Searching for a Miracle…#403

The hours before dawn, and a cold rain pounds into my heart. The grief is fierce as it raises and consumes my spirit, assaulting my senses. Memories emerge from the darkness, becoming one with my soul. In the depths of my wounded courage, I am listing in a sea of sorrow, my life filled with more grief than many can bear. It is the hard cold hour before departing this misery.

I search for a miracle; hope merges with despair; my destiny is to leave all I have ever loved. I am uncertain and afraid. Hope has expired. Sometimes waves of anger and fear hang above me, a cloud circulating over the earth. I do not speak of death. Yet, the elderly where I reside; talk until they see their own grave over the horizon.

Much is written about grief, soft words meant to calm the grieving heart. There will be those who say how lovely these words are, and I doubt they are all true. Grief is not calm and comforting; the comments do not stop the pain. Words penetrate the brain; they shatter the heart.

Most are choked with emotions under the flesh where the heart is sheltered by outward affliction; they close their eyes, hoping to have the scene before they disappear. Grief has no place to hide! The speaker believes the words that enter the ears will comfort despair.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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The Mountainside Whore…#402

Note: This short prose may be a bit raunchy. My mother had a hard time growing up the oldest of nine children. However, the story is true and has been told to me by my mother many times. The mid-1920s was when people were no different than they are today. The difference was many lives were built on generations of secrets and lies. She was in her eighties when I last heard it. It made me smile then as it has today. E.

The Mountainside Whore

   At my age, remembering the past is no small feat! However, my mother was the oldest of nine children, and with her daddy’s free field hand, she was made to quit school in the third grade.

   She was allowed to go to Hartselle shopping on many occasions with her daddy. She had spoken of how these were the only times she felt free, alone with her daddy, free of taking care of eight children. Her mother was always pregnant. Being the oldest, she cared for the house, barn, and field chores, as a midwife and cared for the children.

   Her mama came from money. She married money; within time, her daddy had sold off all the lands he owned to take care of his habit of drinking and women. Her mother was “lazy” when a child was born; Ruth’s duty was to raise them. Her daddy was also “lazy,” home long enough to get her mother pregnant, eat, and leave orders for Ruth to do while he was gone.

   On that day, her daddy told her to stay outside the store, that he was getting something she could not know about.

“You sit outside, sister girl.” He mumbled between spitting the plug of tobacco that left permanent stains on the edges of his mouth.

   She had always been called “sister girl,” he went into the Hartselle Mercantile, where he came out with a big box later during one trip. She thought he had bought something for her mama. She watched as he later hid it in the barn’s loft; he knew her mama would never go up there. She was afraid of snakes that sometimes crawled up there to keep warm.

   Later, Ruth crawled up in the barn loft, digging around until she found the box. Inside was a beautiful red dress, shiny like a new penny. She put it back, knowing that her mama would be so surprised when he gave it to her. My mother, a scrawny little girl, turned into a demon the following Sunday. She could not hold her anger. She stood on the front pew of the tiny, whitewashed church, demanding that it was her mama’s dress and the “Mountainside Whore” was to take it off. Knowing what was in the box, the “Mountainside Whore” wore the red dress.

“Take that dress off, you whore; it’s my mama’s.” It felt like her voice was echoing throughout the Tennessee Valley.

   The entire congregation turned to see who she was screaming at; mostly, they could see a red streak running out of the church with a scrawny little girl chasing her, tiny fist in the air. That was when the entire family left the church in silence. The preacher raised his hands to the choir, and instantly all anyone could hear was “In the sweet bye-bye.”

   Her mama never returned to church again. Yet, it didn’t stop her daddy from visiting the Mountainside Whore in the red dress on Saturday nights. When my mother told this story, she would call her daddy a “Whoremonger”.

   The young woman regaining her composure, went back to church every Sunday. She lived way into her nineties and asked to be buried in that shiny red dress. As she aged, she would often tell her life story on the mountainside; it was hard to believe as all most could see were the wrinkles and dark aged spots.

