My Life as a Zombie

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It has been just a few short years since my release. I had to learn how to be a thinking, feeling human, and a productive member of society before they’d even consider letting me out to roam free among the masses. It’s been a slow recovery process, but against all odds, here I am, four years later. And I’m so blessed and grateful to have healthy children, who show no signs or symptoms. The mere fact that I recovered from this makes me smile into the sun, and even the clouds, because I shouldn’t be standing where I am today. Once a zombie, always a zombie; at least, that’s the case for the majority.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t want to be a human before. But as a teen, the signs were there, and it was soon discovered through countless doctor visits and whatnot, that the worst case scenario was at my parent’s door. Their daughter was infected. Indeed, she’d grow into a ravaging, bloodthirsty beast with insatiable appetite for darkness and death, anything that made the pain and fear vanish, and anything to fill the void, a cavity of the soul brought on by the virus.

My poor parents . . . who could blame them for not knowing what to do? It’s not every day you find out you’ve got to raise a zombie. They did the best they could with what they had to work with, and that was a lot. But unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Soon, any resemblance of humanity had left their once-healthy child, and absolutely nothing could stand in the way of her appetite for destruction, and her tendency toward inner decay… Occasionally they’d find her in the yard, lying in a bed of flowers as if she were planning a death more beautiful than the life which could never appease her.

Looking back now, I remember those big zombie tears I cried when no one was looking. Because I’d go into these rages and it was like my mind was being controlled by some dark force that wasn’t me–the virus, I figured, was making me do these things, be this way, hurt those people, destroy everything . . . And there was this tiny human inside of that zombie shell who wanted to come out into the light, but she had no idea how. Eventually, she realized all was lost and she gave up, resigning to be a zombie until the end of days. She prayed someone would come along and end it for her, because the hunger to fill the void was too strong to let her die by her own hand.

Fortunately, there were souls along the way who wouldn’t let me devour them. They were stronger than me. They bound my hands and heart and sat me down at eye level. They looked straight into my zombie soul and saw the innocence trapped inside. They cut through the decay and found pink flesh and a beating heart, and they told me how I could heal. They gave me the medicine I needed to beat the virus, of which the main ingredients were truth, courage, acceptance, forgiveness, breath, creativity, humility, and love.

Countless doctors tried to give me pills to heal the zombie, but it wasn’t the zombie who needed healing. It was that fleshy, pink little girl, crying behind the zombie shell, who needed the strength to break out, to look into the mirror and say the words “I love you.”

So, today I walk a free woman. When I think back over these years of learning how to be a real human, I sometimes forget where I came from. When I get bad reviews or criticism, I forget for a moment to be grateful. For I am being graded on a level playing field with my fellow humans. I am no longer zombie-handicapped. I can stand shoulder to shoulder with others and not want to devour what they have to fill my void. The void has vanished in the light. And though some have reached a higher summit than I have, I know I still have much more to go, and to grow, and I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I can extend my hand to those who struggle, lend an ear, or a kind word of love and encouragement. And if I see a fellow zombie I can share my experience, strength, and hope, to aid in their own search for meaning, life, and recovery. Because inside of me, in a place I hardly go anymore, that sad,  zombie girl still sleeps in her bed of wilted flowers. She’ll always be a part of my journey, a part of me.

But I am no longer her. I am finally me. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a lover, a fighter, a survivor . . . And my journey has just begun.

 

XOXO

Christina L. Rozelle

4 years clean and sober, 4 years relationship-free, 4 years recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder

February 16, 2012-February 16, 2016

 

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Check out my new website!!

And you can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

 

 

*zombie girl photo found on DeviantArt.com – click the photo to be redirected

 

 

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Dear you, stumbling in the dark

On this day, 11 years ago, I started my journey into the light after years of horrific, consuming, debilitating darkness. No over-exaggeration. What I went through, I should not have lived through. The fact that I am here today, alive and well, parenting my children as a single mom, living a fulfilling life I’m proud of, and achieving any measure of success is nothing short of a miracle. Not a moment passes that I’m not grateful for that. The demons of my past kill people every minute of every day, both inside and out. And though it took years of falling down and getting back up, time after time, I finally made it out for good, and I made it out for a reason.

A few years ago, I couldn’t even care for my children the way mothers should. I wasn’t mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally capable of doing so. But today, in the eyes of my children, I’m a hero. And now, I can use my own hero’s journey experiences to bear witness to others: you can make it out, too. If you want it bad enough, and you’re willing to go to any lengths to get it, the light will come.

