It all happened so fast. Shortly before I died, a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you have a wake to see what it would be like when you’re gone?” I thought about it sincerely. I was only inspired to ask the question because several people I knew had passed from the breathing life. It’s not like I was inviting death to visit or anything. I was just curious as I watched people of all walks come to give honor to the deceased.
I’d considered mortality before when I look at the life I lead without children, without anyone to which I could pass my traditions and stories into the future. It took me several weeks before I concluded that I didn’t want to know what people thought of me. I officially opted out because nobody really wants to know how much they’ll be missed unless they didn’t plan on coming back, right?
A week later, I got sick. I went to sleep for a while. I’m not even sure what happened. I was, then I wasn’t. I tried to communicate with my husband but he couldn’t hear me. I didn’t understand. I spoke. I screamed. I tried to write to him. I watched as my friends showed up on my doorstep. I knew some of my beloveds were upset, but they buckled down to work as if their own lives depended on it.When I woke up, people I loved dearly were milling about my house. Many of them were packing up my personal belongings. Some of them were picking through my things, selecting items as mementos, while I stood in the middle of each room spinning in circles crying with grief.
There were times of visitation with my friends whom spoke tender words of compassion to my surviving spouse while hovering behind weeping eyes and choked words. I wanted to take away their pain. I wanted to wrap them into my arms, to offer them comfort as they’d done for me so often. But I couldn’t reach far enough out of myself. I was trapped in a place between planes.
While I witnessed the parade, I saw that people brought gifts, food, donations of all different kinds. I watched the place I lived become an empty shell. No decorations, no dinners cooking, no shower gel scenting the entire upstairs. I slept on the floor of my studio curled up in a small blanket-less cold ball on a smelly carpet. I tried to get comfortable, but there is no way when my life rejected me.
The next day all I could feel were spirits moving near me, but I paid them only enough notice to acknowledge they were there. I could hear the hushed tones of neighbors outside my window. I looked but I couldn’t see them. Everything took on a gray light as if gauze were filtering everything into uncomfortable dullness. I felt the press of others but I resisted their call. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to make sure my beloved was well.
People I didn’t know walked into my house and started commenting about the bare walls. They expressed how they were going to change everything around to suit their taste. It was then I realized my beloved was no longer there.
With a tug that dropped me back from the window, I turned to face a tall man that looked familiar to me. He reached out his fingers beckoning me to follow. He smiled reassuringly but I held on to the breathing life. I looked out the window once more, turned back to the tall man, with a burst of courage, I took his hand. Then I wasn’t.
with mortuary perfume visited too often eons ago.
That’s a lot of days to walk around the sun. 47 years for the math challenged (Dude, really, I used Google instead of using a damn calculator!) As I read through the Facebook reminders about my trip, I see many kind words and good wishes. I really love that. It reminds me that I made it around again trying to outshine the stars.
What I’ve come to love the most is when I get feedback from the people I frequently deal with that shows me how I am perceived by others. I know it sounds flippant to say it doesn’t matter, it does but it doesn’t. However, it does give me a valid self check about what I’m doing that not only feeds my spirit but helps others along the way. I truly feel blessed.
When I think of my personal definition of inspiring, I think of the people who teach me more things about the kind of person I want to keep working towards becoming. I wrote several times yesterday that I was inspired by the greatness of my Grandfather, aka Bapa, either directly or indirectly through his children, my aunts and uncles. When I apply the word to myself, I’m not really sure how that works. I do things to make the world a better place because I was taught that. I stand up and defend those who can’t because I was taught that. I love with all I have because I was taught that. Nearly all of that came from the Coleman side of the family. The rest I had to learn on my own.
To think of inspiring others from my life, I think of all the horrors I’ve seen. I think of all the struggles I’ve met and overcome. I ponder the battles I’ve had to fight in order to make it as far as I’ve come and I can see where that would shine the light for others too. I’m blessed to still be here. I’m blessed to know you too.
