Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yesterday I met Eve.

Yesterday I met Eve.

She stood before the judge with her hands cuffed behind her back.  Her manicured fingers fidgeted behind her back as she explained the hardship of her situation.  She shifted in her platform sandals.  Her shoulders relaxed and she breathed a heavy sigh when the judge ordered her probation be dropped and moved on to the next case.  I remembered being relieved for her as the bailiff removed her from the courtroom, and then moving on to my own anxiety and irritation over my traffic violation, and the fine that likely followed.  In a few short minutes my name was called and I was allowed to plead my own case before this kindly judge, who reduced my fine greatly and sent me on my way with a friendly smile.  Thanks, Judge.

On my way out the door, I saw the same woman sitting on the curb, looking off into the distance and fidgeting.  We exchanged smiles, and I put my bitch-face back on as I walked past.
"Miss?  I'm sorry.  You don't happen to have a cigarette, do you?"
I turned and really looked at her.  She was very pretty, and seemed so small and young and alone.

"Yeah, there's a pack in my truck, if you want to follow me."

We stood in the parking lot, smoking and talking about our reasons for being in court.  She'd been picked up on a very old probation violation, and had just spent two weeks behind bars.  She'd since been told she'd been evicted, and now she and her little daughter had nowhere to go.  She had no family in America.  She didn't know where she'd sleep tonight if her boyfriend refused to take them in.  She was a domestic abuse survivor.  She was alone and afraid.

A young man came out of the building and crossed toward us, got into in his giant truck, and circled the parking lot, American flag waving on one side, Confederate flag waving on the other.  She and I watched him drive past, and tried to ignore him as he rumbled out of the parking lot in his giant compensation piece.  When he circled the block again, we got into my truck, and I told her we could sit here and wait for her ride for as long as it took.

We talked about our babies.  About our ex husbands and our parents.  We talked about circumstances and serendipity.  We talked about love.  We talked about music.

She just turned 25.  Her father in Africa has three wives.  She has seventeen brothers and sisters.  The last time her husband strangled her, her two-year-old daughter went to the kitchen for a knife to rescue her.  She loves to write and she loves to read.
In high school, she beat the shit out of the racist little boy who used to throw things at her on the bus, and called her "African booty-scratcher."  She has a premature baby, and she believes in being outgoing and generous and friendly, because that's how she wants to be treated.

We shared our woes and our successes.  We shared our mental handicaps.  She listened to me drone on about my own past, my own relationships, my own strange collection of situations and circumstances.  She passed no judgement, no matter how sordid the tale, or how uncomfortable the story.  She listened, she responded, she smiled, she reassured.

An hour into our conversation, we finally exchanged first names, and laughed over the fact that we'd been bonding so deeply, without even knowing each other's names.

By now, court was over, and the parking lot had emptied.  As the judge pulled away in his little white car, we expressed gratitude for his sweetness and kindness toward us both.

"I'm so glad I talked to you," she said, surveying the emptiness of the parking lot and the sun hanging low in the sky.  "I think I would have freaked out, sitting here alone.  Waiting for some serial killer to stuff me in their trunk or toss me in the river.  Thank you."

We expressed our happiness multiple times, over the universe being kind enough to bring us together.

She borrowed my phone to call her boyfriend, and I listened as she defended herself against his accusations, grew quiet, and gave in.  "I have to keep the peace.  I hate it.  He's wrong.  But I have to play nice."  

Her ride arrived, and she breathed a long sigh of relief.  Two men got out of the car to greet her, and everyone smiled.  She had a mountain of unfathomable garbage to deal with, but at least now that she had a ride home, she could get started.

We both opened our arms, and fell into each other with no hesitation.  She whispered thanks into my ear.  We hugged and hugged and hugged.  I assured her that everything was going to be ok.  That somehow, everything is always ok.  I thanked her and squeezed her and she kissed my face.  "I feel like you're an angel."

One last wave as I pulled away, and she and her friends disappeared in my rear view.
Spending that time with her, and talking so intimately with her was a soothing, therapeutic experience.  My own impending episode, my own crying and paranoia and fear that had built up during the day and threatened to rob me of the next few days of my life, had wilted and cowered beneath the light of this fellow traveler.  Eve's struggles, her openness and her willingness to love and bond with a stranger, had prevented my own darkness from swallowing me up for days.  I hope that I was able to have a similar impact on her.

We were soul-mates for two hours, and I will think about her always.

Be so gentle with one another.  We need each other.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I'm learning

It's a process.  An ongoing, exhausting, forever-type process.  Learning to speak up.  Learning to say "I think I am symptomatic."  Learning to ask for reassurance and express what sometimes grows and swells inside me.
It's embarrassing.  And it's hard.  And it requires an absurd amount of patience and understanding and support from the people around me.  It must be tiresome, and I feel how tiresome it must be.