Each of us has a different path to travel, yet we all go through darkness at one time or another. It’s up to us to share our light with each other, because we never know what sorts of darkness and demons others around us are battling. The light I share today is through my stories. In them, I offer love through loss, joy through heartbreak, perseverance, redemption, growth from grief, overcoming, friendship, unlikely families, and so many other sparks in the dark that we all need to (and most will) experience at some time in our lives. And though sometimes I think maybe I shouldn’t “brag” about my accomplishments because someone else might resent me if they are struggling with a lack of success in their own lives, the truth is, I have every right to be proud. Being proud isn’t the same as bragging. Being proud is loving myself and being my friend. And dammit, for so many years I was my worst enemy, so I deserve to be my friend today, to be proud.

Same as you.

So if you are going through darkness, don’t give up the search for the light. It’s there. Love is the key. And I’ve found that my dark journey has only helped me to see the beauty of the light that much clearer. I’m stronger, having been through what I needed to go through to find myself, and I stand before you now, offering whatever hope I can to get you one step closer to your own light. Don’t give up. You can do this. Don’t you ever give up. ❤

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(And if you know of anyone who may need this message, please to share)

Don’t Try to Save the World

smoking spiderman“Okay, Miss Save-the-World,” Leslie said, voice thick with sarcasm.

Our friends snickered and directed their gaze out of the Denny’s window beside us. I shot Leslie the finger and proceeded to cuss her out, then escorted myself out of the restaurant in a blur of humiliated tears.

Just another day in the life of young Christina.

I’ll never forget my friend’s words, and how they made me feel, though I couldn’t tell you the precise reason for them. But they angered me. On the surface, I was angry at her for saying them, but deeper than that, I was angry at myself. Ever since I could remember I had gotten in trouble at school for “not minding my own business,” and for trying to be everything to everyone. I was a people-pleaser, seeking constant validation and approval from those around me, always both the tattler, and the one instigating the rebellion. Always on both sides of the law, the fence, on both teams, afraid to upset or make enemies, I never truly fit in anywhere, had a difficult time securing any true, meaningful friendships, and pretty much irritated, annoyed, and ran off most of the friends I did manage to make.

I wasn’t a bad person. I did really care about people. I was open-minded, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and fiercely loyal. Inside, I knew I had a good heart, and felt like I was a good person with good intentions. When I tried to “save the world,” as Leslie so poignantly put it, I thought I was doing a good thing 99% of the time. What I didn’t realize then, I realize now, twenty years later, and have finally arrived at a place where compassion for my old self has replaced the embarrassment and self-loathing.broken captain

Inside of young Christina was a whirlwind of confusion, a cyclone of emotional disaster, a hurricane of fear, a hail storm of criticism and a seriously shattered self-image. I remember from the time I was very young, looking in the mirror and crying because I was so ugly. I was too skinny. I looked like a boy. My face was flat. My boobs were too small. I had a stupid laugh. I walked funny. I wasn’t good at anything. People didn’t like me, or only pretended to. My absent biological father didn’t love me, and neither did my mother and step-father. I was a burden to them, and to the rest of the world. I was stupid, and would never amount to anything. I was eleven years old.

When I focused on helping others solve their problems, not only did I not have to think about my own, but it also gave me a temporary feeling of worth. This facade worked a lot better when my friends weren’t yet old enough to really see through it. They may have sensed something was “off” with me, but not until the teen–and even more so, the early adult–years could they really see it for what it was.

The reason Leslie’s words hurt so much, was for the first time, I realized that my friends saw my game, and I knew they probably talked shit about me/it behind my back. I was already two years into my drug and alcohol habit, dabbling in self-harm and suicidal tendencies, with already one half-assed attempt (which, admittedly, was a cry for attention from a boy), and I was wallowing knee-deep in the world of the young borderline. Unfortunately for me, it would be fourteen more years of ignorant, self-induced torture before my time for healing would begin.

Powergirl-Superhero-Photography-Cosplay-3I always knew there was a superhero inside me. She wore white and she was soft, yet strong, a peaceful warrior who could conquer anything that came her way. She was honest, caring, selfless, loving, and not afraid. She was a great friend and defender of mankind. She was loved and cherished by all who knew her.

The problem was, no one knew her.

