Dear Internet,

This post is long as it’s me condensing two months into a single post and the caffeine cleanse is over. You have been advised by a very caffeinated gardener in the end of Winter. 

I’m rocking a mullet now. I have chopped off most of my hair (eight-inches) and loving it. I say it’s my homage to Miley Cyrus and Troy Sivan. I’ve been so impressed with the lyrics those two artists have in their songs lately. Plus, I’m a sucker for synthpop. You can’t take the 80’s out of me apparently. Not even my hair! Especially when it shows up in modern tunes. I recommend ‘Edge of Midnight by Miley Cyrus ft Stevie Knicks’ and ‘Easy by Troy Sivan.’ 

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Truthfully, I’ve always liked edgy hairstyles. Here’s the new hairstyle with Buffalo Bill photobombing me in all my awkward glory. Yeah, I named that work of art Buffalo Bill. The idea of my selfie was to pay tribute to the lunar Year of the Ox. However, I’m gesturing a horn on my head like the Buffalo. It’s not lost on me it looks like I’m saying I’m a loser proudly. Which that’s okay. I liked the picture and wasn’t going to take another one. Plus, I’m reasonably sure an “L” points the other way. Ah, the sweet, sweet joys of ADD. 

Happy Year of the Ox. Did I get that right? Yup. I checked to make sure there wasn’t any loose wiring in my head before continuing this raw blog post. It is indeed the year of the Metal Ox. I looked up what that signifies. Here’s the horoscope prediction: “This year is going to be lucky and also perfect to focus on relationships, whether we are talking about friendships or love.”

Well, I know the year has just begun, both the solar and lunar, but huh? Do you feel lucky? Is everything perfect when it comes to friends, relationships, and love? Are they the focus? Maybe? I’ll share my experiences this year thus far and you can decide the accuracy of the horoscope prediction. Also keep in mind the year just started. Literally we’re on day one of the third month in.

I honestly think it’s probably too early to tell. We still have nine months till we can reflect on this and have a solid opinion. I can say as far as luck goes, there have been glimpses of it. As far as relationships, I’m lovingly and happily married to my best friend, so there are no worries there. Friendships? Well, that indeed became a focus early in the year. Not all of it is pleasant either. However, I do have some friends that have survived the pandemic life and we’ve gotten closer. 

As it was a new year, and I had made some pretty cool affirmations. All of them centered around being a better version of myself. Which included being extra kind and a better listener. I’m the first to admit listening isn’t a strength of mine. I pay more attention to how you feel when you tell me something than each little detail. I apologize for this openly. I am not able to fake interest in things very well. Also, as wordy as my blog posts are in actuality, I can get by daily without verbally saying more than 50 words and think it was a great day. Some say it’s all in the details. I say that may be true but too often people forget words don’t always paint the most accurate story. People can articulate moods, feelings of pain, loss or joy while conversing through eye contact, stutters, tone and other physical tells you need to observe. I find this to be something to pay attention to as well. Even if I’m not the best example of mindfulness. However, I’m doing my best to work on that. I’m forgetful but I definitely own up to this.

My goals for the year were pretty average for most of us. More tea, less wine, no sugar, caffeine, etc. Mental and physical cleanses. Changing our habits may drive us bonkers, but hey, the goal is healthy, or good, so we go for it. We stick to our resolutions for as long as possible. Being without coffee for 45 days was rough but I managed it! Though, I am caffeinated now I definitely drink less caffeine than I used to. I also committed to keeping in touch with loved ones since we’re all so very isolated. I was speaking or attempting to talk with my friends and family once a week or every other one at minimum. We’re all busy, but I like giving my rounds of calls no matter how much I loathe the phone because it’s important to show people you care about them. That they’re not alone, and there’s a good person in the neighborhood, country, or planet, that thinks fondly of them. Still, it’s been a roller coaster ride. 

One lucky thing about the year is I’ve reaffirmed my belief that quantity isn’t quality. Simply because you know many people or believe you have many friends doesn’t mean it’s genuine. Knowing a lot of people and even caring about them doesn’t mean it’s mutual or even true. 

If you know me personally or understand anything about my writings. Chances are you already understand I’m pretty forward about being a bit aloof and nutty. I don’t place a halo on my head. If there was ever a halo above my head, it had to be electric because I’m not a saint. No matter how much I try to be the best version of myself, I’m not always successful. I’m so very human. I make mistakes, put my whole foot in my mouth often and the worst part is I’m not always cognitive about it. I mean well though. Its also commonly understood we all do this. We all make mistakes and say the wrong thing sometimes. Before casting stones it’s good to make sure your hands are clean. Or here’s an idea. No throwing rocks at people. Seems like solid advice. Hey you can even say Jesus said it. 

