The Mystical Power of the Ninja Mouth*

*The title is firmly tongue-in-cheek, fellow nerds, so don’t go full Sheldon on me.

Ninja
noun
a person skilled in ninjutsu.

  1. informal – a person who excels in a particular skill or activity

 

I used to bristle when people would make any reference, no matter how remote, to me being a chatterbox. I still kinda do, but it’s slowly getting better. It wasn’t all that difficult to figure out why i’m sensitive about it – i just had to intentionally wonder for a while. It’s amazing how much stuff gets clearer when i do such an odd thing, eh?

I was a child made for a purpose. I had roles to play and there were scripts to follow, but none of them involved any lines about what was actually happening to me. That was never spoken about, except in the vaguest of terms. They used my nature, my personality, my love of communication, for their own personal gain, but forced me to subjugate all those qualities in any case where it may have been a benefit to me, personally. So i could talk, and in fact i had to talk, but only about the things they wanted, and in the way they desired. There were also periods of strictly enforced silence. I had to speak a certain way in certain situations; sometimes meek, hyper-feminine and unctuous, sometimes precocious and worldly. The times i had to keep my mouth shut were easiest, because i didn’t have to go too far inside myself to get away.

However, when everything you’re told to do flies in the face of every instinct you have, and you’re required to say nothing when you need to scream, it fucks you up, and even the best facade will develop some cracks. Those cracks were mostly obvious at school, with fellow students. I blurted a lot. I would say such strange things at such inappropriate times that i was regularly called a spazz. Or i would say something that was so obviously intended to fit in with the cool kids. They’d roll their eyes at me, swatting me like the social mosquito that i was. I was a know-it-all in elementary school during class, but the bullies and the popular kids (who often fit both categories) had pretty much crushed my love of class time, much like they’d squashed any social aspirations i’d held, by the time i hit high school.

Once i graduated and got away from home and school, i tried so hard to make friends. I ached for a place to fit in, but i talked too much and bathed too seldom. Heh. When i got a chance to talk with someone and perhaps begin a friendship, i came on too strong. I was that guy that approaches you in the bar and you wouldn’t date him for anything because you can smell the desperation coming off of him in noxious waves. I must have made one helluva double whammy. I would try too hard to impress; i wanted to be likeable, charming, smart, funny… All of it, all at once.

It took years of practise before i was able to dial it back enough to make some decent friends. Even then i wasn’t any good at sustained intimacy and commitment, whether sexual or platonic. Over time i became very good at acquiring friends, but terrible at keeping them. The closer they got, the more obvious it became that i was chatty, but not talkative. And the few i really talked to would leave. One that i loved and trusted very much even told me that i was full of shit. I didn’t tell anyone anything for years after that one.

I haven’t known what to do about my mouth. Do i talk more, or less? To whom? About what, when? I don’t trust my own judgment because when i finally disclosed my story, my closest girlfriend called me a liar and ended our friendship. I was pretty sure i knew how to have better, longer lasting friendships, but only by being someone else. It’s hard to be genuine when you’re still chipping away at the marble, not entirely sure what the figure will look like when you’re finished. So i just withdrew. I don’t want to be someone i’m not anymore, and i don’t quite know how to be me yet, so i went away. I went back to Start with a brand new playing piece and 200 bucks.
END of PART I

 

I Made My Friends Like J. F. Sebastian

“There’s some of me in you.”

~J. F., Blade Runner

Friends. Yeah. Looooaded subject for this chicky right here. So much so that i don’t talk about it. It is, perhaps, when i feel the most vulnerable. I had no friends growing up. Not really. I was rarely allowed to hang out with other kids after school, and hey, i wasn’t asked that often. There was a time in grades 7 and 8 when my mom was trying to appear more normal, so i actually had a few friends to sleep over, but that was about it, i think. We couldn’t usually have anyone over because our house was a pigsty. And the bigger my mother got, the worse the condition of the house.