   She was a beautiful woman and had a grand funeral from what she saved through the years, an open casket for all to see that she was the young girl in the shiny red dress. Who would want anyone who was only known as the “Mountainside Whore”? She is never married.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Cleansing Waters…#401

Cleansing Waters

raw is this father

and motherless flesh

life in troubled times

blues gone to grays

why do some people

cause others pain

in this all too familiar

love-hate game as

the red around me

spreads, I prayed for

cleansing waters then

suddenly came the rain.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Altered Senses…#400

Altered Senses

Existence, scene after scene,

characteristic of life

environment, genetics, and

promises that reveal nothing,

the past descends like rain

from the sky, washing away

all dreams.  Phantoms of

youth chanting within the

soul, paths blocked; evil has

spread across the landscape

of a lifetime.  Loneliness limits

love and happiness; boundaries

set slow down the process

of moving into the future…

nevertheless, the future may

be shrouded with abundant

solitude from where there is

no escape.  Rethink the future!

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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For those that help carry the Darkness…#399

https://www.chuckmurphree.com/?fbclid=IwAR3oiOQmLHjqeIeJ98-jrku-ZzrtaanGUXw2U2wGeOG8RcUYyE-weIiYMs8

My son Chuck has just posted it on his web page, I thought it was an interesting piece and wanted to share it with you.

What Can You Do? by Chuck Murphree

I have often been asked, “What can a family member or loved one do to help someone with depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation?” It’s a good question, so I needed to reflect on when I was at my low points, my darkest times, or the moments when I questioned if life was worth living anymore, what would I want someone close to me to do or say?

I have been talking with teen groups for the past several years, individual students, parents, friends, and relatives, and have been asked to come and talk with entire student bodies at high schools. I will say, I don’t have all the answers, and I honestly wonder why anyone is looking to me for advice. Well, that’s my schemas talking, those dirty little bastards. They make me question my worth. When I counter these intrusive thoughts, I realize that many are looking for answers, even the simplest response, in order to help someone they care about who is suffering. So, I offer my perspective, experiences, and stories of having trauma, depression, anxiety, and experiences with suicidal ideation.

My quick response to what can someone do to help a loved one who is suffering is the following:

Learn the symptoms of depression and anxiety. They can vary from person to person but in general, they look like this:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness, exhaustion, and lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite — reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain, especially sweets
  • Anxiety increases
  • Slowed thinking or even being physically slower
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, blaming yourself for things out of your control.
  • Self-shaming
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent mention of death, suicidal thoughts
  • Body aches, such as back pain or headaches
  • Numbness. Or the dreaded numbness of not feeling anything.

Everyone who has depression has a higher risk of being suicidal. Here are some of the warning signs:

  • Making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “Everyone would be better off without me,” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • Getting the means to attempt suicide, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from people, social media, and wanting to be left alone
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation, like you cannot get out of it
  • Excessive and increased alcohol or drug use
  • Changing normal routines, like sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things
  • Giving away belongings
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again

These are definitely not all of the signs and there are many more, but it is a few to recognize. Some people that kill themselves show no signs at all. Looking back on my friend’s suicide, I now realize that the signs were there, but I didn’t recognize them at the time. There is also the harsh reality, that when someone does decide to take their life and gets to their end, there is not a lot you can do. If they have decided to go through with it, they will. This was difficult for me to accept, which is why I carried around the guilt of my friend’s suicide for years, and still do at times.

So what can you do? Be mindful of the above signs. Educating yourself on what depression, anxiety, and suicide look like is a good start to being proactive and helping someone cope. Listen in an empathetic and compassionate way, but do not feel sorry for them. Listen without judgment and do not try to “cure” them or solve all of their problems. The person you care about may be judging themselves harshly, saying horrible things, it is a normal part of having a mental illness because they feel like they are worthless. Offer them positive reinforcement on the things they do offer or are good at. They may not seem like it but they are listening. Offer assistance, if needed, in certain tasks or things that they may be forgetting or not have energy for. They are probably exhausted. You can also offer them resources that may help them, like going to a therapist or practicing mindfulness. However, do not bombard them with resources or shame them when they do not take your suggestions. They will get help when ready but still offer support.

For me personally, when I am in those dark places in my mind, drowning in the stormy waters, I just need a gentle soul to be near me, never passing judgment, and understanding that I am doing my best. I am doing the very best I can at that moment so please do not give up on me.

You also need to take care of yourself and realize what is and is not in your control. This is difficult for many to accept and understand. You cannot “fix” someone’s mental illness. You cannot stop them from killing themselves. You cannot force them to seek help or practice coping skills. It’s a reality that many do not like to hear. However, the truth is, you can provide all of the support in the world, and do everything I mentioned above and more, but the person who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation, needs to do the work. They need to find the things that help them, put the coping skills into place, and build resilience. That is the important part. Resilience is key.

