blogs, books, life, mindfulness, short stories, writing

My attempt at a short story: “Return to Paradise”

Based on true events: names and places have been changed for privacy concerns. 

Return to Paradise

Christina Livingston is a 21-year-old student coming-of-age currently. She is a cat enthusiast, art lover, grace-needer, culture advocate, truth-seeker, and a hopeless optimist. This is what my blog, “Child of Vision,” has as its description in the “about” section. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed recently and am just coming to terms with what it means to have bipolar and how it affects my life and those around me. This is a little part of my story that I would like to share with the world. It all begins when I was 14 years old and fell hopelessly in love with my social studies teacher, John Fairfield.

 

John is six feet tall, he is a ginger, has rosy cheeks, and a bright smile. I am five feet tall, have long dark brown hair and brown eyes—I also have rosy cheeks. When I first met John he was 33 years old and in his prime. Life had not yet given him wrinkles as battle signs, he was still—if you will—a kid. I was a kid too. As a matter of fact, that’s how he referred to me.

 

“Hey kid,” he liked (or I presumed he liked) to say. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy hearing this. Kid? I’m not a kid, I’m a young lady. How wrong I was. Like John, life had not yet given me the battle that I needed, the one that would make me strong and disciplined. I was at the stage in my life where my biggest worry was what color nail polish I would paint my nails that day.

 

I knew the first moment I locked eyes with John that there was something different about him. He was an intellectual. He was smart—smart beyond his years. Perhaps not smart in experience but definitely full of some kind of wisdom. Was it spiritual wisdom? I don’t know. To this day I can’t pinpoint it because, as a matter of fact, it just turns out that I don’t know John well enough to say who he is. I, as cliché as it sounds, fell in love at first sight. I know, ok. I know it is ridiculous and absolutely unrealistic but that is what happened.

 

After taking a year of social studies and witnessing the power of his speech, the direction he gives his students, his passion for what he does, I was completely under his spell. It was a kind of witchcraft, I like to say as I look back. It was as if somebody had rolled a wand and cast a spell and it was a love spell and I could not get out of it for anything in the world. I fantasized about him, I enjoyed going to school just to see him, but I couldn’t do anything about the way I felt. I didn’t say anything either. I kept my feelings to myself (this would later prove to be my undoing.) John had a girlfriend—a student who had recently graduated—a beautiful twenty year old named Vivian. She was breathtaking. And of course, I know this because I looked her up on FaceBook and found her profile pics to scroll through.

 

So I forgot about John. Well, I didn’t forget but I repressed him. I repressed all of my memories of him, the time he locked eyes with me in one of my gym classes, the time he high-fived me and I felt the electricity in my hand, the time he said I love Chrsitina—in front of the whole class. I now suspect he said it as a fatherly figure. I now suspect he wanted to be a father figure to me. I now know that he treats all of his students like “his kids”. I now know that there wasn’t sexual tensión between us, only the desire for him to perhaps get closer to one of his students that he was fond of.

 

I perceived it differently. I perceived it as “he might like me” and finally “he does like me.” But of course, I didn’t act on it. John has a girlfriend. And I don’t come between two people.

 

 

“John. John Fairfield” I cried to one of the ladies in the psychiatric hospital I was in. San Juan Capestrano. A psychiatric hospital in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. She had asked me what was wrong and all I could answer was “John.” I was sick. I was very sick. I was sick because I had let all of my repressed memories pile up and explode in a psychosis. I was in the middle of one.

 

Two years prior to my hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital I was studying Advertising at NYU. Everything was going well, or so I thought.

 

After I had moved on from John’s class, at 15, I started to worry about college and the SAT’s, applications, etc. I wasn’t thinking about him. Still, I knew he was in the back of my mind. Still, I knew he was very much present in the subconscious. After I graduated high school I had the privilege of attending my top school. So I went. My first year was a disaster, my roommate and I barely talked and I developed anorexia as a result of my suppressed homesickness and the feelings that I wasn’t dealing with: feelings that involved John and that I very much missed him and that I wanted to go back home to San Juan, Puerto Rico and proclaim my feelings of love for him. But that didn’t happen. I just stuck through my first year, and my second year, but in my third year something strange happened.

I was beginning to obsess about a boy in my English Lit class—Peter. I began to feel like I was in love with Peter because he was the most handsome guy in all of NYU. What I didn’t know was that I was in the beginning of my three months of psychosis before my hospitalization. I called my sister, told her I wanted to marry Peter. I called my grandfather, told him I wanted to have a baby with Peter. Peter was gay. And I kind of knew it but I had to hear it from him. I messaged him on FaceBook, saying that I had “feelings” for him and that I had developed a crush. His reply was, “Christina, you do know that I’m gay, right?” I was shocked. All of the repressed memories of John came rushing to me and I knew what I had to do. I had to go home and profess my love for him. See? I was knee-deep in psychotic thinking. One minute I was thinking about Peter, the next I was thinking about John. It should suffice to say that I was in the middle of midterms and I was sleep deprived and stressed, to add to the bunch.

