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They were kids that I once knew.

11 Mar

I suppose that spring will always remind me.

If a marriage is a bloom, is a growing, breathing creature of change, winter is it’s anathema, spring it’s mother. A marriage develops in similar ways-the new green of yawning trees, the blinding naiveté like that of the lilacs growing in the ditch. (Of course, it also includes the thawing stench of secrets and hidden poos. It just wouldn’t be that certain shade of new without those hidden minefields.)  Then rushes in the burning warmth of late July, with the sweat and the late nights spent staring at the ceiling, too tempered to touch, too tempted to not.

If we’re lucky our marriage falls into autumn, glowing with the flames, cocooned in the comfort of drawing in, drowning in the scents that welcome us home.

If we’re unlucky, we fall prey to winter, and remain frozen in it, immobile and vacant.

My winter is past me now, a year out my limbs are new and wet, glimmering in the brightening light, and I feel renewed, validated and whole. But the memories of that winter, that long, interminable winter linger and drag, a vapour trail of pinched lips and leaking, bitter anger. 

But summer is near. I can smell it. I can feel it.

***

No one starts out that way. I imagine once we mattered to each other, that there was love, something more than teenage lust between us. I always felt that he was a memory I had forgotten, sprung to flesh. Perhaps at 20 or 23 he was, but closer to 30, it was more of a dream turned to nightmare as my mind and body morphed to the left and his roots grew closer to himself. Growth can be value but sometimes, it’s just cancer.

If I’m honest I loved him best as I could, but trapped in my own sadness, my unreasonable anger, my belief that my brokenness defined me. I loved him as a child, I loved him as a half grown feral. But that’s not real love, and that couldn’t break the cold walls. Often I wonder if we wanted it to, content instead to lobby back and forth the barbs and wires, afraid of life outside. Afraid of spring.

It’s easier with what you know, and on dark nights, it can be missed, that person who saw you every day for years and years and years. The strings that tie, not tight but tenuous. A whisper of connection. But not the real one. Not the connection that understands implicitly why tomatoes are so horribly icky outside of those sweet summer weeks when they taste only of the sun and the sweat from your hands.

It was never the connection that understood why my winter anger had to be let loose in silence instead of anger. It was never the connection that understood my strength was in allowing myself weakness. It was never a connection that said “you can, if you want.”

Spring brought me that. And I cannot be angry at the one who couldn’t give it to me, not anymore. He couldn’t. And I never would have let him.

It’s taken a year, a hard winter, and a love I never saw coming to admit that to myself.

It’s my spring gift, my Lenten contribution, my budding flower, this honesty.

***

We were just babies, the spring of our lives, new and blinded, terrified in some ways, excited. The world beckoned and we shrugged. Why not?

I smell spring and I think of our wedding, of the faces saying no, of the hope we had, the throw away faith that somehow it would work.

And like benevolent neglect in my garden each year it did. Until it finally didn’t.

“If you don’t create change, change will create you”

25 May

I want to be alone. I want the gloriousness of a bed to myself, hogging all the pillows. Picking all the paint colors, never having to share the ice cream with another adult. The joy of wandering off somewhere on a Saturday afternoon, just to see where I end up.

I want to be loved. I want someone’s arms around me, their breath hot on my neck. I want to see myself reflected, want to share my world with them, my bookshelves, my dreams. Learn to run together, learn to cook, learn to love. Wake up lazy weekend mornings in the sun, like cats.

I want to share. I find myself intrigued and pulled towards a world where love doesn’t end with two, where my thoughts and dreams and wants are tied to two, where all my little hippie dreams play out, and each little part of me is warmed and full. I envision a life full of the green of this earth, the blackness of it’s dirt and the swelling of my own heart.

I have to pick just one?

***

I’m so not good at this. One day to the next, I don’t know what I want.  A partner maybe. Or just someone to play with. Or a situation far removed from what’s considered normal. Or no one, just me. Then I miss arms to hold me at 2 in the afternoon on a bad day or someone to share a inside joke with or just spend the night talking with and I realize I feel like I’m missing an arm, but have absolutely no idea how to figure out how to find one.

I’m socially inept. I’ve been broken inside in a multitude of ways, and am only now realizing how fucking less than zero I have felt, how hideous I believed myself, and still find myself believing if I’m not careful. I had come to believe I was ugly, an worthless, and unfit to be loved. And who wants that? Who wants to be near anyone who believes these things? Who wants to talk to someone who spent years believing no one really wanted to hear what she had to say, that no one cared enough to hear what she actually thought and believed?

I feel as if a lion has taken up residence in my throat, and is finally learning how to speak.

But I still feel so bloody hideous some days, so unworthy. I cast my eyes down if someone looks my way, and don’t wish to burden them with a visage so revolting.

This is why marriage scares me so, the thought of commitment again. Because it has scarred me in ways I never would have seen, and somedays I wonder if I can ever scrape off the scab to let the new skin grow. Because I have come out the other side feeling so horrendously minimized, made to believe that my desire for a life beyond the now, my desire for dreams and love and togetherness were wrong, naggy and bitchy. And sometimes I feel so weighted down with it all, the staggering size of it, and how tiny I feel compared to it.

I am not perfect. But I know I am not the waste of time and space and love that some would let me believe. I am not her. I have never been her.

But how do I convince myself of this?

***

I can’t imagine telling a guy I like them, not without clear input on their end. I can’t imagine having the nerve to just ask a guy to dinner, my mind’s eye telling me, showing me how they’d laugh with their friends, call me fat and ugly and stupid behind their hands, needy and wasted. How I would again be unworthy.

I want to love again. I want to actually BE loved.

But where do I start?

-Have you started over again? What’s the secret? Extra points to answers from people who aren’t already blessed by the gene pool. My fat ass works against me….

When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they “don’t understand” one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to.

12 Nov

We get along like two old friends, the comfy kind you have from high school who knows what it takes to make you blow root beer out your nose.

I find myself warmed by talking with him-not in the girly flirty way, but in the hey! I like talking to my friend! We get along and he’s funny and he laughs (sometimes) at my jokes and the look in his eyes isn’t cold like it was. kinda way.

I come home without the weight of what or if or should I on my back. No more constantly examining my marriage, no more staring for the flaw, picking at a scab of what was, trying for the sake of it. I come home and look into the eyes of my soon to be ex husband and I think I do love you, after nearly half my life, I love you to the tips of my toes, but you’re right you know, that love isn’t the wifey kind. It’s a warm glass of rum instead of the cold shock of tequila.

And now, on the other side of the table smiling at each other warmly, I am perfectly all right with that.

************************

People gasp when you tell them you’re breaking up.  After all this time! How sad, they tsk, how sad. I suppose that it is, sad that we couldn’t manage to salvage what always made us so right for each other, sad that one, or both of us changed just enough for the other to not recognize any longer. Sad that I got sick, sad that he had to shoulder the burdens of a family alone through it, weather my moods and my ire.

It’s sad that we won’t have more time together, it is.

But that time is long past, the years of love not meaning obligation. The time when things were tender and devoted, not forced. We haven’t lived there in a long time, and I don’t know why. If anything kills me, it’s the not knowing why, why we couldn’t find the right way to this.

I can see the threads now, slipping downhill. I couldn’t see them before, caught up in the now, but I can stare back from here and see where it began to unravel, and all the places where I didn’t stop and pick it up, or where we together kicked the thread aside and moved ahead, without it. So many tiny moments that added up to now, to us both holding the sad dying pieces of a marriage, with the terrible knowledge that we couldn’t put it back together.

I don’t think we mourn it. Maybe it will be worse later, like it was the other day in the supermarket, as each item he liked grabbed me by the chest and nearly started the tears coming with how I’d never buy it for him again, how I’d need to learn what cereal someone else likes best someday. How I wouldn’t have a lover to smile for as I threw chocolate in the cart. I mourn in the strangest ways, the buildings where we sat, the streets we walked down, hands touching softly, the rooms where our new daughters once lay, and the beautific smile that graced his face as he rocked them to sleep.

I will mourn the us that wasn’t, that never could be, the lovers who couldn’t find the pace, get the steps. We tried, and once, we did hold it together, cradled the ball of us in our hands. But it was so very long ago, and life is so easily ran from habit, our hands splitting, letting go.