The best thing you can do, and society can do, stop the stigmas. We all have a responsibility to stop stigmas that are cruel, and false dialogue about mental illness and bring more awareness. It is a disease, not unlike cancer or any other disease. It can be a killer. Would you place a stigma on cancer? Would you tell someone with cancer that they need to just suck it up and quit complaining? Most likely not, or you would be a pretty horrible person. The same applies to people that struggle with mental illness.

The worst thing we can do is not talk about mental illness and suicide, ignore it, and brush it under the rug as if it doesn’t exist. Yes, the conversations are difficult, but we are in desperate times where anxiety and depression are on the rise. We need to normalize talking about it. There is no other choice and we can no longer wait. There are too many people, especially young people, that are experiencing depression and anxiety, that are taking their lives. Silence isn’t an option anymore.

We are entering a time in our existence as humans where anxiety and depression are at crisis levels. There are not enough psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors to help the increasing number of people that need assistance. That is why we need to make mental illness and suicide a part of our conversations. We need to be transparent and not be afraid to speak up or feel shamed and silenced by stigmas. We need to learn from other people’s experiences. If it helps you, I will always be transparent about my experiences with trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. If I can help one person cope, become more resilient, and survive, then I have fulfilled my purpose.

#Mental Awareness

Toxic People…#398

Dear Followers,

Over this past year, I have shared with you that I have been diagnosed with Stage 3 Multi-Myeloma. I have tried to stay focused on writing a memoir, and I have taken from those written pages and created posts on my blog. Cancer is a teacher; cancer changes one’s way of thinking; cancer humbles; that is my description of cancer.

Some time back, I posted about removing toxic individuals from my life; cancer has taught me to value my time. My time is precious and short; I cannot give the time that I don’t have to people who are toxic, greedy, and thinks of only themselves. I should have done this fifty years ago, but it took cancer for me to realize that it was I that needed to consider a different way. 

We all have people who come and go during our lifetime, a scattered few walks and talk within a cloud of toxicity, conversation and actions. Removing them is like being tied to a tree with a noose around your neck. You cannot remove the rope; the noose tightens around your neck. Toxic people live in a cloud of lies, and you may be unable to escape in writing what may be my last book, filling the pages with things that I could have changed. Cancer has taught me, too late, what really matters. The pain located in my spine humbles me as well. It shames me that I have allowed parents that did not love me to keep me from returning. Being hurt was better than nothing at all. In the last three years of my mother’s life, she finally told me to stay away.

An entire chapter of my memoir focuses on my birth, which was not what my mother wanted. She hoped that I would die at birth. My daddy being under her control, rarely won a battle with her. I was raised by my aunt until the age of three; it was then that my daddy brought me back into a house filled with unhappiness and hate. I learned from his gentleness and love when he was allowed to show it. After marriage to a man I did not know, another southern thing that should have been outlawed, I keep returning to that house hoping to see a measure of love from anyone. My sister, raised until the rules of our mother, rebelled.

My mother loved her unconditionally but wanted to control her, which she never accomplished. My sister left, returning years in-between. I kept returning year after year, hoping to break through that bearer. I was filled with love for family. I did recognize that there was no love and that I was unwanted, but all those years of knowing taught me nothing.

She, by then, had brought another child into her life, an adopted one. I believe that it was an effort to “do over.” What she did not accomplish with my sister. That entire family of daddy, mother, and sisters lived within a cloud of toxicity that would last them all their lives. I was finally told to not come back several years after my daddy died. I never returned until her death three years later. However, those left behind kept the toxicity alive. My relationship with those left after their death was on and off, the greed shown at my mother’s death was so outlandish I sometimes wonder if people would believe it.

Multi-Myeloma decided to attack my spine. It was undoubtedly brought on by stress, a lifetime of anxiety that I allowed to get into my mind. This mental pain I have lived with all my life finally turned into a physical one. My first mistake was to continue to live within a family of greedy people; the second was to stay. I am not saying that these toxic family members caused my cancer, but their actions have not helped it throughout the years either.