 

 

“JOHN,” I cried. “He is my husband and I miss him. We are married and I want to see him.” My first day at San Juan Capestrano was hell. I was disoriented, I didn’t know what I was doing there, I wanted to see “my husband.” One of the program coordinators later told me, “How could you be in love with a man you haven’t even sat down to have a cup of coffee with?” She was right. I was in love with the idea of a person. I wasn’t in love with John. I was experiencing a mumbo-jumbo of deluded thoughts and manic thinking. I had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder so I was not medicated. There was a chemical imbalance in my brain that had been untreated and I was experiencing a psychosis as a result of a lack of medication. When I got out of the hospital I spent six months absent from university, all the while heavily medicated.

 

Today, I dream of going back to NYU and being an independent person. I dream of walking in the city by myself, free of delusions and obsessive thinking. But that’s just not the case for me. So I am in Puerto Rico, studying English Literature at the University of Puerto Rico, aspiring to become a professor one day.

 

I take Abilify and Celexa, I avoid scary movies, I try not to think about my hospitalization, although sometimes it’s hard.

 

I still think about John. I still have “feelings” for him.

 

Last time I saw him was at my friend Irene’s graduation and he looked handsome as hell. He said hi to me and I blushed furiously.

 

Today, I try to stay positive. Today, I work on thinking about the present rather than the past or the future. Today, I have bipolar disorder. But today, it is under control.

 

I am currently working on my obsessive thinking, including John and other ideas I get obsessed about (this is characteristic of bipolar disorder).

 

However, I am grounded in reality, I know that I am not married, I know that John has a girlfriend (a lovely teacher who I hope he is very happy with).

 

I wanted to share a little part of my story. To raise awareness, prompt questions, and inspire others to seek help.

 

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this little first-person snippet.

 

Signed:

 

Christina Livingston

 

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blogs, books, life, mindfulness, San Juan, Puerto Rico, writing

What should I write my Bachelor’s thesis on?

A list of ideas that might work:

1. Are Puerto Rican’s violent?

2. The Phenomenon of Love in Luce Lopez Baralt’s “Luz Sobre Luz”

3. Puerto Rican Emigration: A 21st Century Phenomenon 

4. On Tuntún de Pasa y Grifería: African Culture in Puerto Rico

5. Guillermo Rebello Gil and Millenials in Puerto Rico… or something around those lines having to do with his writing 🙂

However, since I study at a university that is Spanish speaking, writing, etc. It’ll most definitely and obviously be in Spanish!!!

books, life, mindfulness, San Juan, Puerto Rico, writing

On Reading Frankl

Unlike Freudian psychology, which suggests that man is driven by a pleasure principal, Viktor E. Frankl suggests that man is driven by finding a meaning in one’s life. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” a quote by Nietzsche marks what the basis of his theory–logotherapy–
“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” 
The author experienced a horrifying account of life in a concentration camp and how some (such as Capos) did whatever it took to survive. I’m just beginning to read this book but after skipping to the end upon temptation to find more wonderful quotes, I read this:
[A student of Frankl surprised him in class by saying, “The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning in theirs.”] 
That is logotherapy, and for now, a new principle for which to live by. Something not void of life, but absolutely the opposite–
Enduringly full of it.

books, mindfulness, San Juan, Puerto Rico, self-esteem, writing

The Pain of Memories

All I know is what I remember.

All I have is what I remember.

I tried, for years I tried to forget.

I tried to say goodbye, but then I understood and I knew the truth buried deep within me had to be unraveled.

Nobody knows what happened in Ithaca.

Only I know. I know what I felt. I know what I experienced. I knew the moment I read the words on the page and they meant something else. They were no longer letters floating on a plane and I was no longer a student doing research. The secret was hidden in the text. The secret was hidden in the words. It took me years to finally understand myself and realize that what I was avoiding all along was the treasure that I was looking for. It took faith, and hope, and believing it was possible.

I was the person that didn’t believe in love.

I was the person that was perfectly content being on my own—I still am—but that doesn’t mean that I can’t accept love (pure and true and divine) as a truth that is inevitable in our world. After all, why are we here? We are here to love. There is no higher power than love itself.

Then why was I fighting for so long? All those years I didn’t think it was this but then it became clear to me: I was fighting something that was bound to happen by destiny. I was fighting something that is meant to be lovely and beautiful, not sinful or painful or wrong. I was fighting what I wanted the most—negating myself love and happiness in search of a truth based on reason and logic.

But here’s the thing:

It happened when I least expected it to happen.

I thought that I had won the fight.

I thought I was well on my way in my pursuit of knowledge and the life of an academic—dedicated to research and writing and ideas.

Then I had an epiphany.

The words on the page had a meaning. I understood that I had a choice. I could choose Despair (I had already chosen Despair—I had chosen it a long time ago,) or I could choose Hope.

In the end, I chose Hope.

I made a decision, and I took action.

I regret nothing.

Do I regret choosing Despair? No.

If I had not experienced Despair, I would not feel the same way about Hope.

