Thursday, June 27, 2013

Darkness & Thank Gawd for Modern Medicine

Let's get uncomfortable,  shall we?

I woke up Sunday morning, after a particularly hellish few weeks, and realized I felt... different. A little more focused. A little stronger.

The constant cacophony in my head, screaming, shouting, whispering to me that I can't do this... I won't survive it, that I will never be happy again,  that it would be better for everyone if I was just not here anymore, that the only way out of this misery is just to end it all... It's getting quieter. 

I have depression and becoming suicidal is simply a (thankfuly) very small part of it.  I've very likely had it my entire life and I have no doubt I will struggle with it forever. But I've managed it and worked at it and tried to accept it as simply a part of myself... a part that I have control over. A part that, with the right combination of medication, self care and sheer force of will, I can channel into something positive. I've done it before and I will do it again.

The last time I had pervasive suicidal thoughts I was 18... drifting and alone. Recovering from an abusive, toxic relationship.  Aimless and lost. I came close on one single occasion. I just wanted out. The only thing that held me back was the pain I woud selfishly be putting my family through. That it is not an answer, but a cop out. That I had things to do and people to see and a world to change, on whatever scale that may be.

When my therapists or psychiatrists ask if I am having suicidal thoughts, I lie. I say no. I know what will happen if I say yes and I know that I can and will get past it. The stakes are higher now... I have two human beings undrr my care who I love fiercely,  who are ultimately more important than the pain I am struggling  with and who have had thier worlds shattered. I will not add to their pain.

So, while I have absolutely no intention of leaving this world before I am damn well ready,  it is important to me to admit that those thoughts and feelings are there. To  release the shame I have at feeling this way, to admit it and strip them of their power. Slowly, it is happening. Slowly, I can feel a little joy. I have to trust that I am strong,  that I am doing my best... even if I fall short, repeatedly.

My world is scary right now. I question why anyone would want to be in it with me... but you are. Many of you will never know how much you are saving me, in a million small and huge ways. Many of you want to do more,  but this can't be rushed. I will get there... and I am eternally blessed to have wonderful people in my life who are walking with me, in whatever way they can.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I've always been a homebody. As a teenager I would tell my friends that I was grounded so I wouldn't have to a.) Talk on the phone (still not a huge fan... thank you whoever invented text messaging- I would have no friends if it wasn't for you) and b.) go anywhere.

I always have a million projects going. I always have something that needs doing. 6 months ago my idea of a perfect weekend would involve going absolutely nowhere and never having to change out of my pj's.

It is hard for me to be home now. I've rearranged and halfheartedly reorganized but these walls have too many memories. The house is too full and too empty at the same time.

My projects hold no interest. I can barely make myself keep the house clean. All that busy stuff that could be taking my mind off of everything... it just doesn't work right now. I'm not reading much... and that is just wierd.  I am usually reading at least two books at a time. I can only watch certain tv shows and movies, nothing that requires concentration... I just don't have it.

I force myself to open  the mail,  to pay the bills and file things away for records. To make phone calls I dont want to make. To try and cook dinner at least a couple times a week. To remember to shower.

But mostly, I run. I have to get away. A lot of the time, by myself. I feel guilty for pushing the kids away, but I don't have the energy or patience. I see what they need and I try to give them as much as I can, but I don't have a lot. No answers,  no promises.  I can hold them close and tell them it will be ok and wonder if they believe me, because I'm not sure that I do. I find myself exploding over the smallest things. I write angry letters I will never send. I either care waaaaaayyyy too much or not enough. I cannot pretend to be anything but profoundly and perpetually a mess.

I'm trying to divide my time equally so that I'm not leaning on anyone too much... but I do anyway. I have places I can go, shoulders to cry on and arms to hold me when I'm unable to keep going. I'm very, very grateful for that. 

It won't always be like this. I won't always be like this. But I will never be the same again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

4 Months

Father's Day was hard. So was the week leading up to it and so was yesterday.

Truthfully,  every day is hard.

Yesterday marked 4 full months. Too long.... and not long enough. I crave distance from this misery. Jason is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. I miss his voice, I miss his smell. I miss his seal bark of a laugh. I miss the way he always licked his plate clean and thanked me for dinner... even when I refused to put meat in my lasagna. I miss buying him snacks, just because.  I miss random texts when he saw a particularly interesting mullet and I miss him snoring so loud I would have to wear earplugs and cover my head in a pillow.

I miss him.

And he is gone.