With the exception of 2yrs in a big city, the rest of my secondary schooling was done in small towns, where i was quickly branded weird, and was always either close to, or at the very bottom of the social ladder. When i finally escaped the back and forth hell of school and home, i went to work in another town. There i was able to turn my attention to making friends. I wasn’t very good at it, but i made 2 very dear friends that accepted me and we bonded, i think in part because they were broken inside in some of the same ways. I lost one of them while trying to please my religious community. I’d give a lot for the opportunity to apologise to her and the chance to make amends. I’ve had a few best friends since then, but they’re all gone now. One i hated to leave behind but i had to – the only friendship i’ve ever walked away from, and it pains me to this day. Another one was based on a super-sick dynamic, and so when she got mad at me and stopped talking to me, i stopped kissing her ass like i’d always done and the friendship was over. The last was a terrible betrayal that still hurts but i think i’m better off.

That last one made me crawl way up inside myself and i haven’t been that close to another person outside of my husband since then. It’s been a tough job, this figuring out who i really am. You read in books and hear in love songs about the woman who’s a study in contradictions, and it seems so romantic. You ask my husband though, and he’ll tell you that an ambiguously ambivalent woman will test a man’s mettle. It’s not romantic at all. My parents taught me on the one hand that we were better than everyone, and that i was on this earth for a special purpose. But that purpose seemed to be as the receptacle for all their anger and hate and diseased emotions. That makes for complications where any future relationships are concerned. I was told by more than one friend that they were moving on because there was a certain level of intimate connection that they craved, but of which they didn’t think me capable. And they were right. There were others who dropped me because i was unreliable. I might show, i might not. Can’t fault them for that, either. Then there were those who got fed up with being the only one who initiated contact. Totally accurate. I’m terrible at keeping in touch.

I want human connection, but i’m terrified of being rejected. I have a long history with rejection, i don’t care for it and i’d prefer to avoid it if it’s all the same to you, thankyouverymuch. So i’m a let’s-hang-out-now-piss-off kind of person, and who has time for that? It’s not fair to you. Besides, my last couple of attempts at making close friends were brutal. I was terrible at it. I’ve been stripping down to who i truly am under all the protective barriers and the brokenness, but i’m still not ready for prime time. So the only people i hang out with are my husband, my kids, and my grandkids.

I don’t know if i’ll ever be a people person again. I mean, i love humans. I love y’all soooo much, but i’ve got a lot to learn about how to be a genuine, true friend. I’m gonna have to start with myself and the family i made, because y’all can be some heinous assholes. I’m not well enough or strong enough yet not to take all your shittiness personally. I’m looking for rationality, normalcy, and above all, balance.

I’m truly fortunate to have my Little Crooked House and the man-thingy and my lovely young men and their families. And i also have an online group of friends that has sustained and even saved me, more times than they know. I know some folks scoff at such relationships (and some are pretty scoffable… scoff-worthy… whatever, scoff off), but they are an integral part of how far i’ve come. A group of friends i’ve had for 10yrs, that accept me for exactly who i am and where i’m at, even if i don’t have a fucking clue who or where that may be. They’ve been a safe place for me to talk about things, to work things out, and to try on new ideas and parade them around and see if i like the fit. The internet and the friends i’ve found here have been both boon and balm for my horn of plenty-crazy. So, wherever i land on the social spectrum – i’m covered.
Love and Peace,

~H~

 

This Beautiful Bag of Mostly Water

“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were; lying about it, trying to be somebody else.”

~J. K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

I’m starting to like myself. Like, holy shit. If you only knew. If you’d spent any time at all with me inside my brain, you’d have not thought it possible. I mean, the things i’ve said to myself, about myself. I wouldn’t say those things even to the people that are largely responsible for me being this fucked up. But i’ve said them to me, about me. I don’t want to bring down the tone of this piece by being specific. I’m pretty sure i don’t need to anyway. You already know, because you’ve said terrible things to yourself, about yourself too.

I was asked what my greatest fear is. It was during one of those courses that seekers like me are wont to take. It was a deep, intellectual course that asked you questions like, “What are you pretending not to know?” (If you inferred a sarcastic tone in that last sentence, you’re correct. Feel free to carry it through to the end of the paragraph.) In the third level of the course you did a fire walk and went on a zip line (not at the same time, but hey, that would’ve been an improvement) and then you were declared an intellectual giant and given leave to talk down to all the unfortunate peons who hadn’t taken the course henceforth.

