Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 31, 2014

“Will you still love me when I’m “64”

P1030492Well, today is the day I have to ask my partner the dreaded question above. In three hours I will reach this wonderful and ferocious age. I have a lot to be grateful for. I’m not senile; except when I keep asking anyone “what did you just say?” That’s not my fault. I tell people don’t interrupt me unless you can tell me what I just said. I can remember one particular day in 1964 when I went to a dance in a red dress with sexy draping  down the back and how it felt to be the most popular girl at the dance. But I can’t remember what I was just trying to tell you a minute ago. Is this fair?

Like many women in my situation; being almost 64, I decided to remove any grey from my hair which was quite a lot. I’m not trying to be younger per se; I’m just trying to recognize myself when I occasionally look in the mirror. I don’t like to be shocked. I remember when I hit my first quarter century and my girlfriends used to get together in my apartment before we went out dancing I gazed into the mirror to see if any aging had occurred since the previous day. I examined my eyes to see if any lines or bags had appeared and was slightly surprised that I looked exactly the same. I have now gotten used to looking either young or old for my age.

     When I was fourteen, I once was chased by a boyfriends father down the subway for being too old for his thirteen year old son. The father said I was at least sixteen and a hussy. I was neither. It must have been that my clothes came second hand from a cousin who was four years older than me or that my figure was way too curvaceous for my age. But thinking back at the look in his eyes, he probably wanted me for himself. But I wasn’t angry then for looking old. It was all too exciting to be wanted or not wanted with such passion.

     I also looked or felt  old when I was twenty three and looked in another mirror at a Madrid disco. A gaggle of college girls wearing cashmere sweaters tied to their neck and penny loafers on their privileged feet invaded the “servicios”  restroom and started talking about their year abroad and how tough Shakespeare was. I was alone and wearing a shiny polyester dress that was the style for New York clubs but obviously not appropriate for rich college kids. With my makeup plastered on my face to  hide my acne, I felt ancient, sleazy and poor. I hated that bad surprise so much I ended up going home with a boy of nineteen who was as lonely as I was. I didn’t look in the mirror for a long time after that.

Around the age of 35, people started telling me I looked young and today after my hair appointment, a long time male  friend asked me if I kept a picture in an attic I don’t have. Yes, I  got the Dorian Gray reference, but what is youth anyway? I am relatively  healthy except for arthritis and a smidgen of insanity. But I accept and honor these blips of imperfection. No one is perfect though many reach for that illusion to their detriment.. I have a partner who cares for me and dogs who need me and I imagine love me. I know I love them. I am unique and worthy.

Yet society and media shout that women must look, young, younger, youngest and pretty, pretty, pretty. I was once fooled and misled by the importance of looks and age. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen “beautiful people” get offered many shiny things because of beauty and youth but all those perks don’t always make them happier than the rest of us mere mortals. I once starved or binge ate, and sought out doctors to make me look “normal” just to find out in the end I was good enough being flawed and insane as long as I was aware and content.

I have a friend who is talented, beautiful and sensitive yet heartbreak and sadness haven’t missed her. She receives countless complements, gifts and job offers yet life is just as messy for her as it is for those of us with less goddess like features and immense charm. In fact some of these “fortunate”  ones have more problems when the freshness of youth begins to fade. Suicide and addiction to drugs do not discriminate. The young, talented and beautiful seem to succumb to hopelessness and depression when they see that money and fame truly don’t buy peace and joy.

Speaking of discrimination, ageism does exist. Baby boomers like me are shocked to see that even though we invented “don’t trust  anyone over thirty five”, the tables have been turned in a karma like way. I never believed that statement because when I was young I gravitated to the elderly. I was an old lost soul looking for a mentor, a surrogate parent.

     If you look old, or are old you probably won’t get the job that you and that generation Xer are competing for. This is wrong and sad but doesn’t bother me as much as it should. I never liked competition. If something was too hard, I ran away. I blamed my anxiety for that and maybe that was true but it was a blessing because recently I’ve seen people suffer and stressed at jobs with abusive bosses. I hate stress more than my basic need for cash. I managed to keep the roof over my head without having to work at my last job where I loved teaching children but hated my co- teacher’s taunts and insults after coming back from her maternity leave my second year. I think she wanted to leave her job more than I wanted to stay at mine. She made my life miserable for about a wee into my 4th year. Then I quit.

I was once told by my economic  professor in college that one shouldn’t look down on those who don’t or can’t work because economically it’s important that a portion of the population  should stay out of the workforce. I like that. He said it frees up jobs for those with tougher hides and less desperation to make it work without working. He said in every society there are people who don’t work in conventional jobs and that should be applauded instead of looked down upon. Believe me it takes both imagination and a lot of work to be free of corporate America. I have always been able to keep a roof over my head with imagination and creativity.

