Suicide Solution: Friends To The End

depressionShe eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak…
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks…
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap…
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black. ~ Nirvana, Heart-Shaped Box

It’s no secret that I frequently lament being saddled with a depressive Pisces Ascendant, particularly on the occasions when it rears its moody head and I find myself wallowing in actual or perceived misery. That said, it would be ludicrous of me to blame every bout of melancholy solely on having a watery rising sign. But hey, it’s my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to.

Even so, I stand by my previous assertion that the zodiac sign most likely to struggle with suicidal ideations is none other than the Fishes. Furthermore, this is the sign that is one of the more susceptible to depression (obviously) as well as substance abuse. Pisces is the sign of the dreamer, the sign of shoulda – woulda – coulda, the sentimental poet, forever wishing things to be as they once were, or at least different from the way they perceive things to currently be.

I should probably point out here that I am not saying every poor bastard on the planet who has a Pisces Sun, Ascendant, or Moon is doomed to a miserable existence. What I am saying is that the rose-colored glasses through which many of these folks view the world certainly can and frequently does predispose them to issues with depressive disorders. The all-too-true story that follows is a personal example. It is also one I desperately wish had never happened for me to be able to tell it.

My younger son, a 17 year-old Taurus-Gemini cusp, was always…well…different, right from the get-go. He wasn’t reaching certain developmental milestones as expected, such as rolling over, crawling, becoming more mobile. After several months of physical exams and neurological evaluations, along with weekly in-home sessions with a pediatric physical therapist, his doctor finally declared that there was nothing physically wrong with my baby boy and “he could do these things if he wanted to, but for some reason, he doesn’t want to.” As predicted, it was as if he simply decided he wanted to one day when, a few months shy of his second birthday, he took off walking like a pro.

Over the next fourteen years, he exhibited other unusual traits as well as some turbulent emotional issues, and was at one time or another diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ODD, IED, OCD, major childhood depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, among a plethora of additional emotional disorders identified by their initials. It wasn’t until my Taurus cusp son was approaching his sixteenth birthday that he was properly diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome (AS), which is a high functioning form of autism, and which in hindsight explained everything perfectly, right down to the developmental delays in infancy and toddlerhood. He was also re-evaluated for the conditions he’d previously been diagnosed as having…and was found not to meet the diagnostic criteria for any of them. Because there are no “blanket” medications for Asperger’s as a whole (only for individual issues that may arise because of it), for the first time in nearly eleven years, his doctor ordered him to stop all of his medications. Almost immediately, there was a significant improvement in every aspect of his life with which he had previously struggled. Although I felt vindicated and relieved that he had finally received a correct diagnosis, I was — and still am — extremely angry that because it took so long to obtain the diagnosis, my son suffered needlessly for years when he could have been being properly treated with, for example, occupational therapy. But I digress… (and this is definitely the subject of a future post.)

imagesCAM1A5WLI wish I was like you
Easily amused…
Find my nest of salt
Everything’s my fault. ~ Nirvana, All Apologies

Anywho, “Aspies,” as they are sometimes called, are often extremely intelligent with well-above average IQs (my son’s IQ is nearly 140), possess extensive vocabulary skills, and have an uncanny ability to commit things to memory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with AS, let me try to paint you at least part of a picture. If you are a fan of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, you no doubt know the eccentric character Sheldon Cooper (flawlessly and hilariously portrayed by Jim Parsons). Sheldon is a Nobel prize-aspiring theoretical physicist, a socially inept genius with a memory like a steel trap who constantly reminds others of his superior intelligence. And although the show’s creators deny the character has it, Sheldon Cooper exhibits some of the textbook features of AS. Even Jim Parsons has stated he believes Sheldon has AS, and other Aspies frequently recognize themselves in Sheldon as well.

During the time my Aspie son and I lived in Arkansas, he met and became instant best friends with Kevin, a Pisces not quite three months older than he, and who had shared many of the same struggles. Although my young Bull tells me he always suspected Kevin was an Aspie, in addition to Kevin “liking” some autism pages on Facebook, it was something that they never talked about; furthermore, my son never mentioned that he himself was an Aspie because “[he] didn’t feel like it was important.” And I suppose it really wasn’t. What mattered was that they each recognized a kindred spirit in the other, whatever the reason.

From Kevin's Facebook page...ironically, posted as a joke several months prior to his death

From Kevin’s Facebook page…ironically, posted as a joke several months prior to his death

Again last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly how it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they’d like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November
Don’t wake me, I plan on sleeping in. ~ The Postal Service, Sleeping In

Have you ever met someone and just clicked immediately, as though you had known each other forever? Well, that was how it was with these two. When they weren’t together in school, they were laughing and chatting via headsets as they played Xbox Live, texting or talking on the phone, Facebooking, or hanging out on weekends, almost exclusively at the house in which Kevin lived with his aunt. And when we moved out-of-state last summer, the miles that now separated these kindred spirits mattered not; they remained every bit as close as they had been since day one. The all-night Xbox Live marathons continued, as did the texting, the phone calls, and the Facebooking, literally on a daily basis. More recently, they had begun to discuss the idea of becoming roommates after their eighteenth birthdays next year. They considered relocating to Oklahoma or Kansas to do the roomie thing, or perhaps the possibility of Kevin heading out to Arizona where my teenage Bull currently resides.

This 17 year-old Piscean, in my opinion, was probably somewhat misunderstood by those who hadn’t taken the time to really know him. Not unlike my own son, he had a wicked, albeit dark sense of humor, which many people weren’t always sure how to take. He was also extraordinarily intelligent with a well-above average IQ. On the few occasions I met him, he struck me as being remarkably similar to my own son, which is probably why I liked him. Kevin thrived on attention, even if it was for something negative. Like my teenage Bull, he too had had a few skirmishes with the law and subsequently found himself on probation. Additionally, like my son, he clearly enjoyed saying things for shock value, to get a reaction.

