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i will wait

I will wait life without a paddle cj millar

these things take time. i know this. in trying to wrap my head around everything in my past while looking up and ahead to the future, i know all of this takes time to really process. i know that it’s really really hard for a lot of people right now. but i also started to realize why i have such issues forming relationships.

friends were always there for me. maybe not a ton in childhood or high school – i was an admittedly bad friend in those days, due in part to what i was dealing with at home. but no one ever had my back at home. perhaps that’s why i have spent so much of my adult life trying to truly find home. i bought my first house with a business partner and friend i thought i could trust, and got burned. my childhood was riddled with divisiveness. my parents never truly got along and argued incessantly – often over me. my father was abusive and my mother was a coward always the victim. my siblings and i were all told different stories and different versions of the truth so until adulthood, we were never close either. i guess growing up, i just never had any firsthand experience with what it was like to know – hey, i’ve got you. no matter what. i am right here. i’ll be with you every step of the way.

i spent high school and college chasing the wrong guys, looking for someone to be my hero, or save me from my family. bipolar disorder at its peak swallowed most of my twenties. in my thirties, i learned that i also needed to stop running from myself. and in my forties i finally learned how to be my own savior, my own hero, and decided to try to date again for the first time in over a decade and it went disastrously.

despite promises of open communication, and “we’re adults, if anything goes wrong, just promise you’ll talk to me and we can work it out together,” as he’d always tell me, ultimately he left. he ghosted me. because he was intimidated that after 40 years of living as a disaster, i had learned how to take care of myself and i didn’t NEED him. what he couldn’t wrap his head around was that i (thought i) wanted him (or his company and partnership).

isn’t that the whole point of relationships? being there for each other? i know that’s how my friendships have worked, and make no mistake, i am surrounded by some of the best friends in the whole god damned world. oh and my siblings are pretty fucking amazing, too  (we started to piece together all the different stories and learn that we really are #strongertogether and have each other’s backs, for life). it’s a good feeling. but it’s not the same.

i don’t want someone because i need them. that’s not fair to anyone. we are all responsible for our own happiness. i am just so god damned tired of no one having my back, being here with me every step of the way, and i am even more mad at myself that i have no idea how to get that in my life. i grew up surrounded by dysfunctional disastrous toxic relationships that taught me you can only rely on you. anything after that is just gravy, but you learn to live without the gravy.

i will wait. i want that partner in life. not someone to do things for me or buy things for me or make my life easier. i don’t want someone to carry me, or pick me up, or follow me. i want someone to walk beside me. to have amazing adventures with. who is his own person. and admires my strength and can stand with me, not run from it or be intimidated or insulting about it. and i don’t know how to explain to my brain that i deserve that, because from everything i’ve learned in my life, my brain believes i do not. and that’s really really hard sometimes to comprehend. but it’s true.

i don’t know why this is coming up now. like suddenly my fucked up bipolar brain decided in the middle of several massive moves, including 10 horses, 8 cats, 2 dogs, 2 kids, myself, my childhood home, their childhood home, farm equipment, barns and more, my brain suddenly decided – “oh hey you know what you’re missing? a boyfriend. check that out – so many of your amazing friends have amazing partners. why are you so broken? let’s obsess about that and not sleep for a week, mmmk?” thanks. great convo, brain. thank you, bipolar, for always reminding me that my next anxiety attack or bout of tears followed by laughter and running off into the woods to hide for a while is just around the corner. awesome. wait, and i wonder why i am not in a relationship? these days it feels like i can barely take care of myself. i can, and i am. and i am taking care of so much else, too but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees and all that shit. *insert cheeky life clichés here*. good times.

i will wait. i will remind myself that it’s worth it the wait. that i am worth it. i am, right? because right now i’m not sure, and i am not even sure why i am typing this, but it’s the only thing my brain would let me do right now so here we are. waiting. and reminding myself to breathe.

 

empty weight

Empty weight cj millar

2.

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Such simple sentiments. With so much gravity.

Thank you. I love you.

I’ve learned so much this past year. Things I never thought my soul would ever age to, would ever grow to become. I still talk about (and to) my best friend. He died when I was 19 and he was 18 in a quad accident. Every day, every time we spoke, we always said thank you, and I love you. And we never said goodbye. Goodbye was too close to forever. We always said later, or for now.

Today a friend asked me when I would stop saying thank you, because she (and her family) all know it takes a village. I still thank that village. So thank you. I love you.

I never want to have regrets. I am learning to live in a state of self-focus rather than object-focus and I feel the shift through to the core of my soul. It’s not like I suddenly no longer have to move mountains, or somehow those mountains have become plains. Quite the contrary. Those mountains have grown into seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet somehow it’s okay. I can move them. I can move mountains. Because I have friends like I do, and please don’t ever for a moment don’t think I don’t notice you. I notice every single one of you and I am so ever grateful.

Lately I keep telling myself we’re almost there. Just a few more months. Things will get better. Everything will all work out. But it’s still hard. I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I know I am not. But I am carrying the weight of our lives. I couldn’t do it without everyone around me. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together.