I have worked both as a “housewife and outside the home at various jobs. I once had a high tolerance for stress or thought I had until panic attacks invaded my life. The only ageism I’ve experienced was in Japan where they don’t have laws to protect the over fifty job seeker. They just tell you straight out, “you’re too old” Yet I got a job there because I have a good attitude and am  amiable to any weird rule a boss can think up and believe me- Japanese bosses can think up a lot of rules. I wasn’t allowed to go to the toilet in my Japanese teaching job but stayed because I didn’t think of this as abuse. Everyone was nice to me. It’s good to be insane sometimes. But what I can’t accept and do recognize is meanness, like once being told when I was young and applying for a cafeteria job that  I would scare away the students because of my acne. That hurt. I have since learned not to stay in any abusive situation. When the before mentioned co-teacher in Hawaii yelled at me for something I didn’t do in front of my students who adored me, I went home and wrote a letter of resignation that night. I never mentioned why I was leaving. I just thanked her for the opportunity and wished her well. It never pays to fight with the self-righteous. Even the Japan toilet banner never embarrassed me in front of my class.

The teacher  was shocked and blurted out “I wish I could quit.” I had guessed  as much. I gave up a good paycheck for serenity. I made the better choice. Maybe that’s why I don’t look what 64 is supposed to look like. Whatever age you are, a good attitude and  choosing people and work that are healing and not toxic are vital. Being insane also helps.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 9, 2014

“Quotes”

10340130_10152322570096379_6935274796037324740_n[1]It has become popular in social media to use other people’s quotes and slogans in place of thinking up one of  your own. I have been guilty of this myself; thinking that if I use quotes I wouldn’t have to get into internet arguments. I promised to  keep the quotes simple and not in any way controversial. . Yet, I’ve noticed that it is hard to use a quote that is both passionate and universally agreeable.

My twitter page inserted quote is one of these I think-EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR

I am fairly sure this quote is not combative but yet I can imagine an argument against wanting everything. I don’t really want everything. I want something but most of all I am trying to say that fear  can hold us back from what we are striving for.

I am not a fan of stuff. We had a recent hurricane scare that sent most people on my island of Oahu in search of water, toilet paper and rice; in that order. I was late to that party and found myself in an rehearsed scuffle for the few small bottles of water left on  a shelf. A  young man at the supermarket on the day of supposed disaster was desperate and  ready for action..

He would take one bottle, and I the other until most of the water was gone. When the last two bottles were left, feeling ashamed yet thirsty I asked him if he wanted the remainder. He said yes. I already had toilet paper at home and couldn’t think of a scenario where the storm would leave me in that desperate a situation where I had to go to Costco and stand in line for hours for well almost anything. And really how much paper or cloth does a person need to wipe one’s behind for a few days?

Back to quotes, I began to question my passion for quotes when a local politician on television used a quote I can’t agree with” Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me..

I have been fooled more than once, more than twice ok, more than a thousand times and I can’t put the  total shame on myself.. Shouldn’t the shame go to the person who commits the offense? It seems like this is victim shaming and I don’t agree with it. It also sounds so immature. Yet this a politician so I can’t expect much can I?

There is also a lot of quotes about war, peace, love, you name it and some of them are quite good. I’m not knocking quotes in the least bit. I think we learn from quotes. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― by  Oscar Wilde  is one I like.

I used to like “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”- Eleanor Roosevelt – but it isn’t true for everybody. I felt inferior my entire life and couldn’t seem to not consent to it without a lot of work. However sensible the sentiment is; it does tend to shame the person who can’t shake the feeling of inferiority. It’s not that simple.

Napoleon had a lot of quotes. This is one I don’t agree with Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.” - Napoleon Bonaparte –  didn’t he end up isolated and defeated on the island of Elba or something? I don’t think he thought that was possible or preferable. However, I used to feel there wasn’t a word like insane or impossible and it did lead me to a lot of wild  adventures so I shouldn’t hate on Napoleon too much.

I recently come upon a quote that reflects my present feelings about the world, my place in it and life in general “.All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.Julian of Norwich was the most important English mystic of the 14th century. I like her optimism. My intent for all is “May we all be well”  Marilyn Maya Mendoza

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Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 20, 2014

Mavericks just wanna have fun (Insanity unleashed)

“Mom, I can’t believe you followed me to Japan and taught there for three years; you’re so adventurous, “my daughter Desiree says to me”

“I’m not adventurous I’m like Cyndi Lauper without the fame, money or talent

“Oh, you just wanna have fun?”

“No, I’m just unusual”

I didn’t want to tell her I’m also insane, it’s too complicated, besides, she already knows it.  She just can’t understand how someone who has panic attacks can travel all over the world and attempt what others call courageous acts, like dancing in public.