I've come to a place where I know that... really know it. It's a new level of pain... because I want to be ok again.  I want to be strong and content and at peace. And at some moments, I am. Sometimes, I am happy. It doesn't take much to upset the delicate balance that I have, but it is there. I have to remember,  when the balance shifts and I spiral once more into despair, that I will be ok. I will always carry this pain, this longing. I will always wish things were different. But I will keep going, even when I don't think I can. Even when I don't want to.

I have to remember that happiness is 98 percent perspective.  I have to remember that if I believe I will be ok, that if I am patient with myself and hopeful for the future and accepting of my own faults and mindful of my strengths... I WILL be ok. My children will be ok. They will see their mother heartbroken and struggling... and they will see her pick herself up and turn coal into diamonds. They will have a mother who loves herself and believes in herself.

And this will teach them to love themselves... in the face of adversity, in spite of pain, in the chaos of grief. They will know that life can dish out what it will... and they can still be happy. I want them to have compassion,  for themselves and for others. To acknowledge that everyone they meet is fighting a battle of some sort. I want them to have passion. To be tender with themselves and with others. To be whole, all on thier own. To realize that contentment comes from within... it cannot be attained through money, power, prestige or (and maybe especially) the love of another. I want them to be fully aware of thier own worth.

But today, I mostly want them to clean up after themselves. ;)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I wish I was made of ice. Completely self sufficient, no doubt, no games, just confident & secure in myself. Powerful.

Because that is who I am... Who I've always been. I learned the hard way not to let anyone else become the source of my happiness. To man up and take care of my own shit. To take what I want and not expect anything.

And to love someone,  to open up and soften. To let my walls down. To let it hurt and to go on living. To reimagine the fairytale that does not exist. To let go of perfection and to be ok with the work in progress that comes with being human.  

And then my world shattered. Would it have been easier to never take the risk? Taken the safe, sane path and avoid the intensity of all this pain... Yes, for sure. Would I take the easy way if I had to do it again? Hell no. I wouldn't give up what I have for anything. But the fallout? It is fucking brutal. It has taken every moment of peace from me, sheared away my confidence, my certainty, my clarity and laid my soul bare. Knocked the wind out of my sails and made me question my sanity.

I barely know who I am anymore. I can't eat, can't sleep, seek out anything that will numb the pain. I exist in a cave of sadness, fumbling to find my way out of the dark. Occasionally glimpsing some light and getting knocked back on my ass with every step forward. I need something,  but I don't know what. I want relief and know at the same time there is no cure. There will be a part of me that will remain damaged no matter what I do. I want desperately to heal, but these wounds might be too deep. How can I ever go back to what I was? All of my hard earned confidence, all of my pride is destroyed. How can I ever be carefree and hopefull ever again?  I've had to do things that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I keep secrets that will never see the light of day. And I know about the power of secrets. I know how they fester, how they can tear a person apart from thethe inside out. But I have no choice.  

Do I build my walls back up? Do I become hard, let my broken bones knit together awkwardly? Let scar tissue form over my heart, tough and impenetrable? Do I get a choice at all?  

Life is short. And cruel and unfair and filled with pain. And mind bogglingly boring and routine. And amazingly beautiful, filled with promise and hope and laughter. And Love, in all its many forms.  

Maybe the trick is to never plan, never think about the future at all. To drift and let the wind take us where it will. But I don't really believe that and it's not something I can surrender to gracefully. I need to know what's what. I cannot, especially now, handle ambiguity. I have to know where I stand... even if the only thing to know is that I am on shaky ground. I need constant reassurance that I am ok, that I am cared for and loved. Because this? This is the loneliest I have ever been. This is the most alien I have ever felt. I'm a giant raw nerve, exposed and naked. Incredibly vulnerable.

I HATE being vulnerable. I HATE that my center is now outside of myself and I don't know how to get it back. I HATE how needy, anxious and pathetic I feel on a daily basis.   I HATE that I am no longer me. Trapped in a sphere of pain. No end in sight.

No positive insights today folks. No being brave and faking strength. It's too much. I can't pretend.

