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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Why Halloween Terrifies Me

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I have a confession to make. And since it is Halloween, it seems an appropriate time as any.

I don’t like festivities. I don’t like parties. Holidays drive me crazy. The chaos of multiple events, expectations, and excitement just seems like a magnet for drama to unfold. Halloween is certainly spooky for me. I have challenge enough in sharing myself with others. I have difficult enough time trusting their intentions. When you throw in costumes, tricks, and treats, I just don’t know what to think.

Skull of a cougar

Photo by Rachel Brazil 2006

Since I have had children, I try to be open to possibilities and new traditions. I strive to recognize my discomforts, honor them as true, and adapt ways to celebrate the holidays that will work for our family. But of course they want to do all the things all the other kids doing.

It’s kind of peculiar that Halloween is one holiday that really gets under my skin, as I am in love with all things autumn. Even more, I have a slight biological fascination with all things dead. Skeletons are a normal part of my home decor.

I don’t mind creepy crawlies or the like. In fact, the last year I truly celebrated Halloween, in 2005, I was making my living cleaning animal skeletons for a University comparative collection.

I’d go to work in my laboratory. Surrounded by animal remains and listen to music like Bauhaus, the Raveonettes, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Joy Division.

I dressed mostly in blacks and grays for only one reason: my most recent opportunity to purchase clothes had been for my grandfather’s funeral a month prior.

I was grieving, but delighted in learning about the living through the dead. (I was an archaeologist after all). I took pictures in the lab. Ranging from the cougar skull featured above, to the bat that the director had brought in right around Halloween. The entire process was absolutely fascinating, examining details that were beyond skin deep.


Photo by Rachel Brazil 2005

That Halloween, I went to a party with a boyfriend. Even though I struggle at them.

I wore a costume. Even though in doing so, I felt like I shared more of my true self than I was comfortable with.

I carved a Jack-o-Lantern, working carefully to recreate a skeletal version of my hand. I no longer have a picture of that, sad to say.

As much as I tried to put my best foot forward. I couldn’t do it. I hated the party. I wanted to go home. I was willing to walk 12 miles to get home. Instead, I curled up in the back of the car and fell asleep. When I finally got home I had a full-blown violent meltdown and slept on the hallway floor.

For so long, I let that event become a defining moment in that “there must be something wrong with me.”

But, as I’ve written before, I’m through with believing that.

I am who I am, and when I am expected to be something other than that, it really bothers me.

Having strangers knock on my door and ask for things bothers me.

Going on to other people’s property freaks me out.

Eating loads of candy at midnight usually results in a sugar hangover the next morning.

Acting like I am someone else clearly messes with my sense of being.

Having to interact with people in costume makes me want to run away crying.

The ghouls and the gross don’t bother me. Nor does the fake blood or a random body part. So maybe my best bet is to be a hermit for Halloween. I will stay in, with my loves (who happen to be ill today). We will make creepy treats shaped like eyeballs or ghosts. Maybe I’ll try my hand at homemade caramels or chocolate candies. Maybe we’ll play with costumes and perform spooky Halloween skits.

But really, why should I do something I am not comfortable with, just for the sake of a holiday?


My Vulnerability

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I’m beginning to notice, something strange that happens

When others fail to listen to me.

I get angry.

Like a little child.

Afraid of the crises that might ensue.

“But wait! I see something wrong!

Please! Please listen to me!”


There are some days that it happens all around.

Others are too busy and overbooked to listen.

Then the kids won’t listen.

Then the dogs.

Then the cat– wait, never mind the cat isn’t biologically capable of listening to human.


And then among my children,

is my inner child.



Wanting to stomp her feet

And say,

I just need someone to care about what I have to say.

It gets pretty ugly.


The best I can do is treat everyone to ice cream.

Have a tea party.

Invite all those who won’t listen.

Shed a tear or two.

And carry on.

A Good Day

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A Good Day

Today is a good day

I’ll only do what I can

Today is a good day

Despite the messes and frustration

Today is a good day

Even with pain and tears

Today is a good day

It is what it is

Today is a good day

Other things will wait

Today is a good day

I am pretty sure

Today is a good day

With patience and grace

Today will be a good day


Recovery Leads to Revolution

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Recovery Leads to Revolution

What happens when I take the time to rest, recover, and heal?

It turns out, I get new perspective.

Turns out I get a revolutionary perspective for all the things I do.

Art- As I stepped in to teach an art class for a friend in need, my truest self stepped out into the world. This part of me had been hanging out at the door, looking outside, waiting for a time that it felt safe enough to venture out into the world again. Now in addition to leading the lessons, I create examples of the assignments to share with the students! I look forward to the projects! I WANT to do them, I want to share them, and I want to see how the students develop their own projects as well. I am having fun, with kids. Kids that are not my own. Kids that are loud. But, it is art! And I love it!

Writing-¬† When I wrote my last blog post at 4am, I was high on residual anesthesia and in a hospital bed. I reread it a few days later¬† and was surprised to find that it made sense! And even more, to realize that I have a variety of things to say and I have the opportunity to share my words in different ways. Whether I edit someone else’s prose to help them fully convey their thoughts for an amazing opportunity, pursue an opportunity to write a column for the local small-town newspaper, or consider submitting an essay on “Why Quitting my Dream Job was the Best Thing I Ever Did for Myself” to Rebelle Society, I realize that my words can carry weight and that I have plenty to say. I am a writer. And I love it!

Relationships- This has been the big one lately. I have learned to respect myself within my relationships. I don’t feel the need to prove myself or defend myself. It is quite amazing the simple truths that exist when the veil of denial is lifted. But it is not all beautiful and empowering. Some of it is terrifying: like realizing that for the past umpteen years, I have been functioning with a faulty understanding of what intimacy is… After realizing this and sharing it with my therapist, he later replied, “Maybe intimacy doesn’t have to be about not being good enough anymore.” I had no idea what that meant. I bawled and cried on my kitchen floor until it felt like my throat was going to come out of my ears. And that was before I got the tonsillectomy. Now, I figure it means something about my self-worth. It means I have a whole new paradigm yet to understand. It means there is more room for me to love myself.

Self- If my understandings of intimacy and relationships are changing, alongside my perspectives of artistic expression… well, then it all comes together in how I view and share myself. I feel liberated, lighter, and more fluid. I wear what I want. I am confident in my decisions. I know that I don’t need permission to want to do things. I am confident in my requests of others. I know there are possibilities and I know a little more about myself. I know I am highly-sensitive. I know I need plenty of rest and quiet time. I know I can trust my intuition. I know there is nothing wrong with me.

Does it all feel a little strange? Yes!

Am I breaking like 15,000 rules I have created for myself to keep me ‘safe’? Yes!

Do I have any idea what these possibilities will bring? Not at all!

Am I confident that I can move forward? Absolutely!