I always feel more like myself when I’m far, far away. It is not unusual to travel to Spain, Millions do it every year. It is unusual to believe, I mean intently believe you will be the  female Jose Greco who went to Spain from Brooklyn and became a famous flamenco dancer. Insanity taught me how to live my life between the mundane and the extravagant. One day I’m at the food bank so happy that people in my town hate whole wheat bread and the next year, I’m dreaming up a way to live in a foreign country with young men  clamoring to take me out to fancy restaurants. One day I am cowering in my closet afraid to go out and then wham, I am living in the Philippines invited to nightclubs where a community of dwarfs now called “little people” climb on tables to serve me giant cocktails where only movie stars and unusual blonde foreigners are allowed.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 7, 2014

“INVISIBLE” (A possible chapter in my new memoir)

I pride myself in never getting fired from a job. I always quit when I sense anything foul a brewing. If I can’t be perfect, I’ll be gone. But I have to admit that there were times when I might have gotten fired and never knew it. As my mother always said

“You’re a liar.”

I might have gotten fired for opening a door in Minnesota but I refuse to believe it because my worst fear at the time was that I was too ugly to live. Since this happened in Minnesota, it couldn’t have been that I weighted 180 pounds. That is average for a Minnesotan of five feet one. It had to be my appearance.

It was lunchtime and I was eating a huge sandwich at my desk. Along comes a contingent of suits for a meeting with the boss. I’m the lowly and only temp in the office. The door is locked as it is every noon and they can’t get in. So, smiling my widest smile not checking if there was any spinach in my teeth, I opened the door and said “good afternoon” The next day I was fired. I questioned my temp counselor on why my long term assignment was terminated when just the prior week the boss had complimented my work.

She stuttered and said, “Well, in this business, nothing is for sure.”

You can say that again.

I also got fired from Burger King, but that doesn’t count. I got confused with the different kinds of buns. Who knew there were different sizes for whaler, whopper and burger buns?  My visual perception was never that accurate. That was probably the reason I had so many boyfriends. I don’t count the Burger King incident because I already had a fulltime job when I took on fast food. I should have gotten the hint when the manager abruptly took me off the line and told me to clean the tables and sweep the floor but I was too stressed about bun size. When my shift was over, he  told me to eat the free lunch and never come back. He never used the word “fired.” I’m ashamed to say I ate the burger and fries. Working makes me hungry.

In New York there is no “Minnesota nice” especially back in the 60’s. There was no pretense that time of why I wasn’t hired. I’m interviewing for a school cafeteria lady job, (the one with the hairnet). Excited and happy I sit down across from a man with a dour expression. It is hard not to stare at his bulging stomach over his belt but I have been groomed in good interviewing techniques and politeness.

“What’s wrong with your face?”

My smile freezes at his shaking head.

“I can’t have you working with food. You look contagious.”

“It’s acne, I whisper, it’s not catching”, but he is standing up.

“You’ll scare the kids.”

He dismisses me with a wave of his hand and I back away to the door, my face now bright red, acne being the least of my troubles.

I leave and go to my favorite book store in Manhattan, where I am invisible to the owner. I stay until the store closes, deep in a universe where looks don’t matter. I give the owner a ten dollar bill for a book I had been lusting over for weeks called “Mankoff’s Guide to Lusty Europe”   It is more than I could afford or carry and this gives me hope. I then go to my favorite Chinese restaurant in a few blocks away, where I’m known to be a good tipper and where the waiter pulls out the table for me and with a flourish and a napkin tucks me in. It is a bit tight against my stomach but somehow physical pain comforts me when I’m in mental distress

I pretend I am royalty as I get lost in spare ribs and  fried rice while reading how rich people are traveling to Europe to get lusty sex. It’s all very secret and comforting. I almost forget the cruel words of the cafeteria man, but vow to learn how to become pretty if it kills me.  It almost would.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 26, 2014

TWELVE STEP LAMENT

TWELVE STEP LAMENT.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 24, 2014