If there is one thing without a doubt that could be said about me is that I love to laugh. I love to laugh so much that I commonly laugh at my own jokes or the absurdities that I come into with each new adventure. I love puns. I think farts are amusing. I love spoonerisms, knock knock jokes, high and low brow humor. George Carlin was one of my very favorites because he was a thinking man (Nothing sexier in my book). I love Ellen DeGeneres because she’s brave and incredibly witty. Robin Williams was a man I identified with so deeply, I seriously, all jokes aside, mourned for weeks. I knew when his light went out.
I’d rather be the butt of a joke than to let an opportunity slip by that held the potential to make my sides ache, my eyes leak, and snorts to come flying out of my nose. I love to tell funny stories because when I can make people laugh, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I touched them in such a primitive way because I know for a fact we all laugh in the same language.
This one rather tugs at me a bit. I asked several people what exactly this means. I hear, “Mare, just keep being you.” “I love that you’re so you.” “You keep doing what you’re doing.” And there I am screaming at them with a blank look on my face, “Who the fuck else would I be other than maybe a wealthier version of me. I could handle that.” I tried for years to be someone else. I WANTED to be anyone else but me. One day, I woke up and said, “I’m going to chuck it in the fuck it bucket.”
I say what I want as politely as is necessary, sometimes to the point of being brutally honest, but I won’t lie to you. I try love and compassion first because those work best in nearly every situation. But, I also will not allow anyone to walk on me. Four of my favorite quotes are, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi; “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde; and “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love.” Rev. Jake Morrill’s Sunday service closing.
Hugs. Hugs! Hugs? Human contact is so crucial to our survival that babies who are not touched, hugged, or cuddled enough are commonly considered infants with a failure to thrive. It’s the cruelest form of neglect I can think of when it’s one of the easiest things to give. A simple hug to reassure another human or creature that they are not alone in this world. I warm, compassionate, loving moment that gives them a place of safe haven if only for the time of the hug. It’s a transcendent feeling for me when I am allowed access into someone’s personal bubble to give them love. It makes my eyes well up with tears to think of the beauty I find when I’m granted that permission. I love hugs. We should hug more often.
I’m told that I bring light. When I was born my mother knew something I didn’t. My birth name is sealed away but I will confess to you that name out of reasonable disclosure. My name was Helen Elaine. I was named for two very important people in my mother’s life that brought her light. Both names have the same meaning of Light. I kid you not.
I changed my name legally in 1996, after my Gram passed away, to Marilyn. Nobody ever calls me that. I’ve always been called Mare since I disclosed my desire. My birth name always felt like someone else’s shoes. It didn’t fit me. It was an unruly unfashionable clunker of a name that hid far more darkness than a name should. I didn’t change it out of spite. I changed it out of self-preservation.
With the advent of Mare Martell (Martell is my birth name and although I abhor the man who handed it down, he will not win. I will honor COLEMAN under the banner), I was given rare opportunity to reinvent myself. Only, it’s not rare. Anyone can choose to bring the light. Anyone can shine but most choose not to. They let people like me do it and I’m okay with that. I’ll bring my light from my darkness. Mare, yes I’m speaking third person, can be anyone I need her to be. THAT is my light. She’s a brilliant chameleon and I love her dearly.
And that is my summation of my 17, 167.4 days around the sun. Thank you for making it through. Love, Light, Blessings of Peace,
The story I’m about to share with you is intense in emotion, digs into some really dark corners that many keep locked and heavily guarded. I am not opening the door with the spotlight shining in to require pity, request comfort, nor to have anyone claim, “Bless her heart.” I am shining the light into my darkness so that, hopefully, my flashlight can reach someone who feels betrayed, solitary in their suffering, shameful, or guilt-ridden. I end this first paragraph with this:
IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. I BELIEVE YOU.
The month of April is Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence awareness month. For those of us who have survived through these violent crimes, it’s an important month to help educate others about the necessary resources to protect ones physical, mental, and emotional self, commonly without financial ability to pay due to the clandestine fleeing that can be crucial to becoming a survivor and not a victim.
I’m not going to spout statistics, or at least not a lot of them, because those are just numbers. I want to share with you my face.