Tragically, I can’t help but wonder if this was at least partly the reason that no one responded — and one person actually “liked” it — when this young Pisces posted a suicide note on his Facebook page.

imagesCA5V4B8KFuck critics, fuck your review
Even if you like me, fuck you;
Fuck your mom, fuck your mom’s mama
Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama. ~ Insane Clown Posse, Fuck The World

A chilling status update, less than 24 hours prior to his death

A disturbing status update, less than 24 hours prior to his death

If there’s anything I am capable of understanding, it’s how someone can get into the mindframe where dying sounds like a great idea. I’m no stranger to suicidal ideations; I’ve been there myself…many times. Fortunately, it’s been quite some time since I last seriously considered or even flirted with the notion of closing my eyes in eternal slumber. What I can’t seem to grasp, however, is how or why someone would deliberately choose a painful, prolonged, agonizing method in which to exit their life. Intense hatred of oneself? Seems obvious, but surely there’s more to it than that…right?

Or, maybe there isn’t. Maybe the reason really is that simple…so deceptively simple we look right past it.

A look through this troubled teenage Piscean’s Facebook timeline reveals a glimpse into at least a snippet of what was going through his

Truly, a thousand words...posted several months prior to his death

Truly, a thousand words…posted several months prior to his death

head in the months, days, hours, even minutes before he took deliberate action to bring about his own demise. There are posts, pictures, and videos (mostly shared, not original) that are thought-provoking, nonsensical, hilarious, spot-on observant, disgusting, intelligent, offensive, laugh-out-loud funny, and somewhat disturbing, yet they are all intriguing when you consider the frame of mind of the individual who posted them.

Yeah, it's funny. But I suspect Kevin was less like "Tim" than he realized...

Yeah, it’s funny. I believe Kevin wanted to be like “Tim” and probably even thought he was. But I suspect he was more like “everyone” than he realized, or would care to admit…

Jace is my teenage Bull. And best friends, they definitely were.

Jace is my teenage Bull. And best friends, they definitely were.

1175700_617537378286689_1330557955_n

Ha! Great advice. I do it all the time.

There are so many more. Entirely too many to even think about sharing all of them, or even most of them. But this is just a sampling. This sharp, quick-witted Piscean definitely had a sense of humor.

kevinleaving8am04sept2013One of the last images Kevin uploaded to his timeline is one that hopefully won’t haunt my grieving Taurus son for the rest of his days. It is a screenshot of an undated chat conversation between the two of them, in which he tagged my Aspie Bull, posted at 8am CDT on the day of his death. As you can see, Kevin states, “I’m leaving.” And…he did. But not before crafting at least two suicide notes: a wistful, heartfelt yet brief message which he sent privately to my son, wishing him all the best in life and telling my son he loved him, and a more angst-filled second one announcing his intentions to Facebook.

Capture9

This horrific declaration was posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 12:22pm CDT.

Sadly, this time it wasn’t solely for shock value. After posting this bitter letter to the world at large, 17 year-old Kevin did exactly what he stated he would do. He doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire outside his grandmother’s home. He was rushed to the children’s burn center, with burns covering 99% of his body.

imagesCAW7ACN0Nothing is real but pain now…
Hold my breath as I wish for death;
Oh please God, wake me… ~ Metallica, One

Kevin passed away at 11:20pm CDT that evening, surrounded by his devastated family including his father, stepmother, stepsister and stepbrother in-law, and the grief-stricken grandmother at whose home it all took place.

Why was this sweet little Pisces such a tortured soul?

What kind of inner turmoil eventually drove this happy little boy to take his own life…and in such a horrific way?

Suicides by burning, or self-immolation, while common in countries such as India and Afghanistan, account for less than one percent of all suicides in the U.S. How does someone get to the point of such sheer desperation? What has to take place in a person’s life that is so unbearable that they find not just death, but a fiery, violent, excruciatingly painful death preferable? Why would anyone purposely choose such a torturous manner of death? Was it a big “fuck you” to the world on his way out? One final statement for shock value? A protest against what he viewed as all the wrongs in the world, as he mentioned in his post about self-immolation? To punish the folks in his life he resented? Did he simply hate himself that much? All of the above? None of the above?

By all accounts, Kevin had a loving, caring family. He frequently claimed that no one cared, that no one wanted him around…but this was certainly not the case, evidenced by the unimaginable grief, the tears shed by so many who can’t understand why he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe he was truly loved and wanted. Why couldn’t, or didn’t he believe this?

Soooo not true.

Maybe Kevin hated himself so much that he didn’t believe it was possible for anyone to love or care about him, and/or perhaps he didn’t feel that he was worthy of anyone’s love. His chosen method of suicide is certainly steeped in intense self-hatred. Although the rest of us can see quite clearly that was absolutely not true, that he was worthy and he was loved, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, whatever the reason, it was Kevin’s reality. Our perceptions are our reality.

And, just maybe, it’s not for anyone else to understand the goings-on inside the exceptional mind of this tortured Piscean soul. We can wax philosophical all day long and never will we know with 100 percent certainty why this young man with the potential to be anything, to do anything, chose to exit this life when and in the way he did.

The last song Kevin listened to was this cover of Cheap Trick's classic "I Want You to Want Me" by Gary Jules

The last song Kevin listened to was this cover of Cheap Trick’s classic “I Want You to Want Me” by Gary Jules

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’…
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?
I want you to want me…
I need you to need me…
I’d love you to love me. ~ Cheap Trick (covered by Gary Jules), I Want You To Want Me

I hope and pray that he has found the peace in death which evidently eluded him during his way too brief lifetime.

Rest well, sweetie. We’ll see you on the Other Side.

Rest well, sweet Kevin... February 26, 1996 - September 4, 2013

Rest well, sweet Kevin…
February 26, 1996 – September 4, 2013

I have lost the will to live…
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me…
Need the end to set me free
Things not what they used to be…
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can’t be real…
Cannot stand this hell I feel. ~ Metallica, Fade to Black


NOTE: I will be participating on behalf of Team Kevin in the 2013 Little Rock Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention on November 2. If you would like to take part, or simply make a donation (no matter how small), please visit Team Kevin’s AFSP fundraising page.

