Walking a thin line- my battle with PTSD

The title’s ridiculous to me. I mean… It’s normal for us to be our own worst critics in this life so I usually have a hard time loving my work, but PTSD? I thought that was only for men sent to war and scarring images that could never be unseen…

And yet, I can’t explain it any other way. I find myself waking up this morning not knowing if my partner in life will ever be my partner again. It’s something I’ve done, something in my personality. I expect too much. I appreciate too little. I’m as harsh on others as I am on myself and I’m incurably needing to be by the side of those who I love.

Last night as we talked things over trying to see where things went wrong he asked me…

 

“Why can you not be ok
without someone by your side?”

 

…A fair question. He’s not wrong. But it was a question that spiralled me into what I can only describe as a panic attack. He was right… everything he was saying was right.

I panicked because I knew where the issue started… It started five years ago when I left to attend Central Michigan University with my best friend. I didn’t know it at the time, or perhaps didn’t want to admit it… but she was also the love of my life– A fact I wasn’t willing to accept. To this day I have no idea if she felt the same way about me.

But it wasn’t just that whole cliched “living with your friend can drive you crazy and make you drift apart”. I wasn’t good at looking inward back then– I was a homophobic homosexual for crying out loud but I guess that’s a cliche too now isn’t it? It was more than that.

I have no idea how crazy this sounds to a fellow group of writers or if it’s something more normal than I realized… but the characters in my head are very real to me. I don’t make characters to write a story– it’s the other way around. My characters write me. Little pieces of me… a part of a whole but also separate and people of their own. It’s been that way for me since I can remember.

 

My characters write me

 

Jessie came to me when I was four years old and there were hundreds more to come. As a child, it didn’t seem weird to let my characters overcome me. To “let them come here” as I would say. But even by the time I was in elementary school I felt that if anyone knew about my fluid personality… of these other people I shared a life with… they would say there was something wrong with me. So I hid it. It was a game. That was how it was with my first best friend Kate and in that way, she was ok with it. She actually thought it was a lot of fun. But elementary left and junior high came and we grew further and further apart.

That was when I met her– Jennie. With the separation from my best friend, a new school, and most of all puberty I was feeling more down in the dumps than I had experienced before. The other kids would look at me weird. Why did I have black, boycut hair? Why was I wearing Tripp pants and all black? They saw my depression and stayed far away. But Jennie didn’t. She saw my sadness and came to help. With her friendship I could finally burn that suicide note that I had flipped over in my hands countless nights before… regain my confidence… and have a sense of safety.

But with any time I became comfortable, my characters were there. Begging to come out. They had been suppressed and ignored for over a year, and now they wanted that to end. It was painful… painful beyond belief to hide away and deny that larger part of myself, so I took a leap of faith and confessed to her everything about them… about me… how I was.

 

…and she stayed…

 

She stayed and I was free. Free from the chains I put on myself. For seven years I lived unashamedly, with purpose and pride in who I was. No more fear… no more doubt… just acceptance.

But times changed… high school neared its end and I began to worry again. How could I balance all of this when we both got married? How could I explain that I wanted so much alone time with Jennie? I only felt that I could be me around her… I couldn’t see myself ever telling anyone else.

I decided that on the day of graduation… they must go away… forever. If I was going to become an adult, I would have to start acting like one and stop playing pretend. I don’t know when it started but those logical years of getting older set in and there was no more magic in them to me. They were once again shameful… just a pitiful game of make believe that I created in order to comfort myself.

For a while… it worked. But within a month I couldn’t help myself anymore. They were there and without them I wasn’t myself. I slowly reintroduced them into my life and Jennie was as confused as I was– about what they were. About how things were going to work.

We got into a terrible fight in the middle of campus… and I broke down saying the only thing I thought I knew at that time. That they were fake. That my characters weren’t real and it had all been a lie. I didn’t understand myself at the time… and I was hoping she would tell me she believed that they were real… that they were a part of me… but she didn’t.

 

She told me to kill myself…
walked away… and never looked back.