Friday, June 7, 2013

These Are Things That I'm Gonna Do

(If you caught the Rasputina reference,  I love you. Let's be best friends.)
I've been thinking about making a Life List lately.
Because sometimes I need reminding that even though life is often painful, dull and confusing as hell- every experience,  whether positive or negative,  gives us the opportunity to grow. To understand more, to open up more, to give and recieve more love. To shed some light, lend some warmth. To learn. To be more than we were yesterday. To try and fail and try again. To succeed & embrace fear and doubt. To move through pain, gracefully or otherwise, and allow it to polish us like glass from the sea, making what was once ordinary extraordinary.
You'll have to pardon me... I've been reading a lot of Pema Chodron.
So consider this a work in progress. Some of these are more of a journey, less of a result. I'm sure I will add and subtract and refine these many times. (By the way, if you want to make a Life List of your own and need some inspiration check out my lovely friend Carrie Anne's over at Little Big. She's just an adorable little powerhouse of sexy smart nerd girl. Ladycrush!)
Learn sugar work.
Make travel a priority: Europe, China, Peru & Guatemala. Thailand. Australia & New Zealand. Africa. Alaska, Montana, Texas, New York. Canada. Brazil.  Honestly,  anywhere & everywhere.
Take a backpacking trip, hike in hike out camping.
Quit smoking.
Get a solid handle on my finances. Develop a plan for making the things that are important to me do-able.
Take my kids on a historical tour of the United States.
Take voice lessons and sing in public.
Learn woodworking & build my own furniture.
Make art a focus in my life. Study. Start painting again.
Publish a book.
Find a physical practice I enjoy and stick with it. This year: Yoga, Bellydance & Capoeira.
Graduate from college. In what? I don't know. But I want a degree.
Cultivate friendships. Pay attention and make time for my relationships with the people I love.
Become a hospice volunteer
Teach my kids to cook, do their own laundry & clean up after themselves ( most days I have a 25-40 percent success rate with this)
Have regular dinner parties. I've always wanted to do that.
Re-take Spanish classes & become fluent.
Make a t-shirt quilt for each of the kids with Jason's & their old t shirts
Take some of those old timey old west pictures... I know, but I've always wanted to do that
See Jack White, AWOLNATION, Pink,  Florence & The Machine and KT Tunstall in concert.
Grow my hair out too long... and then most likely cut it all off again :)

Too be continued...

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letting Some Sun In

I've never been very good at following rules. I've made a habit of never being part of the norm... and for a very, very long time that was more  of a defense mechanism than anything else. I have always been too loud or too quiet and much too intense for many people. I cared deeply about how others saw me and for a long time that led me to  create a carefully constructed wall... a persona,  really. It doesn't help that I have a deep rooted need to please people and for the most part really want everyone to like me. I still, to this day, will do almost anything for the laugh. When someone -anyone- criticized or mocked me, a sickening lurch would begin in my belly and it would be all I could think about. I let the opinions of others (percieved or otherwise) influence how I felt about myself... How I SHOULD be this way or that - less needy, cooler, thinner, smarter, more attractive,  less passionate, more happy go lucky. From my will-not-be-tamed curly mop down to my bilbo baggins-esque toes, I longed to be someone better than me. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but as I grew up I carefully concealed it, embracing the ideal of a cold heart, protected from rejection & humiliation.

One huge, beautiful and painfully wrought gift from my relationship with Jason was the slow realization that I could be myself and he would still love me. I could be imperfect, or have an opposing viewpoint or do something really stupid and yes, he would be irritated or disappointed,  but he could still love me. It took several years into our marriage to get comfortable with the idea that we could argue  and it was ok for me to disagree.  I'm never going to be anyone's idea of perfection.... because that does not exist. As a 19 year old wife and then a 21 year old mother, I was paralysed with the fear that I  was just not good enough and I will be honest... I still struggle with feeling ok about myself. That I may, in fact, add value to someones life and that they might actually want me around. In the first few years of our marriage, a common argument from Jason was that I was not honest enough. I would be angry or unhappy about something and instead of addressing it I would push it down, letting it fester and expecting my husband and friends to somehow read my mind, instead of expressing myself, I would shut down until I exploded with rage... letting old hurts and dissapointments ruin friendships and endangering my marriage. 

It is something I have worked steadily on... finding out who I am and what I truly am made of... the bad as well as the good. As I entered my late twenties and early thirties I've become much more open... to making friends (who might one day hurt me or, as I have recently learned,  be the rocks I need to lean on through the storm), to trying things outside of my comfort zone, to embracing my own particular quirks. I will never have a perfect body and I have been described as "exotic looking" far more often than beautiful. But when I look in the mirror now (yes, even naked) I have pride in my reflection. I have strong arms and hands. I will never be a great dancer, but, damnit, I love to dance and really? Who cares? I struggled as a mother and now I am struggling even more as a single mother... but I'm doing it. I feel a powerful need to compartmentalize,  to put away my grief for awhile and to experience the freedom of being on my own. I want to spend my days with my kids and then have the nights to myself without feeling guilty that I am abandoning them or that I should be sitting at home alone, crying. I suppose there will be people who still expect a widow, no matter what age, to don black and remain isolated and alone to grieve "correctly"... but, that isn't me. And it is the last thing my husband wanted for me. I am the ONLY one who will be able to keep some semblance of balance and positivity in my life and  so I'm doing just that. Letting go, just a little bit. Letting a little sunshine in.