refrigerator because deep down, in parts that I don’t often visit, I’m afraid that it’ll all go to waste. Because somehow, I’ll screw everything up. Like I often do. I haven’t bought any real furniture. Just enough for me to get buy. No bed to lay my head on, just blankets on the floor or a comfy chair to lay back in. Now, if you ask me, I’ll say it’s because I don’t need the amenities. But the truth, the thing that is so hard to admit, is that I love sleeping in a bed. But if I get a bed, I can lose that bed.

Harder still to admit: that terrifies me.

That fear is paralyzing. It causes me to sit in the apartment with Margo as company. I say it is because I don’t really like people. I don’t. Not most people. But the truth is that I’m afraid to try and lose everything again.

That truth is at the root of many things. My depression, which on the surface looks like laziness but the fact is, I’m not a lazy person.  Apparently, I’m a scared little wuss.

Oh, how the truth does hurt.

But, I’ll let that be for today. Tomorrow, I won’t have time for fear. When the sun rises, I’ll get up. I’ll take my shower that I have not done in days, saying that soaks in the bathtub are just as good. I’ll give Margo a quick play and run out the door, leaving my fear in the back of my mind. And it won’t be courage that propels me out the doorway. No, it’ll actually be Margo. She doesn’t have time for my bullshit. She’s utterly dependent on me. And I have to wake up tomorrow to make sure she has cat food and a roof over her head.

Tomorrow is a new day.

The Struggle Is Real pt. 1


Who’s  there?

Norma Lee…

Norma Lee who?

Norma Lee I don’t knock on random doors, but I had to meet you! Hello world aaaand Welcome to The Struggle!  Yes, it’s real, even on WordPress.

The losing battle of Sisyphus… He is us, we are him.

How are you? You guys enjoy the weekend? No? Funds low? Had nowhere to go? Money spent and don’t know where it went? Been there. Thus the struggle… even in our time of Corona, we seek entertainment and peace and camaraderie and all things wellness… but are relegated to spending an evening alone on the sofa with Netflix or what have you… Not a bad time but it’s not watching your friends sing drunkenly to Bon Jovi’s, You Give Love A Bad Name either. Comedy is comedy and entertainment is… relative, I guess. 🤷‍♀️

If drunk karaoke was never your thing… then maybe bar hopping, bowling, or movie going is. Still these are things we have to be super careful about participating in …in the here and now. The struggle seems to have come knocking on our doors telling us it was our new room/house mate and to move over and make room for it. We just had and depending on where you live… have to deal.

Struggle thy name is Corona!

But we aren’t here to harp on Rona. Though she definitely embodies the struggle (Side bar- I feel like Rona might be a Gemini… she has various other forms with which to deal some damage…) we are here to talk about other variants of The Struggle…not Rona.

Where are my manners…. I’m just babbling away and haven’t introduced myself. My name is Tyronica Smith, I go by Ty, and I am just one of the fine minds behind this blog. You’ll meet others a little later but right now, you should know who is yapping on about all things struggle.

I am presently 45 years old and and have been in the midst of the struggle for 25 years now. Yep, I got the grey hair (a little) and stretch marks (a lot) to prove it. It is so deeply engrained in my life that it is a part of my fabric. Struggles the  Kitty knows that I love a good cup of coffee but not necessarily from the ‘bucks’. I have a secret source from which my coffee arrives and I will not give them up no matter how much chocolate you offer! Nope!

*Update* I have to give up coffee… well the caffeinated stuff. I’ve been told by my doctor to let it go and go to decaf. The struggle just gets deeper and deeper and apparently can be anything from medical to that of relationships.

I am a mother of two lovely tributes to society. They are 25 and 20. The eldest is male and he and his sister give me reason to love life and on some days I ask life…”Wtf, man?”. It gets hard at times but we make do. Single parenting is a struggle all on it’s own and is definitely a learning experience. I was freed from the bonds of holy matrimony in 2013…and dating after divorce will have to be post by itself. Oh yeah…  we’re gonna talk about it and other things that give me gray hair at later dates.

I am an author all day every day – that is my profession. I claim these things because that is what I do. I write novels, blog posts, non-fiction, short stories, fiction, and poetry. I have been published in four anthologies and one online magazine. I make it a point to post my stories, poems, and other works to my personal blog regularly at Bloggish, where I talk about my life as a schizophrenic who also deals with mental illnesses and the peculiar relationship I have with God. Juggling mental illnesses and your personal beliefs is indeed a struggle that doesn’t get talked about enough so we’ll touch on that at a later time as well.