Occasionally, the people around me would catch a glimpse of this masked girl, and all-too-often, those who I thought were my friends would see the opportunity to take advantage of what they thought was weakness. This is an unfortunate human condition, of which even the best of us have been guilty of once or twice (or more) in our lifetime, especially as young adults. When we see an opportunity to breech the hull of someone, whether out of fear, envy, pride, or just plain sick curiosity, we do. And they did. And that supergirl inside me retreated further and further, replaced by a protector, who, of my soul, created a battleground, only letting the innocent supergirl come out to play when it conveniently worked to her advantage in her game of power, control, and manipulation. “The sweet little supergirl,” she thought, “weak and stupid, used and thrown away . . . . She will no longer be in control here. From now on, I call the shots.”3841872-justice-league-dark-18-a-580-580-537e9705814090-93603481-e908e

This dark force both loved and equally loathed that innocent defender, that pure and gentle spirit who had been vulnerable one too many times. This darkness was erected as both a way to protect, and eradicate her entirely. This, in a nutshell, is Borderline Personality Disorder. (I’ll be going deeper into this disorder in future blogs.)

So, as I’m sure you can see–and perhaps even relate to– there was a war going on inside of me. This war lasted for years and years, and manifested itself in the outer wars of drug addiction and alcoholism, dysfunctional, co-dependent, and abusive relationships, loss of friends, jobs, possessions, and my children to the child protective system. One terrible choice after another, and tragedy after tragedy, the whole time, completely baffled at my afflictions. I was hopeless, and so was my condition. No matter what I did or tried, nothing seemed to shed enough light for me to see myself and my life clearly.

Until it did.

My journey through recovery has been a long, challenging, rocky road. It began on October 4, 2004, at the Magdalen House. Apparently, drawing a sober breath would be the first step in seeing things clearer. Through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, finding a Power greater than myself to fill my spiritual void, and learning to be entirely honest, as well as to quit blaming everyone else for my own problems, I began to take responsibility for my life. And though it took falling back down hard a few times, I finally came to accept my diagnosis of BPD in 2012, at which time I began treatment, as well as daily meditation. Interestingly, after fifteen years and a plethora of psych drugs which never worked, this Dialectical Behavior Therapy, along with a spiritual practice that worked for me (which was not the one I grew up with), not only healed me, but I no longer take medication of any kind. I’ve been completely sober for over three years now, and I even quit smoking cigarettes. My life as a single parent of four beautiful kids, though challenging, is a perfect miracle, and one I don’t go a day without being in grateful awe of. Most people who dive to the depths of despair I dove to, don’t ever make it back up to see the sun. And I have. And now, I can share that light and hope, with not only my children, but with the world.

maxresdefaultTo sum up, I stopped trying to save the world. The world didn’t need me to save it. I needed the world to save me. I needed to be vulnerable and ask for help. I needed to be willing to change, to find a different perspective, to trust, and to learn how to love myself, flaws and all.

I needed to let go of that dark protector who had been guarding me for years, and tell her “thank you, but you no longer serve me.” I had to unearth that innocent supergirl, the one who had been there in hiding all along, begging me to let her out. And when I did, with my permission, she removed her cape and lit a candle, placed it in my hand, then vanished.

With this light, I now see the truth. I was always good. I was just scared. I never needed to be everything to everyone to be “enough.” I just wanted you to love me. That’s it. Because then, I could love myself. But I see now, the world inside of me, with this light I shine, and it is a paradise lost, then found . . . the Love I have within me, from me, it grows with every passing, healing day, and there’s no way I can keep it all to myself. It grows and flows and spreads like wildfire throughout my life and to those around me. I stopped trying to save the world, and instead, saved myself. Only then, could I spread the magic of Love–the ultimate Savior–to the world around me.

What about you? Can you relate to this story? Please feel free to comment below, or email me at ChristinaL.Rozelle @ gmail.com (remove spaces) I’d love to hear from you, and help you in any way I can. ❤

21 Reasons Why Life without Facebook is Totally Awesome

flower girl

So many things fall to the wayside when chained to Facebook for endless hours days months years. Some time away allows you to see the many ways it negatively impacts your life.

For the past two weeks, I’ve spent a total of fifteen minutes on Facebook, which is no easy feat. As you can see >HERE<, getting off for even an hour was once a near-impossibility.