TWELVE STEP LAMENT

     I wrote about how I feel about groups in my first memoir-”From Agoraphobia to Zen” “It’s not that I don’t like groups, it’s that group’s don’t like me.Well, I decided all these years later to join a group I had tried before with negative results. But this would be different. It’s a phone group. I wouldn’t have to go out or have anyone comment on my appearance, personality or how I used to say “you know’ and like before I spoke. How progressive, how efficient, how cool?  
    This particular step group is for people with eating problems and it’s based on the principles of A.A. I’m not an alcoholic but I am told it doesn’t matter. The principles work well with any addiction. My addiction is food. I chose this particular group because they proclaim that I don’t have to give up bread and flour and for me, life without bread and pasta is not really worth living. Most of all they proclaim they can cure me of my addiction to food if I follow the “rules.’ I know I’m in trouble here because rules and I don’t agree. However, I like the idea of being cured and not having to give up white flour, Oh, I said that already.   
   I listen in on a few groups and am strongly encouraged to leave my number so a sponsor can call me back. In fact most of the meetings focus on service and giving back what you have been given. I’m not sure what I’ve been given yet but hey, I can understand giving back. I gave away most of my possessions to a local charity; mostly because I have trouble taking care of stuff that doesn’t breathe; like dogs. I keep my dogs. There is also a lot of talk of prayer and the Lord even though they say you only have to believe in a higher power which I do. At first everything goes well. I like all the calls I am getting asking to sponsor me. I have never been the popular girl and now it seems I’m most wanted.      One caller candidate tells me she is a medical student and has been with the program for three months but assures me she has already brought two people through the steps and is cured. I don’t pick her because she is young and I would have to tell her stuff no eighteen year old should hear, medical student or not.      I pick a woman who lives on the West Coast and whose voice has a hippy mellow feel. I revert to childhood when I call her and shyly say “I choose you.” She is pleased and then tells me she is a Wiccan and I don’t have to worry about her telling me to believe in one creator. She is into goddesses (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I once met a Wiccan princess on a breakup online group and she helped me cast a spell against an evil man who was messing with my head so bad, having a witch in my life seemed like a good idea. I ask my new sponsor if she has any problem with the religious feel of the program that we both agree are ingrained in the foundation of A.A. “I was so desperate for relief from my disorder; I would have followed anything at my lowest point. This program will work if you work it” Good answer, but where have I heard that before? I am impressed; well until she tells me I have to complete multiple forms and have a three-hour session with her early in the morning after which I will be cured. It does sound magical but I’m not a morning person. But I’m docile so I fill out the papers thinking what my mother said about that note on my fifth grade report card.      My mother told me the word “docile’ was an insult. “Horses are docile,” she had yelled. The night before my session I become anxious. I had been feeling good for a long time. I had fought a lot of trauma and came out on the other side reasonably functional. I had to fill out forms that asked who I resented and what part of my flaws caused that resentment and “was it sexual” (ok, that was another form but still). My first thought was that I don’t resent anyone; well anyone except this person who was making me anxious about both waking up at the crack of dawn and having to search for people or things I resented.

    
 I used to be full of anger and resentment but after I read my mother’s diary and other books like the “four agreements” I began to understand where my panic attacks and other anxieties had originated. In 2000, I had an epiphany and no longer had the compulsion to stay home literally in my closet and eat everything in the house.   
   In the first chapter of my memoir I had written about being raped and almost killed on my 19th birthday by a stranger. Yet the last chapter of the book has this quote “I almost wished I could blame the panic attacks and agoraphobia that plagued my life on the obscenity of that night but the truth is much darker and started long before that small death” The epiphany was that my anxiety had originated from living with a bi-polar mom and being mentally and physically abused. I later had lived a double life; half the time locked in my closet, the other half roaming around the world escaping my fears by living on the edge. I was obsessed with food, whether eating it or planning to eat it or beating myself up for eating it. I was fat, then thin, then afraid of gaining weight, then fat again, and then finally writing the book and letting go of most of the pounds of pain. Three recent deaths in my family and a gain of 15 scary pounds had brought me to this 12 step meeting.

  
   I filled out the papers and discovered I did have small resentments at various people and things in my life but I still didn’t see how I was at fault for the neighbor who constantly parades his shirtless body in front of my house to make my dogs bark. But maybe I resented him because he was invading my boundary lines which I fiercely protect. As I child I didn’t have that power. Can this resentment be my flaw? Ok, I’ll accept that, I thought. It’s my fear of being taken advantage of. Usually, I say the wrong things, ask too many questions or my appearance bothers people in general and in groups it’s much worse. I tell myself I would be silent. I would not let anyone’s remarks about anything make me do something stupid, like speak my mind. I promised to be good. Where had I said that before?      This group would accept me and I would be cured I told myself as I filled out paper after paper admitting my sins, I mean faults and promising to make amends. But there was one problem. I had to tell one person something I had never before told another person.      Now, I am the author of a no holds back memoir telling everything from the most terrible insults, rape and even a botched abortion I had regretted and forgiven myself for. What secret did I have left? Oh, I had a secret all right but how could I tell this woman I had never met? We went over the sheets of resentments and fears that were still deep inside bleeding out on the paper and I told her my deep dark secret with horror and sorrow in my voice.

“I’m not here to judge you”, she said.

      But I’m perceptive and I noticed something in her voice. I realized I was telling my secret to someone who had more problems and less healing than I, no matter what group she belonged to. I was triggering her in some way and her voice betrayed her fragile mental state. “What was the exact nature of the defect within me that allowed the fear to surface and block me off from God’s will”? She read.

