Okay. Okay….hold up. Selves. What the fuck is this “ninja de les vie” nonsense? Are you high? Did you eat the special brownies at the superbowl party tonight? Cuz you’ll be embarrassed in the morning when you wake up and find out you were out here writing your fairytale bullshit again. Who the fuck are you trying to impress, sis? For fuck’s sake….you called yourself a “life ninja!”…in the title!!…IN FUCKING FRENCH!!! You might need to go take a nappy nap because this shit right here is ridiculous because it’s completely untrue! You know you don’t have shit figured out and you only have more questions each day. I can’t go back to writing these fairytales. Who the fuck needs fairytales anymore? Fairytales don’t help me float when I’m drowning and people are drowning in the shallow end now. I need to stay authentic or my words will be just another weight added to their burden. My little (fictional) epiphanies about how wonderful I am aren’t shining “the Light” for myself or anyone else…it’s bullshit and nothing more.. When someone is hurting and confused, I need to be hurt and confused with them; not pretend you have it all figured out. I started this blog with the promise to be vulnerable – brutally so if that’s what it takes. This post candy coated in a “life ninja” narrative is a lie and I know it. And honestly, if anyone has an eye for continuity, they are going to know it too. Drop this french live ninja act and just be real; that’s my goal. My reality much more interesting than this weak-ass fiction; just a lot uglier and not as much fun to write. Snap out of this, Self!
I have, for the Nth time, once again deactivated my social media account. I struggle so much with having an online presence. Each time I deactivate and I’m made to give a reason for deleting it, I always include the word “ninja.” I don’t know how it started but I have this little fantasy that someone at headquarters has seen one of my pleas for help and that each time I deactivate my account and provide my reason, it’s read and admired by a team of computer nerds working the backside of the social media platform. “Hey, you guys! The crazy ninja chick is quitting again! This time she says the ninja zombies are eating her soul and she has to deactivate her account so she can save herself and rescue the others. Bwahaha! This bitch is so fucked in her head!” (Their language…not mine.)
One day a while back I was talking to a young mom I know and she was asking me for some advice. After reading my posts, it might surprise you to find out I am a woman from whom other women seek advice. Having been married and divorced four times, having at least a dozen fiances I didn’t marry and a questionable history as a mother due to all my busywork with the men in my life, I am not what most would consider the best source of advice. But I have a handful of young women in my life who have found me and decided I am someone they want to model themselves after – not because of my successes but because of my survival through all of my failures. These women are the ones who have had a rough start of it, most are mothers, a couple have a criminal history and one still remains addicted to methamphetamine and wants so much to escape her pain.
They text me and message me late at night when their children and ask me questions. Anyway…they text me once in a while and tell me the things that are going well and the things that aren’t. They really seem to appreciate when I tell them how much I respect them as young mothers and they really seem to trust my instincts and advice on things. It’s a role I like – being able to redeem my path of destruction; to have my pain and embarrassment felt in the hard moments transformed into experience and knowledge; with that experience earned as a result of my very public hot mess meltdowns; with those public meltdowns making me more approachable, I suppose.
When they bring me their stories, questions and thoughts and I don’t judge them. And it isn’t a matter of reserving my judgement. I cannot even see a space within the most destructive of their circumstances and choices to look for something about them that I feel needs to be brought forth and found lacking. Because I’ve been these young women and when I hear their stories, I can also hear that they are finding themselves lacking enough already. And they usually share a story or two about how others in this world have felt the need to share with these young mothers in one way or the other that they find them lacking. They don’t need anyone else to declare their lackings – they really just need someone to remind them of their overcomings. And it is so much fun to tell a young mother how much you respect her and point out the reasons why. I think it genuinely changes the energy in the world when you can make a mother feel seen and appreciated. This is especially true with the young mothers the world has already written off.
One day I was having a conversation with one of the young mom’s I’ve known for the least amount of time. She had asked me questions about my life here and there; learning about me a little chunk at a time as she started to realize I really would tell her anything she wanted to know about myself. The order of her questions determining the order of my answers and making it seem as if the haphazardness of my life story was a result of the way the chunks were being pulled out for her. In truth it doesn’t matter how my story is told; it will always be chunky and haphazard because that is exactly what it has been. I don’t remember where I was in my story or which chunk I was telling her about this one day in particular but she was starting to recognize my pattern climbing to great highs, blowing up just as I was at the height of success, falling quickly and dangerously but always landing on my feet. “You,” she said with dramatic emphasis, “are a life ninja.” It was one of those moments that hands in the cobwebs of my forgetful mind because it was an aha! moment for me. “Yes,” my mind said, “Yes, those are the words I’ve been looking for.”