My greatest fear was, and is, death. Thanks to how deeply and completely i was indoctrinated in my family’s religion, i still wrestle with that fear. I got some much-needed relief the day i realised that, if the god i was raised to worship is indeed real (for which i see no evidence), i wouldn’t worship him anyway. Still, the vein of acquiescing to religious authority without question, and acceptance of dogma without investigation, runs through me. If i were a tapestry and religion a thread, the pattern of my life would be shot through with it. If i started pulling out threads, the fabric would be ruined.

To return to the occasion of me being asked to name my fears. We were partnered up and sat on chairs facing each other and were instructed to name everything we were afraid of, stream-of-consciousness style, with no editing. Well, this fear fell out of my face like a miscarried foetus, and it was very clear that it was a more potent one, that affected me daily. Those who ran the course were right to focus on it, but i was a long way from being able to do any serious work on its origins, costs, and consequences.

I suppose that’s enough build up. Heh.

I’m afraid that if i let anyone in to really get to know me, they’ll find out that i’m an awful person and they’ll leave me.

I was raised with secrets. It started with the real reason i was born, and just continued. I was like one of those cartoon kids getting caught in a snowball rolling downhill, except it wasn’t snow, it was shit. And that shitball kept getting bigger and more destructive. I was taught that we were different than other people. They said we were so intelligent, so evolved, and part of a privileged circle of spiritual elites that had to practise what we believed in private, behind closed doors. Other people couldn’t understand, they said.

So i grew up inside this terrible dichotomy; being one thing during the day, and something else entirely at night. And i knew it was wrong, because it felt terrifically bad. I don’t mean physically, although that part hurt a great deal – i mean it was like carrying a cannonball around in my belly. But these people that i loved, that were entrusted with my care and upbringing, told me it was good. So i learned to subjugate and compartmentalise my thoughts and feelings from a very young age, and the worst thing of all is that i learned i couldn’t trust myself. My thoughts and feelings and perceptions were different than what they were supposed to be, so i did what most abused children do – i internalised the blame. I was the problem. I was wrong. I was bad.

I wondered how they tolerated me at all, and i was so grateful for their love.

I always knew there was something wrong with me, but i wasn’t born with it, it was put inside me without my consent. It was the psychological rape that impregnated me with that twisted, misshapen blob of cells that i spat out that day. I wasn’t ready to let it go then. That was over 30yrs ago and here i am finally putting her to rest. I buried my beautiful little hate-baby and i feel so much better. I’m slowly leaving my paranoia behind, like flowers at her graveside. I’m interrupting my inner dialogue that projects how i feel about myself onto the people around me, ascribing meaning to their eyes and putting whispered words into their mouths that are not theirs. And even if i’m right sometimes – do i really want to give a fuck about it?

I remind myself of the times in my life when i had a number of friends and was welcomed with many smiles and warm salutations. Inside i was dying. I felt like a fraud because i was one. I had no intimate relationships with anyone, save my husband and my children, and even that was difficult and strained for me. I was terrified that someone would get close enough to figure out how incredibly repulsive i was inside. Bad. Spoiled goods. Completely gone off.

Now i’m starting over and i’m not that close to anyone. I’m so fortunate to have a situation where i can make short forays into the world around me and practise being me. If i become drained and/or overwhelmed i can retreat to my Little Crooked House and hermit away for as long as i wish. I’m no longer trying to charm everyone i meet. I don’t need you to like me. The ones who genuinely haven’t liked me, haven’t done anything nearly as terrible to me as i’ve done to myself. Also, the ones that claimed to like and even love me, have historically done far worse to me than even i have done.

My goal is to like myself. To enjoy my own company. To admire and respect my deportment. To please myself.
Happy Monday,

~H~

Just Don’t Shoot the Albatross

A mania is fast approaching, and i hope i’m able to weather the storm. My thoughts come so quickly, tripping over each other and tumbling around in my brain, crying out to be acknowledged. They’re hungry and insistent, much like the baby birds in all the nests i see around our place out here. I’m trying to describe what it’s like to you, and i have so many things to say to you about it, but i’m having great difficulty nailing down something solid. It’s like reaching into a bowl full of earthworms and trying to pull out the longest one – they all look the same in the bowl. And i can’t discard any of the others should i pick the wrong one; they must all go back in the bowl (“Back in bowl?” I just flashed to Steve Martin in All of Me. Heh.)