The Soundtrack to My Broken Heart

“So many dreams that flew away, so many words we didn’t say…
Two people lost in a storm… Where did we go?
Where’d we go? We lost what we both had found…
You know we let each other down
But then, most of all
I do love you… still.” ~The Commodores, “Still”

Powerful lyrics. Word for word, it is as if they speak directly to my soul. And if I told you that every time I hear them, be it on the radio, television, or randomly in my own blonde Aries head, that I don’t become even slightly emotional (courtesy of a depressive Pisces Ascendant), my pants would be metaphorically on fire. The truth is, the simple act of typing those lyrics quite literally has me trying to focus through vision blurred by tears begging to fall, accompanied by an all-too familiar tightness in my throat. And there’s a significant chance that if I blink, those tears will flood down my cheeks like a wall of water crashing through a dam that has given way.

Yup… there it is. (I blinked.)Image

The end of a marriage or long-term relationship goes far beyond losing your significant other. As if that aspect alone isn’t painful enough, we also bid farewell to the plans we’ve made for the future, sharing our common hopes and goals, and making our dreams a reality together. My 8-year long-term relationship with a Cancer-cusp man was the most wonderfully satisfying relationship of my life…and his (I’m not being presumptious with such a bold statement; he told me on many occasions that was also true for him.) We were platonic friends for ten years prior to making the leap to the next level, and what an awesome foundation for a romantic relationship that was! A solid foundation built on a decade of hundreds of heart-to-heart conversations, more often than not lasting from late evening til daybreak…and never running out of things to chat about, no awkward pauses; it was comfortable, natural, and right. For all intents and purposes, we were best friends. When we broached the subject of taking things a step further and followed through shortly thereafter, we were a bit concerned that things would “get weird.” But to our surprise and delight, they didn’t! On the contrary, it felt more along the lines of this is how it’s supposed to be. Like Cinderella’s glass slipper, it was a perfect fit.

Neither one of us had ever loved anyone as truly, madly, or deeply (thank you, Savage Garden) as we loved each other. “Where have you been all my life?” we’d frequently wonder aloud, as we snuggled in the safety of each other’s arms late into the night. After much discussion, we agreed that perhaps the Universe felt we first had to experience our share of painful, unhappy relationships; a prerequisite, as it were, in order to learn from our previous mistakes, but also so we could fully appreciate the happiness we now shared as a couple. It was totally worth the wait.

“Nothin’ lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain
…but lovers always come and lovers always go and no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today
Walkin’ away…
If we could take the time to lay it on the line I could rest my head just knowin’ that you were mine…
All mine.” ~ Guns N’ Roses, “November Rain”

I believed, as did my Cancer-cusp beloved, that although it’s said nothing lasts forever, that couldn’t possibly apply to us. On Valentine’s Day 2010, which would be our last together, I presented him with a wooden plaque that read Grow Old Along With Me, The Best Is Yet To Be. We wholeheartedly expected to be together til one of us departed this life.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

ImageLike most couples who are in it for the long haul, we faced the inevitable rough patches from time to time. We had our good years and we had our bad years, the way relationships tend to wax and wane. Ours was no different. The cruel irony, however, is not only had we managed to navigate far more treacherous waters over the years and emerge relatively unscathed, with a stronger bond to boot, we somehow ended on what we mutually agreed had been our best year yet. So many couples recollect how their relationships gradually headed south over a period of time until the only option left was to end it. An obituary written for the demise of those marriages might read “passed away after an extended illness.” Not ours. If one were to compose an obituary for our relationship, it would read “died suddenly at home.”  It’s like a cosmic joke that, a year and a half postmortem, I still don’t get.

And then…deafening silence. The Cancer-cusp love of my life, with whom I was utterly convinced I would live out my twilight years, virtually deleted himself from my life. I felt more like a widow as opposed to an ex.  He seemed to vanish into the ether and cease to be, practically overnight, existing only in my memory. I had no communication whatsoever with the man with whom I had hoped and planned to grow old.

That is, until one year, two months, and three weeks later.

“There was pain, but we got past it                                                        

There were last goodbyes still left unspoken   

You’re the only love my life has known…

And after all this time               

You’re always on my mind

Hey I could never let you go

A broken heart that heals so slow

Could never beat for someone new

While you’re alive and I am too

And after all this time

You’re always on my mind

I still miss you.” ~ Rodney Crowell, “After All This Time”

For the first time in over a year, we are back in contact via text messaging.

It’s been a fairly abbreviated exchange thus far (how much depth can such a conversation actually have in text messages?) and I couldn’t bring myself to inquire about any current girlfriend he might have. I’m terrified of the answer. While I want to know (thanks to a curious Aquarius Moon at work), I don’t want to know (a textbook Pisces Ascendant reaction, seeing only what we want to see.) Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

However, we mutually acknowledged we can never go back to what we had. Oh, how I wish that wasn’t the case. My Aries Sun, forever grasping at optimistic straws (bless its stubborn heart), so desperately wants to believe there’s still a glimmer of hope somewhere. But deep down in my broken heart, I know things would never be the same. I can only hope that at some point, he will be open to the possibility of slowly rebuilding our friendship. It was devastating to lose the connection we had as friends, not to mention the agony of saying goodbye to the relationship itself.

I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. He says he’s ready to graduate from texting, and wants to talk.

I have nothing to lose. After all, I already lost everything.

The Rudest Awakening

“And no, you can’t always get what you want…
No, you can’t always get what you want…
Well, no, you can’t always get what you want…
But if you try sometimes, you just might find…
You get what you need.”
~ The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

All right, I confess: my Aries Sun seems to have endowed me with an innate sense of entitlement (though some might refer to it as arrogance.) Throughout my life, any time I found myself wanting something (or someone), it never occured to me that being unable to make it (or them) mine was possible. I naturally assumed, Ram that I am, I would get anything and anyone I wanted…one way or another. Failure was not an option, nor was it part of my vocabulary. I viewed obstacles as mere nuisances to be brushed aside as I stubbornly forced my way toward the desired result. More often than not, I succeeded in obtaining whatever I sought. This personality trait has bestowed me with a tremendous drive which has benefitted me in nearly every aspect of my life.

Conversely, it has also taught me that I’m not as infallible as I always believed. Because – gasp! – sometimes, things aren’t going to work in my favor, or at least in the way I intended. (I know, I know…it was a rude awakening for me too.)