If you are anything like me, you too, may be unhappy with the amount of time you waste in the vice-grip of status-updates, friend requests, and all the jingly bells and screeching whistles that go along with a life glued together at the seams with good old Facebook. Because I’ve enjoyed my break so much–I wanted to entice you to give it a try.

Here are 21 Reasons why life without Facebook is totally awesome, and why I’ll be limiting my time there to fifteen minutes, one day a week from now, until further notice. 🙂

21. Less chair ass

If you’ve experienced the torturous hell that is hours of writing, whilst fighting Facebook distraction (and losing), followed by the darkest moments of a writer’s existence–chair ass–you understand. Often times, this is accompanied by mouse-wrist and/or typing-elbow. (Yes, I am aware I just made these up, but these writer ailments should have names, shouldn’t they?)

20. More exercise

19. More time outside

18. More time with children/friends/family

First on any list of dietary restrictions should be Facebook: Serving size I’LL SLURP OUT YOUR SOUL AND SAUTEE THAT MOTHER WITH TWITTER BALLS AND PINTEREST NUTS SO JUST SIGN YOUR LIFE SAVINGS OVER TO CANDY CRUSH NOW AND CALL IT A DAY.

Last week, I walked a total of four miles. On purpose. And not just to get to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, either. I did it because, hello, I opened my eyes to the wide world around me and decided, what the hell, I’ll go for a stroll. Destination? Starbucks. There was a venti nonfat carmel iced coffee calling my name. Funny, I didn’t hear it when I had my Facebook earmuffs on. Who knew those things were soundproof? Distance: two miles. It was a beautiful, sunny, relatively warm, late-spring Dallas, Texas afternoon. There were bugs. And noise. I perspired. I pushed my son in his stroller as he experienced the wide world around us from little toddler eyes. It was beautiful. 

It’s common sense; less time playing kissy-face with Facebook leaves room for endless possibilities of fuzzy-feeling real life stuff like being active and spending time with family and whatnot.

17. More time to write

Okay, raise your hand if you’re guilty of using “platform” as an excuse to insert Facebook into your body intravenously?

Uh-huh. *gives you evil eye*

I don’t wanna hear it. Platform shmatform. You don’t exactly need platform if you don’t have a book to sell, right? And even if you do have a book to market, think of how many more you could have if you didn’t spend so much time stroking the Zuckerburg…. I have a lot of writer friends, and not a one of them has ever gushed about how Facebook sells tons of books. If you’ll check out your top NYT bestselling authors, you will rarely find them spending hours–if any time at all–on Facebook. They do what writers are supposed to do. They write.

16. More time to do housework and other things you’ve been procrastinating

I get it, I really do. Hunting down the perfect meme-of-the-hour is way more appealing than doing the dishes. But your significant other is tired of doing them while you harvest friends on Facebook. Or your kids are tired of wearing dirty and/or wrinkled clothes because surfing meaningless status updates and filling your little brainy with mindless chatter that means ultimately jack to you and your life–seems more important to you than doing their laundry.

And shower, cuz… damn. *pinches nose*

15. More time to do other (than writing) things you love

Facebook is a drug that should come with dosage information and a warning label. And certain people should really cut it out mostly, or entirely from their life. Being a recovered drug addict/alcoholic, I have an addictive personality. I get “stuck” on stuff if I’m not careful, and then hours days months years go by and I look up and realize EVERYONE IS DEAD AND THE WORLD HAS BECOME A DESOLATE WASTELAND IN WHICH THE UNDEAD HAVE TAKEN OVER AND I MUST NOW LEARN HOW TO SHOOT A CROSSBOW LIKE DARYL DIXON AND TELL TIME BY THE SUN’S POSITION IN THE SKY AND LEARN THAT MOSS GROWS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF TREES OR WHATEVER AND ALL THAT’S LEFT TO EAT THAT HASN’T BEEN LOOTED ARE THOSE LITTLE DRIED CRAWFISH THINGYS WITH EYES THAT YOU FIND AT MEXICAN SUPERMARCADOS…

Not a good scene.

Would I rather spend my pre-apocalypse moments on Facebook, stalking Daryl Dixon (well, actually…), or doing fulfilling things that make me happy, like making cool stuff with my hands?

Tough call.

*sighs*

*stomps foot*

I guess I’ll take the art. (As long as I can watch reruns of “The Walking Dead” after.) 😀

14. You see who your true friends are

I’ve made a lot of good friends on Facebook. Almost 3,000 as of last Sunday, actually. And every other Tuesday, we get together and go bowling and then go to the spa afterwards and I catch the tab on a few rounds of those little umbrella drinkys…

Yeah.