So i’m frustrated and tired. I’ve been trying to grab something tangible and get some traction, but it’s been a real struggle. I finally seemed to have some good wordflow yesterday, and was a good 800 words or so into it, when my entire page just blinked out of existence. While i’ve now learned a hard lesson about writing my blog using anything but the format provided by my host, it caused an interruption in brain service. Like my engine suddenly flooded and now it won’t start. I tried to get ‘er going for a while, but it was only making it worse, so i took the rest of the day off and now here i am. I think i’m gonna have to do it like Karate Kid’s mom and push it for a bit until i can pop the clutch.

It’s not just the racing thoughts either. They’re becoming grandiose. Yay. By that i mean much of what i’m thinking strikes me as so deep. Like deep, deep. I’m such an intellectual, you just don’t even know. It’s like being on cocaine. Those first few toots where all your burdens fall away and you see everything with such clarity(!) Not those last few where paranoia has set in and you’re pretty sure you’re gonna die of a heart attack, but you just keep doing more…

And it’s not just the laser-sharp picture i have of my situation and what it’s like and how i’m doing in my life that’s so intense. It’s the fucking poetry. It’s the flowery, glowy, sparkly, fragrant, pink fucking gel filter that’s over all of it. It’s like babies giggling and angels singing. It’s a lush green meadow full of puppies. Goddamn puppies. I feel like i’m full of art, and every thought is so perfect. It’s heady stuff. It threatens to sweep me away -and i want it to do so- but i can’t allow it to happen. I’ve sailed that ocean many times before, and no matter how well i navigate the currents, there’s an albatross around my neck, and no lighthouse on the horizon.

And my desert island looks a lot like a hospital room.

Even describing that made all my neurons fire at once (hashtagnotrealscience). Fortunately, my kid came out to talk to me and it worked as a damper on me feeling amazed by how amazing i am. When i don’t use the brakes, these thoughts and feelings gain momentum quickly, and it doesn’t take long before risky behaviours don’t seem dangerous at all – they just look like fun. When i’m depressed, fear is part of what keeps me immobilised. When i’m manic, fear barely registers, and on the rare occasion it does, it impedes exactly nothing.

I removed some things from my life a couple of years ago, and they’re staying out for the foreseeable future. I don’t have access to money and i don’t drive. My husband has all the cards and cheques and bank accounts. My name is on the accounts, but to access the funds i need ID, which is in my husband’s possession when i’m manic. If i need money for something and he’s not around, he gives me cash. It’s always a small amount, so even if i used it for something other than what was intended, i (probably) couldn’t get into too much trouble. And the driving… Well, the world is a better, safer place without me driving in it, because my judgment is for shit. Not only is my mind too full and too busy for the attention and concentration required to drive, but i think i’m 10’ tall and bulletproof, which is a terrible state to mix with drugs and alcohol. I’ve been on some epic fucking benders when i’m riding a mania, and if i took an innocent life, i’d be finished, and i’d stigmatise my loved ones for the rest of their lives. So no driving. I was never particularly good at it anyway.

I guess i’ve prepared as well as i can. Maybe the storm will just pass me by.

I’m hoping for the best, and the really cool thing is, i’m not braced for impact.

 

Enjoy Your Weekend,
~H~

 

 

Oral Hygiene

My mouth used to get me in so much trouble. It’s funny though, because i never said the things that most needed saying. You know, like, Help me, or Someone get me outta here.

Nah. I told a couple of friends in high school. They probably half didn’t believe me and half didn’t want to hear it even if it was true. They couldn’t have done anything about it, and besides, i only had to make it through high school and i’d be free. Told my favourite teacher, my last year. We were working on something together and i blurted out the reason i’d left home, was working full time and living with my best friend. My confession was followed by one of the most excruciatingly painful silences i’ve ever endured. And then we resumed our work as if i hadn’t spoken at all.