When my 8-year relationship with the complicated Cancer-cusp who was, and still is, the love of my life, ended in January 2011, I told him I did not want to lose his friendship. I had managed to remain friendly with many of my exes (not random boyfriends I’ve had; rather, long-term relationships/marriages) and given the fact that my Cancer and I had been platonic friends (okay, platonic friends who secretly lusted for one another) for ten years prior to beginning our relationship, I thought we would have no problem salvaging our friendship. The thought of him no longer being a part of my life in any capacity was, well, unfathomable. And we did stay friends (with benefits, as well) until I left Kansas in late April 2011 when I foolishly ignored my intuition and moved to Arkansas. A few weeks after I left, my estranged Cancer-cusp texted some tremendously hurtful messages to me, to which I replied with my own brand of sarcastic, equally cruel comments. That was on May 10, 2011: the last time we communicated in any way, shape, or form.

Lo and behold, I had officially lost the friendship on top of having lost the relationship. I was absolutely crushed, devastated, grief-stricken, nauseated, regretful, shattered, along with around 47 other adjectives…but the bottom line? I was so incredibly hurt by his absence in my life, it literally ached. As the Red Hot Chili Peppers once sang, I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day.

It was the first day I realized that I, the Jen Montgomery, the headstrong, determined Aries who had always managed to somehow get her way, was in no way exempt from the human experience of plans not working out in the way I assumed they would or should. I understand how arrogant that sounds: “Really Jen?” you ask incredulously. “Are you seriously so presumptious that you are just now discovering you can’t always get your way?” You heard me. I’m not proud of it, but I never claimed my delusions of grandeur were accurate. Once I came to the realization that they were delusions rather than a law of physics, it was a jolt to my system. I learned that, in fact, I might not and will not always get what I want.

What I wanted was my Cancer-cusp to remain in my life, even if only as the friends we once were. What I got was my Cancer-cusp removing himself from my life altogether…and it happened so suddenly, it was akin to ripping off a band-aid, taking some skin and hair along with it. Quite painful.

In the midst of my anguish, I had an epiphany. In a nutshell, it went something like this: “Fuck that.” I concluded that being angry would be much easier than allowing myself to continue to feel the unrelenting sadness, guilt, and loss. So what did I choose to do? I became angry. No, wait; allow me to rephrase that: I was pissed. I tried to convince myself, whilst venting to anyone within earshot, that I hated my ex-Cancer-cusp with every fiber of my being. My new pasttime was ranting to the world on a regular basis about what a worthless, drunk, heartless, hateful, lazy, no-job-havin’ bastard he was. I truly hoped terrible things would befall him (perhaps with the exception of death.) I raised my imaginary glass in a toast to his (hopeful) eventual failure, poverty, misery, herpes, and a lifetime sprinkled with unhappiness.

There was just one problem with this approach: every time I made such abrasive statements, I felt terribly guilty. After all, I knew none of those characterizations were true. I certainly didn’t hate him. It was the exact opposite: I still loved him with all my heart and soul, and I knew I always would. But it was simply easier to convince myself to hate him than to cave in to the feelings of loss, grief, and the pain of losing him. So I threw myself into my hatred and anger toward him, expending enormous amounts of energy into convincing everyone, including myself, that I hated the man.

As the months passed with my erstwhile love securely in my rearview mirror, I had another revelation: although his severing of contact with me was against my will, I conceded that it had probably forced me to move on rather than be a slave to my Pisces Ascendant and hold on to my past. I became acutely aware that had he not chosen to uproot himself from my life, it would have been infinitely more difficult to move forward and there was the (albeit slim) possibility we might have ended up back together again, which could have been a giant step backward.

I hadn’t gotten what I wanted. But I had gotten what I needed…even though it wasn’t clear to me at the time.

I needed to move on. I needed to release the death grip I had on the past. I needed to focus on what was to be, as opposed to what once was. I needed to step back, take a deep breath, and rediscover who I was as an individual, rather than who I was as one-half of a relationship. I needed to learn that sometimes, it’s really okay to say goodbye and part ways, even if it hurts like hell. I needed to understand that frequently, it’s the most painful lessons that are needed the most.

I never asked for, nor wanted, any of those lessons.

But I definitely needed them.

Your Intuition Knows More Than You Do: Are You Listening?

“…I haven’t felt like this in so long
Wrong, in a sense too far gone from love
That don’t last forever
Something’s gotta turn out right.”  
~ “Got Me Wrong,” Alice In Chains

The pull I felt toward Kansas was incredibly powerful. So strong, in fact, that it made each additional day I spent living in Arkansas absolutely torturous. I had an overwhelming desire/need to go back to Kansas. It was clearly my intuition at work, like a toddler I couldn’t ignore, tugging on my sleeve for attention, so I listened and I went, no questions asked. I already intuitively knew the answers anyway.

But as we all know life tends to do from time to time, it threw a wrench into those plans. On our way back to Kansas, at my mom’s insistence, my Taurus kiddo and I spent a few weeks staying at her house north of El Reno, Oklahoma before we headed north to Kansas permanently (or so we thought.)

indecisiveThe thing was, however, as each day of my “temporary” stay in Oklahoma passed, I began to feel a different pull. I felt like I wanted (needed?) to just set up camp right where I was…in Oklahoma. Nevertheless, I ignored my intuition and we ventured on up to Kansas after two weeks, shushing that little inner voice that wanted us to stay in Oklahoma. And sure enough, that nagging toddler was back with a vengeance, tugging on my sleeve for attention. Only this time it seemed to shout “OKLAHOMA!”

So today, here I sit at home in Oklahoma: my motherland (if you wanna be all poetic about it.) Oklahoma feels right. Not that Kansas felt wrong; on the contrary, it also felt right – which was part of the problem. But in the end, Oklahoma won out because my primary motivation for returning to Kansas was my 22 year-old son, a freedom-loving Sadge who is busy coming into his own and evidently doesn’t need his loud, stubborn Aries mother much these days. (Or maybe he does, but he doesn’t realize it…who knows?)