I can count the true friends I’ve made on Facebook on two hands. From what I can tell, most of them out there are looking out for numero uno. I am but a drop in the bucket, of which may as well be a toilet. Taking a step back, I was able to see who I miss, which is a surefire way to tell who you really care about. And most of those people have my email address and some of them have even acquired the much sought-after 10 digits of happiness, and I don’t mean fingers. Some of them even call me on the… phone. *GASP!*

13. You can address your festering narcissism and get some effing humility

If no one has told you today, you are a precious little snowflake and everyone on Facebook–all of the internet and the world even–should stare at the exquisite uniqueness that is your Facebook profile. They should soak up every single status update from now, until the beginning of time, memorizing the luscious deets and “liking” every post, every comment, every picture, and every single little marvel that is your totally real, unfiltered, un-photo-shopped real life. Really.

And if they don’t…

Gah, how dare they. The nerve.

12. No Facebook drama

Does this really need explanation?

11. No Facebook trolls

*please hold while I squeeze into my ranty-panties*

There is nothing that pisses me off more than those still-living-with-momma social outcasts that have never seen the sun rise nor fall, that tell me what sort of sunscreen to put on my poochy. And worse yet, even blatantly judge me for putting the stuff on his furry be-hind in the first place. Hey, buddy, if I wanna put a gosh-dern t-back and tap shoes on my dog, that’s my own damn business and I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me how to–or not to–do it.

*tosses ranty-panties to neighbor’s poochy*

*snickers*

10. No more constant marketing

If I see your book cover one more time I’m going to hang you upside down by your toenails from the ceiling fan in my mind and flip the switch to the “on” position. Then I shall pop popcorn and set my demon puppy loose to chase you around, snapping at your hair or ears or what-have-you. And I shall laugh.

9. No more creepers/perves

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook just recently became a free dating site for the uber creeps and perves and still-living-at-home trolls. If you have never seen troll genitalia, be warned… the sight of this in an unsolicited private message has been known to cause vomiting, insomnia, loss of appetite, and in serious cases, blindness.

(NOTE: If you experience an erection that lasts for four hours or longer, well… you may be part of the problem. Seek professional help immediately. And in the meantime, please, stay the bejeezus away from Facebook.)

8. No more game requests

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of every harp in Heaven simultaneously playing Queen’s “We are the Champions,” because we have done it. We’ve won. People, ONE. Facebook game-requests, ZIP-O-ROOONIE.

7. No more clogging your mind space with unimportant crap

No, I was not aware that the African spotted muskrat is endangered. Please, post that Upworthy video all about it so that I can lose four minutes of my life learning all about them, and what I can do to ensure their future safety.

6. No more depressing selfie sessions to find that “perfect” profile pic

Of course, I have no personal experience with this one… but I had a friend once that, um…

yeah.

Next.

5. You no longer have to pretend to care about things you don’t care about

Hear that? (Isn’t it amazing how much you can hear without your Facebook earmuffs on?)

It’s the sound of 2,500 people clicking the “unfriend” button as they learn that I wish (I really do) I had enough mind-space, time, and heart, to give two squishy turds about what you ate for dinner, or how your husband wants you to get a bikini wax, or how your new Ferrari unfortunately had to go to the shop today to get the problem with the vibrating seats fixed. Because you paid extra for those  damn vibrating seats and by-God, they better vibrate on “GO.”

4. You no longer have to bite your tongue to keep from being an asshat to other asshats

If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’ll either get a haircut, become a barber, or try to eat that thing that looks like a candy cane because you’re hungry and you can’t take the curiosity any longer…

(Note: It does not taste like a candy cane.)

In the same manner, if you hang out on Facebook around asshats for too long, you too may start to present symptoms of asshatedness. You must ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

3. You get a new perspective on life

This isn’t my first Facebook-free stint. I actually deleted my account three or so years ago, for a whole year. My finger hovered over the “deactivate account” button for–I shit you not–a whole hour. I sweated profusely. I pulled my hair out and I cried. I banged my fists on things and broke many pencils. Facebook had taken over my soul, and was eating my family, my life, and my sanity away at the seams like greedy little blue termites. When I finally pushed that button, I literally grieved the loss of my intangible, fabricated cyber-life, and all of the “friends” who would no longer “get to” be a part of my life.