This is a picture of me at around age six. By the time this picture was taken, I was already quite skilled in how to be the twisted version of the good daughter. I had secrets I couldn’t tell to anyone or my mom and my brother would be killed. I already understood that I was good for one thing. I was so carefully bred to be a victim, I never associated (even up until about six weeks ago) myself with that word or with the fact that things that happened were violent crimes against my person. I just felt like I’d survived, my mom and brother were still alive, life was good.
When I’d reached age 21, I was in full blown PTSD (non-combat trauma). When I read off the symptoms back then I sincerely believed that someone had been following me around writing my every move. It was terrifying to realize that other people had gone through the same thing. It was even more petrifying to realize that it happened to me. Denial is a vicious place to live.
After intensive in-patient treatment, several years of intensive outpatient, and then several MORE years of follow up (as needed) therapy, I feel comfortable and confident in saying that I’m on the other side of PTSD with minimal triggers. It took me 40 years of hard work (30 years actively) to get through the shame, the guilt, the depression, the feelings of being unworthy that were planted from the time I was very young.
The way that I identified myself changing from a total sexual being into a loving human being took devotion, courage, strength, guidance, and determination. It was a life or death battle that left me weary, broken, bloody, and sometimes hanging on by a thread of the Fates. But, as my matriarchs taught me, whether by grace or design, to thrive is the best testament to victory over that which demanded submission.
I ask you this question:
How long does it take before you say enough of a bad relationship? How far will you allow the violence against you to continue before you fight back? How much will have to be stripped of your personal dignity before you look around and say, “I can do better. WE can do better.”
I say, the time is now. Tomorrow may be too late to save one more girl from rape. Tomorrow may be too late to rescue one more child from starvation. Today. This is what we have. Join me, humans, in rescuing ourselves from one of the greatest tragedies and the source of our joint suffering, the lack of equality between genders in the name of LOVE, for the purpose of LOVE, with the intent of LOVE brought into action.
If we do not stand together as the majority population and demand equality, then we fail our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, our children, our humanity. Men that wish equality are those we should cherish, nurture, encourage to defend, but never to rescue us. You can’t expect those who wish to keep us under their heel in the name of religious or political beliefs to release us from slavery (as the article this was inspired by) stated. That’s like allowing a wolf to watch ones sheep or a (JOKE ALERT) police officer to guard a doughnut.
Maya Angelou kept rising despite the anchors that attempted to drown her. So shall I rise whether anyone follows or everyone shies away from the truths. We must move for unity and equality, but for the right reasons, because it’s the right thing to do.
I fully support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights as both active participants in society and as human beings. I support their right to marry whom they love. I support their fights against discrimination.
I come to you as a human being. I am not a perfect person, nor do I profess to be. I struggle to keep my judgment in check. It’s so easy to point fingers and call one another hypocrites. It’s easy to look at someone and tell them they are wrong. It’s easy to reflect on my own life and color pretty shades of happy all over the pages I messed up by my poor choices. But what is even easier, it seems, is to do so in the name of religious intolerance.
I have seen on my Facebook feed posts about intolerance and injustices of the world. I see people hating others because of their sexual orientation. I see people hating because of the color of skin (Yes, even now.) I see people tearing down the President. I witness people spewing hateful messages because of gender. I see people calling each other names so vile that they taste bitter to speak them aloud. I see people projecting their own beliefs out into the world whether they are hateful or not, most commonly under the guise of religion.
In my belief system, the Lord and Lady in their duality are everywhere. They hang in the trees, they breathe the wind, they flow in riverbeds, they dance among the stars. The sense of serenity that I feel when I am out in nature is as good for me as a guided meditation or deep contemplative prayer. While I pray, I’m reminded constantly that happiness, tolerance, kindness, and especially love are my ways to finding my peace of mind, heart and soul. To achieve balance in both male and female aspects of myself, I need to be immersed in the joy of life. I need to be tolerant of other’s beliefs.
There are laws in my faith as well. One of our most important laws is, “Harm none.” That means myself and others. That means leaving nothing but footprints in a forest. That means helping someone who asks for it. That means giving and taking. A harmonious balance between the light and the dark sides of my inner self have to join equally for me to feel whole. To me that means opening my heart to infinite possibilities done in the name of love and harmony. To me, even when I’m sad or feel broken, I know that I need only pray. This allows the love energy to flow freely.
