“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”

11 Sep

From therapy today I went straight to grocery shopping and was midway through the trip before my breath started to freeze up in my lungs, the uncertainty principle holding tight and shaking me, shaking the core of me who demands control, and I nearly went down, flakes of snow in my eyes and all as I held tight to the shelf between the Goldfish and the Wheat Thins. I started at my hands as I struggled to breathe, to center and release, and noticed they have slowly started to become old lady hands, whispers of the strong entitled hands they once were.

Still strong, but the start of transparency was already upon us. The thought of endings, of death of change, brought another wave of barbed wire tight fear, fear so strong I could barely swallow, and I cursed myself for leaving the Ativan at home, today, of all days.

I know fear now.  I looked around me, men, women, children, all blind to my heaving chest and wild eyes, the the fear, the the screaming head saying “I’m all alone! Help me, please!” and I thought I might fall, hit my head on the 1 ton package of Goldfish, be dazed, embarrassed and confused but ultimately ok. I thought maybe someone might come to my rescue, dust me off, treat me kindly, pleasure and happiness in his eyes.

Mostly, I just held on. I walked through the rest of that place pacing my breathing like I was in labour, focusing on things other than that which swirled through my head, the bad thoughts, the anger, the fear, the ire, all of it. The paranoias that walk my brain, which my therapist assures me are not in anyway bipolar but just plain old ass-sucking life.

I’ve been happy the last few days, in a good mood, pleased with myself, content to what happens, even if I cannot control it. So this afternoon, after a therapy session full of thoughts I haven’t vocalized being spoken to me, I was lost again, and wondering if I’ll ever find a path I can be sure of again, one that doesn’t leave me breathless and fearful of throwing up as I crumble to the floor.

I despise weakness in myself, almost more than anything. I despise and am troubled by asking for help-any help. I know why-after my mother died, the only people who would help were those PAID to do so. I’ve internalized this to mean that the people in my life never truly want to help, so why ask. Keep it in, keep it to yourself, where it’s safe and no one can hurt you with it. I’m so terribly sick of hurting and inflicting hurt, but I haven’t the faintest idea how to stop.

I fear it’s killing me, killing my life, destroying my ability to interact with anyone, ruining ever the ability to negotiate that strange meat counter dance.

And now, I ask for help. How do you let go? How do you open up enough to let things pass through, even when the spikes of then and now are so sharp and bloody covered in your chest? How do you know what is the right thing to do, especially if the world around you is cold and closed, and all you hear is the echo of your own voice?

How do you keep your hands tight on those shelves?


10 Responses to ““Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?””

  1. sweetsalty kate September 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    “The paranoias that walk my brain, which my therapist assures me are not in anyway bipolar but just plain old ass-sucking life…”

    This is fascinating. This means it has nothing to do with medications, nothing to do with a condition that can be or should be controlled. This means you’ve just got a lot of noise up there, stuff that has to come out and be spoken and diffused. Maybe I’m not reading that correctly.. but either way, it sounds like this therapist is cracking through the surface into some messy but necessary stuff. This is a good thing, don’t you think, despite how it reverberates?

    I’m going to try and actually answer your questions. They’ll be framed in something different from what you’re going through, but here goes.

    “How do you let go?” With time, and through the making of mistakes.

    “How do you open up enough to let things pass through, even when the spikes of then and now are so sharp and bloody covered in your chest?”
    Staring at the bad stuff. Crying. Music. Crying. Writing. Then sleep, then waking up and trying to get through the day again, but being okay if that new day also contains crying.

    Learning that crying isn’t always a sad thing, that longing or regret is not bad. When I cry I’m embracing longing, embracing regret. I’m forgiving myself, giving myself permission to feel loss and lost. Crying is almost orgasmic in the way it releases so much, allows me to feel renewed. (sorry for the mental picture. It’s never wild flailing and moaning… nothing against flailing and moaning… just drippiness and curtains of wetness)

    “How do you know what is the right thing to do, especially if the world around you is cold and closed, and all you hear is the echo of your own voice?”

    It’s up to me to not see the world as cold and closed… or in my case, to not see myself as abandoned or devoid of grace. When I’m in that state of loss and longing I feel warm all over. I’m overcome with love. It’s lost love, but it’s still warmth. The world around me is as available as I make it.

    I don’t mind being alone with my own voice. I need to be. I go crazy if I can’t retreat into myself to process what I see and sense. I like the echo. It forces me to find my own answers.


  2. dayatthebeach September 11, 2008 at 10:33 pm #

    What Kate said. Except I have to work at the crying thing because I still feel like it’s silly. It’s NOT silly. That’s just my hangup. It’s letting go and releasing the fears and the paranoia and knowing that even though you don’t see it, this is normal. Really. I used to think I was crazy, always scared, always frightened and anxious and overwhelmed and oh my god how am I going to cope?! But….This too shall pass. It’s not a permanent feeling. It’s a few minutes of terror that will subside. And you do have to face that ugly, black tarrish stuff that’s sticking to your soul. It’s not pretty and some of it’s been there awhile. But if you’re determined to do it, you can scrub it clean. I know you can.

  3. mercurial scribe September 12, 2008 at 1:21 am #

    OMG, you’re in my head. Seriously, IN MY HEAD. It’s creepy. And freaking me out.

    My goodness if only I knew how to do this. Right now there is so much to say, so much I need, but I’ve been so repeatedly beat down, rejected and pushed to the wayside that I don’t know if I can put myself out there anymore. How does one keep going? How to let go? Move on? Move forward?