It had to be obvious that i wasn’t quite right. I mean, the students all knew it – every one of them. In every class in every grade in every school i ever attended. My clothes and my lack of participation in any activity that required money made it clear that my family was about as poor as it gets in my country. I think my mouth may have overshadowed everything else. I was loud and obnoxious with students, which made me an even easier and more frequent target than i would have been had i just been fat and poor. And as is the case with so many abused children, i lied. A LOT. I exaggerated every detail or just flat out told a total bullshit story. It was all for attention, and of course it worked, but not the way i wanted.

I’m sure i frustrated the teachers, some to the point where they’d call in my parents for a meeting. Maybe they were even sizing up my parents, looking for signs that they might be the problem. I don’t know if anyone even picked up on my situation, let alone cared. To be fair, my parents were highly intelligent people who could make you believe just about anything… for a while. And when the mask finally slipped and people started asking questions, we simply moved.

I remember one time i was going home on the bus, and i realised the kids were laughing and whispering and making faces at me because my hygiene was terrible. (Super embarrassing, but true.) I made up the most ridiculous lie. Like in the history of lies it was the one that wouldn’t even fool your little sister when she was 4 and you told her chocolate milk came from brown cows.

I didn’t tell them my clothes were always dirty because my mother rarely did laundry, and if i tried to do it myself i’d sometimes get beaten for doing it wrong. I also didn’t tell them that a lifetime of sexual abuse had made me hate my body so much i could barely stand to touch myself. The bathroom was also a place where i was extremely vulnerable. I was terrified to be naked at all, and baths and showers were done in a panic, and not with any regularity.
I didn’t consciously know the truth, so i couldn’t have told them why i smelled like an old boot filled with cheese. I just knew i was gross and bad and i had to make it someone else’s fault so they didn’t hate me.

I tried to be anyone but myself, and i used words to try to be funny, cool, smart, even tragic (oh, the irony), but i only ever came off as strange and awkward and annoying. I tried too hard and it made the decent kids uncomfortable while the bullies could barely contain their glee. I was scorned by crappy humans and pitied by the rest. Still, i just kept talking. I lacked the self-awareness to manage what i said. I blurted, i leaked, i was a constant stream of words. My mouth was the bleed valve that eased the persistent pressure in my head. I tried so hard to be interesting, but they either disliked me or wanted to like me, but i made it difficult.

I carried that into my adulthood, and it has only been in the last year that i’ve been learning to rein in my mouth. Not to stifle things that i want or need to say, but to check my intent and to consider the cost. Balance is tough for me, but i try to check myself just enough. I used to obsess over everything i said as an adult. I’d rehearse it in my head a bunch of times before i said the thing i wanted to say. But that was different because my intention was wrong. I was seeking approval, acceptance, and affection at any price. Now my intention is to be genuinely myself.

I’ve spent this last year not saying much of anything. I’ve been around other people a few times, but there was still not enough control, so this last 6 months i’ve not been around very many people except my family. I don’t know if i’ll ever be much of a social person again, but i’m weirdly unconcerned. I’m learning who i am and how to be myself. The only place i feel truly safe is my home, and the only people i fully trust is my family. It’s sort of like dress rehearsals for a show that may never open.

Happy Tuesday,
~H~

How I Laugh In Crazy’s Face – le HAHAHA!

Part I: Mania

Living with my mental illness isn’t always a trudging drudgery punctuated by moments of bombastic frenzy, not nearly. At least, not now. Sometimes in the thick of it all, it’s been a near-constant emotional upheaval with the only respite being occasionally gripped by a crushing despondency. So there’s been some breaks in the monotony. Heh.

Pretty flowery speech, huh? Yeah well, still with the mania here. It’s not an issue so far, but my brain is full of the beauty of words and pictures and sounds, tralala lala.

One of my favourite and most powerful coping skills is humour. I laugh a lot, and i’ve always laughed a lot. It may be part of the reason i flew under most people’s radar when it came to signs of abuse. It’s certainly a key reason why i survived it. I can laugh at just about anything. Anywhere, anytime, and nearly any circumstance. Yes, some of it is of the panicked or disconnected variety, but i’m not referring to that kind here. And it’s not a killer clown response either. I’m no Pennywise. I’m just able to find the funny in nearly any situation.