     I don’t answer and she said, “You are recovered and restored to sanity. Restored to Sanity? Heck, I’m now writing a book where I proudly wear the title of insanity which to me means capable of rational judgment and behavior and reasoning and having good sense in the best meaning of that phrase.

     I never had traditional good sense but my own path has led me to survival. If I had sense I wouldn’t have made half the mistakes I’ve made but I also wouldn’t have had the experiences and self-awareness I have now. Yet, when it comes to food and life I was not functional for a long time. In my opinion being sane means being functional and “the same” which is not what I usually aim for.
I have not followed the path my parents would have wanted for me. And that’s a good thing.

     I would have been miserable being a secretary living in Brooklyn in an apartment with a man my mother approved of which would have been impossible because she wouldn’t have approved of anyone; not even a Jewish doctor. She would have said that he couldn’t be trusted because why in heaven would a doctor want someone like me?

   
  I am a survivor and I figured out how to be a functional insane person. I also figured out how not to eat myself into an early grave and I did it without any step program. I do not want to be restored to sanity. I want to lose 15 pounds. I want friendship or “fellowship” as they call it. I’m a writer. I don’t get out much. I still have more than a touch of the agoraphobia that has plagued me my whole life. But I am functional and reasonably happy

 Yet, old habits are hard to break and I am still a bit docile so I told my sponsor my big secret I’ve never been able to tell anyone and be free from my my addiction. I also agree to go along with all the rules of the Big Book.

After finishing all the work, I was emotionally exhausted. I forget to read the part that was called an 11th step review. She was going so fast and I was so stressed I did not follow the rule which requires me to email her about my day and where I had done wrong and pray and ask forgiveness.

 I am supposed to ask myself, “where were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid” Do we owe anyone an apology and have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once.

The last part stopped me in my tracks. It reeked of confession, mind control and of the book 1984 where Big Brother is watching you. It also talked around religion and prayers indirectly. Now I’m a spiritual person with my own beliefs and I am not about to give up my life to this person I’ve never met even if she knows my deep dark secret. I don’t really know her and the more I know of her the less I like.

She got testy with me when I told her I didn’t know if I can email her every night to focus on my faults and pray with her. It didn’t even sound rational as she is a Wiccan anyway. Who would we pray to? Is she so indoctrinated that she will give up her goddesses and pray to the Almighty? And if she is, do I want to be brainwashed as well?  She was also very adamant that I go to the phone meetings her sponsor and her sponsor’s sponsor goes to and always to offer my service to newcomers. This was going so fast, too fast.  I told her it stresses me and I hate when she was stern and strict with me. When I told her this, she said adhering to the rules would make me sane and that is how her sponsor taught her and what she needed to heal.

 Well, I don’t need strictness and meanness. I’ve had that my entire life. I want my life to be one of beauty and freedom and creativity, all which would be compromised by joining such a full time program. I’m not even going to debate if A.A is applicable or works for food addiction. There is a saying in this program: In A.A you can lock up the tiger and throw away the key, in this program you have to take out the tiger three times a day.” An eating addiction becomes part of who you are if you regard food as a dangerous animal. It just perpetuates the self- hate and puts a label of life long food addict on the sufferer.

     To be fair, this group did not tell me anything about food at all. To me, this group felt more like a religion to me than a self- help group. I would become a better person, pray, read the literature, confess and recruit other sufferers.  It seemed cult- like to me.

     Freedom is one of my main values. I will not give up my freedom to recruit members to something I don’t even believe in. I did pray and mediate and my decision is based on my opinion about groups. This group, like every other group I’ve ever been rejected or have rejected are run by people; people who make and follow rules and are fallible. I call it self- hypnosis. If a person believes something is working and healing, they will not listen to other ideas. It’s their way or the highway.

I will say, the abracadabra, you are recovered worked in one way. I didn’t have the urge to overeat after the three hour “indoctrination”. The magic worked. I also don’t have any urges to be associated with them. I do respect their right to exist and if it helps someone, I’m fine with that.

My secret was much less drastic that many I shared in my first memoir. “From Agoraphobia to Zen”. It was about something mean and petty I did to a friend. But somehow I was more ashamed of that incident than others I could share with the world. When I came clean to my ex sponsor, I felt cheated and dirty because she didn’t understand how such a little thing could be my deep, dark secret and when I started crying she seemed flustered and read from her book with phrases  that didn’t mean anything to me.  I realized that my higher power and I will figure out how I can live group free. I have friends, a partner and a beautiful mind; quite enough to thrive in this beautiful terrible world.

 

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Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 7, 2014

Dieting Optional?