My episodes are ill-timed.  They don't care if you have a job interview, a court date, a sick relative.  They don't care if you have your own worries and fears and anxieties.  They don't care if they make it worse for you.
I do.  And I am embarrassed.  And I hold it in, because I feel like a brat or a burden or an annoyance for feeling so out of control when someone else needs to focus on their own shit.
I need to not do this.

I'm learning to speak up.  I'm learning to put words on these horrible episodes, and I'm learning to ask for reassurance.
I'm sort of fucking up the whole thing, but I'm trying.  Learning.  Failing, and trying again.

Dialogue is invaluable.  I have discovered that when I don't talk about it, it grows.  It hides in those dark spaces and flourishes.  Festering in the dark and turning into anger and resentment.  Learning to open my mouth and put words on my absurd paranoia, saying exactly what I think and feel in that moment, and allowing someone to see what sort of reassurance I need, shines a beacon of light into that stagnant darkness, and helps to shrink the thing festering inside.
Learning to get to this point has proven difficult.
Learning to actually admit out loud the weird places my thoughts have gone, is difficult.
Learning to say "I'm afraid you're all lying to me and this is a mass alien conspiracy to kidnap my cats and turn them into furry minions of doom for our new Martian overlords..."
Learning to put words to the absurdity is difficult.

There are days when I literally suspect everyone and everything of plotting to hurt me.
There are days when everything seems like a grand scheme against me, and there's no one I can trust.
There are days when I believe I am unlovable, and I feel hatred and resentment toward the people who are closest to me, convinced it's all a plot to dupe me.
There are days when crying is the only communication I'm capable of.
There are days when I am afraid, of everyone and everything and every thought around me.
There are days when I truly believe the world is conspiring to hurt me.
These are the days when I need the words so desperately, and can't find them.
These are the days when you'll ask "what's wrong, are you ok," and I will lie to you.

But I am learning.  It's a process, and I will fail.

I think I expected all of it to melt away once my divorce was final.  Once I was done with that whole stupid process, once I was free from a "bad" marriage, once I was able to spread my wings and see what's out there in the world, I would heal and all would be well.

The reality is much, much different.
I've learned that sometimes, healing and recovery are destructive.  I have discovered triggers I've never noticed before.  I have learned that sometimes we grow accustomed to horrible things, and find a sort of comfortable predictability within them, and finding them suddenly gone can be panic-inducing.  I have learned that safety, after a lifetime of being afraid, is fucking scary.

But I am learning.  And it's a process.

I expected it to be easy.  I expected to settle into this new normal, fully in control and prepared to tackle whatever dangers found me, because I've cowered long enough, and I'm empowered now, and I'm not gonna be afraid anymore...

I'm afraid.  A lot.  Most of the time.  Pretty much all of the time.  I'm afraid.
I'm afraid of my own panic.  I'm afraid of being lied to.  I'm afraid of being used or deceived.  I'm afraid of looking stupid or insecure or unreasonable.  I'm afraid of being annoying.  I'm afraid of serial killers and angry phantoms.  I'm afraid of the anger of someone I love.  I'm afraid of being a disappointment.  I'm afraid of someone hurting me and my kids and my family and my animals.  I'm afraid of my reactions if they do.  I'm afraid of bombs and lunatics and unprovoked violence.  I'm afraid of having my heart broken.

And the only way to quell those fears, and all the other absurd thoughts that sometimes happen, is to talk about them, out loud.  To admit what I feel, and to accept the reassurance that follows.
I'm afraid that talking about it will be met with resentment or frustration or anger, and so I hold it all in, letting it grow and fester and blossom into something much worse, until I am in the midst of an episode that can't be stopped until it's run its course.

I don't even know what I'm trying to say.  I'm learning.  That's it, I guess.  I'm trudging my way thru this bullshit, and if you're trudging thru with me, I'm most grateful.  So very grateful and appreciative in ways I can't express, and I need you.  And I understand how frustrating it must be.  And I'm afraid.

And I'm learning.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nothing to read. Just an interesting picture.

I don't have anything to say, other than I find the physical manifestations of mental illness to be fascinating.   This is me, two days apart.  I hope you're all well and safe.  

Wednesday, 4-1-15                        Friday, 4-3-15

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"August 11, 2014"

I'm having a shitty week, full of symptoms that won't go away. I am suspicious and irritable, and I have reached that miserable point where I hate everyone, including myself, and I am convinced I will never leave my house again, because having panic attacks in public is total, total bullshit.
I've made excellent progress with my manure mountain, taking the time to gather years of solid proof that I am useless and unlovable, and stacking it all into a big, lumpy mountain of shit, and burrowing in deep.

And then I stopped.
I don't need to do that.  I'm better than that.  I don't belong in that shit pile.  I never did.

I dug thru my therapy notes and found it.  "August 11, 2014." That was the last time.  It's been five months since I've self-harmed.


Five months, fuckers.  