 

I tried to talk to her… but she shut me out. All at once I was realizing my feelings for her… what it meant if I lost her… but it didn’t matter. She left our room… locked herself away in friends rooms down the hall… told people about my secrets and reported to the RA that I was suicidal. They forced me into counseling and put a note in my record that I would need to be watched.

After that… she moved schools… she talked to me once more to let me know that I had destroyed her life, was a terrible friend, and never once made her happy. Then she blocked my number and my social media accounts and went away to Western Michigan University. She went on to pursue her dreams and live a life happier without me… and I dropped out of University… enrolled in a community college and lived back at home where all my friends were gone away.

It took years to move on. To ever feel like I could trust someone again… I had nightmares every night. I would sleep on the bathroom floor because I would rub my eyes raw and throw up from the tension of sobbing. That went on for about half a year… but it felt like a lifetime.

I still have dreams about her every now and then… but they don’t affect me the same. I came to realize that during our time as friends… there was a lot that was screwed up about our relationship. I became much more grateful for those I still had who had stuck with me through it all and proved to be better friends than she had ever been.

But now… Five years later as Greg uttered that phrase to me, I realized that the mistrust… the hurt… the pain that that event caused in me is not over. I still battle with it every day… waking up in the middle of the night thinking he wont be there by my side… not trusting the words he says… not trusting when he says he’s happy… just not trusting.

 

I feel poisonous

 

I feel poisonous and I don’t know how to heal this hurt. I don’t know how to take back what I have done to the person most dear to me. I really can’t be ok without someone by my side… and I’m not ok with that.

 

Coming soon: Comic Pilot in the Making

In 2014 I travelled to the southern United States with inner-city youth from Detroit. Before that trip, I knew that racism and inequality of all kinds existed– but that experience opened my eyes to a whole new level that I had not been exposed to before.

During that trip, the concept for my graphic novel Shattered Mirror was born– a story of nonviolent living and fighting back against social inequality.

pilotPlotting

With my recent internship completed, I came to a realization that commercial art, while lucrative, is not what I need to do with my life. I want to feel my art… to raise my voice toward a higher cause and use what little influence I have to make the world around me a kinder place.

Join me as I launch Shattered Mirror!

To new beginnings!

~Fioza

The Bright Side

Akakios gagged at the stench of rotting flesh and feces that permeated his very being. He crawled desperately in an attempt to reach the food package at the other side of the cage…

…too late. His insides rumbled like a quake of the Earth. How many days, he wondered, had it been since he had fed? Since he had eaten? He flopped his wings heavily just once in an attempt to shake off the grime from the following week. Tomorrow would be bath day… he was almost sure of it. At least that was something to look forward to.

 

 

PenguinPrompt

The Delivery of Raphael– The Daily Post 2

~Delivery- a setting free from something that restricts or burdens~

 

♥ .    ♥ .    ♥ .    ♥

Raphael stooped and stared out of the tiny window of his living quarters– the only space that allowed any light to shine through. He wondered how it was that it had all come to this. He knew his father was proud of him… that running the family business was a thing he should be proud of. He had always liked the idea… had always been proud that it came so easily to him… wasn’t he?

But now, there was him. He had entered his life and delivered him from evil like Jesus Christ himself he thought cynically with his distaste for such beliefs. Now there was warmth… now– no pain. He wondered if he had ever allowed himself to truly feel before He jumpstarted his long dormant heart.

Everything was different now. How could he continue this business… this venture of treating human beings like animals? He hadn’t thought much of it before… hadn’t even seen it in that light in fact. But now, all at once– he wasn’t sure he was right.

©Fioza Leigh

 

 

The Daily Post

 

Glaring– The daily Post 1

I look in the mirror at a distant reflection

and from the glass, Nothing looks back at me

“Remember the days you used to be free?

Remember the days before you knew me?”

 

A fist curls, replacing where my hand used to be.

Lifting up, I thrust it at Nothing

Glass flies, threatening and glaring until Nothing is no more

With the illusion shattered, I can finally be me.