It’s occasionally cost me in relationships, i suppose. I’ve offended some, shocked others, and some are just put off, but i really don’t care and have never cared. For someone who’s been overly concerned with the acceptance and approval of others (EVERYONE!) for most of my life, i have absolutely no fucks to give regarding whether or not you share, or even get, my sense of humour.

As i’ve mentioned before, i’m currently dealing with mania. I’m not worried about it, because for one thing, there’s no point, and for another, the price is too high for so little benefit. I look at it like it’s a person. She’s fun to hang out with for a bit – but she ain’t sleepin’ over. Bitch always sticks me with the cheque, and i ain’t got a lotta mad money right now, okay?
I can see how finding things funny has saved my ass, or rather my life, on any number of occasions.

I’m currently focused on cleaning up my house. The main living areas have always been relatively decent, but they’re cluttered and disorganised, and my version of spring cleaning has been haphazard, at best. Now though, my improving health, coupled with an approaching mania is bringing out my inner Martha. My approach to decluttering goes some thing like this:

– remove everything from cupboard/area;
– scrub everything within an inch of its life, all whilst making that ridiculous concentratey face that makes my tongue sore (i hope i never see what i look like);
– take a few of the items and place them in a small container, repeat;
– take a few of the small containers and place them in a larger container, repeat;
– put them back in the cupboard.

As i do this i think of George Carlin and his bit about “stuff”. I giggle because it’s applicable and George was a funny man. My boxes have boxes, and my boxes’ boxes have boxes, which are all kept in other, bigger boxes. And all my boxes, and all my boxes’ boxes, and all my boxes’ boxes’ boxes are contained in another big box that i like to call my Little Crooked House.

The dissociative part of me is watching all my efforts and laughing her ass off. I look pretty funny i’m sure, scurrying around from cupboard to drawer to table, tripping around the temporary chaos, sweating and talking to myself, making funny faces, blaring music that i sing and yes, dance along to.

As i’m sorting through all the items, another thing about mania becomes clear to me. When i’m manic i’m constantly losing shit because my brain is going so fast i can’t remember where anything is, and i can’t concentrate long enough to figure it out. Wanna know how i know?

I now have 8 tweezers, that’s how i know.
I also have 5 nail clippers and 4 toenail clippers.
Oh, and more than one copy of any number of books, CDs, and movies that i particularly like. About a week ago i found a third copy of Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain. I just grinned as i wrote that and i’m currently telling myself it looks kinda like the one he has on his face when Apollonia is trying to wiggle back into her leather pants after skinny dipping in not-Lake Minnetonka.
I have enough Chapstick to make a candle.
And we won’t even go into how i get paranoid about starving and so i’m finding stashes of dry and canned goods.
How do you not find that worthy of at least a giggle? Or a lopsided grin with an accompanying snort?

Picture me sitting on the rug like i was on Friday, going through another mystery box from my bedroom closet, singing along to Stacey Q,

“Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one
Two of hearts, I need you, I need you
Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one
Two of hearts, come on, come on”

I’m wiggling my ass from cheek to cheek and tossing my ponytail from side to side, then suddenly cackling like Grizelda on the Hilarious House of Frightenstein because i’ve just found my eleventyfirst tube of lip balm.

Well, it worked for me, lol.

~H~

(No More) Mindshaker Meltdown

“That old vicious cycle screaming within
As I talk of the building with the crashin’ about”

A big part of managing my anxiety has come from not thinking about certain things. I’ve had to learn how to control my thoughts. If thoughts were bugs, i’d be Willie Scott in the Temple of Doom. I had to reach my hand into the little tunnel full of the creepiest and crawliest of them in order to release myself from the prison i’d created in my own mind.

And how do i stand there, covered in little fears with whispering legs, and then willingly place my questing hand into a black hole filled with more chittering terrors?
Well, i don’t think about it, that’s how.