But also lately I haven’t been publishing these blogs. The one from end of May I just published tonight, and this one was already half written also. I’ve written a lot in my head when I get a few minutes of downtime, such as in the shower or in the car between running errands and moving stuff out of the Wayne house. But those tend to get said only in my head and somewhere never quite make it to here.

I suppose part of that is because I feel like all of this is me coming here to complain or vent or whine, and then tell you how optimistic I really am, and bring it around full circle. Always look up and all that jazz. Not that I don’t believe it, I do, but seriously this shit is starting to get old. I need a break.

A real one. In talking with a good friend today we said how recently even our vacations or breaks or mini-getaways feel more like a cheap band-aid, not even the good kind but the crappy kind that sticks a little to hard to the hair on your skin and then falls half off but still hurts when you pull it off and it’s almost like it did nothing but make things worse. Yeah that kind. That’s what all this feels like. Like we’re just putting cheap band-aids on our mental health work life balance and keep saying – all the hard work will pay off once we get through this and it’s 2021. Or is it 2022? I feel like we’ve been saying that for years. Oh yeah, we have, pretty much.

So in my “free” time, I am moving and cleaning and packing and trying to balance and be in 12 places at once and remember to breathe and go hiking and spend time with the horses and occasionally sleep. When my brain lets me. I can’t do another night of 24 min of deep sleep and a whopping 5h max of crappy tossing and turning and still function. Today was hard enough as it was. And yesterday was even harder.

Selling my childhood home and much of its contents to fund our future is worth it. In some ways it’s poetic justice for the disaster my life used to be. Sure, we were all wrapped up in a super pretty upper-middle class family that from the outside looking in sure seemed swell. But it wasn’t, and I am still healing from it, and still piecing together memories and experiences and learning to see things from my siblings’ points of view, and understand that their brains work a little bit differently than mine, and helping them understand that my brain is like our father’s and essentially translating what we’re piecing together about the realities of the last year(s) of his life, together. And our whole lives, really. Strange, just starting to understand your childhood as an adult after all this time.

This decade has made for strange times, indeed. And fuck me, it sucks, and I’m terrified. Staind’s song plays on repeat in my head, haunting me of the failure I used to be. Taunting me with the paranoia that I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. And therefore, I’ll obviously fail.

Old habits die hard. We’re almost there. Just a few more months.

 

Just Over There

Always look up

I can’t count how many times I went to call people this week. Only they were already dead. Nothing more recent than December (two), one within a year (to the day), and one spanning decades. There’s so much really seriously big shit that’s going down in my life right now, and I feel like I have no one to turn to. But I do. Somehow, even when it’s new people that seemingly fall out off the blue, they’re here.

They’re all old souls. We’ve all known each other before. We keep finding each other, life after life, like family, only the kind you choose. And I am so grateful and appreciative for every single one.

Recently I’ve become closer with old friends, as well as family, while also making some unbelievable new friends that seem to have come out of the woodwork at exactly the right time, while falling into place in life in a way that makes you instantly comfortable with the calm confidence of knowing that you’ve found your tribe.

 

It may be a mish mosh piecemeal mix of what on the surface may look like a group of completely random people with nothing in common. But when you take a step back for a moment to just stand still and breathe, you realize it’s not a group of people, it’s not even a village or a town, no. It’s so much more than that. It’s not an army either, nor an empire. It’s, well I don’t know what it is, to be honest. It’s life. It’s never being alone even when you are feeling more lonely than ever. It’s realizing that there’s so many people out there holding you up, because they know that you’d do or are doing the same for them. You realize success isn’t a pyramid, it’s a team sport and a family gathering.

Every time I think things can’t get worse, they do. My cousin died. My father’s oldest brother’s (my late Uncle John ‘s) youngest son. He was in his 50s. That’s nothing compared to what some of my friends are going through. My friend lost her aunt and her friend to suicide in the span of a month and has barely skipped a beat at work, while juggling a cross country move, a divorce, remote schooling two young kids, oh and helping our company grow all the while being a totally kickass friend. I don’t know if she knows it, but in so many ways she’s my hero.

My other friend has been there for me so much that I can’t even wrap my head around what my father’s house would look like without her. No, really. I doubt it would be anywhere near sale-ready nor would I be able to be even beginning to think about where I would go next or how to relocate my childhood and my adulthood and my kids’ lives all into one family home to, well, I don’t know where to be honest.

And that’s just the start. I’d keep going but I have a cat burrowing under the covers insisting I go to sleep (and she’s not wrong). Even more so though, I am really really proud of these kids. I try to tell them that, and I do say it, but I don’t know if it’s enough. I wish money wasn’t so tight right now, that there wasn’t quite so much hanging in the balance, that I had all the answers. But I think I do. I have faith, blind faith. And a reminder to look up. Always believe. And somehow this time something’s different.

I think I just need to remember to breathe, take this one day at a time, and remember that what’s next is just over there. I just need to keep going, with a little help from the best people in the world. Man, am I lucky. Thank you.

 

 

 

Some nights.