I don't even know where my knife is right now.  And if I did, I'd use that fucker to slice the piece of cake I'm about to eat.
Pieces.  Pieces of cake.

Having these symptoms is still bullshit.  I'm surrounded by more love and support and patience than I ever imagined I could be.  I know I could pick up the phone and call any number of people for support, and have them inside my house within minutes, if that's what I needed.  I am loved.

And in moments like this, I doubt every single bit of it.  I am suspicious.  I am wary.
I am a dick.

But I'm not a dick.  I'm operating with a malfunctioning brain. And I'm still in control of this bullshit episode. I'm not spiraling into that hopeless state of mind where all I can do is cry and injure myself.  I'm experiencing irrational symptoms, and reacting like a rational human being.  I am reacting like a rational human being, even tho my brain doesn't function properly.  

 Can I get a wut wut.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My Great Mommy (Guest post by Kelsey)

Our daughter has decided she has things to say, and looks forward to hearing the things you have to say about the things she has to say.  I has a proud <3

My mommy is the best person I know. [Except when she's mad.Then she is the second best person I know.] I love her. We have awesome times together.

We play together.On halloween instead of going to a bunch of houses, we went to not very many houses and then went home to have a girl night. We watched "Five Nights at Freddy's"and stayed up late.

We also have a big imagination. One ordinary day turned into an "Alice and Ofilia" adventure.Mom has a funny person that she calles "Tammy". She makes a funny voice to make it like she is 4. And instead of saying "4", she says "fowee".

And on my 6th birthday,When we went to "Chukey Cheese". Instead of a bacon and eggs breakfast, we had pepproni pizza.It was a fun time.

She sounds amazing.I know.But she is more amazing than she sounds.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Like a Boss.

Boyfriend.  He does not yet have a name here.  I don't want to name him here just yet.  Let's call him "William."  After my grandfather and my uncle, who are two of the most warm-hearted and loving people you'll ever know, with just a splash of wicked humor and a lot of reserved spunk.

He listens to me recount the events of my life, and most often shakes his head in disbelief.  "Jesus, what did they do to you?  You've overcome so much."

In my broken moments, and in the moments when I couldn't see clear of this path, I didn't understand how he could hear these stories and not see me as weak and broken.  He has always seen me as strong, smart, and resilient.  I was not able to see what he saw.

I was only able to see the wounded little girl, cowering in the corner from life, and everyone in it.  I was only able to see the hurt and the abuse and the loneliness.  I was only able to see someone weak and sad, broken by a lifetime of abuse and injustice.

And in this past year with him, I have begun to see what he sees.  Someone who didn't submit to defeat, no matter how gross it got.  Someone who fought, every step of the way.  Someone who continually took steps, no matter how small or frightening, to do what needed to be done to survive, overcome, and prevail.

And I have.

I have cut ties with the people who hurt me.  I have refused to allow anyone to stay if the couldn't treat me with respect and dignity.  I have forgiven, moved forward, and refused to allow a lifetime of cruelty turn me into a hateful, vengeful, or otherwise unpleasant, unhappy person.

If that's not strength, I don't know what is.

And I am so in love with the man who came into my life, and showed me these truths about myself.  Who loved me at my weakest, and hung around long enough to see me at my strongest.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

I read thru the papers in their entirety several times before they were served.  I know what they say.  Getting hard copies in the mail today was a blow to the chest I did not expect.

"Petition for dissolution of marriage."
It feels so cold, and formal.  So sterile.  It feels like such a small, sharp phrase, and completely inadequate in describing the heartbreak of a divorce, or the twenty years I spent with him, both good and bad.

Two babies.  The death of beloved family members.  Vacations.  Inside jokes.  Heated arguments.  Lazy days, curled in a ball on the couch.  Violent disagreements.  All of that is over now.  Reduced to a stack of papers less than an inch thick.  Reduced to a few short meetings in a parking lot to exchange our daughter.  Reduced to a few more signatures, and a notarized stamp before the final deed is done.   

I did the right thing for all of us.  I was struggling.  He was struggling.  Our children were struggling.  This is better.  I am aware.

And my heart still contracts when I stop and consider the magnitude of what's happened in the past year.  Sometimes I look around and think I might still wake up, and find it's all been a nightmare.  That I will roll over at night, and he will be there, and he will wrap me up in his arms, and we will love each other the way we were supposed to.  Without the anger.  The fear.  The hate.

Instead, a pile of cold, emotionless papers occupies what used to be his side of the bed.
It's very real.

I am very glad.  This is nearly over, and it's a relief.  I can begin to focus on my therapy and my recovery.  I can surround myself with nothing but support and love.  I can begin to further build my neglected friendships, and find my way in the world the way I was meant.  This is a very, very positive change.

But in moments like these, my heart still breaks.  If only...

And because this is a depressing post, here is a picture of a cute critter.  He has a corm.