BY: LANISHA PORTER
I hope that by the time anyone reads this, the loose ramblings of my thoughts could be stitched into a tapestry of some meaning. This is another piece from me about life; this time around I'm a few months shy of 27.
I’m sitting aboard a flight to the middle East headed to enjoy my end of the year vacation. This trip is the first that I suspect will put me outside of my comfort zone unlike any of my past travels. This, by far, is the most politically conservative country I’ve visited. I look forward to seeing if my gathered speculations will be confirmed or dispelled. We shall see.
This trip was supposed to be attended by two other people. But for whatever reason, they pulled out. I planned this trip trusting that the accompaniment of others would ease my nerves about such a new experience. I put my stock in their attendance. And then they pulled out. To me this is symbolic of life--how the only person you can ever be sure of showing up is yourself. One thing I love about myself is I’m a sure bet each time. I always emerge with what is needed even in the face of the unexpected. If others choose to show up it is a kind surprise, but I’ve learned not to let it stop my show. :)
Speaking of surprises, life is full of them which is why this year I sat down and planned my after-life wishes. The planning meeting was very...hmm, what is a good word….?
“Unbelievably-morbid.” Yes, that’s the word I’ll choose.
There were moments where it felt right to cry but we fought through them understanding there were plans needing to be made no matter how uncomfortable it felt. I planned everything down to my nail color, musical selections, where my proceeds are to be donated, and how I wish my obituary to be printed. I don't know who will hold the pen that writes my final story--maybe it will be my husband, one of my children, maybe even a best friend. I have no clue who God has that assignment for. But I know who determines what will be written..and that’s me. How I live these very days is a vote on what can be recorded about my life. I’m literally deciding what will be played back. It is soooo powerfully amazing to me that the influence of my choices will ripple and echo throughout time. By the end of the planning meeting, I was so inspired to live. I’ll say this: the ceremony will be so beautiful I’m upset that I’ll miss it. (Morbid, I know). After the planning meeting, I dis-alarmed any suspicions that could have been looming by letting them know I wasn’t having any suicidal thoughts, but I just wanted to be responsible and prepare in case of any surprises.
For the first time in my life, I appeared in front of a judge in court regarding someone who was stalking me. The matter could be considered to be terroristic threatening. The matter had to be escalated to legal defense after “stalker” alluded to being in possession of a firearm. I did not know this person and couldn’t tell you where they came from. After “stalker” had continued to pursue me for more than a year—their harassments becoming more aggressive and increasing—it became evident that from a non-clinical perspective, the person presented serious mental challenges. For that I had much grace and compassion. But soon enough, those virtues became swallowed up by my very real human anger, annoyance, and a developing concern for my safety. Time and time again in this country, we have all too often seen that mental illness and firearms do not mix. For no reason other than living my life, this person had fixed on me and decided they should be living the life I’ve managed to create for myself.
I always saw that in movies but I never thought I could be the object of someone's obsession. Immediately my safety was called into question, and on occasion it was necessary for me to have security on standby. All of which is unbelievable to put into writing because I’m an average person who does normal things who has never needed security in the past. But now I began to think three and four times before publishing details for public consumption. My life felt…controlled. Which quite honestly is why people stalk—it is to spur a sense of control through inspired terror. After deeper investigation, it would come to light I was not the first to pursue legal action against “stalker” and that they logged a track record devoted to harassing others. The situation taught me that stalking is all about inflicting a sense of control in one's life. The stalker—inspired by their own delusions—had a goal to gamely tarnish my professional reputation by sending absurd and unsound emails to my colleagues and affiliates about me. They even uncovered the personal numbers of my loved ones and made harassing calls. The attacks were more than personal. And the spirit of the emails usually always told on themselves and quickly people were able to discard without second thought. But in the mind of the stalker I’m sure it made them feel good to believe that they had somehow terrorized people from giving me opportunities. They likely felt a sense of power to believe that if they couldn’t live my life, at the very least, they could convince people to see me in a negative light. There is a part of me to this day that empathizes about what went wrong in this stalker's life and when it happened. Did it happen to them as a kid? Were they not given enough love and support? Did life not turn out for them how they expected and they are grieving aloud? Whatever the case, I believe all people have good in them even if it’s buried under circumstance. In this case, I imagined that circumstance thickened in this person's life and goodness plateaued to the bottom of their soul as they grew older. And unfortunately, it came at my personal expense. I continue to keep them in my prayers.
Once upon a time, there was a point in my life where I dreaded the start of a new year. Not that I wasn’t grateful to cross the threshold entering another 365-day time lapse, but I was bored that there wasn’t anything new to look forward to. Outside of school and work, life was pretty predictable. It often left me unenthused. But now at 26 I’ve learned how to mark the passing of a year's time differently. I have signature events penciled into my calendar that give me something to look forward to each year. For instance; before, I didn’t prioritize vacations. (This was also in part to the fact that I couldn’t afford to.) But now, I make time for those moments to go on vacation and replenish and just “un-be” all the things I have to be year round. Then, in the Fall, I anticipate kicking off my webisode series LLLATTES each season. This keeps me busy, creative, and engaged in possibilities. I also fill the year’s time with momentous occasions belonging to those I love: weddings, baby showers, graduations, birthdays, career celebrations, and honoring personal accomplishments. It’s never lost on me how beautiful it is to have milestones to mark the passing of life’s time with. I’m initiating traditions and recurring events that keep me hopeful, optimistic, and chugging along.
This year has been a year to look at myself and look at myself deeply. I found something I really want to work on: acceptance. Relationally when I think about how I connect with people, I had to face that maybe I have unrealistic ideas of people in my life. I have very strict ideas of loyalty and honor that more than not, has kept me confined to an intimate circle of friends. But even within this circle, I’m not sure people have felt comfortable undressing down to their most authentic selves because of the standards I project. I noticed that even my closest friends and loved ones have walked on eggshells around me, possibly afraid of disappointing me or not being what I expect. I realized that I don’t want people around me who feel they need to check themselves at the door just for me to be comfortable. This meant I needed to stop asking people to meet me where my ideas start, and instead meet them where they are. (If I in fact operate in love as God instructs His sheep to do.) In shifting my thinking to this gear, I lift the imaginary weights off those I love. I also get closer to them in ways where they can completely trust that they don’t lose ground with me just because they make human errors. The hardest part about shifting my mind to this gear is believing that I’d in some way be betraying my own standards. It is my hope to actively practice acceptance without feeling cheated out of anything. In this, I believe I’ll receive peace that comes with relinquishing controlled ideas about “how it should be.” I cannot control my friend making a dangerous decision; I cannot control who speaks about me behind my back; I cannot control if a lover has emotional inconsistencies...but in all the aforementioned circumstances I can control how I react. I can control that I let it go without accepting the urge to recover the narrative to fit into my own ideas.
This is life for me at 26.
I am grateful God keeps allowing me the borrowed time to learn more and more, do more and more, and become more and more.
Thank you for reading.
Welcome to my views from this horizon!