I’m sitting here trying to breathe before I drown, where hanging on by a thread would feel like a blessing right now, not quite sure how I’ve made it this far. I am so grateful for these kids. Sure, while taking in teenagers is a game changer (life-changer really, who are we kidding?), they’re saving me, too. Especially right now.

I’d still be standing pretty much right where I am even if they didn’t live here. But if they didn’t live here, I can’t say that I could come home to an empty house and make a bottle of wine last for days without trying. Or that cleaning the house, setting an alarm, planning out my morning, or even caring if I even made it out of bed would be worth a moment of consideration.

I’ve cried more this past week than I have since my best friend died. It hurts to breathe, and I don’t know how I am making it through most days. I thought I’d been handling this so well. I’ve been acutely aware of my brain and its  massive hyper-speed recall and functioning. Just earlier today I recalled with freakish detail almost every little thing about the family train set, the engine, how the building snapped into the board, how the one light bulb would go out and why our father had to take the engine out of the one train and put it in the nicer engine when we overheated the tracks and burned the first one out. I remembered hundreds of Breyer horse models by name and mold. My brain was able to recall with terrifying detail even the most minuscule of items such as the custom wired curio cabinet switch on the wall so that you didn’t have to be bothered to switch off each individual light in every individual cabinet. There was the cool pulley system that ran the flags and hanging plants under the skylight – ingenious! And the military and NASA books – those blew my mind.

So. Fucking. Cool.

Guys, that was my dad. I’m so proud of him. I’m so sorry that he couldn’t get better and you couldn’t meet him yourself. But I’m also so proud of me that I found myself help all those years ago. I always say that my brain is my superpower – what’s yours?

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights I call it a draw. But I still wake up. I still see your ghost. Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for. Most nights, I don’t know anymore.

I do know that if it wasn’t for these kids, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I don’t know that I’d be sane. I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t be anywhere near this side of sober. I do know that I will carry on. I will wish that this will end, but then I remember the friends I have by my side, and I know that this will all end for the better. I still wake up. I still see your ghost. But I do know what I stand for. I do know why I am here.

Most nights, even when I can’t sleep, I know. In the words of one of my greatest inspirations in life, my Aunt Lucille, this too, shall pass. She always could see all sides and trust in not just the result but the process and the path. She couldn’t save my father either. She also tried. She was amazing. And my Uncle Fred – he’s amazing too. I hope that if I ever get married, he can be there. He taught me how to drive, driving up Route 23 to High Point on Memorial Day with the family. There are so many good memories from that time, from my childhood. I am going to choose to remember those times. The happy ones. And let them drown out the bad. I know I won’t forget them – it would seem there is little my brain lets me ever forget. But I will choose to let the good rise up to the surface.

Hope floats, after all.

Thanks, dad. I wish you could have gotten better. These kids are really amazing, you’d have loved them, too. Thanks for all you taught me. It’s good to finally hear from you. Now it’s time to get some sleep.

Love,
Cynthia

 

Arrow

I’ve been known by many names. Roo. Cyd. Cyn. CynCity. Ceeeeeeeeej. Peter Pan. And so much more. But these days I just follow my own arrow. I am who I am. I make no excuses for my past and no expectations for my future. I choose to walk the path in front of me which I helped lay out over the years. I know the road I walk because it is mine. I am me. Straight. And I follow my truth even when the truth is on either side of the law, I am honest and true like an Arrow.

 

always forward.

always true.

I overthink everything. All the things. Literally everything. What to wear tomorrow (it has to be planned out at least one night before otherwise my anxiety runs wild). What’s for dinner (I prep it every morning before work). What my schedule is (on a whiteboard for the week). Order is my sanity. And I have learned since the death of my father that order is also closely tied to our sanity and sense of well-being and above all, survival. But there are a few things that are and always have been out of my control. And while I have learned how to be flexible without having a meltdown (and that took plenty of learning and practice, I’ll tell you), there are some things that are completely different.

Such as acquiring kids.

Literally. In the past two years I got kids. I am their legal guardian, and they live with me and it’s awesome and complicated, and confusing for all of us and I’ve been a family friend for a long time but it’s nothing that any of us ever expected. But when it happened, of all of the biggest life-changing world-altering decisions this was the mack daddy of all decisions. And I gave it precisely zero thought. Because it required none. It was obvious. Or at least it was to me.

The kids needed a safe landing. The parents wanted their kids to have a safe landing while being stuck between several rocks and hard places themselves. And I knew the family and they knew mine and I had the situation and means to make it work. So I just did. There were no conversations. No weighing the pros and cons. No reviewing the options and determining the profit / loss or financial analyses or anything like that. It just simply. Was.

Like this farm.

I knew the sale would fall through. Just like the love of your life who you compare everyone after to – to no avail, so was this farm. Nothing compared, not even fancier newer or more luxurious ones out of our price range. That was just our farm. I knew it in my bones and when looking over the months (and years) as the timeline waned, I still did not grow nervous. I did not have a plan A, B, C, and D with options ranging from E through J if need be. Instead, this time, I had something different.

I had Faith.

I have Faith. And that’s all I need.