That being the case, if by moving back to Kansas my goal would be to see my Archer son more often, it would be pointless.  He is understandably preoccupied with building a life for himself;  in particular, with the sweetest Leo brunette a mom could ever want for her son. He works, he has a lot of friends, and a variety of interests. My baby boy no longer cries with upraised arms when I leave. He is a grown man, and his mama isn’t much of a priority these days, if she’s even a priority at all. I remind myself often not to take it personally; he certainly isn’t doing any of this with malicious intent. In fact, he is probably blissfully unaware of how much his detachment hurts me. But then my overly-sensitive Pisces Ascendant hijacks my emotions (which it does far too often for my liking) and I dissolve into a puddle of self-pity, crying my eyes out, wondering what I did, what I said, that my firstborn child seems to have forgotten, or even care, that I exist.

Eventually, I realize it is what it is and that this is more than likely just a phase and he will come around sooner or later, both figuratively and literally. (NOTE: this slightly more positive outlook is brought to you by my Aries Sun: always looking for that pinpoint of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.)

When Costanza did the opposite of everything his intuition told him, he found success!

When Costanza did the opposite of everything his intuition told him, he found success!

In my 40 years on this planet, I have undoubtedly made more than my fair share of mistakes, usually because instead of tuning in to my inner voice, I tend to rationalize my decisions. Lately, however, I have been consciously trying to listen more closely to my intuition (even if that is somewhat of an oxymoron) in an effort to avoid being too cerebral, led by logic alone. It’s not unlike the classic Seinfeld episode, The Opposite, in which George announces that because every decision he has ever made has been wrong, the opposite would have to be right. So he does the opposite of what he would ordinarily do in any situation, and becomes wildly successful, literally overnight – even landing a dream job with the Yankees. (Hmm…perhaps I should adopt this approach; after all, if it worked for Costanza, surely it’d work for me…) But seriously…

I once read an interesting article on decision-making in which the author offered a slightly unorthodox method to discover what it is you really want when you just can’t seem to figure it out. It’s a simple, yet helpful, way that just might surprise you and works best when you are trying to decide between two scenarios; i.e., stay in your present job or go back to school; whether to move to Kansas or move to Oklahoma; etc. Here’s how it works: pick a coin; any coin. Assign one scenario as “heads,” the other as “tails.” Flip the coin. Were you happy with the outcome or were you disappointed? (Best two out of three…okay, best three out of five.) Your reaction should reveal to you relatively quickly how you truly feel about a situation when the answer isn’t so obvious consciously. Give it a try!

By getting into the habit of not only trusting my intuition, but following it, I know I will find a whole new world of opportunities

AAAACK!

AAAACK!

waiting for me, which in turn will (theoretically) allow me to lead a more satisfying life with (presumably) fewer bad decisions. I listened to my intuition when it insisted I return to Kansas…and I listened to it again when, in Kansas, it pushed me back toward Oklahoma. (Sheesh…I sound as wishy-washy as a damn Libra!) But you know what? The incessant inner chatter has now quieted down…no doubt because (finally), it’s right.  If something feels right, brings harm to none, and is doable, I’m just going to make it happen.

If I do, surely, as the late Layne Staley once sang, something’s gotta turn out right.

Pomp and Circumstance: Who’s Who in the Zodiac Yearbook

In the tradition of high school yearbooks that name students as being “most likely to…”, I present to you my Zodiac Yearbook. Enjoy!

Most Likely to Struggle with a Drug or Alcohol Addiction – Pisces   Pisceans, who by nature are sentimental, dreamy poets, are also the most likely to suffer from depression (though Cancer runs a close second). Pisces also prefers to view the world through rose-colored glasses, seeing only what they want to see. Drugs and/or alcohol further enable their denial of Real Life. It’s noteworthy that the sign most likely to commit suicide is…you guessed it: Pisces. (A near tie/close second: Cancer.)

Most Likely to Drink Straight from the Milk Carton – Aries  If you see a notoriously impatient Ram barrelling in your general direction (they’re quick so it might be a blur), get out of the way. Fast. These folks simply cannot grasp the concept of slow and steady winning the race. In fact, so much so that why on God’s green earth would they dream of wasting up to 45 whole seconds to take a cup out of the cabinet, pour the milk, drink it, put the carton back in the fridge, and take the empty cup to the sink, when they could simply fling open the refrigerator door, remove the cap from the milk carton, take a long, healthy swig, replace the cap, and stick the carton back in the fridge, in seven seconds flat? (And in case you’re wondering, as an Aries, yes…I plead guilty to this offense.)

Most Likely to Be Spotted Roaming the Video Store for an Hour, Trying to Decide What to Rent – Libra  It must be sheer hell inside the vacillating mind of a Libra. The example that comes to mind is on a Family Guy episode in which we see Peter agonizing over which DVD to rent: “Ernest Goes to the Beach” or “Ernest Doesn’t Go to the Beach.” It is also ill advised to ask a Libra “paper or plastic?” or “soup or salad?” It’s torturous for them to decide, and even more so for you to watch.

Most Likely to Adopt Every Stray Animal in the Neighborhood – Cancer   That homeless mutt or fluffy feline seeking food and/or shelter has hit the motherload by appearing at Cancer’s door. Sensitive, tenderhearted, nurturing Cancer simply cannot say no to an animal. What; Cancer already has 26 dogs, 14 cats, 2 parakeets, an aquarium teeming with marine life, and a hamster or two (or three or four)? Oh what the hell, come on in anyway, lucky stray! Cancer will hook you up!

Most Likely to Become a Serial Killer – Capricorn   The moody, methodical, perservering Goat has just what it takes to pull off multiple homicides. Patience is one of their virtues, and we all know, courtesy of just about any of the gazillion forensics shows on TV on a daily basis, a serial killer trips himself up when he’s rushed and unorganized. Patient, plodding, and meticulously organized, Capricorn easily qualifies for an OCD diagnosis and the highest daily dose of Prozac known to man. Cappy has no qualms about waiting as long as necessary, biding his time until the moment is exactly right for his next “project.” He’s a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist and will double-, triple-, and quadruple-check his “work,” leaving no stone unturned to ensure lack of evidence. Who runs a close second to this murderous Goat? Virgo.