I don’t know what happens next, but I do know what happens now:

Now I try to live each day without desperation, or anger, worry, or stress. I try to control the longing, and the desire and the ache to finally be with the Other. But I know that everything happens in its time. So I will not sulk and I will not dwell. And if I feel pain then I let myself feel pain.

The pain of memories is the inability to forget. Even after you think that you “let go,” even after you think that you have put your past behind you, even after you think you can say goodbye to everything that matters and the only thing that meant something, you will remember the most important thing there is to remember—the most important thing we must never forget—Time is in Us.

We remember because we are guided by our experiences.

We remember because we could not love without our past—without our history.

We remember because there are things we cannot forget for a reason. There are people that are meant to be in your life, and they are, and they forever will be.

The pain of memories is remembering what love felt like and believing it wasn’t real—believing it was all in my head.

The pain of memories will haunt us forever.

But this—this moment suspended in time—is what makes me so fond of the pain and of the memories—they guide me to the light—they point the way forward—the pain of memories is what keeps me going because one day I will understand that the pain was worth it. The pain is worth it. If I can rejoice in a lifetime of Unity than this pain is a memory I will relish forever.

books, life, mindfulness, San Juan, Puerto Rico, self-esteem, writing

Chase Your Dreams!

Chase your dreams! We have the power to do it‼ No matter who tells you you can’t, no matter how many times you fall, you can be whatever you want to be‼ I am a currently a writer aspiring to learn about human beings from every standpoint I can. I want to understand our psyche, our motives, our desires, and also what makes us who we are from a biological point of view as well. I am addicted to learning and information–It’s my time to learn how I can give back and serve others.

books, San Juan, Puerto Rico, writing

This afternoon…

Reading Guillermo Rebollo Gil and identifying, quite frankly, with his belief of how we in Puerto Rico tend to be anti-intellectual (despite our obliviousness to it). A perfect quote from his book, “decirla en pedacitos: estrategias de cercanía” —
“No es fácil vivir en el trópico y ser inteligente. Mucho menos cuando ‘el diagnóstico del País es muerte cerebral’ .”

Está fuerte pero el tiene razón. Existe una clase intelectual pero es menospreciada. Mi sueño es que con tiempo, dedicación, y sobre todo–educación–el “ser intelectual” sea algo nítido.

books, life, mindfulness, San Juan, Puerto Rico, self-esteem, writing

Wednesday/January 4/2017

Tonight I took a moment to think about people, places, ideas, and my past. Most of all, how they intersect and connect with one another.

I realized that no matter how many people I am with, no matter how many friends I have, no matter who I love, truly and deeply inside I feel alone.

And sad. And isolated.

My question is, ” are we ‘faking it till we make it’ ? ”

Are all of us trying are best to grasp happiness however we can even if that means acting for ourselves.

And isn’t that what life is all about, then?

For me, life is empty. WE are responsible for its meaning. We give life meaning. WE are responsible for our own happiness too. We try our best to be happy everyday because we know–

Deep down we know life is suffering, like Buddhists believe, we must learn how to deal with that suffering.

But whatever happiness means to me, or you–

We must learn how to foment it because in the end it is satisfying to make a person smile, or watch a person grow, or see a great film, etc.

Whatever it is-that joy that we feel-that is what we strive for on a daily basis.

Tonight I pray and I have faith that this year will bring me and my loved ones Joy.

That being said,

We must work for it, look for it, foment it,
We must create JOY.

blogs, books, life, mindfulness, poems, self-esteem, writing

My attempt at a “sestina”

Think about your Purpose

Forget about the Past

Be here in the Present

Look forward to the Future

Rejoice in your Age

Time is in Us.
Time is in You.

You’ve earned your Age

The Future is your dreams

In the Present we struggle

To erase Past mistakes

Our Purpose is to love.
What Purpose do you have, Mother?

We are your Past

your Present

and your Future.

Do you feel the accomplishments of your Age?

Time lives inside of Us.
Time lives inside of You.

What is our Age

but a Future ahead?

At Present we stand

Looking at the Past

Think about your Purpose, Mother.
For the Purpose of this poem,

Remember: the Present is given to you.

The Future is your dreams.

blogs, books, mindfulness, poems, self-esteem

Lust

A feeling, a longing, a desire, a promise of an encounter-

Entwine me, wrap me in your arms with strength and passion-this is our time to act upon our need to be poured into one another-without restraint, without warning.

This is warmth, this is wanting, this is lust and the air is musky with the smell of our bodies acting as two catalysts for this explosion-

We are climaxing and this is a higher state ofconsciousness-

We are two becoming one.

We are belonging.

books, life, mindfulness, poems, self-esteem, writing

Forgive Me

Forgive me

But you have bewitched me

Your eyes, blazing, a stare–

 I can’t forget.

Forgive me but I want to possess you.

I want that stare to become my mirror and my becoming–

I am indebted to you for awakening me.

Forgive me but you spoke soft words 

I didn’t notice you and now it’s too late.

Forgive me for not paying attention to you.

For now,

I am forever waiting for you.