I’m just not perfect. If you expect anyone to be perfect, I wish you all the luck in the world. You might even be lucky enough to find it according to the horoscope for the year of the metal ox. I’m also upfront about my psychological struggles. More than most people usually are. I come with a disclaimer and you either love me, tolerate me, understand me, misunderstand me or you don’t associate with me at all cause you think I suck. That is perfectly okay. I will still be kind to everyone and do my best no matter how much I fall down doing it. Still, putting all of that aside. I guess I’ve been pretty shocked by the actions of people I cared about this year. I’ve even made some pretty epic excuses for them. Trying to rationalize things and be more understanding. Doesn’t always work though. They say the world is paved in good intentions. I’m here wondering why I keep falling on said pavement all the time. Guess I’m just clumsy and gloriously awkward like that.

Now here’s the thing. We’ve all been mostly isolated or in forced exile from public life for a year. No hugging, no going to big parties, no traveling, no in-person contact without being mindful. Washing our hands, bodies, grocery bags, phone, counters everything a lot more than usual. It’s quite a change for some people. I’m used to good hygiene and admittedly a bit of a germaphobe. Cleanliness has not been a struggle for me at all. We’re living the masked and elbow bumping ‘if your lucky’ life. Meanwhile every headache, sneeze, allergies, tummy ache, literally everything makes you question if you’ve gotten Covid19. The pandemic is this invisible enemy that has placed a fear in us that is hard to ignore. It’s not fun and its one heck of a change for us to be forced to adapt to. I imagine for extroverts it’s even worse. As a pretty decent mix of introvert and extrovert I can say it kind of feels like we’re being punished. I’m so entirely ready for us to conquer the virus life and be able to hug again. Thank goodness I have a service dog. I hug her all the time and all she does is lick my face and make me smile. Seriously thank the heavens for pets. They’re probably ecstatic we’re home all the time now too. Anyways, we do what we must for the betterment of all. At least we should. That’s life with a pandemic across the globe. These times will pass. I really just got to have faith they will. 

We also had several consecutive years of absolute drama politically if the newsfeeds are to be believed on top of the pandemic. So, I understand the remedy. It’s to aspire to be a little extra patient with each other. Try even harder to understand and be kind. Why the extra effort? If you don’t know why we need to be a little more patient, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe it’s merely a matter of understanding that Patience, Kindness, and Compassion is a virtue. These are necessary ethics we should always strive to have. It’s also part of being an adult, civil, or trying to be mature about things, at least. Also, with so much turmoil in the world being patient is solid advice. 

Well, it’s been a tough year, and we’re on day one of the third month. We’re nearly a quarter in and our first week of the year started with an attack on our country’s capital. Not by another country but its own citizens. Embarrassing. I think it will take some time for our country to be that shining city on the hill again. However, we’re resilient and, I’m optimistic our country will survive. That’s about as much as I’m going to touch on politics because my brain just doesn’t focus on it more than it has too. No matter how much politics tries to force itself down our throats via friends, family or social media. I’m okay avoiding the topic henceforth. Back to the hopefully a quarterly update of substance or nonsense depending on how devoted you are to reading my blog posts. Warned you it would be lengthy. This chai tea is potent.

I’ve always thought that if you were ultimately a good person that naturally that would be enough. I thought naively that the circle of friends we have in life would be there for the good times and the bad. I have this idea that everyone is beautiful and human. Therefore, we may have a lot of awesome times, but we make mistakes just as often too. My thought process was and remains that I focus on the good times. If my friends or I mess up that this is okay. Why? Well because we’re human. It’s not always butterflies and daffodils. Who am I to forget all the smiles, joys, laughter and good times shared with others simply for the occasional mistake or unpleasantness? 

I am not better than anyone. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Still, this year has brought me a lot of hurt. I have been the target of a lot of negativity, misunderstandings, hate speech, lies, judgment and general rudeness. I’m not alone in this. Tensions globally are high. I’m certain we all have. I’m even certain that I have some blame for the disagreeable circumstances that wound my heart too. However, it has been especially vicious this year. You can smear honey on a knife and make it sweet but have no doubts it’s still sharp.

We all have these friends, family members, or acquaintances that for lack of a better description have sharp tongues. They don’t realize they draw blood or wound you with their words or actions. Probably because they wrap those sharp comments around enough pleasantries, honey, and distractions, we sometimes think we imagined it. That is until it goes too far and we’ve reached the end of our ropes and notice the wounds are indeed real. Yet, we remain by their sides. Why? Well, I can’t speak for everyone just myself. I like to think it’s because even if someone has a hurtful way of expressing themselves verbally that doesn’t mean that that’s the sum of them. Even if I have to try extra hard sometimes, I try and find the good in everything. Usually the times I’ve gotten a verbal lashing from someone I’ve filed it away to think about later, cried a bit when I was alone, or simply chose not to react to it. More often than not I’d go on a poetry spree. I’m an amateur poet. Still, if you read between the lines you can tell a lot about what’s going on in my head. Sink or swim. It’s a choice.  