I bought my horse trailer nearly sight unseen. I responded to an ad with no images, and a gov’t email address, and drove from NJ to NC with a lot of cash and no clue to buy a trailer that required wire transfers and a lot of help from WalMart and a story I’ll never forget. But it worked. On a whim and a leap of faith, it worked.

I still have that trailer.

I now also have two kids.

One kid wound up at that farm today with a friend who is a mutual friend of the woman who’d been selling the farm we want. He got to meet her. The sale fell through and she didn’t know how to approach me. I emailed her tonight, and we’re going to talk over coffee. My father’s house will list for sale soon. We go to Universal for a family vacation in less than two weeks. All of this is related.

Life is good.
April is always my most challenging month.
Karma is real.
Believe in yourself.
And some things, no matter what, you will always know in your bones. Such as, the universe wants me to have 8 cats. I live with two amazing kids that I hope will be proud of me someday. And always, always, believe what your soul tells you.

#HomeOnTheHorizon#FollowYourArrow #TheresNoPlaceLikeHome

 

 

I Am Groot

I Am Groot

I make no apologies for who I am. I have worked quite hard over the years to gain this level of self-awareness and I am fully aware that I have so much farther to go. Throughout that process, I have also learned how to live and simply BE unapologetically me. That’s a lot easier when you are able to live as your true self, to look yourself in the mirror and know exactly who is looking back at you and being completely, nakedly okay with that. Completely.

Now THAT is living. Let me tell you what (to quote my 15 year old).

It really is, though. Yesterday I sat in silence on the couch for over an hour and just watched murder TV. I spoke to no one, not even the animals. The kids were in their rooms, my phone was on DND, and the animals were napping around me on the couch and strewn about the house. It. Was. Bliss.

Everyone assumes that because I know everyone and talk to everyone and that I talk a lot that I am an extrovert, but that’s simply not true. I am quite the opposite. I know what I am good at – and that just happens to be connecting people, and networking, and finding synergies between things interlinking science and math and art to find the true beauty in the world – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I also need a lot of quiet alone down time to be able to manage and function through those super-high productive times without burning out or self destructing.

I’ve learned that even more so since the death of my father. I am confident he would be proud.

I make a lot of money. I am not rich, nor do I aspire to be. I am more well-off than most people I know, but not nearly as well-off as others. This is not a competition nor a game and I am not looking to outperform anyone other than myself. And I learned a long time ago that even when racing yourself, you still need to be kind and honorable and a good sport in how you treat your own competition. Even when the only competition is you.

One thing my father taught me, no matter what, was value. What to value above all else. Not money, not titles. Not things or objects. Experiences. Family and friends. Loved ones. Time.

You can always make more money. You can never make more time.

Even in the most truly successful people, you’ll find that they understand value beyond money and material goods. They don’t flaunt their wealth, they just simply are. wealthy. I do not care for riches, but I aspire to live in abundance that allows me to share with all of my friends and loved ones. I don’t want to have things for myself, I want to share experiences and create stories for lifetimes to come with my friends. I believe that family is not made by blood or marriage, but rather by souls and those we choose to surround ourselves with life after life. Family is made by the bonds we build with people life after life. Family matters, above all else.

I started writing this blog a few days ago, but just came back to it now when I had a moment to reread and reflect and not surprisingly I have more to add.

Among other things I’ve learned, I’ve also learned that when you outgrow friends, you simply need to move on. I am not talking about friends that grow and change and evolve with you – or even without you but on their own. I am talking about when you have friends that over time you grow apart from to realize that they do not add anything of significance to your life. When life becomes about authentic experiences and true value in the moments in which we live, it becomes easier to see when someone’s main focus in friendship is about what truly benefit themselves. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not. But either way it is what it is and it is one of those things that once you see, you cannot unsee.

And, more often than not, when you see something like that, things change. Usually for the better, for you because you cut out the toxic or stagnant but above all, the selfish behavior of others. You hold yourself accountable to a higher standard, and as a result, you start to hold those around you that you care for accountable as well. You start to see selfishness and gaslighting and friendships of convenience for what they are – and you start to move away. And eventually, you do just that.

Isn’t it amazing? How that feels. Letting that go. All of it.  When there are no fucks to give but your own. About your own life. About being authentic. And honest. And real.

You know, if someone asked me the traits I most look for in a boyfriend, how much my answer would have changed over the years. It used to be something like smart, funny, good-looking. Or perhaps witty, independent, and has a good job. But these days I’ve realized what I value most above all else is quite different than what I thought I’d want in my youth. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been single for so long. It just took me this long to figure out what I really truly wanted in a partner.

Security. Honesty. Integrity.

Above all else. Amazing really, when you think about it, that these traits aren’t just par for the course, fact of the matter if you will. Because these days, they’re not, and that’s sad. But it’s what is most important at least to me. I hope to find that some day. Maybe.

For now, I am really happy that how I’ve always seen myself on the inside is starting to be reflected in how I look on the outside. And not just because I lost a lot of weight – though I am not going to lie, that helps. But because I am starting to see myself physically in a similar manner to how I see myself mentally – fit, strong, a force – and that inspires me to continue to work towards being my best self. Not only for me, but to inspire others to find that within themselves, too. We all have that magic. We only have to believe.