I am a functional mess and am very aware of everything and everyone. I am able to speak my mind, feel what I feel, and help others in the process. Life has taught me to look outside of myself and see others as I would want them to see me. To treat others as I would have them treat me. And to extend a hand where I can.

There is beauty… I’m told…in the struggle. With 25 years of this under my belt I feel like I’ve scratched at the surface but have yet to be wowed by this beauty people speak so fondly of. So with this blog, my friend Greg and I hope to find more of it and to see it in its full capacity. I feel as though, it’s something that eludes me on a daily basis. Like it’s there but I’m blinded to it… maybe it’s a faith thing. Have to believe it’s there in order to experience it fully? Or maybe it’s a tangible thing escaping my grasp? Maybe it’s just as plain as the nose on my face. Hmmm… we’ll see.

Today, however, we are here to find out what the struggle looks like.

What does the Struggle look like to you? To me, it looks like my poinsettia left over from Christmas – it’s all but checked out here in the beginning of April but is trying it’s best to hold on.

Meet Hugo… Hugo was this huge-mungous plant when we first got him and he was big and beautiful and very red and a little itchy to me… I wonder if that’s cause I was a lil allergic. Hmm…anyway, he has certainly seen better days and he became my personal mascot for my own personal struggle.

Frail Hugo
Hugo has certainly seen better days

But to have seen Hugo in his youth way back in December… You don’t believe that poor thing ever looked beautiful? Ah…  let me show you…

Big Hugo
Hugo is on the left in the silver foil.

This was near the beginning of December. Such a beauty…but now he is a living moral. Nothing lasts forever – even beauty fades. It has been mentioned several times over that I should let Hugo go as he is on his last leaves, anything else would just be cruelty.

Yeah… It’s not a hard decision. I’m no monster and I’m glad plants can’t talk. The things they’d say, the secrets they’d spill! It’s all fun and games until your plant is giggling in the corner at the things they’ve heard you say or mention about someone else, while they are in the room! They say you’re supposed to talk to plants but I don’t know man… one day that’s gonna trip us up. Someone will create a device that will give voice to plants and animals and we’ll all be up a creek.

Enough of my nonsense – it’s April and I am in the midst of Lenten season and I’m feeling one struggle in particular. I have decided to fast until Easter and  I’m in trouble. I wanted to give up sweets and profanity and sex and caffeine and pretty much everything that is good, feels good, or seems good. I’m in trouble because I can feel myself wanting to bend the rules of the agreement I made up in my  mind. But that is the way… that is always the way.

I don’t know how I got through this before but this year in particular has been ridiculous and. I’m also very hard on myself when it comes to these things. I want to succeed at this, I’m not doing it just for the denial of things but for clarity and closeness to my God.

I am without a support system this year. Usually, my church has a study group or support group for those of us that are fasting but since we are online this year, it’s really hard to get people together. So… that also makes this more difficult to get through. But  I won’t harp on this much longer. I just wanted to share a bit about this particular struggle.

It’s the things we do to ourselves in the hopes of becoming better humans that is a struggle. The things we hope to achieve when we are nowhere near the goal that is a struggle. And the judgement and negativity we face… not from others but from ourselves that is the struggle.

Your biggest adversary and only enemy you will ever have is the one you contend with in the mirror. It took me a long time to come to grips with this bit of truth. I my life easier now? Hell No! 😂 I’m finding that it’s… umm…a process. Knowing a thing and knowing what to do about a thing are two totally different things. But with the help of therapy, I’m well on my way to dealing with myself. LOL

It sounds crazy right? But it’s  true – we keep ourselves from doing the things we want and need to do. One of my favorite actors once said – “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” And who is responsible for fear and how we react to it?? US!

The struggle is real, my friends.

We’ll talk more later but until then… I am signing off.

The next person you’ll hear from is the author G. Dean Manuel… or Greg, as you will come to know him on the 2nd part of The Struggle Is Real.

So… I’ll see you soon! Oh and hey, just because I’m writing here as well doesn’t mean I’m releasing you from the duties….you know the drill peeps!

Be good humans! ❤

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