Most Likely to Be Murdered – Virgo   If you have a Virgo in your life (my condolences), you probably chuckled at Virgo winning this honor. I mean, really; nag, complain, criticize, piss, moan, bitch. What were you thinking, doing it your way, silly Normal Person, when of course, everyone knows that Virgo knows best. And one of responsible, critical Virgo’s favorite pasttimes is to itemize a list of all your faults with explicit instructions on how to rid yourself of those unbecoming behaviors so that you, too, can bask in the same light of perfection as the Virgo who made the damn list, followed by another list (both lists in alphabetical order, of course) of things you should have done differently (read: done the Virgo Way). But Virgo has unreasonably high standards, so you will find it nearly impossible to ever be up to par in their eyes. The irony here is that Virgo truly believes that by picking apart everything you accomplish like a vulture on roadkill (as in “oh, that’s great! But if you’d done ____ instead, it woulda been better”), it is rarely because they’re a pompous ass: Virgo honestly feels that by pointing out every tiny mistake you make, or dictating how you should undertake a task (which, of course, is how they would do it), they (usually) are simply trying to help you. Nevertheless, when you find yourself on the torturous receiving end of one of Virgo’s “you shoulda done this/ you coulda done that/ if you woulda done this” lectures for about the 900th time, you start losing your mind and eventually come to realize the only real solution is to murder the damn Virgo, which you’ll probably be provoked to do with the closest blunt object within reach, in the midst of one of their long-winded, here’s-how-you-can-be-as-spectacular-as-I sermons, in your understandable heat-of-the-moment fury. Not to worry, however: if any of the jurors in your murder trial has ever had to deal with a Virgo, a verdict of  justifiable homicide is all but inevitable.

Most Likely to Sabotage a Beauty Pageant to Work In Their Favor – Leo   Is an explanation for this one even necessary? We’re talking about an egomaniacal, limelight-hoarding, thunder-stealing Lion who absolutely must be numero uno at all costs, and anything less is unacceptable. Leo is in it to win it and will exercise any measure to achieve victory…and so what if it’s a little shady? In Leo’s eyes, they deserve to win anyway; rigging a beauty pageant (or any contest, for that matter) is simply a little ego insurance…besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little harmless ballot tampering, right? Right

Most Likely to Boil Your Bunny – Scorpio    You finally mustered up the nerve to have the “we need to talk” talk with the Scorpion you’ve been dating  – and wow! – it went really well! You had fully expected your Scorpio to throw a tantrum the likes of which a breakup has never before seen, but to your amazement, she/he is surprisingly agreeable when you sheepishly confess that it “just isn’t working out” and even when you topped it off with that nauseating “it’s-not-you-it’s-me” cliché (it really was them). As the two of you exchange a half-hearted hug, smile, and wish one another well, you’re beyond relieved that your ex-Scorpion took it so well. “That wasn’t bad at all; I don’t know why I was so worried!” you chuckle to yourself as you ride off into the sunset to begin anew, sans Scorpion. Several months pass. Every aspect of your life is going b-e-a-utifully. But lately, you seem to have stumbled into a series of unfortunate events. First it’s your car. You might be tempted to chalk the four slashed tires, the sugar in your gas tank, or the sudden brake failure which sends you careening downhill toward a dense tree row, up to coincidence or bad luck. But shortly thereafter, you just can’t shake the nagging feeling that your coworkers…and your friends…(and your grandmother…and your pastor…and your cat) are snickering behind your back. (You’re actually quite astute; after all, that Photoshopped picture of “you” that has found its way into mass email circulation performing, um, questionable acts with a flaming drag queen is hilarious.) But coming home to find a jack-o-lantern on your front porch with an 8-inch butcher knife stuck in the side of its head with a note attached that says “YOU” – now, that crosses the line. What the deuce could you have ever done to deserve any of this? Ohhhh, that’s right…you made the fatal mistake of breaking off a relationship with a Scorpio. But wait, didn’t you only date for three weeks, eight months ago? Doesn’t matter. It’s a capital offense which, in the mind of a Scorpion, calls for nothing less than cruel and unusual punishment.

Most Likely to Join a Cult – Cancer  Oh good lord, this guy again. Where to begin? Cults seek out impressionable, needy folks who are sensitive and frequently vulnerable. Everything a cult leader could possibly desire in a follower is neatly wrapped in an elegant Crab package, complete with a big, bright bow on top.  Generally, Cancer doesn’t mind being led. They are loyal beyond question, and just passive enough to be ripe for the cult leader’s picking. Even better: they are extremely family-oriented so they will be sure to bring at least two generations from the Crab family tree along with them when they relocate to your cult compound.

Most Likely to Be a Cult Leader – Aquarius   With their eccentricity and forward-thinking ways, Water Bearers make ideal cult leaders. Vulnerable folks desperate for acceptance will find it here, because Aquarius is easily the most tolerant, accepting soul in all of the Land of Zodiac. They’re also uncannily magnetic and, with one well-timed, witty remark, they’ll charm the pants right off of you faster than you can say Waco. Now that Aquarius has convinced you that he is the god (or devil) incarnate, you’re in his clutches and now he can start filling the heads of his eager yes-men and women with whatever pseudoreligious/commie /Nazi/government-overthrowing propaganda or soon-to-come Helter Skelter-esque uprising he has brewing in his mad scientist-like mind, convincing every poor sap who was suckered in by his charm, wit, and intellect that he has all the answers to every question you’ve ever had. So come on, what are you waiting for? Change into the standard blue jogging suit and Nikes that were issued to you upon arrival, then please feel free to help yourself to some of the delicious punch in the big bowl over on the table!

Most Likely to Make Late-Night Purchases on QVC – Taurus   A Bull is a sucker for any gadget they believe will make life easier. Just take a gander inside their kitchen cabinets (when no one is around to catch you, of course; Taurus has a routine and may God have mercy on your disorganized soul should you put something back in the wrong place). You’ll probably find a Chop Wizard alongside an Egg Genie, Ronco Food Dehydrator, the Baconator, Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, pretty much any gadget labeled “The Ronco,”  and no Taurean kitchen is complete without a mini-cupcake maker (because haven’t we all found ourselves lamenting on numerous culinary occasions, “If only there was a way to make tiny cupcakes!”) If the product advertisement boasts “only x number of payments of $19.95” and/or “but wait; there’s MORE!” you can rest assured a Taurus will snatch it up.