But we tried. We’ve spent the last few years trying, and finally, I’ve thrown in the towel as well, saying those words he’s so rarely heard from my lips.

You’re right.

Whatever we had, whatever flowered for 2 or 5 or 6 years, it’s long since dried up and become lost as we’ve grown up and apart. Think of it like a firework-beautiful, dangerous, and ultimately, never meant to last.

I like that image of us, exploding into ash to fertilize tomorrow. I like that.

*************************

We get along, and agree and plan and I can see tomorrow, I can see next month, and I’m not that scared! Everyone tsk’s and says they can’t imagine and I’m gleefully clapping my hands and saying But I CAN! see! And it’s not so bad! We divy up the goods and calmly discuss what custody will look like and if his new place will be up the street or down three more and I think I can do this. This isn’t the horrid divorces my friend’s parents had, this is our divorce, as two people who do care for each other, and more importantly, love their children more than life and realize that this, what we do right now, impacts every step of the rest of their lives.

And most importantly, because we will always be a family, drawn together by blood and time. I will always be their mother. He will always be their father.

We will be better this way. I am quite sure of it.

 

We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.

10 Mar

Today the sky was a vicious blue, and the air was still. Nothing moved for a moment as I stood at an icy corner, waiting. A pause in a season, to catch it’s sense of self perhaps, shake March a little, like a snowglobe. Winter and spring fighting for their places.

It’s that blue that breaks the tempo after a long winter-the blue that reminds you that all things change, all things come around, nothing, ever, lasts forever.

“…developed a cancer growth in the large intestinal track. The doctor successfully removed a piece of the intestine that had the growth, so all should be well soon.”

In the mail, a letter from my sorta step-grandmother-the woman married to my blood grandfather. The letter came inside a birthday card for Rosalyn, attached to a check. “Don’t worry” it says.

My adoptive mother died of cancer.

My biological grandmother died of cancer.

My biological grandfather has cancer.

Yeah, I’m not worried. Not one bit. Not me, who muttered “well, at least I’m probably in HIS will.”

I’d slap myself for being so crass if it would make a difference.

Thing is, I don’t know how to feel. This man is my family-his blood runs in my veins, my face, briefly, resembles his, the shy smile, the height. I’m his granddaughter-his first born granddaughter, and I can smell the guilt from him a mile away. I’d like to believe it’s not guilt, but love, or at least like. But I’d also like to believe I’ll have a pony and a beach house someday.

He and my grandmother were truly the only people in my biological family who seemed to truly care, who unlike my birth mother, didn’t just throw money in my face to try and fix some perceived slight, 20 years old. My grandparents were the only ones who seemed to truly want to help, to know me. They were the only ones I cared to know, the only two in a large family seemingly disinterested in material’s or money in the bank. The only two who didn’t seem wrapped up in themselves.

My grandmother died, fast, of cancer rocketing through her body. I was 7 months pregnant with Vivian the last time I spoke to her, excited to be carrying their first grandchild, excited to give them that. She told me about everyone else’s problems, told me how proud she was of my half-sister.

She left out the part about the cancer eating her from the inside. She lived 3 weeks past the day Vivian was born. She never knew her name. They told me later that she didn’t want to upset me.

I didn’t cry-what was there to cry for? A body that is technically like mine, DNA I could mimic, follow home? But nothing beyond that point-nothing to say, nothing in common, our lives so very different for only being 40 minutes apart while I grew up.

40 minutes. That’s all that separates a life from another.

My grandmother was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. But I didn’t know her, and I didn’t feel entitled to grief.

I was not included on the death announcement, still just another hidden secret to be ashamed of.

So to see, on paper, the words that could likely turn into him dying, I just wish I had never looked. I unfriended my half-sister on Facebook since the last time I spoke to her she was, frankly, a bit of a bitch, and how do you explain anything to a 21 year old with a single vision? You don’t.

This man is the last link I have to a family that never wanted me, and has never even tried to fill in the blanks for me, never tried to be there. My birth mother has come and gone at will, rejecting me, pushing away. Occasionally an aunt sends a gift, a letter, then nothing. I sit here wondering if this is what family feels like, and if it is, why anyone bothers? I have more family in my father than I have in that entire group of people.

If my grandfather dies, when he dies, It will bring home how close I am to being an orphan, a story I could avoid telling myself for years. I thought finding my birth family would help me close the holes in my heart, help me move on with life.

It’s done nothing but wound me slowly since the day it happened. The farther I get away from it, the more I wish I had never, ever looked.

All I ever wanted was a family to love me, a normal family that wasn’t broken or strained or lying to itself. Meeting these people at 19 was a lesson well learned, one that continues even now.

Oh, darling, let your body in, let it tie you in, in comfort.

16 Feb

 Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne’s So Sexy So Soon seeks to address this very type of childhood experience: a complete lack of awareness about sex and reproduction coupled with a media-fed understanding of sexiness – that is, as one young girl in the book explains, getting boys to chase you and try to kiss you – that revolves around emulating TV characters and buying as many products as possible.

There’s a great book review of So Sexy So Soon at Feministe-please, go read.

But it got me to thinking.

How much time can we, as parents and mothers, spend blaming the media, the western world, capitalism, Walmart, etc, before we also realize the true impact we have on our daughters?

I firmly believe in openness, to the point of irritation I imagine. Vivian telling me that “that place” feels good when she touches it-that filled me with pride. Pride that she was able to say this to me with no fear or pretense, and that she took such obvious joy in herself. Pride that I’m starting to create a woman who isn’t afraid of herself, knows where all the proper things are, and just exists in this manner.

Because I disagree that this is fully the fault of what Mattel is selling this season, or that sitcoms have taken things too far. I disagree that it’s those damn music videos, or those stars that kids want to emulate. Not fully.

Cues are taken from parents.

How many of us were raised in a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of environment, where the most sex education you received was 2 weeks in Grade 5, and maybe a book left covertly on a counter top by your mother? How many women can’t bring themselves to call a vulva a vulva, or even know that their vagina is only on the inside? How many women can’t bring themselves to orgasm, or help their partner to do so? How many women blush at the thought of talking about all of this? How many of us learned, early on from our parents, that our hands can be dirtied so easily?

When I was Vivian’s age, I liked to rock on a specific doll-I remember, it was a pink stuffy with one of those plastic kewpie doll faces on it. It made me feel good-happy, in touch with myself, like a sun rising, so I wanted to tell my mother. I showed her.

She didn’t hit me. Instead, she looked completely horrified, and I never saw that doll again. Standing in the hallway, my mother stared at me, and held her hand out. I handed it over, cried, and stumbled back to my room, confused.

Later, a few years perhaps, when my neighbour molested me, I remember feeling like I had no control over my body, that it never belonged to me, and I should submit. I could never tell my mother-it would be my fault. I would be punished, and would still not know what was mine in terms of my body. For years I dreamed of being abused by conveyor lines of robots, people. Just my lying there, at the whim of others.

It was my mother’s responsibility to teach my about my body, about myself. It was her responsibility to teach me that there is no shame in acknowledging my humanity in this way, in embracing my sexuality, even at that young of an age.

Make no mistake-we are sexual creatures the day we are born. Which is why as parents we need to step it up right off the bat, in the most normal way, as if explaining how to make bread or why you have an elbow. Blaming media and society for one’s child wanting to dress like a Bratz doll or a 13 year old knocking up a girl-it’s a cop out. It’s easy to say “The school never taught it!” or that “Miley Cyrus made her dress that way!” and turn the other way.

Much more difficult to raise your children with appropriate sexual values and mores, to have those conversations that at times, are less than easy.

Being sexual is part of who we are-and it always has been. We now treat even into mid-twenties like teenagers, so why is it so strange that a seven year old starts to act as they might? Why is starting the mating dance at 12 so odd? What if, biologically, that’s where the drive can start for some. I began menstruating about then-if I can bear children, if I am considered a woman, physically, why can’t society, or parents be bothered to?

I may not necessarily agree with a pre-teen acting out in any way sexually-but I’m raising my daughters with the knowledge to make responsible choices, when appropriate. Will I always win? No, not with two daughters. But I refuse to use the cop-out that the world around me has more bearing on how my daughters come to their womanhood than I do.