    All I can tell you (and myself) is what Gandhi told us “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    Be the light, the grace, the hope. Provide your girls with an example of the strength, dignity and passion you want them to know as women.

    That’s all I know to do. Try and be. Try and be.

  4. Marcy September 12, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    I think therapy days should be allowed to fall apart. Even when the therapy session itself seems empty, indifferent, unproductive, or light — it’s still therapy, it still brings to the surface all the fear and despair and all that. My therapy day was yesterday too and I had a lot of fear and despair to wade through afterwards.

    Fear that I am that dangerous — that hopeless — that difficult — that unlovely — that broken.

    And at some point I had to ask myself what is it that I am afraid of, exactly — and what hope do I hold that I think is so unlikely? And because I’m not entirely sure of the answer, I can tell myself that I don’t have to be afraid of the fear or dismayed by the despair. I can try to just acknowledge the first level feelings without having to go into the second level.

    I think of what I believe about God, that he loves me and is sovereign.

    I think about Anne Lamott’s admonition to treat myself like I would a beloved relative, with gentle compassion and grace.

    I remind myself that therapy days are volatile, and that being hungry and tired makes one vulnerable to negative emotions.

    I review my DBT skills — for distress tolerance, for emotion regulation.

    And sometimes I take the Ativan.

  5. Jennifer September 12, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    Sounds like the therapy is working actually. This is VERY normal, things tend to get worse before they get better, like a healing crisis.

  6. bromac September 12, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Oy. Tough one. I have been battling this same “letting go” issue for a very long time. It’s getting better. So, I think, how is it getting better?

    I think staying on this topic with your therapist will help the most b/c he/she can help you see the positive aspects of letting go and trusting others, as well as guide you in your practice.

    I think I mostly had a mantra for a very long time. Faith in the unknown. Something along those lines. To learn that I had no control over whether someone hurt me or not. That I would never be able to KNOW if someone had those intentions. But that if I didn’t at least participate, I would miss the good stuff too. Miss the opportunity to meet those really fantastic people and have them a part of my life, contributing to my happiness.

    The most important thing I have learned (am still learning I suppose) is that even if someone does hurt me, I will be ok. If I make a mistake, and let someone in who takes my love, uses it and discards it, I will survive. I will be ok again. It won’t be fun, but it will be ok eventually. And this is the most truthful thing I know in my life. Because I have been hurt that bad. The worst way, I think. And I am still here and I still survive and I am ok. A little more fucked up for it, but still here and still ok.

  7. thordora September 12, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    Right now, a lot of it revolves around whether I should make a decision that would ultimtely benefit me in MOST areas of my life. It’s killing me. Because the two sides of the argument don’t meet, and I just feel helpless and foolish and the stress eats at me constantly.

    I just want to be happy, period. But I suppose the only way out is through.

  8. Sara September 13, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    I wish I knew.

    I’m at a cross roads too. The thing is, sometimes what’s best for us in the end, in the beginning runs our heart through a cheese grader.

    I’m here. If I can help.

  9. Jason Dufair September 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    Letting go is the hardest lesson to learn, I believe. Because my early childhood was full of plenty of trauma and suffering, I taught myself early on that if I was going to be safe, it was going to be because I created my own safety. Being the resourceful guy I am, I was able to do it, more or less. Now I discover that I’m more than a bit of a control freak. It’s not healthy for me nor for my relationships with my kids and Christine. So I’m learning to let go.

    What Kate said about crying rings *very* true for me. After Anna died, I mourned for sure, but then I sort of sprinted for quite a while. I hit this point a bit over a year ago where I just completely fell apart into the blackest depression I’ve ever known. I finally understood why people kill themselves.

    I now see that I hadn’t let myself cry in a while and I was trying to hold on to Anna and my old life and my own family still. I cried for about three days straight. I stood in my room when I could steal 10 minutes. I leaned against my wall and just fucking wailed. I could hear Anna talking to me, telling me to let go. I finally was like (out loud), okay! okay! I’ll let go. I know I can’t control it all. It really did feel orgasmic. What a strange but true analogy. The release was so necessary.

    I’ve had two panic attacks since Anna got sick. One was just after her diagnosis and one was after she died. I think you’re very right to connect letting go and panic attacks.

    Something that helped me a lot – perhaps the most important and life-saving thing I’ve read – is a book called “The Mindful Way Through Depression”. It’s a way of understanding mindfulness and understanding the toxicity of always doing rather than being. I’ve learned to be more over the last year and I’ve avoided the old familiar depression. I still get very sad. But I’m learning that sad is sad and happy is happy. That not being mindful of my direct experience of these emotions can cause a spiral in either direction (more likely down, in my case). The authors have a meditation program that’s based on buddhist meditation, though it’s not explicitly buddhist. Because I’m already very in touch with buddhist theology, it shot right through me.

    Thank heavens for Ativan when you need it too, though. Sorry you didn’t have it in the store.

    I could probably take some of my own advice and try to get a good cry out. I’m missing Anna and my old life fiercely today. Too bad you can’t stick your finger in your eye to cry like you can stick your finger in your throat to throw up.

  10. San September 23, 2008 at 12:25 am #

    I feel like I haven’t stopped running since it happened. My aunt is all too happy to leave everything to me and even before she said that I could feel it. Somebody told me once that people LIKE to help. It makes them feel useful and like they contributed. That helped me to be okay with people helping.

    I don’t know if they’re panic attacks but sometimes I wake up and I’m falling, like I’m hitting the ground. I don’t know how I get off the ground to be falling, but I wake up screaming as I’m hitting the ground, it’s very weird.

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