 

The Daily Post response: Glaring

Daily Writing Prompt 1- “And then it was gone”

Inspired by the phrase “… and then it was gone”… write! Post below with a link if you wish to share, I’d love to hear your voice.

I don’t mind what kind of writing, how long or anything like that. No guidelines, no nothing– just inspiration and words. I love these too much to not do them daily so that’s what I’ll be doing. I hope they are as therapeutic to you as they are for me.

Enjoy and happy writing!

 

Here’s a piece of my own:

 

I came to you… skeptical and hidden.

A bird with reservations and expectations in mind–

Wings spread and threatening to fly.

 

Fear dictated my every move shapeshifting strings and wood out of me–

All that was left, only puppetry–

as my eyes tore away from the that which lay ahead– 

 

Tangled and dangling head thrust side to side trying to see ahead then behind

Mind stuck in reverse eyes to the sky– 

Everything visible but present time.

 

Forward and backwards, backwards and forward I limped my way awkwardly toward the light

Until I reached the end

 

I stood at the edge of my journey– untangled, looking back at that which I could now see–

And then it was gone…

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I came with a warning label, it would read “poison”

If I came with a warning label, it would read “poison”

Keep locked away, no contact with persons

No contact with self else lie in the wake

Of the girl before… before I did take–

 

Away all the semblance of what once could be

Devoured my passions, destroyed my own dreams

My own worst enemy I’ve proven to be

Don’t stick around or you’ll become me

 

… completely emo I know… but man has it been one of those times lately…

 

 

Gender Identity

Original artwork~ Check out more at talking2myselves.com

sexuality

It’s been a while since I posted, but I’m back. Several jobs and internships have passed and I’m convinced now more than ever that I need to follow the life of my dreams. If it doesn’t further me on my path to become a storyteller and artist than it won’t serve me well.

Because of this change of heart, I am redoing my site (once again… A.D.D I know!) and will be repurposing it later to show not only commission art and the likes, but to showcase my progress with my Graphic Novel in the making “Shattered Mirror”.

In the next month, I’ll be working on a short pilot version of my novel. I look forward to your thoughts, comments and criticisms.

Thank you always for your support and I’m excited to re-enter this lovely community.

 

Cheers!

Fioza

 

Week #1– Mindfulness… I’ve been doing this all wrong!

I’ve practiced mindful living before… how hard could this be?

Boy, could I not have been more wrong! In the beginning, I had imagined this week’s challenge panning out so differently than it did in reality– but I guess reality has a habit of doing that to our visions now doesn’t it?

For this week’s challenge, I attempted to cultivate inspiration through mindful living. Attempt would be a good word to describe it! Not to be hard on myself but really… what ended up happening was anything but what I had planned. What I had expected was mornings eased into through yoga and meditation, getting outside and getting in touch with and my inner dialogue while trying to make it more… eh… should I say, forgiving? (There’s a special word to describe how she usually talks to me, but I’ll save your eyes this time.)

What I did realize– however backwards and unorthodox the journey it took– really did open my mind to how I can nurture a more mindful practice in my day to to life from this point forward.

Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life

“Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life” my grandmother suggested from across the diner booth table. I took a moment to munch on my hash-browns and paused to truly process what she had said. It was simple, just like she had mentioned… something we all latently knew inside, we just need to hear it phrased the right way or be reminded of every now and again for it to hit us. But man did it hit me then.

Every day I was waking up trying to find a schedule that would distract me from my worries and anxieties. When I was stressed, I would leave the house and go for a walk or do a short meditation where I stopped thoughts if I heard them coming to me or go to the gym to exercise my body so I stopped focusing on my mind. And yet, whenever those activities were finished, there were my anxieties… sitting there– waiting for me. Never once did it occur to me to listen to them… to give them the time of day and acknowledge that they did hold some validity. (Even my insecurities and insecure… sheesh talk about needy!)