It took me years to come to grips with my sexuality, having children being the last nail in that particular coffin. I don’t want that for them. Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful things, and by telling our daughters on what’s bad, and horrible and not allowed because they’re too young/not ready/just can’t only serves to increase the need and make it more attractive.

Refusing to speak to your children out of embarrassment, or fear-to me, that’s worse than all the Bratz dolls and belly tops. Because our parents are our guides, for good or ill. And we do ourselves a grave disservice by leaving our daughters out to dry.

“The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom.”

23 Jan

The questions are simple and familiar. I respond in a cadence I’m not acquainted with. The woman speaking, the woman sitting there, in the most hated of black tights, she’s not someone I’ve known. The answers pour from her mouth like oil, slithering, her laughter meant to charm and bewitch, entwine. Her entire demeanor screams “Like me. I’m fabulous!”

Where the hell she came from is news to me. I haven’t seen this woman in, well, ever.

Days later, having “a serious conversation” about stuff like end dates and payouts, I hear her again, making it clear that I expect what’s deserved by law, and also, by courtesy and fairness. The voice also stands firm and lets it slip in a very subtle way that if the letter of the law isn’t followed, there is no concern in taking it somewhere that could get very complicated.

Her entire demeanor screams “Go ahead. Try and fuck my shit up. I’d enjoy the fight.”

She’s news to me as well. But she fills up my chest like nothing else and I’m perversely proud of the woman who finally found a hill she’s willing to die on. Her back is straight and for moments, I imagine this to be the woman I should have been all along.

Fearless, breathless and utterly charming.

****

Kate wrote  a post last night that hit upon something I’ve been thinking about all week. Sorta.

2009 is twenty years since my mother died of cancer. Grief has underpinned my life so much in the past 20 years it’s not funny-it’s crawled into bed with me, held my hand as I brought new life into the world, rattled my cage at any sign of newness. And it hangs with me still-my need for attention after those formative years spent worrying about everyone else, everyone else thinking I was strong enough and didn’t need to be weak. My fear for my children, my fear for them because of me, my worry that anyone I come close to will screw me over, not might, WILL.

These are itches in my brain that I’ll spend the rest of my life attempting to negotiate and move past. They are part of me. They are no longer strange glitches to acknowledge and then push off the coffee table, they are part of me, and learning to worth with them-that’s the struggle.

But the hardest part, the plain grief, the shuddering quake in my chest, it’s long gone. There are days when I feel wrong almost to be ok with what was, sullen and rude to not still feel that cold hand inside me. Days where it’s easy to imagine she is gone from me, totally and irrevocably lost to my ears and fingers.

The pain allowed the mystery to stay true and follow. Strangely I miss that, the only communion we had, her voice lost amid the trees and the ducks in summer, my ears deafened by children and chili and Sunday mornings lazy in arms.

20 years now, and she is really truly gone from me. I see her everywhere, her image, her doing, her will, her morals, rising up in my like some terrible voice. My thoughts are sometimes her thoughts, and it’s like the years have compressed and for just a second, we are the same people, just two young mothers trying to make it all work. Moments as these are understanding and forgiveness, as years ago they were anger and sadness.

I get it now. Perhaps that’s why the ache is gone. I understand, fully, the sacrifice she had made for us, for herself. I understand the woman who stared at her child, wondering about the years ahead. I understand that for the woman in me to unravel and become, I had to start letting the child die, let her free after holding on to her for dear life for so very long, the only thing I had known was safe and loved me back.

They had to tell my mother to die. In no uncertain terms my father asked her doctors to tell her to let go. Her will was that strong, the fire in her belly and heart so warm and unwavering that she wouldn’t believe she was leaving us, not until there was really no choice, and she made the long trip home to die.

I understand now, that she spoke with a voice she had never heard, and felt it buffer her from the inside, to stay, to last just a little more, the sweetness of life and love just so right. I understand now that this voice is more than just the woman i was meant to be. It’s my birthright.

The last, and most tender gift a mother can give her little girl.

Watch what you twitter, big sister is watching.

4 Jan

 

ETA: comments are NOT closed because I’m cowardly. They are closed on THIS POST ONLY because what needed to be said, ON BOTH SIDES, is said. Nor am I deleting comments.

Those of you who KNOW ME know the relationship I have with my daughters. You know the relationships you have with your children. Loving, frustrated, awed, annoyed, angry, blissful.

Tonight, as always, my evil mini-me did her “not going to sleep without one last hug” routine.

Tonight, as always, I yelled, threatened and cajoled her back into bed.

Tonight, as I’ve done in the past, as other parents have done in many ways, I asked if it was ok to smother her.

Which, if you know me, or anyone with my sense of black humor, is a joke born of frustration, annoyance, and yes, LOVE.

Tonight this woman (link removed because enough is enough), who I foolishly followed on Twitter, who likely doesn’t even know me, had someone in LA call the cops.

ON ME.

I just had to prove that my fucking daughter was all right because some “person” who has never met me, barely exchanged any words with me, couldn’t stop for a minute and think, gee, perhaps she’s like many other mothers, annoyed at bedtime. She couldn’t stop and think, hmmm, an email might suffice.

Oh no, not our saviour. Only the cops will do. Only the cops at 11pm, where I had to open the fucking door to their room as they SLEPT to prove I hadn’t harmed them.

Is this home grown parenting advice? Is this the ultimate end of social networking, the virtual version of the snoopy fucking irritating neighbour?

While I’m really FUCKING glad this wasn’t a friend, there’s no more networking for me. Apparently, my brand of humour and venting isn’t suitable for all audiences, who might be better served searching for child abuses in her OWN neighbourhood, instead of ruining my fucking evening as I sit here enraged that a fucking stranger had the gall.

So lesson learned ladies. Don’t do any venting in public. Don’t network. Don’t show anything LESS than perfect bliss and 400 tweets about contests and fucking blow it out your ass nothing. Because someone, somewhere might call the police on you and you’ll be sitting there in your pajamas watching a cop waste his fucking time, and know it.

Thank you lady, for wasting my fucking tax dollars. If you’ll excuse me, I think they’re still raping and murdering the transgendered in Tennessee if you’re REALLY wanting to protect someone.

” Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever… “

31 Dec

In about 12 hours, it will be a new year on my neck of the woods.

I was gifted “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher this year, and have been reading it in bits. It’s painful, too painful. The mirror of who I was, who I could be, how bad it could get, could have been, sometimes is. How absolutely difficult this all is somedays, how heavy the burden I am.

I can’t read it all in one sitting. Hearing my thoughts echoed, but by someone even sicker than I will (hopefully) ever be-it’s salt in a wound I fear won’t heal.

I nearly died this year, by my own hand. I nearly lost my family, by my own doing, sowing the seeds years ago by refusing treatment, by neglecting myself, by not learning.

I have bipolar. And I have let it get to where it’s been.

Someone with cancer doesn’t get better by just laying back and hoping, by only taking the chemo, and still eating garbage and sleeping too little. They rest. They follow the doctor’s advice. The try and fix what they can fix, those things within their power. They play an active role in their recovery.

I spent time believing that my meds were all I needed to worry about-that if I took them religiously, all the voices would stop, my anxieties about cars and people would diminish, my paranoia’s would trickle away to nothing. I believed that i would suddenly know how to handle all the problems that had festered in my mind, hidden by 3 years of madness, and years prior by the onset of all this mess. I thought 4 pink pills would solve everything, and I’d be happy, fun and easy to love. I thought, I thought…maybe I figured I could hold the box open so long as I wasn’t the one looking in it.

2008 wasn’t a happy year. Or in many respects even a good year. It’s been the hardest I’ve had things in a long while-full of fear, loathing. I’ve seen my own death in my hands for the first time since about 1993, closer than ever, fluttering behind the lights in an ER. I’ve sat alone in the aftermath, with only voices reaching from a distance to sustain, to hold me.

Lessons are learned from this. Lessons are cobbled together-that yes, it’s good to have people to fall back on, who support you. But it’s even better to learn how to support yourself, how to learn to live a good, honest, worthwhile life that draws people to you, that draws you to yourself.

It’s ok to love yourself as much as anyone else.