When people who have just met me or are still getting acquainted with me start to ask questions about my personal history, it’s usually after they’ve asked me a few more topical questions and realized I have an unconventional lifestyle that isn’t explained by an easily identifiable source of funding. And I don’t really fit into any category easily. Multiple children and children by different fathers but a vocabulary that suggests an education. Mannerisms that whisper lower class and trashy but an arrogance that suggests a confidence holding myself above these whispers effortlessly. I’m also socially awkward because I’ve spent my entire life pretending to be someone other than myself, but in situations where others might crumble I can sometimes switch to a survival mode that leaves me speaking and acting as if I am in charge of the situation. My conflicts lead people to start trying to solve my puzzle so they can put me in a category or, more often, identifying me as “fake” and walking away.
It makes people uneasy when they can’t put someone nicely in place and I make people very uncomfortable. It’s possible to talk to me for only a few minutes and hear something about my past that would raise most people’s eyebrows; because I’ve done weird things and I say weird things about the weird things I’ve done. But once their eyebrows have lowered again, they usually keep going into a confused burrowing as they start to wonder, “Who is this strange person? Who let’s her out alone in public?” And eventually, they’ll realize I’m (mostly) harmless and then become curious enough to ask the question…”What exactly do you do for a living?”
I have so many answers for this question…
“I’m a writer. I write about the journey I’m on and the stuff I’m working on in the hope that anyone else maybe facing the kind of demons I’ve battled might feel encouraged to know their demons can be slayed, life can feel good and Light and it’s ok to just embrace the crazy.”
“I’m a retired IT management professional or ‘nerd herder'” as I used to call myself. “A adjunct business faculty member. A PhD scholar one semester away from ABD. An M.B.A. with keen business skills and a knack for getting myself into trouble as soon as I was promoted into the position I wanted.”
“I’m a empty nester mom,” I can say these days, “traveling around the country in search of the perfect sunset, a sustained meaningful faith in my mystical Source and a purpose for this life now that my children have grown into lives of their own and my life lies in smoking heaps of collapsed disasters behind me.”
“I’m a mental patient,” I can admit once in a while, “under treatment for a lifetime of undiagnosed dissociative identity disorder. I’m not sure of what is real and what is dissociated fantasy in place of reality. In fact, I’m not sure right now who I am. Or who you are. Or even that we are at all. Are we? And if we are, what are we? And why are we?”
“I’m that a faith blogger,” I tried out most recently. “I don’t try to make any money at it. It’s more about tracking my own journey and hoping that maybe my own burning bridges, exploding careers and my offspring so brilliant despite the rest of it might bring them some comfort in knowing love is really all you need to raise happy little humans in even hard circumstances, every mistake is a seed sown for a blessing to be sown.”
All of these answers, and several more tested and untested, are true. I’ve landed on my feet many times, reinvented my life over and over as I landed, recovered and flew off in another direction as soon as my momentum allowed; slinging my children behind me. Sometimes I’m amazed at the path I’ve traveled; now that I have arrived at the place where I can see it almost in its entirety. I see the u-turns, I see the wreckages, I see the off roading ruts and I see the spinouts. But now I can also see the space where I grew strawberries and one for my big garden with tall corn and a square raised flowerbed made from railroad ties in which the tulips bloomed so brilliantly. I’ve always thought faith in God would illuminate my future and bring me hope of having a happy life after death. Instead I’m finding that as I grow closer to the Source, my future becomes less of a concern and my past becomes a different thing altogether. No longer a place where my shame was born and buried, I’m letting it air out a little and releasing my stranglehold on its secrets and its power.
Richard Rohr is right. Light isn’t a thing we can find in our lives. It is instead a thing by which we see everything else. Is this the illumination of “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)? Am I being shown grace and forgiveness by being shown how to have grace ad forgiveness for myself? Does my integration and wholeness come to me through an attachment of all my pieces to the Source rather than to each other? Can I allow myself to believe the Source sees me altogether and loves me wholly and unconditionally? Wouldn’t that be lovely?
But perhaps it already is? Maybe it is just a matter of letting the light shine upon my truths? Collectively and without falter, we have leapt from place to place surviving, thriving and putting on an unbelievable show. Fooling everyone, including ourselves, into believing it was real. This could never be accomplished by a “hot mess,” by “damaged goods,” “by a “crazy bitch.” And as the Light shows me the truth of the path I’ve traveled, I reassure myself that it’s true. I am a life ninja. All of me. Yes, we are.