     I’m dieting again for the millionth time. I’m eating something called a granola bar. What the eff is granola anyway. It doesn’t taste like food or food I want to eat. I look at the ingredients and it has corn flour and sugar. That can’t be good.  It’s supposed to stop my hypoglycemia when I’m on the go which is not often since I have agoraphobia. I hate these new effing words. Can I just say I get dizzy if I don’t eat for many hours while on the go which is not often because I don’t leave my house?

I hate dieting but it has been the bane of my existence which means a pain in my ass. So why do I do it?  I do it because I don’t want to buy new clothes that I can’t afford or leave my house in order to buy them.

I remember the first time I went on a diet. I had just had a baby at age eighteen and I carried 150 pounds on my five foot frame before and after giving birth. What! That’s what I said.

 I remember the shaming that went on in the labor room. What! Yes, it was 1969 in Brooklyn and the nurses thought we were too much in pain to have a brain.

 I remember the head nurse parading a slew of medical professional in my room saying. “Look how big this one is:”

“Well, she isn’t as big as the one in room three,  that one is enormous but yes, wow” the younger nurse said.  Wow indeed! Where did you get the license to judge and shame me in front of my roommate who was Chinese and didn’t even look pregnant? She couldn’t understand English and was too preoccupied with her labor to care but still, I felt more pain than my hard labor required. So, afterwards I bought my first diet book.

It was The Stillman diet. For those of you too young to remember that piece of crap diet, It’s basically meat and water, a lot of water; too much water anyone should drink in a day. I ate two meat patties with ketchup twice a day and an ocean of water. I looked forward to that ketchup. I wanted to pour the whole bottle on that meat patty, probably because I was starved for any nutrient whatsoever. I lost five pounds a week, every week. It was amazing. I had to stay in because I was peeing more than the average bear. My boyfriend taught me to say that. I don’t really know how much bears pee but I can attest that I peed more.

The bad part of all this and believe me there were a lot of bad parts, is that I became a zealot for this particular diet, and I wasn’t even getting paid by Mr. Stillman or anybody else for the excellent promotion.

 I’m persuasive when obsessed and I went to all my friends houses making sure that not one drop of milk would be poured into a coffee at breakfast, nor one vegetable at lunch or heaven forbid a grain of rice eaten at dinner. This is difficult in Puerto Rican households where husbands insist rice and beans are the meal and everything else garnish. I didn’t care. I was on a mission and pretended not to notice the dirty looks I was getting from my friends families. My husband worked all night so I didn’t realize how much trouble I was causing. I’m immune that way.

 All of my friends lost weight but inevitably we couldn’t keep it off for long. So then, I found a new diet that promised if I was faithful I could keep that weight off forever, and so it went on and on until I realized diets don’t work unless you either fix what is inside your head and soul, or lose your sense of taste. I guess I haven’t done the later because this granola bar tastes like crap.

 

Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 3, 2014

Poetry is an ac…

Poetry is an act of peace. – Pablo Neruda

 

I’ve been writing a kind of sequel to my memoir and came across this quote. I wrote poetry since I was young and it was my action of peace in a chaotic life. I used writing poetry and reading fairy tales as a way to soothe myself. Later on I used destructive ways such as gorging on food and getting married over and over. But my poetry was always a peaceful act even when my life was so terrible the tears would erase the words from the page. The poetry was within me. It was my soul talking without barriers. I never rated my poetry as either good or bad . I didn’t study the art of writing a poem. Much later I took one class in poetry and had to walk out because for me poetry was not meters, rhyme or verse; was not thought out methodically for effect. Poetry was something I did because I had to and I approached the art of poetry as mine alone. I didn’t want to share it for many years. It was too personal. But when I wrote that memoir that changed my life; my view on my other writing started to change. I saw that writing about my anxiety filled life made others feel something, even made them happy. And that was a revelation for me; that I can change someone in the world with words. I can create an act of peace in someone; a peace that I never had growing up, a peace I never had until recently. I don’t know if that is what Pablo Neruda meant by that quote but it is what I mean. And I am worthy to express my thoughts through poetry and other means. I never felt worthy until I felt peaceful. Aloha

Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 16, 2012

LIES AND VIDEO- TAPE, NO SEX- AN OPEN LETTER TO TMZ AND OTHER MEDIA

I did say that I would not post more than 100 posts but the media attack on my son must be addressed so here is 101

http://www.tmz.com/2012/11/16/miley-cyrus-restraining-order-scissors-jason-luis-rivera/

Dear TMZ

Does it bother you that this story is untrue and that you know it.  In fact your “breaking” video of my son’s arrest shows that my son was not wielding anything. I had a lengthy conversation with the prosecutor and he confirmed my son did not have any weapons on his person except the scissors you constantly refer to. He voluntarily told the police that he had a pair of scissors he had found.