I don’t think I truly wanted to die this year. I don’t think that’s what I’ve ever really wanted. I just wanted it all to end-the noise in my head, the chaos that has surrounded me, the crushing weight of real life-the things people do everyday, without pause or fear. These things are not easy for me, and may never be easy.

And that is ok. I can work with that.

But you know? It’s not all bad.

I have two fabulous daughters-daughters who continually delight, frustrate, awe and move me. Their love-their joy, the incredible wonder they provide me every day-it reminds me why I fight, why I struggle with this, why I don’t just lay down and let it take me. I see the women they will become, and know that they deserve the best me I can possibly be, even if she’s still not enough when they’re 16. I have a husband that loves and advocates for me, even when I can’t. Even after a tough year, I know that love is there, regardless of how muddled and difficult I’ve made that. I know I am fought for.

But love isn’t always enough, and 2008 has brought me that realization-that love is a fine, wonderful thing, but so is respect, courtesy, care, gentleness, the things I cannot be-the things I can write but have trouble acting or saying. I have to be better. I have to find the kinder, better version of me that had been buried for so very long.

Tonight, weather permitting, I will go out to a club for New Years Eve for the first time ever, and out for NYE period for the first time since 1998. I want to bounce and dance and sing with fever and joy at finally being able to do what everyone else has accepted and done for so long-go out and have fun. I can do this now-now, finally at 31, I can set foot out that door and just have fun.

It’s been a long time coming, and a hard road. It’s still uphill, and always may be. But without the land mines and lions and tigers and bears, I’ll take it.

Happy Year my friends. Fill it with all kinda of awesome, will you? That’s my plan.

“These are weighty secrets, and we must whisper them.”

10 Dec

Dear Body.

I love you. I’ve decided, finally, to come off the fence, and just say it.

I’ve spent time loathing you. Holding parts of you and crying, being angry, wishing something could be smaller or bigger, my tits not so pendulous, my thighs not so strong. I’ve stared in a mirror many times, glaring at my soft belly, at 12 or 22 or now at 31, wishing it away, once at 18 or so punching myself until I couldn’t even cry anymore, sick of what I saw an an unhealthy and tired body.

No fucking more. I am blessed with this body, with it’s softness and strength, with it’s weakness and beauty. Last night, I stood before the mirror, foggy with shower. My arms were wrapped around my belly, and I stared. At a body that’s round and fertile and heavy with life. A beautiful life, displayed before me, forced despite, or in spite of, any acceptance I might prefer.

Right then, I thought of my mother, her body in a mirror, left breast gone, scars remaining, lumps strewn beneath it still. I imagined her thinking of me, in my bedroom down the hall, snoring lightly, and how her body didn’t create me, but sustained me despite this. How she much have despised her body, that turncoat, for eating itself out until she was nothing more than a frail shell of skin and bone inhabited by the ghost of the woman she was.

I saw her-superimposed on my height, on my girth, she stood with me, my hands on her barren belly, her soft hair, bloated hands. She stared me deep in the eye and said “You daughter, are more lovely than you’ll ever know.”

And she was gone.

Who am I to judge my body? Who am I to judge that which cradled my children as they grew, which holds me when I cry, pleases me when I love? Who am I to think my stomach too broad, my breasts too heavy, my legs to wide? Who am I to judge the weight of a body?

I don’t recall my mother ever saying a bad word about her body. She was a beautiful, petite woman who carried some extra pounds, be it from cancer treatments or from life. She also carried an incredible sense of her value and worth, a grace about her, a serenity, even before she was sick. She was powerful, and her body was an extension of that power in it’s quietude. Her signpost to the world was a body she loved and treated well.

I have never been small, not since I was 9 or so. I’ve been tall and broad and strong my entire life almost, gaining, losing according to life and circumstance. I cared once, I did.

Now? Not so much. Now I stare at the people, so many people around me desperate to lose a few pounds, desperate to base their worth on their pant size, and I wonder what they miss. What do they miss, focused on food so much? What do they miss, counting points and grams and feeling horrid for having that cookie yesterday or not eating all morning so they can have a little bit of dessert? What’s missing from life to make the lie that weight loss is TEH AWESOME so prominent for people?

I refuse to miss anything. I refuse to curse my body, curse it’s curves, curse it’s generosity. I refuse to disparage the thing that brought such loveliness into this world, the thing which thrives with love and care, blossoms with kind words and spring rain. I refuse to hate myself any longer. I refuse to wish for smaller, or tighter, or different.

I am me. Hear me roar.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. “

24 Nov

When I was small, time flowed like golden syrup. Leaves hung in their buds for ages, full to bursting, seams dripping with the sugars of life. A summer breeze lingered, its sweat beading on your skin under a dark sun, heavy in the sheltered sky. I dreamed in my backyard, underneath the slyly growing birch tree, my initials carved with Joey’s with bottlecaps dredged from the gravel drive beside my dirty white house, low slung porch on the rear. I dreamed of my future, of my singular answer to the question everyone asked with that terrible smirk on their face.

“What will you be when you grow up little girl?”

I had as many answers as pebbles in that driveway. On Tuesday, under the maple hiding from the rain, I would be an artist, my fingers catching minutes and transferring them, chastised to the page. On Saturday, digging earthworms from beneath the wild strawberries, I would be a paleontologist, my world rooted in one millions of years old, pale scratchings against the earth, dusty with hope. Maybe an inventor, standing on my front porch on gray April morning, trying to invent wipers for my glasses, or a removable film. Perhaps a teacher as I stood in front of my cuddle friends, Papa Smurf, Lion, Garfield, Holy Hobbie, my ragged chalkboard stapled to the wall behind my door.

My world was a flower spiraling open then, a multitude of paths leading outward, into a glorious center, a future I couldn’t see but could stand warm in, the reflected moments shining back at me. I would be something-I would be the person I could best be, and nothing would stop me.

Life it seems, has different ideas.

*********************************************

I never finished school. I never settled on any one thing that I wanted to do. I didn’t have the perseverance to write every day. I’m not that good an artist. I couldn’t sit through the biology, the sciences, the math (oy the math) to do anything remotely like digging up a dinosaur. I surfed through my life on charm, wit and a perverse lust for knowledge-so long as you’re enraptured with learning, you’ll never look stupid and useless.

But knowing the rhythm of someone’s life in the 14th Century or that Ron Jeremy is a trained pianist or having pity for Catherine of Aragon-these aren’t skills you can transfer to the real world. These are bits of useless knowledge, gathered up like oregano just a little short for the pot. A love of learning doesn’t translate to much.

I had a talk with my boss today, who was frank and said she couldn’t trust my work. She’s right. She can’t. My attention to detail, a monkey on my back since, shit, when did they start judging school work? it has been worse since August. Something died on that gurney in the ER 3 months ago, someone died. Since that day, I haven’t been who I was, and my ability to really focus in on my work has been sparse at best. So she put it to me-is the job, as it stands now, too much for me?

I couldn’t respond at first. Nothing in my life has prepared me to have to say “Yes, I can’t do this. Yes, I am weak and lazy and unfit.” I’ve never had to ask someone to take work away, generally being the yes girl. But I haven’t been her since August, maybe even before that. I’ve been overwhelmed, and stressed and terribly unhappy.

She was blunt-the job is only going to get bigger, and what parts do I want, do I really want to do. The answer I didn’t give was “None-I want a new job.” but I know what things I’d like to keep, and what I’d like to be rid of. But what got me was that I heard, for the first time, what was really being said.

“You are too ill to do this job.”

It wasn’t implied to be mean, or to belittle. It was more to let me know that it was ok to back down. It was ok to be tired and stressed and sick of it. That it was ok to acknowledge my illness and handle it, instead of ramping myself up to such a state that someone would have to send King Kong up after me. While she was saying it with her ass in mind, I heard a message for me-to take this chance, and slow down, sit back.

I had such dreams for my life as a child-but they never included an illness that seems to worsen each year, and attempt to destroy me. In my world, you never get fired, you never quit because something is hard. You stick it out. You make the best of it. You deal with it, suck it up princess.

This has not served me well. Sure, 8 years employment for a bipolar is great. But I’m tired of sucking it up, of working twice as hard just to look like I’m doing the minimum. I’m tired of fucking around to avoid tasks I can’t stand. I’m tired of being pressured to be someone I’m not. I’m quite done with doing a job I’ve never planned for, never daydreamed about under maples.