But really! Our anxieties, even when blown out of proportion, usually do hold a grain of truth and reasoning behind them. Take mine for example:

  1. Continuing my education– “You’ll have to go back for at least four years… and that means dealing with four years worth of American college bills and debt” (valid) “You’ve already spent three years pursuing art and now you’re switching to a different field of study? Takes a lot of time. (valid) “Oh my GOD! I’m gonna be poor and overworked until I’m forty and it’ll probably take that long to even enter my field of study! (… ok now, slow down there mind… not really valid)
  2. Getting a new job– “I have these dates I requested off at my old job… but now I have to tell my new boss I can’t be there all these days after just starting!? (valid… though my future boss is a human being who understands having a life)
  3. Balancing art commissions– (no wait… all invalid. Completely invalid. Nothing but over-perfectionism and unnecessary worry)

So really… how much is there to worry about? Way less than our minds trick us into thinking there is! And doing mindful practices the way I did this week is like having all the right shiny new tools but not having a clue in the world how to use them.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions… to take little moments to identify what I’m feeling, acknowledge the good and the bad, and allow them to take the space they deserve– not the space my previous ways have allowed them to hold.

Although finding inner peace was a bust, I’d say this “failure” has taught me more than I could’ve asked for. With my eyes opened I’ll walk toward a brand new week.

See you next time

~Fioza

 

Art as Prostitution

“So why are you in the business of commercial art and not fine art?”

My program coordinator posed this question to us this morning in my Advanced Photoshop class.

Money money money… Yes! That is why!” he exclaimed with a smile on his face.

  • You don’t tell the client it took two hours, you tell them it took four!
  • Don’t share your secrets with others around you, hide them and get ahead!
  • Learn shortcuts, detach from your art
  • And most importantly, do what the client wants!

“We are in this business because we like to prostitute our trade” he joked.

Were willing to do just about anything for a price.

 

I listened to the lecture and felt the curds of vomit begin to form in my stomach. It’s just not right… simply not right at all. Which of us creative people desire to sell out? To think only of what somebody else wants from us and kill all of the scraps left of our creativity?

I’m pretty sure when we were children, not a single one of us would refuse to punch our future selves if we heard ourselves talking like that. And yet… here I was surrounded by classmates who were eagerly shaking their head in agreement, laughing jovially, and awaiting his nuggets of wisdom.

 

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image source

I’ve known I was in the wrong program for about a year now… but it still saddens me to see so many people brainwashed and to think that at one point he had me too.

Why is it, I wonder, that today’s society in America puts so little emphasis or appreciation into the arts?

By no means am I saying that the professions we hold in such high esteem are anything less important then what they’re made to be. Or that all commercial artists think this way. Hell yes we need doctors! We couldn’t do so much of what we do without engineers, mathematicians, teachers, scientists and everything in-between! Yet… it seems to be a common denominator throughout the human race as a whole that these jobs keep us physically living, able to function, evolve longer lifespans to survive. 

But we live for the arts.

What would we do without our music on our way to work? Without the movies we go to see with our families and friends? Our T.V. shows? Our books?

Our art sets our mood and allows us to escape the pressures of this world if even momentarily. 

Without it… would we really enjoy life? It’s said to be unessential… cut from school programs while logic and reasoning is shoved down the throats of our future generation. All for what? So we can keep progressing… get a stable job… make a good sum of money…but be numb to the life around us past the age of 12?

I think it’s time for a reset. I think it’s time to cultivate our individuality and creativity. To think outside the box and stop running towards desk jobs and benefits with paid vacations.

It’s time to start asking ourselves the big questions… Who are you? And who do you want?

I’m done listening to other peoples’ fears. Done with group mentalities and doubt and security. There’s no guarantee that any of my stories will become published… no promises that my words will be liked… nothing. I have a dream and a purpose and I’m going to start riding it unaltered towards the light I see until I reach it or die trying. Even if I never reach my goals… at least I can say I lived life the way I wanted, and not the way some client told me to.

Life’s to short to spend 40 hours a week hating it… Live a life you won’t regret.

~Fioza