Notice the self-righteous asshatedness (above) than soon became apparent. Once I stepped back, a week went by and I realized the sun was shining… “Whoa, when did the snow melt? What day is it? June? When the hell did summer get here? Where is my family?”

I had to integrate myself, not only back into the lives of my family–relearn their ways, their schedules, their habits, likes, dislikes–but I also had to be integrated back into society. It was serious culture shock. When you spend five or six hours a day on Facebook, you may as well be spending five or six hours a day at a dope house. Some of you may not have it this bad, but some of you can drink alcohol without it ruining your life, too. Others of you, like me, may hit a wall, where you have lost control. We are powerless over our Facebook addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. Stepping away removes a dark shroud that you didn’t even realize was there. You will experience life anew.

2.  Live life in the ever-mysterious and spontaneously beautiful now

Without the distraction of Facebook, I remember to enjoy life right now. Instead of “building that platform,” “marketing that book,” “cultivating that following,” all of which are future-oriented visions and aspirations, I can just enjoy the awesomeness that is my life right now. I can sit on my back porch and look at the sky and quiz my third-grader about what type of clouds are out today. I can play. I can breathe in deep the official first day of summer because I am experiencing it firsthand, not because I saw someone’s status update reminding me of it. I can be present in my life.

1. Freedom

Facebook is designed to hold you hostage. It is a prison without walls or bars. Sure, there are some good things therein… there are bible scriptures scrawled on prison walls, too, but that doesn’t make me want to go to prison any time soon. You?

Without Facebook to tie you down, you walk a free human. Free from ego, from narcissism, free from garbage-in garbage-out, free from the poisons there, disguised as profit, prosperity, popularity…

Without Facebook, you are free to just be. And live.

Until next time, fellow humans…

Just be. ❤

 

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

Ashes to Stardust

stardust

There’s a woman somewhere who sometimes wishes she still smoked, so she could stare at the stars. Because ever since she quit, she hasn’t once just sat on her back porch and stared off into the night sky.

There’s something so delicious and lovely and humbling about sitting beneath the stars, she thinks, realizing how small you are, yet a part of this great, unfathomable vastness we call existence.

Sometimes, she needs to be reminded of before . . . .

Many a high, drunken night she sat, contemplating her place in it all.

What am I doing?

Where do I belong?

Where am I going?

Does any of this matter?

Inhale

I love smoking and I’ll never quit, she remembers thinking, pretty much every time she lit up. She’s sure it was for that reason, mainly. Smoking meant she could just sit and do nothing, with the excuse of doing something—smoking. It gave her an excuse to realize her oneness with existence. It gave her reason to sit and contemplate her complex humanity and her mortality and stupidity of doing a thing like smoking.

What a disgusting, filthy habit. One reserved for those of us who like it dirty and rough, those of us who like to live on the edge a bit, walk on the wild side, look life in the eye and tell it to go fuck itself.

Exhale

She loved to smoke.

But then, she was six months pregnant and hiding with her one cigarette a day, waiting until that time at night with the sky and the moon to light up, because the moon wouldn’t judge her and the stars would keep her secret.

But the guilt wouldn’t let up. With every inhale she saw in her mind’s eye, her little starlet breathing in the darkness . . . . Until he became her star, her oneness, her time with the magic of life and existence, and she didn’t even have to go outside anymore. She didn’t even need a lighter.

So now, you will not see her on the back porch, cross-legged in baggy jeans, flicking ashes into the night air. You won’t see her blowing clouds of wishes for immortality into the abyss we call Universe. You will not see her take the last drag and flick the tiny butt kamikaze-style through the air, to be obliterated on contact with someone else’s patio fern. You will not hear the wretched hacking of that chick next door who plays her music too loud and had blue hair yesterday (pink today.) You will not wonder how she goes about living her kamikaze life, filtering in the men, the booze, the crutches one by one, in and out like the white smoke from her cigarette–whole and unlit one minute, used up, stamped out, and tossed away the next. You won’t find her mumbling forgotten Psalms to the Constellation Sasha-the-Stripper, as she decides to define her life as nothing but meaningless stardust. You will not see her vanish in the daylight, nor linger beneath her own eclipse, to see if anyone notices or cares, discovering they don’t.

She no longer exists.

In the light of the moon, she disappeared, in a puff of smoke she arose, a transmuted embodiment, a living ghost, and only a burning ember, soon to be extinguished, remained.