Most Likely to Cheat on Their Significant Other – Sagittarius   Let’s cut right to the chase: Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter (planet of luck and abundance), is a freedom-loving sign. Jupiter’s influence amplifies that love of/need for freedom exponentially. The quickest way to drive a Sadge out of your house and into the arms of another is to make an ill-advised attempt to control them or launch into a jealous tirade. The Archer tends to take love and fidelity somewhat lightly. This is not to say that every Sadge on Planet Earth has cheated, is currently cheating, or is destined to be a philandering adulterer/adulteress. All it means is that, by nature, a Sadge is particularly predisposed to be a carrier of the zodiac cheating gene.

Most Likely to Lie to You – Libra   No one likes a liar. But when Libra feeds you a line of crap, it’s usually not with malicious intent. Libra represents fairness, equality, justice. Let’s say you are friends with a Libra, and your Libra buddy has another friend with whom you don’t happen to get along too well. One day, you and Libra are chatting and you launch into a litany of things that you abhor about Other Friend. Libra not only agrees with your observations and takes your side in the dispute, but also contributes a few snide comments herself. Meanwhile, back at the ranch the next day, Libra is having a convo with Other Friend, who begins to rant to Libra about the umpteen things they hate about you…only this time, Libra sides with Other Friend, chiming in with a rundown of your shortcomings – and wait, what’s this? – Libra and Other Friend are having nearly an identical conversation as the one you just had with Libra a few days ago. While you would be well within your rights to feel betrayed, there’s more to it than that. Libra isn’t two-faced in a malicious way. Libra simply dislikes confrontation and wants everyone to be happy. Libra wants and needs balance (it’s the sign of the Scales). Therefore, in the interest of serenity and never wishing to cause a scene, Libra will simply tell everyone what she thinks they want to hear.

Most Likely to Start an Extensive Home Remodeling Project and Never Finish – Gemini   These scatterbrained, hyperactive twins love to be busy, busy, busy. And they’re easily distracted. (Oooh, shiny red ball!) They flit around to and fro, project to project, abandoning one for another as soon as they sense the first painful twinges of boredom, but in the end, most of what they start never really gets completed…unless the poor soul who is their significant other lets out a long sigh, as if to say “oh, great; another half-assed Gemini undertaking I’m stuck finishing. Again.”

In closing, on this day I say to all zodiac signs: you’re not a slave to your Sun sign, or even your natal chart, for that matter. These traits are only tendencies, based on your Sun sign. You’re not at the mercy of being born under a bad sign. Whatever quirk your Sun sign predisposes you to you that you dislike, you have the power to change it. So go out into the world with your held held high, and be the very best Aries / Taurus / Gemini / Cancer /  Leo / Virgo  / Libra / Scorpio /  Sagittarius / Capricorn / Aquarius /Pisces that you can be. Godspeed! Continue reading

Shoulda – Woulda – Coulda: The Perils of Having a Pisces Ascendant

“And I’m glad I didn’t know…

The way it all would end, the way it all would go

Our lives are better left to chance, I could’ve missed the pain…

But I’d have had to miss the dance.”  ~Garth Brooks, “The Dance”

Ah…some of the most profound lyrics (to me, anyway) of any song ever written. There are endless painful situations in my life to which I’ve applied those words: my divorce, the untimely death of my children’s father, relationship endings…to name just a few.

Those lyrics are also the condensed musical embodiment of what life is like when one has a Pisces Ascendant.

As someone who has been afflicted/cursed/stricken with this dreadful Ascendant, I have an unenviable tendency to look backward, with one foot planted firmly in the past most days…occasionally even one and a half feet! It’s practically a hobby of mine to rehash past events (typically, a failed relationship), as I long for what once was, what could have been, what should never have been, and what I could have done differently. Add to that a forward-thinking Aquarius Moon continually trying to detach me emotionally, throw in one stubborn, impatient Aries Sun who wants what it wants this instant – and not a second later if you know what’s good for you – and you’ve got yourself one perplexed, half-crazy blonde.

Let’s examine this further.

Facebook. A wonderful social media outlet, allowing us to not only keep in touch with family and friends by posting pictures and statuses chronicling the excruciating minutiae of our lives, but to also make like-minded new friends and reunite with old friends. I’ve done all of these things! Right now, in fact, I’m sitting in the home of a Leo girlfriend of mine from middle school, whom I hadn’t seen or been able to locate in 20 years…but finally found again through the magic of Facebook. Just a few hours ago, I spent over an hour and a half on the phone with one of my best friends, a thirtysomething, slightly-insane, Aquarian hippie tree genius, whom I never would have known existed had I not created a Facebook account. Furthermore, I’d probably not know whether or not my firstborn child, a 22 year-old Sadge who rarely keeps in touch with his loopy Aries mother, was even still alive if not for his random status updates and pics on Facebook. So Facebook is, like, the greatest thing since sliced bread. Right? It is…isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?

I’m not so sure about that.

I have found Facebook to have somewhat of a bittersweet taste.

Quite literally, nearly every single event I’ve experienced over the past 15 months – good, bad, or horrific – would never have happened if I hadn’t created a Facebook account. Let’s itemize, shall we?

  • I never would have relocated to Arkansas because I never would have met the Virgo quasi-love interest from Hot Springs who talked me into “coming down and getting a fresh start”
  • I never would have met one of my most treasured best friends, the aforementioned Aquarian tree man, whom I simply cannot fathom not having in my life
  • I never would have briefly reconciled with my Cancer ex-husband, who moved down to Arkansas from West Virginia to be with me again
  • I never would have met another close friend: a storm-chasing, adrenaline junkie Aquarian and his stubborn but oh-so-adorable, spitfire Aries girlfriend…because I met them both on Facebook
  • I never would have enjoyed nearly a year in a cushy office job where (I thought) I could do no wrong…because that was in Arkansas, to where I never would have moved had it not (ultimately) been for Facebook
  • I never would have bought the car I have now…because the aforementioned Virgo of Hot Springs helped me buy it
  • Perhaps most disturbing of all, it is highly unlikely that my 8-year relationship would have ever gone to hell in a handbasket if I had never created a Facebook account

You’re probably asking yourself, “How does she figure that last one?” Allow me to explain.