I’m pondering now, what will work. I know she’s right-I’m not suitable for most of the job, not now. But other parts of it? I am.

***************************************

Sometimes, riding the bus home, I see a new baby, a nervous new mother, shielding the child in a sling or carrier, her hand behind a head. I begin to dream about being the woman standing there to catch that baby, handing that slippery package to hands and a breast, the blood of new life running between my fingers as tears of joy run ragged edges down faces around me. I dream of guiding the bereft through their loss, holding still fingers in mine. I dream of the babies I’ll bring into this world, how they’ll turn to children, to women and men, to mothers and fathers, the circle turning and turning.

I still dream. Of life.

You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.”

16 Oct

Never watch Law and Order SVU if there’s no plot synopsis.

Last night, that plot was bipolar, and I really wasn’t prepared.

I saw myself, fully, for the first time ever. Or as full as a healthy person can portray. I wish I could hate it, but I can only regret it while I use it, while I gladden myself with movement and change.

Stabler confronts his mother, speaking hard about his childhood, her threats to leave, to die, as she makes a sand castle, two planes, two people, one never listening, incapable of feeling for the people near to her.

Later, she says she’s lived the life she wanted, and paid a terrible price for it.

It’s cheesy to see one’s self on a TV, to face your demons on network television, but suddenly, vividly, I saw what I’ve been doing to my family, to the people in my life, for years. Sure, the TV version is always the most extreme, but what’s better? A slow death, or a fast one?

The voids I’ve left in lives, the utter wrung outness I give to people, squeezing them dry of everything inch of life, of passion, all the while demanding more, telling them they’ve stolen mine. I’ve made people raw, I’ve started down a path that would have destroyed everything in my life, made ruin of my children.  All because I circled on myself, my own orbit, my planet around I the sun.

Oh how I saw that last night. How my heart cracked and shuddered, with that awful realization of who I have been, what this disease makes me into. What it could become, who I could be. Who I do not ever want to be.

I could be worse. I’ve never spent thousands of dollars on a spending binge-I’ve been too poor for that. But I’ve ran multiple credit cards up to the edge, destroyed my credit. I never ran around sleeping with everyone, but hey, I was never that attractive. Likely, without marriage to tether me, I could have at times. I’ve always felt one step away from catastrophe.

Then I fell into it, and came out of it and now I’m sitting here wondering how anyone could last though all of that, how I could possibly be in anyway redeeming, worthy of lasting through the hell that I’ve been lo these many years.

How crushing to discover you’ve been not only bad, but horrid. Like a haze clearing from an early morning highway, I can see the road ahead, and the carnage I’ve left in my wake, and no amount of apologizing, no amount of trying could ever make it right.

And that scares me, as does the image of my future, bereft of those I love.

I’ve made changes. I know that if I stick to this path, my future is open and wide and full of love. But it’s hard, and I’m frightened of my very easy weakness. I’m frightened of myself.

Carry Me

25 Sep

Did she hold me now? Three hours ago? 12? Did they leave me in her room, snuffling, comatose little child beside her as colostrum poured from her breasts? Did she look out the window, perhaps at the rain, as they wheeled me away from her 17 year old unfinished hands, clutching at her elbows as she suddenly felt emptier than ever? Was I alone, screaming in a room, my echoes covered by those of a multitude of other lives I’d never touch again, their mothers waiting in their rooms, warmed by the slow engorging of their breasts, the blissed tiredness of their labours?

Did I know she had left me? Did my small trembling fists know what had happened, that she had signed a paper releasing me from her, just another cord to slice through? Did I feel the gulf then, as I do now, wavering and shimmering, a golden forest of time, of pressure, of regret between us.

Does she think of me today, now? Does she drink the beer she drank for years, not knowing, or is she at peace, knowing I survived, knowing that I have grown strong and tall, if not a little knicked and torn in place?

Did she love me, ever?

**************************************

Do you love your mother
The way I love mine
Expecting nothing of her
’cause she was changing all the time
I couldn’t take my mother
And I’ll never hate my home
But I learned to rock myself child
And get on

Do you feel your mother
The way I feel mine
I tried to change the nature
But now I like it ’cause it’s mine
And I let you love me up
And I let you bring me home
And I could go away
But I don’t wanna

I don’t wanna be too smart
I don’t wanna talk too fast
I don’t wanna look too precious
First impressions never last
There’s always complications
Weird vibrations
Frustrations
Have patience

Do you love your mother
’cause God I love mine
In a dream she let me love her
Gotta hand it to my mind
In case you never meet her
I’ll tell you what it is
She was lonely like a woman
But she was just a kid

Oh mama
What are ya doin’
Yeah yeah yeah
Ooohhh
Shit
Carry me

**************************

Today I turned 31 at around 2:15am. And it hit me, mid afternoon, that I’ve never known when my mother said good-bye to me, when the finality of all she had done and decided had hit, when she last touched me, held my fingers. I’ve never known, and when I met my biological mother, I was too young to think of these things, to young to understand the heartbreak of saying goodbye to your first born.

All my life, I have felt lonely on my birthday. I have always craved as much fuss and bother as I could get, and rarely, if ever, have had it. I figured this had much more to do with losing my adoptive mother than with being adopted. But what if? What if a body retains that initial abandonment, what if it remembers that hand leaving, tears trailing, months of unwillingness swirling in the womb. What if the body remembers what the brain dare not?

I don’t much like my biological mother. Or much of my biological family for that matter. Blood isn’t thicker than water in my case. But when I met her, I wanted, more than anything, to find a mother, my mother. I wanted to be embraced, welcomed. I wasn’t, not as I needed, and perhaps finding her at 18 wasn’t the best of ideas, but there was something poetic about meeting her around the age of when she lost me. I couldn’t grasp the enormity of it-bearing life at that age!

I’m sure it hardened her. She told me that for years, she would get stinking drunk on my birthday, wondering where I was, how I was, and that the year she found me, that was the first time she didn’t have to drink herself to sleep, wondering. Turns out I was 40 minutes down the road after all, blissfully ignorant in the arms of two parents who loved me more than I could wish. But she never told me how it all felt, how long her labour was, how scared she had been, if she saw me, or if they took me before she could.

My narrative is incomplete. I feel the echoes of that part of my life, my beginning on every birthday. It no longer hurts, I don’t know if it ever did. But it was a space yearning to be filled, a place that will likely never know fullness. A place to honor what she gave, the arms she left barren, the people who she gave such joy to.

Happy Birth Day to you Mother. I hope your womb has healed.

Guest Post One: To Be a Self

24 Aug

I originally found Marcy via the Tag Surfer if I’m not mistaken-finally finding someone else tagging their posts PPD. While on the outside we don’t have much in common-(she’s a talented musician, seamstress, worshipper, wife and mother, I barely fitting any of those categories :) ) we share one thing-a quest, a thirst to be as we were, to be people who can just act and react as the majority of the world does.

Marcy has gifted us the following entry.

 

 

I dreamed once, many years ago, that I was a mental patient. At the time I’d never had that experience.

I was trying to escape the ward — I wanted to go “back to Africa,” which I think represented a quest, some kind of self-searching thing, freedom of development and discovery or something like that. (I’d been in Africa one summer, and it was an important experience in my life.) I was running but it was like running in a pool — too slow, not enough momentum, even kicking off from walls didn’t help. The doors slid shut just before I reached them, and the chasing orderlies got me.

I went limp, sobbing but quietly, I think. They dragged / carried me back to the tv room where other patients were limply munching popcorn and watching some program. The orderlies explained to the other patients that I was upset about the color of the Jell-O. In other words, explained my upset as trivial, meaningless, over-dramatic, ridiculous, hyper-sensitive.

A year and a half ago I became a mental patient. They only let me stay for two days, and the intake interviewer was hostile, but otherwise my experience in the hospital was good. I was one of two patients there for postpartum depression and anxiety. My baby had been born just a week and a half before, home just a week.

I have had forms of depression and anxiety as far back as maybe third grade or further. I still functioned fairly well in a lot of ways. At some of the worst times I’ve sought help, from pastors (pretty ineffective in my case) and finally a professional therapist (probably would never have gone if the referral hadn’t come from a pastor’s assistant I respect and who respects me).