Wrangling my thoughts seemed an impossible task. I was always at their mercy: racing thoughts, invasive ones too, and obsessions aplenty. All cavorting through the big carnival tent of my skull, carousing with impunity. I was just Weary Willie (different Willie – look him up) who came in to sweep up all the Cracker Jack and elephant shit when it was finally over.
I grew sick and tired of being at their whims, various and sundry. I also got pissed off. My brain, admittedly a bit of a fixer upper, has some big, beautiful windows that merely needed a good cleaning, and the open beam cathedral ceiling is really quite spectacular. If i didn’t agree to take on the job of getting her marketable, she may very well have been razed to the ground.

No promises, but i think i’m done with the analogies for now.

Anyone who’s been in the grips of runaway thinking knows how hard it is to stop. And that thing that you know you shouldn’t think about, because you’ll be lost to time and reason, too. I emerged from those dismal sessions empty of everything save self-loathing. Some period of depression always followed. Then the slow work of picking myself up, carrying on, and attempting to get traction and maybe some momentum (? HA!) would begin.

Anger came to my rescue, as it so often does. I was laying there in a wrung out, pitiful heap of emotional sludge, the echoes of those words still keeping me company, and i just got angry about the whole thing. The fed-right-the-fuck-up kind of mad. I told myself enough of that, i wasn’t going to live or die at the mercy of transient thoughts. I decided i would no longer allow those particularly sticky ones to gain purchase in my mind.

At first i thought it was going to be one of the hardest things i’ve ever done, but the wonderful surprise is how easy it’s been. Once i realised how adept i already was at not thinking about some things, i just had to apply the same technique to thoughts that i’d believed i was powerless to resist. Take perceived faux pas, for instance. If i did something in a social situation that i thought was stupid or wrong, it was all i could think about, almost from the moment i’d done it, until well after it was over.

It would start with embarrassment. Exclamations of horror, replete with histrionic declarations (I’m never going back to the grocery store, EVER!) and laden with cursing (Oh fuck. Oh my holyfuckmegoddamnit!) Then would come the pointless questions that i never had an answer for, and only dragged me further down (Why do i always do that? WHY?!) Until finally i’d be nothing but a puddle of nihilistic ennui (What’s the point? I’ll always be this way.)

I deal with that thought immediately now. First i acknowledge it, then i do a quick run-through of how it’s gonna go if i allow it to overwhelm my brain. (HINT: Not well.) Next i ask myself if there’s something tangible i can do to relieve the anxiety. Like, could i call up the person i was talking to and clarify what i meant to say or apologise for something, or even just ask what their perception was of our interchange. If yes, i do so, and if not, i remind myself of all the negative fallout if i have too much of a think on this thing. And then i distract myself. Like, ASAP. My current favourite is housework done to loud rock n’ roll.

And it’s been working.

If i can be at a family function and not give a single thought to what so-and-so over there did to me when i was twelve, i can not think about how i laughed too shrilly at dude’s joke when he handed me my coffee and doughnut.

If i can look at the beautiful thing at the store that i want but can’t afford, moving along to the thing that’s not perfect but good enough and in my price range, then i needn’t obsessively mourn lost relationships.

If i can step back and let my children and other loved ones make their own life choices, even if they’re not what i would choose for them, then i needn’t suffer the pervasive angst of the life i might have lived.

I can and am doing this, one thought at a time. Is this benefitting me? No. Is there anything i can do about it? No. Am i willing to pay the price for giving in to it? No.

So… It’s Mother Love Bone and window washing then?

HELL YES.

 

Have a weekend, will ya? I will, too.

Love and Peace,

~H~

Somebody’s Knockin’

“Somebody’s knockin’
Should I let him in
Lord it’s the devil
Would you look at him
I’ve heard about him
But I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans”
~Terri Gibbs

Yesterday as i was handling my business so well and feeling so normal and accomplished, my old party buddy Mania began to stir. She’s been sleeping off her last bender, but it appears she’s feeling better.

So yeah. And YAY. /s

I try not to anticipate some things, because the power of my brain can sometimes make things happen that probably wouldn’t have otherwise. You know, like, if you’re certain you’re gonna have a shitty day, you’ll find a way to make it suck – no matter what. It’s not just a matter of perception; it’s also intention. It can be that way with my old friend Mania. If i talk about her enough, she’ll see it as an invitation to come hang out.