The relationship I had with my longtime friend-turned-domestic-partner Cancer-cusp was as solid as they come. We were compatible in every way imaginable: emotionally, sexually, you name it. We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and neither of us had ever been happier in a relationship in our lives. Our downward spiral into the fiery pits of relationship hell coincided (yet wasn’t a coincidence) with my creating a Facebook account. I spent hours upon hours upon hours and then some online, having a fine old time with this new-to-me form of entertainment; by extension, neglecting my significant other, causing him to feel pretty damn insignificant. Somewhat conscious of this, I tried to stress to him I wasn’t deliberately ignoring him. Like a child with a really awesome new toy, I was just preoccupied and I assured him that the new would probably wear off pretty soon. He seemed to understand, but he would still silently brood about it.  I took for granted that he understood that I was just distracted with my new hobby and that it had absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to spend time with him. And in case it has to be spelled out, I was never unfaithful to him. Not even close, not even once. No cyber- or real-life cheating; nothing.

Meanwhile, feeling neglected (and rightfully so), my Cancer-cusp began upping his usual daily alcohol intake. He increased his standard 12-pack of beer a night (which never made him act like an ass) up to twice that amount (which usually made him act like an ass.) This served to perpetuate a vicious cycle: I’m online, he feels ignored, he drinks more, I get offline and try to spend time with him, increased alcohol intake causes him to act like a dick, making me not want to be around him, so I head back to play around online, he drinks even more, and round and round it went.

I created my Facebook account in August 2010. Around mid-October 2010, we began our rapid descent into the netherworld. In December 2010 we decided to end it. In January 2011, after eight years together, I moved out.

R.I.P. Best Relationship of My Life: 2003 – 2011. Gone but never forgotten. Primary cause of death: chronic Facebook abuse. Contributing factor: alcoholism.

While I regretfully accept accountability for getting the Facebook ball rolling which resulted in the beginning of the end of our relationship, he also contributed to its demise by dousing our then-struggling relationship with Natural Light. We’re both guilty.

As thankful as I am for the amazing friends I never would have found again/met in the first place, whom I truly do love with all my heart, nothing has been worth losing the love of my life and the plans and dreams we shared. To further add insult to injury, in May 2011, he announced in an angry, strongly-worded text in which he called me everything but a white girl, that I could shove our friendship “up my ass” as well. We haven’t communicated since. Not only did I lose the love of my life, I lost my best friend.

So, would I still create that Facebook account if I had it to do all over again, only with the knowledge I have now, even with all the positive things that have come about through it?

Not a chance. As much as I gained, I lost ten times as much.

I would have gladly missed the dance.

By the Light of the Aquarius Moon

“While [persons with an Aquarius Moon] can be so good at understanding others’ motivations and behaviors, they often lose touch with their own. This happens because they get too caught up in what they want to achieve rather than what is reality.” ~Excerpt from alwaysastrology.com

Ah, yes. My good ol’ Aquarius Moon. Master of emotions, hoarder of secrets. Allowing me to penetrate the impulses of others while, almost mockingly, hiding my own from any possibility of self-discovery. But dammit, by the power of the Aries Sun vested in me, I am hell-bent on not only learning why I do what I do and feel how I feel, but also on how the friggity frack to change it…or, at least how to modify it to work in my favor.

It’s been said that watching an Aquarius (or any Air sign, for that matter) try to make a decision is excruciating. With a Moon in Aquarius, this also applies to me, albeit to a lesser degree. But it’s no less excruciating for those around me to watch (namely, my Taurus-cusp teenage son and my Leo “let’s do it right NOOOWWW!” friend who asks me every three  minutes, “So what’d you decide, Jen?”) And it’s pretty unsettling for me to experience this much hesitation and vacillation from within; repeatedly going back and forth and to and fro and thinking I’ve finally made a decision to, five minutes later, questioning it, starting the whole process all over again.

When I left Arkansas, certain that I’d never be a Razorback in my heart, I felt drawn back to Kansas, where I had left just over a year earlier. Didn’t even question that feeling. “Movin’ back to Kansas,” I happily announced to friends and family (and anyone else who would listen).  However, being born and bred in Oklahoma, where I lived my entire life up until my sojourn north in the name of love to the Sunflower State in 2003, I now find Sooner friends and family are trying to subtley nudge me in their direction:

“Why don’t you just stay here?”

“It’d be great if you moved back to Oklahoma!”

“Dammit Jennifer, JUST STAY THE FUCK HERE!” (that would actually be less of a subtle nudge and more of a violent shove, a la the aforementioned Leo friend)

In  my quest to make the right decision (whatever that means), I’ve weighed the pros and the cons of each state. I’ve asked myself where I would be happier. But those questions have only served to further confuse this blonde Aquarian Moon child, already cursed with an innate propensity toward indecisiveness.

The biggest incentive to move back to Kansas is the close proximity to my firstborn child, a tall, blonde 22 year-old Sagittarius who recently took the leap into domesticity by garnering an apartment with his longtime girlfriend (a lovely brunette Leo). But the truth is – and the truth really does hurt – that although I know, somewhere deep down, my Sadge Son loves his mother, he’s less than eager to have me around. He rarely has time for me or his Taurus-cusp younger brother, citing “we’re doing inventory at work” as his go-to reason (every night for the foreseeable future, though?) while he simultaneously invites his betrothed Leo’s family over for get-togethers as he proudly hones his culinary skills by cooking for the entire brood; or hosts a pay-per-view fight night with friends – his treat. Truthfully, I could live a mile away from him or 160 miles south in Oklahoma, and would probably see my progeny equally as frequently. That, however, is another blog post altogether…and when I find myself tearfully bemoaning the fact that he seems to have a book of excuses at the ready every time I talk to him, and wishing my handsome Archer son wanted to spend time with his mother and other family as much as we want to spend time with him, I know my depressive, moody Pisces Ascendant has managed to finagle its way into the driver’s seat of my emotions again and my eternally optimistic Aries Sun needs to grab the wheel and regain control – fast! It’s all very Cat’s-In-The-Cradle…but I digress. (Another side-effect of being a lunar Aquarian).

Please come back, Aries Sun! My wishy-washy Aquarius Moon needs your split-second decisiveness and my Pisces Ascendant needs your optimism and hope! I need you!