The Africa dream illustrates how I go through these cycles, where there is something I feel is really important to me, but I am hindered in pursuing and reaching it, and at some point I rather suddenly give up, resigned but hopeless. My fear in going into therapy was that I would be (again, still) made to conform to society’s expectations, take care of other people’s needs and not encroach myself on them, and continue to function at a high level. Nothing on the inside of me — nothing important to me — would matter, unless it needed to be changed or destroyed for the sake of better functioning — in other words, for the sake of others.

A few months ago, I was in the garage late at night, yelling at God, feeling just about every basic negative emotion intensely and simultaneously.

I had weaned off the PPD drugs a few months before, and my depressive and anxious symptoms started becoming problematic again — really hindering my functioning, particularly as a mother and wife and friend. I’d tentatively discussed returning to therapy, but it didn’t seem possible financially or absolutely necessary. I tried to manage, but reached low enough that I had to push again to get what I needed.

I couldn’t get a local therapy appointment that day, so I went to my family doctor and at least got back on Zoloft, half the dose I’d been on, and got some Ativan to deal with the long waiting for the Zoloft to start working. I was excited. I had a therapy interview lined up for the following week, I had drugs to take, it would all be fine again.

But after I took the first Ativan that evening, I didn’t feel any positive effect. My reaction escalated until the garage incident, which led to a nurse line call (could it be a reaction against the Ativan? Maybe, but call your doctor), then to the doctor call (No, it can’t be that. If it continues this bad, go to the ER), then to the ER, and finally to sleep at 3 am.

I think the next day I wondered what that was all about.

Another cycle — another tentative push growing more and more intense and desperate but also more fearful of what I might destroy by pushing — and another relapse into apparently normal life.

I was thinking about the garage incident the other night, and about how bewildered I can get trying to separate truth from falsehood, me from my issues, meaningful and important thoughts and ones that can safely be dismissed, and so on. It is terrifying sometimes — to others it doubtless seems so much abstract over thinking, but it doesn’t feel like that to me — to me it feels like figuring all this out is a matter of life or death.

The essence of my mental health struggle is trying to learn what it means to be a self — what I am allowed to be and do, what is healthy, who the essential me is, what I actually want and whether I want it enough to pursue it through opposition, whether anything I think is important really is or if I am really just trivial and ridiculous — how to love me — but without destroying anyone else, or even encroaching too far on anyone else’s needs — and, on the flip side, to learn to love others well without destroying myself.

And in the midst of all that, to stop warring against reality — the reality that I am this hurt despite no one (or very few people) actively trying to harm me, the reality that I can’t completely avoid hurting others or being hurt, the reality that I have all these thoughts and feelings and get so confused and scared and angry and depressed, and so on and so on. Learning that radical acceptance doesn’t mean condoning or excusing what has happened, just accepting that it has.

And, above all, to understand what God is really all about, and what he thinks about all this therapy and self-exploration and all that, what he requires of me, what he offers me, what he allows me, and even what he might be saying to me.

Marcy blogs about her adorable daughter and life at Becoming Three.

“Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure.”

17 Aug

We’re in the grocery store, her and I, on a chaotic Saturday full of grocery tourists and genuinely harried couples and parents. Here and there a baby screams-not the “I’m hungry” cry but the “FUCK YOU I WANT OUT NOW!” cry which was the sole reason I NEVER took my children to the grocery store as infants. The screaming continues sporadically in the produce section, likely a mother unable to get out otherwise, and I cringe in sympathy. Crying doesn’t bother me anymore-it just makes me want to take the child so the parents can just get their shit done.

Of course, hearing the yuppie parents of one single, quiet maybe 2 year old boy explain in perfect enunciation that “We aren’t going to squish the bread today!” made me walk quickly away laughing. What 2 year old WON’T squish the bread? It’s fun! I don’t bother making any type of contact since I do know the type of parents-they won’t acknowledge me, they won’t exchange pithy jokes and comments. And this rings true later when we go to the cash behind them, and my comments with Vivian about the toy the little boy is lucky to get are ignored. Perhaps they’re busy, perhaps they’re deaf, but right then, rude was rude. I remind myself they could be many things going on, and gee he’s pretty darn cute.

I’m not the center of the universe.

Vivian, now used to grocery shopping, has morphed into the child we know and love from Saturday morning cartoons:

“Can I have this?”

“I want this. Can I have it?”

“It’s got SCOOBY DOO ON IT! I need it!”

“Please? Please?”

The entire trip involves me saying NO every 4.2 seconds. Reminding myself why I do prefer to do this alone.

But then it’s not as fun. She comes around the corner with a stack of beer cups held to her eyes like goggles, and I laugh and giggle and block the aisle. She walks into a display while doing this, and it’s all I can do to not fall down I’m laughing so hard. I can feel the soft glow of other people smiling as my world spirals to just Vivian and myself, our eyes and laughter. I forget about the asks and remember my fantastical little girl who creates such wonder and delight around her.

“Back to juice boxes.” I snigger.

I give her a little speech on how we’re gonna get a second Klean Kanteen for school, and this is just for now. She’s not paying attention, and I wonder if the speech was for her, or the people around her. She randomly chooses some sugar laden box, and we move on.

It hits me. I am buying school lunches.

In 2 weeks, give or take, she starts school. And most of me, mainly my ears, are ok with this. She’s growing up, she’s FIVE (holyshitwheredidthoseyearsgo?) and I need to back off. I let her run ahead, I let her lag behind. I trust her to make small decisions. It’s time to start pulling back. But holding juice boxes, granola bars, Joe Louis’ in my hands, I wanted to be sad. My mother stood there once, trying to decide what was best for lunch, what was needed, what I would eat out of sight. She held those boxes, reading. She imagined a life emptied, for a time, of her daughter.

Connection with a long dead mother in a grocery store. I felt her then, in front of plastic fruit snacks. I felt her indecision, her pride, her love, such warm love, for me, and for her granddaughter, for the woman she’d one day be. I felt the conflict of that first day, of letting go of your baby. I felt that it was ok to feel this-to want to hold closer than skin and push out, all at once. That this was the least of my trials in the years ahead.

We got home and I realized I forgot garbage bags, cat food, cheese. But I held something much sweeter to my chest.

Better Class of Me

7 Aug

A good friend tells me that I need to focus on becoming the person I want to be, because that is who I really am.

I just want to be a better person, for me, for my kids, for the people who love me. Because they really do deserve more. I deserve more. If I’m a better person, I’ll be better to those around me, I’ll be happier and more at peace and then maybe someday, I’ll just be.

She reminded me though that we are used to carrying a list of things we don’t want to be around with us, and yet we never write that list of what we DO want to be. Which stopped me into realizing that I’ve never had that list. I’ve never held dreams for myself, be it in terms of how I relate to others, or what I want to be.

I want that list. And today, I start one.

Who I want to be.

  1. I want to be kind. I want to save kittens and make cookies for work and remember your birthday. I want to pull my head out of my ass and see you (Hi!) hear you, truly listen to what you say.
  2. I want to be a present mind. When you talk, I want to know what you say. I want to think of how it impacts you, now. Not me later. I want to sit in the moment with my children, instead of out pondering the laundry and work.
  3. I want to learn! I’ve already pushed myself on this one, reading more history and science, trying to expose myself to new things. But I want to learn a language, write an essay, do something with it. My brain atrophies, and wants more.
  4. I want a dream. And I have one. Midwifery, eventually, but nursing for now if I can find a way to get through school while working. I want to help people-have always wanted to. Having children showed me how pivotal one woman (or man) can be. I want to be her.
  5. I want to be soft. I have become far too hard, calloused, cynical. I haven’t always been like this. Everything else aside, I’ve been dreamy and distracted and careful of others, considerate, strong but gentle. I want to be her again. It hurts to think of how hard I’ve become, and how that impacts people around me.
  6. I want friends. Real friends. I don’t want a lot, but I need to start trusting that people don’t always have it in for me. I need to learn to tolerate the foibles of others. I need to trust myself that I won’t hurt other people, something that has likely helped me push them away in the first place.
  7. I want to deserve love. Thus far, I don’t believe that I have. I want to be worthy of it. I want to become a fuller person who is settled in her shoes, and happy for love. Not ungrateful and expectant.