One moment at a time.

 

All The Things

CJ Millar life without a paddle

Sometimes it’s not one thing, it’s all the things together, collectively, that really make the difference. And sometimes it feels like all those things are conspiring against you and your world is crumbling down before your eyes with no way forward and no way out. You feel like you’re a million years old, and weary of this world. The stars have lost their luster and the skies don’t hold any wonder anymore, and no matter what you do, above all, you’re just tired. Oh so tired.

And then sometimes it feels like all those things are coming together as the stars and planets align. Your walls are crumbling down to reveal all the wonder in the world around you. You feel like you’re a million years old, and in awe of this world. The stars shine with a light that’s so stunning it’s breathtaking, and the skies shine with wonder as you stand below in amazement at just how lucky you are. And above all, you’re just so grateful. Oh so grateful.

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, what’s lost is found, what’s old is new, and what’s ending is finding a new beginning again and such is life. Perhaps no one knows this better than me, or at least that’s what it feels like in my most manic of moments. Even in my most depressive of ones, too when I think about it. And that is all part of the wonderment of this life, and my brain, and this brilliant amazing incredible world that all comes together to make up my life. And I am oh so very grateful.

Man, these past years – and if we’re being honest, 2020 was just the harvest of what we sowed all those years ago – have been rough. So rough. I miss so many people, and somehow I managed to even lose myself along the way. But at the same time, it’s also all part of the evolution of life if we open our eyes and learn to not only be aware of our surroundings, but above all, of ourselves.

Self awareness is one of the most amazing traits to find in other humans, and even greater when we learn how to implement that upon ourselves. You see, I am surrounded with some of the most amazing people in the worlds. Not just this world, or this life. My soul is older, and I know that much. No, not just here and now, but some of the most amazing souls anywhere, and I get to call them friends. Friends who are family. And family who are friends. How lucky am I?

Pretty. Damn. Lucky.

Man, I have THE best friends. You don’t even know. Usually giving gifts is one of my favorite parts of the holidays – and this year was no different except I was really off my game for the first time in a long time. This past year threw so much at us, I am amazed we even made it through. Really. If you’re still reading this, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a hug. You made it through, you deserve it. Respect yourself a little more for making it this far and remember you are never alone. I’m here too. And so are you.

Anyway, as I was saying, gift giving and sharing joy with others is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t want to ever be happy in solitude – not because I don’t love alone time, I need it to survive! But because when I am at my best, I want all the best people in my life around me to share it with. Abundance begets more abundance when you share it with others and it is just in my nature to do just that. And so here I am typing away at 10:30 at night on a Wednesday opening my brain to share this abundance with you. Whomever of you may be reading.

So this year, I was admittedly a bit off my game. One gift I gave my all. Going to Universal with the kids to Harry Potter world. I gave that everything. 110%. True CJ style. From the entire house decorations, two Christmas trees, tickets for Hogwarts Express, welcome letters to Hogwarts, and even interactive wands. I gave it my everything. And I think it’s going to be a really amazing trip. But to the rest of my friends, I slacked off. Some I haven’t even given their gifts yet, and I am so sorry! They’re here and I will get them to you!

But you know what’s really cool? They were all there for me. From the little things to the big things. To listening and letting me ramble and barely even coming up for air long enough for me to ask them how they are. And it was okay. I don’t know how or why, but it was because they’re all amazing. Thank you – all of you. They also gave me some of the most thoughtful incredible gifts. And I’m not talking about something huge or extravagant. Nope. Thoughtful. That’s the shit that really matters. From hand balm from one of my fave companies to dark chocolate and hot honey to finding ghost pepper salt at my late fathers’s house (yes, he passed right before Christmas as well) sprinkled on top for an explosion of flavors that’s become my new obsession, to I don’t even know. Everything. All of it. They’re amazing.

And I am so lucky and so grateful to call them all friends and family. I’m staring down a year ahead with a great career, colleagues, friends, and family. Great prospects on where to live and where to go from here. The beginnings of roots to a home I can truly call my own, while also branching out into the beginnings of something amazing. Learning to open up to people for real – not just telling people what feels real without ever REALLY letting them totally and completely in, or ever actually having to be vulnerable. Truly learning to feel and process emotions, and show those emotions, and know that it doesn’t make me weaker, it makes me all that much stronger. To having boundaries and rules and demanding respect from everyone in my life, while learning how to live in respect in return. Empathy of experience and not just emotion, self reflection and not just withdrawal, and honest to goodness authenticity that only comes when your soul has aged enough to have no more fucks left to give, while giving all the fucks in the world.

And so I am here. Thank you. For all the things. Always.

CJ Millar life without a paddle

The Guise of Well-Meaning

The Guise of Well-Meaning

We’ve all heard that line before. Oh, she means well. They have the best intentions. He’s only trying to help. No harm meant. They’re just offering a hand, advice, etc. It’s okay, she means well. You have to understand where they’re coming from…and on and on it goes.