Does it bother you that you are perpetuating the stigma against the mentally ill by your name calling? Words are powerful and they incite people to love or hate or war or peace.  My son is not a maniac. He is not the dumbest criminal alive.  He did not have a weapon, was not convicted of stalking and does not have a lengthy criminal record. These are all lies. What he does have is an illness, a mental illness.   That is one of  the “other factors” you mentioned in his getting out early. He has an illness and not unlike cancer or arthritis, it hurts. Please stop the stigma against the mentally ill. We all pay when the mentally ill are portrayed as maniacs. Most of us will have some kind of mental illness in our lifetime; or know someone with a mental illness.  According to the NIMH, it is one in four.  I have an anxiety disorder now which is under control. My book which is the same name as this blog is a memoir which does not omit my suffering with mental illness but  I do not hang my head in shame.
Maybe you feel you are entitled as  a celebrity reporter to give the public sensational news. Miley Cyrus is big news. So, when the police were called to her house, you were there to happily video my son and record his delusions for the world to see. You must have seen the video you made. I did. It was all over the internet with many titles that can all be filed down to “Scissor Wielding Maniac stalks teenager”  Does it bother you at all that his children are suffering and are you surprised that they love him? The truth can be more interesting to some readers than the drivel that your reporters make up. He is a non-violent published poet. He never swore at his mother or his children in his life and when he was ten, his teacher gave him a set of encyclopedias for his curious mind and sweet personality. Oh, I know that is not news your reader want.  He also has severe mental illness since puberty and has had multiple traumas since then. Mental illness is a tough illness to treat. He has tried many medications with little result. The mother of his children helped him to survive and even thrive in a world that rejects the mentally ill and when his delusions became too much to handle, he left his family. But that was only a few months before the incident. He has largely been a part of his children’s life and has written poetry dedicated to them and his love for them never wavers.
Does it bother you that unlike the celebrities that you cover, he has no means to defend himself against slander and bullying. Does it bother you that by inciting people to be afraid of the mentally ill, you are hurting the very people who read about “crazy people.”
I know the answer. None of this bothers you because money is your god. Morality is not in your vocabulary. However, I am naive to believe that there are more good people in the world that than bad and that your lies will be exposed and rejected.
I want you to retract your slanderous lies about my son. He is in jail and doing more time that a certain Ms. Anthony did for not murdering her daughter. He is a peaceful man whose last words to me were “I love you Mom.” I know that most parents of mentally ill children who are in the criminal justice system skulk away in shame. I am not ashamed or afraid. I must be strong for my people; the voiceless mentally ill, even and especially if my own child is one of the four. I want to end by saying I am sorry for whatever pain my son’s actions caused Ms. Cyrus family. I was shocked at the hatred I read directed at her. It reminded me of one thing. As humans we are not all that different and none of us are immune to hate mongers.  signed  A mother
Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 6, 2012

6 DEGREES OF MILEY CYRUS; MOTHER OF “STALKER” SPEAKS -LAST POST

Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. I am now six steps away to the celebrity Miley Cryus.

Jason Luis Rivera holding baby brother in happier times

I never saw the movie based on that premise or thought much of that concept until my son Jason Luis Rivera was convicted of trespassing in Ms. Cryus property. I  vaguely heard about Hannah Montana but hadn’t followed Ms. Cyrus career. Now, it feels like we are connected in some sad sick way. I wrote a memoir about my anxiety disorder but didn’t mention my son’s more severe mental illness. I wrote about my mother dying in the mental ward of Staten Island Hospital but never mentioned my son Jason walking on broken glass and picking up rocks when his wife and baby daughter temporarily left him in Hawaii fifteen years ago.  It wasn’t my business I thought.

I write about the stigma of mental illness and how it affects society but never felt that stigma as personally as when my son was in the news “wielding a scissor.” On the record,

the prosecutor told me my son never wielded anything and was indeed delusional but he couldn’t force my son to take a plea deal. My son is 40 years old. The pundits online laughed at the thought of my son possibly endeavoring to give Miley a new hairdo. I cried.

My next book is about celebrating my anxiety and how mentally ill people have special gifts. My son is a published poet, a beloved father even when he was ill and never showed any hint of violence toward anyone. But his delusion that he is connected to Ms. Cyrus is real to him. He believes her music is speaking to him.  I can say 99 % that he never intended to hurt Miley but there is that 1 %  that is unpredictable and that is the brain disorder itself. I can say I am truly sorry that Ms. Cyrus is going through this and I am sorry my son did not take the probation deal offered to him. He said he would never forgive himself if he didn’t tell “the truth” about his relationship with Ms. Cyrus.