They continued to live as entitled individuals and soon discovered no one would continue the entitlement after their mother died. I cannot see that they have learned anything; their mother continues to live on their shoulders, dictating the rules from the grave. Greed was their life, letting someone else carry the burden of their living expenses. I doubt they ever learned anything; my family’s life still belongs to someone in the grave. When the “giver” died, the individual turned more toxic than ever before and appeared to have no clue how to live. I continued to go back when allowed; I, too, had learned nothing all those years. The relationship was so damaged by their fear it could not be repaired. It is always a mystery how money can break apart people you thought to love you and that you did love. Cancer taught me a new way of living, one of truth. I never wanted anything but their love; they all withheld that too.

I worked hard to keep the relationship alive, but I apparently did not come to the rescue financially, and communication ended. I believe it was thought that I had money. I worked to make a living all my adult life; my mother thought I had money. She never felt anything else and asked that I continue taking care of what she deemed to need. She did not want me, but she did want me to step in her shoes when she died. She asked that of me many years ago; however, in those final years, hours she had me banned from the room until she breathed her last breath. I was told it was all the family, but who knows, and now who cares?

This has been a long time of teaching me to not run after those who do not care unless you extend a hand filled with money. Toxicity, the poison that ran through my family, was not love; it was simply greed. Finally, I have become a student over this past year of dealing with cancer. So many years wasted; however, better late than never learning anything. I have removed the toxic people from my life. I felt the weight lifted from my shoulders the moment the decision was made; it was easier to breathe.

I have written about this in “The Last Chapter,” and I want to share it again. I still care deeply about those who have hurt me. Yet, I cannot go back to listening to their lies and claims to always walking in the image of God or asking for prayers. Their actions do not show that they need any help financially or otherwise. To the world outside their other toxic associated group, they no doubt genuinely believe they are the ones that need help. When they show their lifestyle, it clearly represents someone who has more than most. It is almost kin to a “scam.”

After more than 50 years, I finally cut the relationship. I could not change what they do or act; they are believed to be correct and do not see their own faults. They manipulate people and situations to their own advantage. My health cannot be subject to unhealthy ways; it is up to me.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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#Cancer #Mental Health #Toxic People #Anger #Writing

Time to Relax…#397

August 2 thru 4 was spent with my two sons. It had been planned for some time and I prayed that I would be able to go. The pain was unbearable at times, but this did not stop me from enjoying every minute. Sometimes we must push through the pain in order to get into the realm of laughter, togetherness, and love. I had trained all my life for this very thing and the time was beautiful.

Cabin at Indian Trails Campground…

Inside the cabin…

It was a beautiful setting, surrounded by a fence, which took away from the “campground” effect. We arrived on a Tuesday. It took some time to get everything settled, then darkness came on quickly.

I had a walker which was difficult to maneuver over the gravel road. However, I also had my big battery-powered wheelchair that could tackle any road and win. As I look back, I can barely remember doing a 5K with Chuck and Karen only a few years back. Walking 6 miles every day and eating “right”.

That was with heart surgery and many other complications that “old age” will throw at you. Then, it all ended when I fell and broke my back! One year and three months ago the big “C” was a diagnosis that I did not ever want to hear. The days go and come with me fighting it every step of the way. Over this past year, I have gone from cane to walker and wheelchair. Thus, this brings me to today.

I did go to Door County, a big attraction here in Wisconsin. If I was going to wait until I felt better…that was not going to happen. Three days there with my granddaughter and my 10-year-old great-grandson. That was not a vacation, but a few days of seeing how undisciplined he was most of the time.

So, the three days in the cabin were something I needed badly. What a peaceful time.

Here are the two that made that possible and what a joy to have time without drama. I must tell you that I have two of the most wonderful sons. They took time out of their busy lives to give me those days.  We went to an Amish Bakery, you have not lived until you have baked goods from scratch, with no preservatives. I laughed more than I have ever laughed and felt nothing but respect and love. The tallest is Carl in management with a large company. The shorter one is me! The other boy is Chuck a special education teacher. Chuck is also a writer as is his mother. He has published two books on mental health, and he is a speaker in mental health as well.  

We pushed all we could into those short three days. We vowed to go again next summer. My wish is that I can, and if not, I had them promise me that they would get together every summer, just the two of them.