Regardless of anything else, I’ve realized that who I am is not someone I’d like. And that just depresses the crap out of me. But I don’t want to be depressed. Medicated, I’m not so at the mercy of my moods, but I am at the mercy of using my disease as a crutch. It’s time for that to stop, and for me to stand up, be accountable, and realize that to a degree, I DO control what I feel and say. It’s time to say good things, to be good things. More than anything else, I deserve that much. I deserve to think I’m worth that much. The people around me deserve a better class of me.

Do you know who you want to be? Can you let me know how that’s worked for you, either on email or comment? I’m a little nervous, and scratching my head wondering how I’ll work all of this out.

A Burning Science Question

14 Jul

Since many of you have more edumacation than me….

Vivian LOVES science. LOVES IT. As in sits enthralled as I read to her about subatomic particles loves it. (and you have NO idea how freaking AWESOME I think this is…)

I was out today buying some much needed over the shoulder boulder holders (and hey, Sears! The woman ACTUALLY made eye contact and waited on me, despite measuring me wrong. Apparently we don’t ask the fatties to take their shirts off so we can get an accurate measurement) when I walked past the bin of useless and/or creepy books. There sat “The Book of Science”.

6.98 is a price I will pay, especially for a book that speaks at a level they can understand, covers most basic scientific principals and has simple experiments at the back.

I’m flipping through it while waiting for the bus and notice something. All the little boxes talking about important scientists and their discoveries-ALL OF THEM ARE MEN.

Nothing against you boys, but I’m raising girls.

So while I can spend time on Wikipedia tomorrow looking for the few that will spring to mind, I’d love to hear suggestions for other female scientists, chemists, physicists, etc. I already warned Vivian that there are no women in that book, and we’ll have to learn about them elsewhere-I just need a little help with the elsewhere.

ETA: I’ve been asked if I truly think that gender matters. Yes, and no. I believe many women, and girls can go farther with female rolemodels presented. I think many of us grew up knowing little about women in science and math, correcting this deficit as we aged. I want my girls to be able to name more women than men. I think it’s also important so we can point out the effect marriage and motherhood once had, and still can have on WOMEN, and not men. I want them prepared to be adaptable creatures. I want them to be prepared for the fact that it might be harder. And that it might also be cooler.

I didn’t grow up with the knowledge that women could do all those things. It would have been nice to have seen a female face staring back from any numbers of the books I read. Imagine starting out knowing that women and men ARE equals, that both have accomplished so much and that gender doesn’t matter.

Imagine…

“But then peace, peace! I am so mistrustful of it: so much afraid that it means a sort of weakness and giving in.”

17 Jun

I’m going to write an intentionally vague post here, something I’m not usually apt to do. But right now, it’s how I feel safe without passwording the post, which I really don’t want to do.

I’ve been dealing with some things in my head lately, and you know, it’s REALLY hard to NOT write it here when I’ve become used to this outlet over the last 3 years or so. But I’m still rather private in many ways, so there we are.

Nothing is wrong-there’s just stuff I don’t feel like getting into. So no freaking out.

++++++++++++++++++++++

I trusted my neighbour, he of the apple trees and ferns, he of the clenched fist and cherry. My wide eyes opened to his, and I found a hand removing my shirt and a flash in my face.

I trusted my mother to be there, and she’s not. Rotted away long ago, her voice a memory on a cold wind.

I trusted my father to protect me, and instead was greeted with sarcasm, drunken 2am sob sessions and a warm stream of urine down my bedroom door the night before an exam. My grief was lost to his.

I trusted my brother, and in return was given nothing, the past hidden under his downcast eyes and ruined life.

I trusted many other people, all of whom broke my trust, all of whom took that opportunity to stomp on me, to ridicule, to be amused at the idea that I could possibly feel deserving.

After awhile, I said no more, sealed up the walls and crossed my arms. Ain’t nuthin gettin in here.

I’m not alone in my distrust for everyone. Most people have a healthy caution around other people. But mine is different. I live with the expectation that everyone, given enough time, with screw me over in the worst possible way. I live wary, waiting for that pounce so I can move out of the way. I have no friends. It is safer that way. No one can hurt me.

I’ve spent a life running from harm, and when there’s no harm left, when all there might be is potential and newness, I become scared and witless, confused, my jester hat broken and lost. I don’t know how to trust.

How do you trust someone? How do you tell yourself that it’s safe to trust the people who say they love you? How do you let go enough to be free within that? I’m finding it very difficult to let go-it’s making me insecure and scared, and just plain old dizzy. The little part of me that’s been laughed at an abandoned time and time again, she can’t move past this.

It’s ridiculous, because I’m old enough to know that circumstances in the past do not dictate my future. But it’s a gutteral reaction, one borne of spending my life waiting for approval. My father used to joke when I was younger that it would be so much cheaper if I wasn’t around, and I’m pretty sure he meant it.

How are you sure? How are you confident that the person you trust won’t lash out at you, try and break you? How do you not end up feeling stuck like that little girl inside you?

 

We are searching for meaning in the meaningless.

13 Jun


Cuppa?

Originally uploaded by thordora

I’m not a big stuff person. Sure, I like things. But if they go missing, or break, I don’t miss them much. A small “huh” usually suffices, unless we’re talking about my Rainbow Brite doll that I lost years ago, or the hockey stick my brother broke when I was 7 or so.

Stuff just is. I’m not a collector, or a hoarder. My slob tendencies aside, I don’t have a lot of things. I have books. I have music. I have few clothes, little in the bathroom and I can count on one hand the things I’d be saving in case of fire.

Both my father and I believe that death imprints upon you a sense of urgency and need, an awareness of the bigger world looming around you. Things are meaningless to him as well. We like nice things, expensive well made pieces of furniture, sculpture, a perfect light fixture, emotion cast in bronze. We want to respond to that which we own. After losing my mother, little things trickled into the background. You might still want that Wii or those shoes, but you just don’t care enough to save up for it or fight some bitchy lady in an aisle for it.

Those concerns are swept away, replaced by more morbid thoughts, conversations about dying with a 5 year old.

Today, spurred on by this lovely bout of hypomania, I cleaned the counter where everything goes to die, and the shelving around it. On the top shelves live my mother’s tea cups.

All through my childhood I coveted these. I was only allowed to touch them every few months when she took them down for cleaning along with her copper pots. As a child they were delicious to look at, colors so vibrant, flowers so perfect. Each English Bone China, likely worth very little. But when I was allowed to hold one briefly, they may as well been eggs from the golden goose. They were treasure. They were special to my mother and I was allowed to hold them.

For years I didn’t have them, until I moved into this house and my father arrived one year with them.

“You always loved them, and it’s time for you to have them. Otherwise they’ll get broken”

I nearly burst into tears at the sight of them, at the feel of the cold china in my hands, the smoothness of the handles, the delicate folds and bends. My mother’s industrious hands were all over them, and briefly, she was with me.

Tonight this happened again, that bubble flashback in time to simpler things, standing next to the reassurance of my mother, her hands methodically yet cautiously cleaning her tea cups. I found my own hands caressing the china, her arms and thoughts moving through mine.

Vivian asked to hold them and I reminded her they were special and she wasn’t quite old enough. She asked me why they were special, why we had to be so careful.

I told her “Because sometimes a thing can bring a memory back so real that it’s like you’re there. And sometimes sweets, I just want to be with my mommy so bad I need something special to take me there. These are all I have left of my mother, and I need to be careful.”

She asked me if she’s be gone if the teacups broke. I told her no, she’d still be in my heart, but that then the specialness of holding something her hands had once held would be gone.

With that wisdom only the small seem to carry, she nodded and walked away.

They are only teacups. But they are also gateways to another place, another time entirely, where the sun shines heavy on a winter afternoon. Things are meaningless, without the stories built in.

4 Pink Pills

24 Apr

 

Pretend for a minute that I’m holding 4 pills in my palm, 4 pale pink capsules containing the salt Li, 4 pale pink solutions to a problem that has plagued me for a long time.

I was scared to death of this drug, this innocuous looking pill, this wonder of our world, it’s inexplicable reason for ending the terror of bipolar in some people, in many people. I ran from it faster than I run from most.