I do not hang my head in shame that I gave birth to a son who has a mental illness. If he had cancer or diabetes I would be encouraged to talk about my feelings but with a mental illness comes silence and shame. I will not bow to that shame. To do so would be to bow to all persons who suffer the stigma of mental illness and all those who work to end that stigma.

Mental illness is rampant in our modern world and a symptom of the breakdown of the “it takes a village” concept. Increasingly, the disorder has ostracized and isolated the very people who need the support the most. In our politically correct culture admitting to having a mental illness is verboten and one of the last frontiers of prejudice in our society.

We bandy about the word “Crazy” like well- crazy. “That’s crazy”, he or she is crazy cool, crazy, crazy and more crazy.

In old English Crazy comes from the word ‘Cracked” also not a nice word but more accurate in that a crack can  signify a damage or an identifying mark that makes something or someone unique.In the past people who saw things others did not and perhaps had bi- polar disorder or schizophrenia were thought of as special and brought into the society ; not thrown out like in today’s world. They were the seers, the medicine men, the prophets. They were given a place in their community.  Perhaps placing them inside the community in a special way prevented the rare events today where mentally ill people become violent.

Words matter. How we use them matter. If we misuse crazy for evil, insane or nonconformity we are abandoning and stigmatizing the mentally ill. I am not attempting to trivialize the severity of the suffering that arrives with a mental illness, but  how we accept our own and other’s stories can change the world. Talking about mental illness is vital to end the fear that makes all hate and prejudice happen.

Society wants the mentally ill to remain invisible.  I’ve had the experience of being invisible when I was deep into my illness. I spoke to a doctor and a glazed look came over his eyes, and bibbity- bobbity boo. I was no longer there, I didn’t belong.  It’s a jarring sensation and I think many of my more extreme  plans to do the impossible came out of my yearning to be more than my disease, to be more than visible, to be noticed.

My son did  wrong and he is paying for it. He was convicted of 2 misdemeanors and will be in jail for 18 months with no time off for “good’ behavior. He told his lawyer he didn’t  have a mental illness even though it could have been easily found out. He was on disability and has a history of going to psychiatrists looking for that magic medicine cure. He told the court he suffers only from a hormonal imbalance. Perhaps he was also ashamed of being tagged as “crazy” which of course the media was happy to do for him.

So many lies were told about my son. On one site they encouraged prisoners to rape him, and on another they showed a photo of him with a beard while in the TMZ video he is clean-shaven. There was even a whole show Nancy Grace dedicated to my son and Ms. Cyrus. One side was a head shot of Miley, the other side Jason and in the middle a huge pair of scissors. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. Six degrees of Miley Cyrus indeed. Nancy Grace kept saying how my son’s poetry was all love and how could he love a teenager when he was a 40-year-old man. She asked why was he writing poetry instead of working. Jason desperately wanted to work and was in Tennessee working the last time I talked to him. Nancy Grace spouted the common misconceptions that mentally ill people are lazy and showed indifference of the many ways mental illness can affect the sufferer. She was a bully and wouldn’t listen to the facts, and kept interrupting the guests who were about to say he published a book that had no violence or hatred in it.

I was told by a well-known psychiatrist that my son probably suffers from erotomania among other mental illnesses.  Erotomania is a psychiatric term of a rare disorder in which an individual has a delusional belief that a person of higher social status falls in love and makes amorous advances towards him/her.

It is rare when an Erotomaniac physically harms their victim, but these are the cases that make it to the Evening News. In fact most mentally ill people are not violent but the instances where they attack others are so scary that the label is put on all the mentally ill.

I can tell you that my son is non violent, (he does not have a long criminal history in Texas) He used marijuana to self medicate. He  is a spiritual person, once was a child model but you can only see the photos on the internet where he indeed is shown as  “a crazed lunatic.” I can tell you, my son was a teacher’s pet who was given a set of encyclopedias in 6th grade to the chagrin of the other teachers and students, a man who listens when you speak, who loves his children but you won’t believe me.

It’s not your fault. You think a picture is worth a thousand words so I will end with a photo of who my son is, was and hopefully will be again and urge you to take another look at your view of the mentally ill. After all according to the National institute of Mental Health, (NIMH) one in four of us has one at any given time. It is time to change our minds about mental illness. It is not a defect in character. It is a disease. It is not shameful and my hope now is that my son will get help and be able to return to his family. The night my son trespassed on Ms. Cyrus property and lit candles Miley was at the VMA award show. If she had been home with her bodyguards my son might have been killed. Today Ms. Cyrus got a restraining order against Jason. I can only pray that in 17 months he will be well enough to honor that order. I am connected to Miley Cyrus in compassion and hope. I am connected to my son and all those who suffer from the stigma of mental illness with dedication and determination to eradicate that stigma. Let’s start talking.

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