In the Christian faith, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
His response, found in Matthew 22:35-41 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The words are deep and profound. In the words of Rev. Linda Looney, “Jesus’ message of inclusivity and love seems very radical. It WAS radical because of the impurity laws of Judaism, the absolutes, the impossibility of keeping every facet of the law. THAT is what we were saved from – the impossible law that was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to keep, therefore it made people sinners for not keeping the law.”
Jesus didn’t say ‘Love your neighbor unless he is gay.’ or “Love your neighbor as long as they worship the same God.” He said to Love them as yourself. It would seem to me that there are a lot of people who can’t stand themselves out there in the world. They’d rather worry about what consenting adults do in their private lives than to feed the third world countries. They’d rather ridicule and spout hatred than to follow God’s command through His Son Jesus Christ.
This has caused me many years of contemplation. When I began to love myself, I realized that people around me are struggling with the same stuff I do every day. Just like a gay man or a lesbian or a straight person, I worry about bills, kids, schools, work, chores, etc. Just like a Christian, I pray for peace and love to rule the world instead of anger and viciousness. What face do I perceive when I pray? I see the face of the Goddess. I see the face of God. I feel the balance as if everything I ask for will be so. Not like a magic wish factory, but as in peace of mind. I don’t feel alone any more. I feel comfort from my day to day life from Father and Mother God/dess. I feel love for all creatures great and small.
I’ve heard people say to me, because I speak my mind, “Well, I’m a Christian and you aren’t.” As if that’s reason enough to reject another human. I say to them, “Well if you were such a Christian, why aren’t you living the life of Christ?” Jesus was all about loving one another. He loved his disciples so much (and they him) that they walked around all over the place teaching together. Why aren’t we more like that? It seems that Christ’s lessons are used only when it is convenient.
Jesus says, ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind. If that commandment, the one Jesus says is the most important, is to be honored, how can there be any room for intolerance? How can there be room for God when the heart is filled with such hate towards my fellow man? How can I be truthful to my spirit when I’m unwilling to follow His lessons and commands?
In 1 John 4:8 it says: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is my interpretation that if God is love then wasting time with anger and hate towards the LGBT Community takes away from the glory of God. It takes away the potency of His words. It degrades and defiles Jesus by not following His instructions to love one another.
What love is capable of can be found in the story of my mother and myself. For years I held on to anger that I felt towards my mother. I was certain that she was the single-most horrid mother in history. I painted a horrible picture of her. Although some of it may have been true, it was only in my perception that was true.
My mother and I were estranged for 17 long years. We didn’t start speaking until about two years ago. During the course of our conversations, I came to a deeper understanding of our relationship. On her 65th birthday, together we burned a venomous letter that I had written that had, in part, caused the distance between us. As that letter burned in the bucket, I looked at her face. I saw my face 20 years from now. I saw my own blood flowing through her veins. I saw hope and love. I’d been so quick to toss blame. We’d soiled something that shouldn’t have been an issue had we followed the lessons we were taught.
The sense of peace, hope, love, and respect that I feel for her is stronger than it has ever been. I saw her for the first time as a human being, just like me. I saw her with kindness in my heart rather than anger. I was able to take the lessons I’ve learned and follow another important lesson that was taught to me at her knee. Jesus taught the lesson about judgment. His words were meant to show that there is a better way to do things.In Matthew 7:2-4 (NIV) 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
No matter what I am faced with, I know that if I follow the simple laws of harming no others, of loving one another as I love my Lord and Lady, of holding onto my judgment and letting things be as they are, of offering hope and care wherever it is needed, then I am doing my part. I have been told that I am the most Christian non-Christian. I’m proud of that. I don’t reject the teachings I was brought up with, nor do I reject my fellow human beings despite their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other criteria. As for me and mine, we will bide by the Law of Love, not hatred. I will love my brothers and sisters in spirit no matter what their beliefs or choices. In that way, and with deepest respect for those who object on the grounds of religion, I wish you nothing but peace and love in your hearts.
Peace to you and yours.