It’s hard to look back at the me before this pretty pink friend. As Mogo and I talked, and he spoke of the relief of not worrying, day after day about me, and the freedom of not trying to hold down a swinging pendulum, I started thinking about my brain without this drug, this salty dog. The difference, I remarked, is like one day sitting in a screaming concert full of a million fans, all yelling at once while you try and do needlework, and the next day, being in a quiet, white room with only the sound of your breathing for company.

It’s that different. It’s that much Calgon take me away relief.

*************************************

When I was 17 or so, I returned to my original high school, a small catholic school in eastern Ontario. I had moved back in with my father as I understood something in a rare moment of clarity during a year of what I can only describe as highly manic behaviour. I knew that I had a choice-I could go down the road to nowhere, or I could try and claw back into a normal life. I chose my father, and normal.

I made friends with a boy, we’ll call him Marc. At first, everything was fine. We had fun, we joked around, he was fun and interesting to be around. He read a lot, and much of it was similar stuff. We had the same friends. We drove around, hung out, did drugs, had your normal teenage experience.

Marc and I developed a weird relationship-as far as I knew, and he told me, he was bisexual, but leaning at the time more towards guys. Typical teenage stuff right? Trying to place you identity. To an outsider, we seemed to have a “couple” vibe-people remarked that to me at the time, and each time I denied it. I had no real desire for the guy. Just a strong, almost loving friendship. We were close.

Marc was also bipolar.

I remember going with him to appointments at the mental hospital (and there was one where I went to school-I remember some guy escaping with an axe once-that wasn’t cool. I think it’s closed now) and him telling me about how useless his doctor was, and how he could get any drug he wanted but none of them helped. He even showed me the lithium, the lithium he hated from that first day he put it into his mouth.

Not understanding the disorder at the time, and likely wanting to distance myself from it since I had a vague understanding of what was and was not happening in my brain, I didn’t understand what was happening with Marc. He went one day from being happy and fun to the next day being sadistic and mean. He’d delight in saying horrible mean things to everyone around him, just to watch what happened. He’d shut you out, then let you back in again if you showed your devotion.

And we just lapped it up. It seems strange now, in hindsight, the pull this guy had. He was nothing to look at, but there was something about him I can’t even explain. Something compelling.

I found it strange, but was so locked in that what was happening didn’t even seem like a form of emotional abuse. It just seemed…normal. Not strange.

He’d rail at me about his pills, how they were making him crazy, how they weren’t happy and how he stopped taking them a few weeks after he started. He was enraged, and I tried to comfort him, tried to hold him, make him feel better.

That’s when he slapped me clear across the face.

I had never been hit like that in my life. I’ve been punched, but within context, or hit accidentally, but never, in a moment when I wasn’t defending myself, have I been hit like that.

I can still remember it. I can still remember just staring at him from the floor, and bracing myself for me. I can still feel the hated passivity that rose in my, the inability to fight against him. I felt helpless before him, and I couldn’t even figure out why.

If I didn’t move for a moment, if I didn’t speak, I figured it would blow over. I couldn’t stop the tears though.

He snapped out of it, and I watched the hate pour off his face as he bent to help me up, apologizing and apologizing. Never again he repeated Never again.

I told him to take his pills. He said it was the pills that made him like that.

What did I know?

Of course, things weren’t the same after that. I was scared of him, plain and simple. There was a glint in his eye I couldn’t place or understand. I was bigger than him, likely stronger than him, but I feared him. I feared him because I couldn’t anticipate him. I watched his rage burn through him for no reason at all, and lash out at me. I could never let my guard down.

Our phone calls went from being fun gentle calls to ones berating me. If I was having a bad day, zero support. I’d feel worse after speaking with him, yet compelled to call him. I felt suffocated, my chest constricted. I felt trapped, and scared and I couldn’t talk about it to anyone. No one would get it.

Yet finally, someone did. A new friend came into my life, observed what was happening, and told me flat out it was basically abuse, and it didn’t matter what was wrong with him, what pills he was taking for what or how they were affecting him. He was toxic.

With her behind me, I screwed up the courage to rid my life of him. I can still feel the anxiety in my gut when I called him from her house at the expected time and purged him from my life. The circles my stomach was making. The fear and the near relief, all at once.

And with that, he was gone.

*****************************************

I feared Lithium since then. I feared that I would become the monster he was becoming, the terror. I couldn’t separate the bipolar from the drug, I didn’t understand that his imbalance had nothing to do with Lithium itself. It was him, the manic swings, the rage he couldn’t control. I know that rage now, I’ve felt it’s embrace, and it’s coldly attractive. But ultimately destructive. If not for the Lithium, I would be him, the him that was, the creatures we call evil.

I live the aftermath that is unchecked bipolar. I never got to the point where I was a true threat to anyone other than myself. But I felt that capacity in myself, the roaring, empty void, the spastic need to lash. I began to understand Marc. Not forgive-I will never forgive him for the lesson in trust he gave me. But I understand now why I take my little pink pills every day without fail.

I see those reasons in the faces of the people I love, everyday. I struggle for those faces some days, knowing I swallow those drugs as much for them as for me. Maybe Marc never saw those reasons, maybe he didn’t truly have them. Maybe his parents left him alone in the basement far too often.

I’ll never know. My fear and anger still lives for him-I couldn’t bear to accept him on Facebook, and even the friend request sent pangs of pain through my chest. He likely doesn’t even know what he did, or remember.

If only I hadn’t feared so badly.

The Tin and The Diamonds

18 Apr

So today is our 10th wedding anniversary.

No, I’m not really old. I married young.

10 years ago today, right about now we would have been, officially, with only one single God reference, man and wife.

I kept my name.

All things considered, we feel pretty superior about our marriage sometimes. Which isn’t to say that we don’t have our problems-like any couple, we do. But we’re proud that despite our problems, we have a strong and healthy marriage.

Sometimes we look around and wonder if people don’t split up because it’s easier. Lord knows some of what we’ve had to handle has been anything but easy. But we made a commitment to each other 10 years ago, one which many of the adults in our lives didn’t believe.

I love knowing they were wrong.

So what works?

1. He respects me. I respect him. We may not always agree, we may have different opinions, but we respect each other enough to leave well enough alone.

2. We give each other space. This one might freak him out a little more than me-I’m not a jealous person, I don’t need attention every second of the day, and I firmly believe people need their own little “world”, things to call their own. He’s come to accept, and respect, my need for a little space, which makes it easier for me to relent. Giving space is a HUGE one for me. I need my alone corner.

3. We talk. Sometimes our communication is poor-and at that point, we can tell, because things just get crappy. This has been huge with me being bipolar-it can be very easy for me to make something up and run with it. He brings me back to earth, and makes sure we talk, even if we’re then up until 2am

4. Our sex life is fantastic. Sure, we’re tired lately, and with a third person in the house, it gets weird, but when the bow-chicka-wowwow thoughts start, we’re all good. We’re at that point where we’re totally comfortable with each other. Admittedly, this took longer for me than him, but it’s so freeing! I can’t imagine losing this absolute safety in this regard. Newness has nothing on comfort. Of course, I feel strongly that great sex goes back to great communication.

5. We want the same things. Sure, some desires are divergent-I don’t get his thing for comic books, he has trouble understanding my wish to meet other bloggers, but in terms of the big things in life, we want the same simple things-a nice house to live in, a comfortable cash flow, happy children, a happy existence. Nothing fancy-just living a happy life full of warmth and ease. I could think of worse things.

6. Most importantly, we love each other. Are still in love with each other. Even after 10 years, my heart still leaps a bit when I think of him, my skin still tingles with certain thoughts. He makes me laugh, we make each other laugh. He has loved me enough to stand by me through wants for suicide, through a hospital stay, through years of undiagnosed hell. He has truly loved me enough to be strong for me when I couldn’t be. He has held me through tears, through rage, through sadness and confusion. No matter what, he has been there for me, because he loves me.

I don’t think you can ask for more than that in a partner.

I believe we’ve been successful in our marriage because we were truly friends before lovers. From the moment we met we’ve been talking-a connection made, a synergy. A bond reflected in the mobius strips on our wrists. An infinite love, even if Mogo isn’t able to put the words to it. I suppose I more than make up for it.

10 years with the same person. And I couldn’t be happier.

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