Right through to the part where you’re talked over, interrupted, and dismissed because they’re family. They mean well. They didn’t MEAN to intrude, hurt your feelings, or be dismissive. That response of, “oh, well I don’t know,” was just a statement, not an insult. Except it WAS an insult. It is a completely rude, dismissive statement that says at the conclusion of listening to you and your (presumably educated) statement/opinion/thought that the listener has totally and completely disregarded and dismissed everything you said because it didn’t resonate with them so therefore, they don’t know, and they don’t value your opinion. It’s a psychological tactic that allows the listener to allay their insecurities and dismiss your thoughts in favor of their own. It’s a cop out, and a means to show that while they don’t know (and they very well may not), they also do not value what you DO know and just said. It’s rude. And I am over it.

I am also over being talked over, dismissed, and interrupted when I am in the middle of a sentence. I don’t tolerate it from the two teenagers I live with, I don’t tolerate it from work colleagues or clients, and I won’t tolerate it from family any more. Period. When it happens, I will point it out once. The second occurrence is the end of the conversation until I feel like reaching out on my own terms, when I will be listened to and respected.

Some people listen to learn and understand and comprehend. Some people listen only to formulate their own thoughts and respond. I grew up in a household where I started out and was initially surrounded by the latter. Over time, and through the alienation of myself from my family – especially my siblings whom I value more than most people on this planet – I learned that was unacceptable. When people speak, we are to listen to absorb. Hear. Comprehend. And understand. Not to respond or add your own two cents in. Sure, sometimes a response is warranted, wanted even. But not always. Sometimes, all the other person needs is to be heard.

life without a paddle cj millar listen to understand

I have no desire to continue to be around people who only listen to respond, add in their own two cents, or reply with, “I don’t know.”

If you’re in that category – you’ve been warned. If I don’t take your calls, now you know why. I am done being treated with continual distrust and disrespect. I carry enough weight on my shoulders. Time for you to carry your own.

“She means well, but…” is an excuse I will no longer make nor accept. Not for anyone. Not for myself, not for friends, and not for family. If you truly mean well, think through your actions, and then act on that well meaning with conscious thought and empathy. Not excuses. My father hated excuses. I learned that from him and I couldn’t agree more – at least in that area with him. Just be honest and straightforward, and that starts with being honest with yourself. It’s not saying well I thought, or I did this because, or my intention was…it’s being honest from beginning to end. I am so sick of saying / hearing / explaining “underneath it all, they mean well,” or “underneath it all, they have the best intentions,” or “if you really knew him / her / them you’d understand.” How about understanding through authenticity of one’s actions and expressions rather than making excuses? Food for thought.

she means well but life without a paddle

I Am My Father’s Daughter

I am my fathers daughter CJ Millar

I am my father’s daughter, after all. I always have been, really. Right down to the OCD and the little tics and hiccups, wrapped around the brilliance of madness, tied together with an incredible intelligence eternally tethered to the weight of insanity. It’s not what it seems. Not really, anyway. I mean I could have become that but I won’t, because I got help years ago in my twenties. In that decade that I lost years of my life, though I know it was a necessity to get better and after seeing what my father went through these last years, I am forever grateful.

Oh, I suppose I should fill you in. My father died. We’re not entirely sure when because he had isolated himself from everyone in his own madness. As far as we can tell he hadn’t left the house since sometime in late March or early April at the latest, and not because of the pandemic. He totaled his car and descended the rest of the way into the dark hell that became his every day life as he lost his little remaining grip on reality and whatever glimpse of daylight he may have still had towards hope was snuffed out for good. It was sometime in early December, we know that much. And while we were estranged, and walking into my childhood home to find it riddled with so much trash and filth and stench that even the maggots couldn’t survive (no – really – they were dried out and dead) actually was cathartic in a way. It let me see first hand what I had inherited, and reminded me of the demons I escaped in those years of my 20s I had lost. For good cause. For a good cause, indeed.

The house reeked. The air hung with the stench of rotting food and flesh so heavy with negativity and insanity that I was surprised to find the cats alive. Well, we saw one – the outgoing friendly one, Taz, shot out from under my brother’s childhood bed like a shot and hid downstairs. We eventually saw him but couldn’t get close. The other cat was entirely unseen. A few days later, after getting several dumpsters of trash out, with the help of two friends, we found Taz. He was in decent health and weight, but other than that he was essentially catatonic. I didn’t know that could even happen to cats, but apparently it can. I brought him home and he sat for two days in the bathroom wide-eyed and unmoving. I wasn’t sure if he’d gotten up to eat or anything except for we would occasionally catch him off guard wedged somewhere dreadful, wide-eyed and unmoving again. So we’d retrieve him back to his safe space in the closet until two days later he emerged a normal cat, starved for attention from any other living thing. It was incredible, really, as he had been through so much.

My father loved cats. He loved all animals. But those cats were his lifeline through insanity and his connection to the outside world. Caring for them became his sole purpose in his later years as he had lost a few friends to cancer and old age and ill health, and lost any remaining friends and family of his own doing. But as his moods became more erratic – and violent, my father always had an incredibly dangerous, violent temper that terrified me to the point of many recurring nightmares of where he would backhand me so hard that he would break my jaw and it would shatter and puncture the base of my skull and pierce my brain and I’d die, yes he terrified me that horrifically – I believe he redirected his anger at the cats when they would become fearful of him and hide. Not knowing if they were meeting Jekyll or Hyde, they found it safer to avoid him all together, and in his desperation he used treats and food to try and lure them out. There were at least 20 bags of brand new Temptations brand treats in the house, shiny and unopened, a stark contrast against the mountain of rot. But they were wary of him regardless. And it took almost a week before Taz would dare eat in front of us, for fear it was a trick.