The thing is after dealing with not pleasant assaults from people I care about for a while and by not speaking up about it I enabled them to continue. I allowed people to hurt me more and more. I was lenient giving them growing power and in turn this gave them the opportunities to flip the script. To place all of the blame for the troubles and sufferings of their life solely on my feet. To the point they even thought themselves doctors and tried to validate their lack of compassion by assigning me another mental affliction I should seek further help for. Believe it or not according to some not all, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to judge, speak ill, disparage, hurt, ignore, lie or make fun of people with disabilities. I don’t think it’s acceptable at all. I think people like that are really messed up. Who in their ‘right’ mind thinks it’s okay to treat disabled people with anything but compassion, kindness, patience and understanding? Apparently, plenty of people do. Sadly, some of those were people I knew and cared about. Still, I am very blessed. I no longer have to leave a person’s house early when the party’s just getting started because my feelings were hurt. I no longer have to call them because I care and check in with them because they made their wants perfectly clear. It also showed me who truly is a friend and who isn’t. Who was only using me for my generosity, kindness and to cure their boredom and who was authentically my friend. Let’s just say my call and social media list got shortened. However, the quality of my friendships with true friends strengthened. In a sense I guess that’s finding the cherry in the pie. It’s when times are tough that you find out who your friends really are. Good friends are like strong roots of a tree. A bunch of things can happen to that tree. It can even be struck by lightning, set on fire or cut down. However if those roots are strong, trust me that tree will sprout again. 

I know now who my friends really are. The one’s that will be there through good or bad. I was made aware of people’s true persona’s quite shockingly but find myself blessed. Do I think it’s a lucky year of the Ox? Yeah. In a sense I do. I believe that all the bad has given us a greater appreciation for all the good. It’s also not been all bad either. There’s been plenty of good in it and it does indeed outweigh the bad. Even if we have to search a little harder to find the good and the lucky these days. Have a deeper commitment to the genuine people that you know care about you. That speak with you not about you. That converse with you and not at you. That remember all the joys you’ve shared more than they are focusing on your failings. Associate with people that understand none of us is perfect and with this world in its current state the supreme and blissful value of patience. Or ignore my unsolicited advice. As much as I write these words in a public forum, they’re also my dear diary thoughts. They’re a way for me to remember my life should my memory fail me one day.

Therefore, to everyone who dislikes me for whatever imperfection they perceive defines my personality or presence; I genuinely wish you well. I’m not going to dwell any more than I have to on what has or hasn’t been done. I’m going to think about all the smiles and fun in the past fondly. I’ll miss those good times and moments. However, I accept the circumstances. It’s time to move on. 

There isn’t a word or series of sentences I can say to convince anyone my truth that I’m a flawed but ultimately good person. That’s ultimately up to you what you believe. I’m not defined by your thoughts about me. You are defined by your thoughts about me. Every time you point out flaws in others those are really just flaws about yourself you haven’t realized you have. It takes one to know one they say.

This pandemic will end. Relationships will strengthen, weaken, end, renew or begin as they always do. The important thing at the end of the night is my actions of the day. Did I do my best? Was I kind? Was I honest and caring? Patient? I find that though there are plenty of times I fail throughout my day there is twice that much in successes. I truly wish everyone happiness and the causes of happiness. Regardless if we’re compatible as friends or not. Separation hurts yes. I acknowledge this. However, I’ll heal. So will most of us. We’re highly adaptable creatures. If being a survivor of life has taught me anything it’s that I’m resilient. We are resilient. We can accomplish anything and we can choose to be authentic and kind.

I started this blog I think a bit over a year ago with some pretty good goals. One of them was to show that despite having physical and mental health challenges that I was a real person. I have feelings, worth, and am more than my impairments. I’m goofy, loving, dark, light, have my quirks, wear my weird on the outside and totally worthy of being alive. I wanted people to understand it’s okay to not be okay. That there is also good that can come from being open about your thoughts and benefits to being completely honest about your struggles and joys. 

I write a lot. It’s therapeutic to me. It’s also what my doctors encouraged and so it’s what I do. I spill all my dark, light, good, bad, peaceful and chaotic mental rants with the world. There isn’t a single day that it’s not appreciated by someone. Even if it’s just a handful of people your kindness makes me smile. Even if I’m shy a few bolts, it’s kind of nice knowing my words are not just floating aimlessly in the internet. They’re reaching people all around the world and people are responding. They are listening. Or reading if we want to get technical. 

So, has this Living with PTSD blog helped? Yes. This experiment of mine has indeed helped. It’s been good to have an outlet for my mind. Keeping everything in isn’t healthy and gosh we’re so trained from birth to do so. Therefore, don’t suppress yourself. Instead be honest with yourself. Acknowledge it all, the good and the bad. In the end above all, keep going. Make future plans and be optimistic. You are more than a medical diagnosis. Treasure genuine friendships, be goofy, laugh, smile, search for joy and make an effort to find the luck in every circumstance. 

To my followers and the great void of the internet, I appreciate you. Let us always aspire to be honest, love the faults in ourselves and others. Be kind or simply do your best. That’s what the world needs. Patience, Kindness, Compassion and Honesty. At least that’s my opinion. 

The first day of March. One of my many favorite months of the year. 

Love,

Alejandro

The Kind Gardener 

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