Have a great weekend, and I hope to return shortly.  E.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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A Message to all of us…#396

My son Chuck Murphree – Author – Educator – Veteran – Blogger, recently attended a conference in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time, he visited many areas of the town. He walked the streets taking in the scene, also during his visit to a cemetery where he found the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe and many other famous people, he reflected upon all of these things which he wrote me. His heart filled with emotion. Please read the below message I received from him.

Author – Chuck Murphree

Taking in the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe and others today. We often expect graveyards to be quiet and serene, but not always. This experience was surrounded by sirens and heroin addicts scratching at skinny, bruised arms. The streets are filled with homeless that probably stopped wondering what happened to their human experience long ago and now silence their minds with a bottle of whiskey or meth.

Their choices are few. In America, your colors are bleeding, and your flag should be hung upside down, for we are in dire distress. Our democracy is in danger and crumbling because many of our brothers and sisters are suffering while others fill their plump bellies with unnecessary portions.

We seem to thrive at nourishing other countries with millions of dollars in arms for them to fight wars, yet we have forgotten to feed our own. Have we given up on this crisis that continues to unfold? Has it gone too far, and the rest of us whose startling line was moved ahead in life just continue to turn a blind eye?

Where are our leaders? Every politician in our country should have to walk through our city streets and talk to our citizens and see the strung-out children of God who linger in the alleys and the tents that are raised on the sidewalks to offer shelter. When you become a mayor, congressperson, senator, or president, you gave the oath to serve all of the people, not just the privileged few.

I would love to see @joebiden @barackobama @berniesanders reply to this.

Our people need help… That the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth – Lincoln

https://www.chuckmurphree.com/?fbclid=IwAR3oiOQmLHjqeIeJ98-jrku-ZzrtaanGUXw2U2wGeOG8RcUYyE-weIiYMs8

July 28, 2022 – Words for thought…#395

Thanks to everyone for your comments, they are appreciated.

copyright©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Mini Vacation – July 26, 2022…#394

I recently returned after being away for a few days. My granddaughter and I went to Door County, a vacation spot for many from Wisconsin and out-of-state people. I had to get away after over two years of being shut in because of Covid. I was going “stir” crazy. I decided that cancer could do no less harm than being out and about.

We also had my great-grandson, who will soon turn ten. That is something to write—a spoiled ten-year-old. Of course, this is not anything new to me. If I heard “Mommie” once, I heard it a million times over four days. I doubt if spoiled is the correct term. I believe his parents try, yet they are not too successful in setting boundaries. They allow him to decide everything from ordering off the menu in a restaurant to when he wants to stop at some money-making game place. By the fourth day, I was living on my last nerve! We would leave on the fifth day and not a moment too soon.

Like Tina Turner sings, “What’s love got to do with it .”I love him very much, and he is a sweet loving kid who is spoiled. I sometimes wonder if there is enough time for him to get out of this entitled stage. His half-brother, who has lived an entitled life, does not know anything but to be catered to. He is thirteen years older than the other one. To clarify, neither comes from a “well-to-do” family. Yet the parents and a grandmother want to be friends with the two of them. I believe the term “will they love me” comes into play.

The grandmother is my youngest daughter, I have raised five children by myself, and as they grew up, they knew that I loved them and wanted them to love me. Yet, I was never their friend, each taught to respect me, and they have all turned out to be fine citizens and outstanding children. I believe that they have brought up their children as I did them. The youngest daughter is the only one with grandchildren; they are, as stated, brought up to be entitled to have all they need and too much of what they want.

However, it was a good trip. I enjoyed getting away from my own home, my book had slowed down, and I needed to recoup. The walls seemed to be closing in. I understand that this happened, but I did enjoy the trip. I came back with a much clearer head than when I left. The pain went with me, but it is only with pain that my mind remains clear. I refuse to take enough to stop the pain; it is then that the mind stops as well.

I wish all of you a wonderful day.

 Altered Senses

Existence, scene after scene, characteristics of life environment, genetics, and promises that reveal nothing, the past descends like rain from the sky, washing away all dreams.

Phantoms of youth chanting within the soul, paths blocked; evil has spread across the landscape of a lifetime.

Rethink the future! Loneliness limits love and happiness; boundaries set slow down the process of moving into the future. Nevertheless, a future shrouded with abundant solitude from which there is no escape.

©2022.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Books by the author at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/elizabeth%20ann%20johnson%20murphree