But I digress. The cats survived, and Tiger Lily, always wary with strict rules like her littermate Aslan whom I have here, finally let me touch her today for the first time. Only if she was looking the other way, but she seemed happy for the human touch despite her initial hisses and spits. It must have been years – possibly as many as 4 or 5 – since she’s felt a kind human touch. She was far too smart to ever get hit or hurt. And I don’t think my father did that at all. I think he would just break things or throw furniture and it was enough to drive the cats into hiding anyway and she kept a wide berth as she was never keen on roughhousing or playtime but preferred dignified pets in the correct direction of her fur only. As such, that meant it was easier for her to go into hiding rather than risk unpleasant interactions of any sort.

She will come around. I have time.

There’s so much more to say, but for now this was what I needed to get off my chest. My father wasn’t the only person I knew to die this month. He was just one of several in what’s proven to be an extraordinary year where many people seem to have exited for better or for worse. But no matter. He is still my father. And I am my father’s daughter. For all of my 44 years, even through the ones that we were not speaking to each other. And that house still holds a lifetime of memories – good ones, too. Even though the air was heavy with the bad, at least at first. That energy is clearing out though now, and it’s better in there. It feels like a home again. For the first time in probably a very very very long time. I will be happy to sell it to someone to see it be filled with life and love and joy again. It’s a good home. My father built much of it, and those walls housed an incredible, if fragmented family. One that has, over time, grown closer today and with this chapter ending, the one we’re in right now has me and my siblings closer than ever and I couldn’t be more proud to call them family. Even if they can’t be at home.

I am reminded on a regular basis that where I live now is not my home. It is a house that I rent, on very nice land, in a very nice town. But it is not home. My childhood home is mine again, but I do not live there, and my life isn’t there anymore. My father always wanted me to have my own home, my own farm, and despite all of our ups and downs, this was something he fiercely wanted me to achieve. As such, it will be his final gift to me, and in turn, I will do everything in my power to make it my gift to my siblings and these two kids that reside with me whom I love.

I am tired of playing chess. I don’t care about poker or what cards you hold. All I need to know is that I have the means and the will to find my way home. And I do. Thank you, Dad. I am your daughter.

To my sister and brother – thank you so much for being there for me, for forgiving me my past, and trying so hard to be understanding of my struggles. We all have them – and each of our experiences affect us in our own way and no one of us – or anyone for that matter – is any worse or better than the other. We are only here to be judged against ourselves. I’m learning that, and working hard to be better every single day. I hope you are both okay with what I’ve spewed out here; it is my way of dealing and processing and keeping myself sane and accountable for my own actions and life, and I tried to make it as much from my point of view and respectful as possible. It’s really more about how my brain processes and deals and what not than anything else but here I am rambling again afraid that I may have done something wrong. I love you both. Thank you for being you. We will get through this, together ❤️.

And to my tribe, I love you all. I am who I am both for and because of you. Until tomorrow, or perhaps next year, goodnight.

CJ Millar my fathers daughter

The Walls of Pompeii

life without a paddle

I just listened to Pompeii by Bastille on repeat while taking the advice of my 13 yr old for the second time today. Earlier it was sometimes you just need to scream and get it all out – and I did and I felt SO much better afterwards. Now it was to just turn up the music and vibe. So I danced and jumped and generally acted like a fool which I take to mean I was vibing based on my best understanding of the term and I’ll be honest. It felt good. It helped. And now I am finally sitting down to start work to realize I need to get all of this out of my head so that I can let go and move on.

And here I am. On the border of insanity, functioning by the hair of a single thread, if that. So much for starting off today with yoga followed by a productive day of work (since I took a mental health day yesterday in the hopes of avoiding this mess I’ve made). Yet here I am, anyway.

Sometimes it feels like if I close my eyes, it’s like nothing’s changed at all. But in reality the walls keep crumbling down and there’s nothing that it seems I can do to stop it. And not for lack of trying. I’m trying myself to death. The problem is that I am not accomplishing and something’s gotta give. Right now that something is me.

Deadpool coming home

The start of what were to be many great adventures.

Always washed and cleaned and put away in excellent condition.

I am so disheartened. Deadpool, my quad, is in the shop again. It’s totaled. Again. For something that I saved up for and looked forward to for so long – and then to search and find THE exact limited edition quad I wanted. Not only was it for sale, it was for sale locally. And at a price I could afford, with cash in hand. It was an incredible stroke of luck – and just one of the two times I’ve had any luck with the machine. Cash in hand, I got it. I went to pick it up with my (then) boyfriend in what turned out to be the last time I’d see him before he totally ghosted me. Yup, I didn’t think adults did that either. But I digress. Anyway, Deadpool was perfect. Mint condition, shiny clean, and ran like a dream. Not long after getting Deadpool, we had a forest fire and that quad saved our asses (or woods). The fireman arrived ill equipped to head up the mountainside and their machines kept getting stuck. While they waited for the brush fire unit to arrive, I ran firemen up the mountain on the back of Deadpool to tame the flames. A day later I left for a work trip in Kentucky. Less than a week later I had bronchitis on the border of pneumonia from the smoke inhalation and insane work schedule. But we had limited the fire to some 8 – 12 acres (I think – I can’t remember for sure), when it could have been much worse. Thanks in large part to Deadpool.

life without a paddle

A fire fighter tamping out flames on our mountain.

Since then, my mother has totaled the quad and our searches for a replacement came up empty. The only ones we found were out west, twice as much as I had paid for Deadpool locally without having to transport the machine here, and for the most part, sold before we ever saw the ads. Now the quad is in the shop again – this time from damage from Morgan. It’s totaled again. And there are none like it for sale again. Even fewer old ads even show up this time. It’s a really hard quad to come by which is why I was so excited when I found one for sale near me.

I even special ordered a helmet to match Deadpool specifically. I was so excited.

I bought it for $6,500 cash. It was the most money I had ever spent on myself in my entire life. Sure, I’d had vehicles that were worth more, and even my hot tub and horse trailer. But all of those were financed in some way. I had never bought anything worth this much for myself (or anyone else for that matter) in cash. It cost more than both of the Ford Focuses I owned that I had bought in cash. And it was a lot more exciting! I rode it all the time until the first time it got wrecked. Then I was afraid to take it out as much (even worse – my best friend died in a horrific quad accident that had made me afraid of the machines most of my life until the past few years – this quad was a HUGE accomplishment and gift to myself). So I let the kids use it. Morgan mostly, and his friends. It just went downhill from there. When – if I can even afford it – the work is done this go-round, there will be somewhere around $12k in work put into it. For something I bought for $6,500.

It may not be able to be fixed this time depending on how bad the frame is. I am waiting to hear. And I’ve spend most of the weekend in tears. Not just because it was a quad, or MY quad (as compared to Optimus Prime which was Frankensteined back together and used for mostly just farm chores). But because it was a symbol of my accomplishments that had turned into a reminder of all of my failures.

Jack and & I had miles of fun on the trails together in that first year when Deadpool was solely mine and taken care of.

After a successful outing together, before a bath and bed.

Washed and ready to go to bed, ready for our next adventure another day.

Sometimes when things break, they can be put back together but they aren’t ever quite the same. Sometimes it’s like toothpaste in a tube – you can squeeze it all out rather easily, but saying I am sorry doesn’t get the toothpaste back into the tube, and try as you may, it won’t  ever all go back in the way it was before no matter how sorry you feel or how much you try to fix things.

It’s not about money. Or even material things at all for that matter. It’s about working towards something and recognizing that accomplishment, and being really really proud of yourself to have that dismissed by not one, but two people in your family because “it’s just a machine.” Yes, it is just a machine. But it’s a symbol of so much more. And while I am very very grateful that neither person who wrecked Deadpool was injured in either case, and it definitely could have been much worse, that doesn’t mean it negates how I feel, or the disrespect I feel when my emotions tied to my accomplishment and my treat to myself are dismissed. Again. Twice. By family.

I keep reminding myself of this quote I’ve said a million times before.

“i’ve learned you can’t force negativity to leave you. you must leave it. if it’s still there in your life, it’s only because you have let it be”.

What do you do when you need to navigate around that negativity because it’s not the person’s fault – they’re just doing what they grew up with and the only thing they’ve ever known? We have this amazing therapist working with the family and I adore her. She’s become a lifeline (hopefully not to detriment of herself!) for all of us and is a welcome voice of reason when the voices in my own head can’t be trusted. I know when I am manic – and I’ve definitely been on the “high” side of manic for some time now. Probably a few months where I’ve been in this hyperactive overproductive state trying to get everything done and achieve what to others must seem like unattainable goals that to me just reinforce I MUST be better and I MUST do better.

I’ve been wondering when those cracks were going to show. Or give.

I’m sorry if I scared you. I’m doing my best to remain functional and keep myself out of a mental hospital. I hope you know I’m not joking about how close I am to that right now and I’m not saying it as a threat I just need to make sure that I am functional for all of our sakes. I love you both very much and will figure this out together 💙 We will get there. And I know that I CAN keep myself out of a mental hospital – as long as I remember to say no, or enough, or I need a break. That’s exactly what I did yesterday. And in taking Shell’s advice today, that helped a tremendous amount, too. And also being able to verbalize to myself here as well as out loud to Shell (and I will tell Morgan when I see him too, as he deserves to know why I am so upset out of respect for him), just why it hurts so much also helped a tremendous amount.

And finally, writing it all down here. That was the last piece of this puzzle that I needed to lie down to complete this episode. Hopefully that means I can heal myself from the inside out and begin to move forward again. There is so much to do, I don’t want to miss out. It’s gonna be okay. Better than okay. It just is going to take some time.