I do need to talk about it a little, but just by way of acknowledgement. It’ll help me with awareness of the potential for crazy to come knockin’. *

I’ve been actively dealing with and working on my bipolar disorder since around 2006, and i’ve learned a few things. One of them is being able to see a mania on my horizon. I’ll try to communicate this stuff as best i can, but it’s guaranteed to fall short.

I’ve been noticing my body’s response to this early, warm spring, for instance. It’s an animalistic response. Like, i wanna roll around in the green grass and stick my face right in the trees and flowers and consume the smell. I’d eat it if i could. Being outside is incredibly invigorating. And my sex drive, which had been in a sleepy, winter lull, is fully energised in a way that is similarly carnal. More of a bodily imperative though, than an epicurean pursuit. Spring fever – i haz it. My appetite has increased, but i’m not enjoying the taste of food as much. I just want to eateateateateat.

I’m also registering changes in my thinking. In a word, it’s turning rather grandiose. I’m getting philosophical – not so much the laid back attitude, but rather thinking about the fundamental nature of things. Deep thoughts in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. I guess it’s my internal response to what i’m thinking that’s the red flag. I’m very impressed with myself, you see. As i’m thinking these profound thoughts, i’m not only excited by them, but i’m awed by them, and by myself, particularly. It’s not so much pedantic as it is enthusiastic, but…

You see? It happened right up there. In that very paragraph. I’ve always loved words, and have amassed a fair vocabulary. As i was writing that paragraph i got swept away with choosing the best words for what i wanted to say, and so may have lost you whilst i gazed adoringly at my way with words.

Heh.

Simply put: i can see my thinking turning towards the belief that i’m 10′ tall and bulletproof. Without the benefit of drugs. Just this magical, orchestral way of thinking that fills me with anticipation of the magnificent and the expectation of something epic. And it will be me and it will be because of me. That’s as far as i dare go to explain it to you, as my writing has just confirmed to me very well. Mania is awake, and she wants to know if i can come outside and play.

My current plan is to ignore the knocking and continue with my daily routine. It’ll bring some much needed serenity whilst i come up with a plan.

~H~

*NOTE: Yes, i use the word “crazy”. If you find that word troubling, then i do apologise, insofar as it is not my intention to offend, or otherwise vex you. If the response to my use of the word becomes visceral, i may write about it more, but for now i’ll sum it up rather simply. I would compare it to the woman who refers to herself using the word “bitch”, or the gay man who calls himself that word that’s slang for cigarette in the UK, or a POC who refers to themselves using whatever term we generally consider to be an epithet when coming out of anyone’s mouth who’s not of that particular ethnicity.

The word “crazy” holds no negative connotation for me. It serves me in a number of ways:

  • It is a familiar, often casually used word, that has a humourous, almost cartoonish connotation;
  • It acknowledges the truth of my mental condition in a way that lets un-crazy people know that i know it, i’m cool with it, and i’m approachable about it;
  • It reminds me not to make it such a huge deal all the time. It is what it is, and all that remains for me is how i want to handle it.

While it has historically been a pejorative term, it has evolved to become a part of our daily lexicon with its meaning coming more from context than its intended definition in its strictest sense. I like the word and i feel better about my mental illness when i use the word. ‘Yeah baby, i’m crazy. Ain’t nothin’ but a thang.”

Live Carefully, Die of Old Age, and Leave the Body to the Mortician

I said this blog wouldn’t be about the past, but everything is, isn’t it? What i meant when i said that is i’m done with recounting the gory details. Once i got it all out, i wallowed. Hell, i was slogging about in that sickening bog for so long i was the emotional equivalent of the well walker from The Walking Dead. Then i spent a lot of time not talking about it at all. I didn’t even think about it much. Taking in the sun. Drying out. Waiting until i couldn’t smell the rot on me anymore.

Nowadays, i’m focused on balance. To continue the metaphor, i’d like to walk in the sunshine with the living, and not be afraid of seeing my own shadow.

I bring this up because i’ve been thinking a lot about who i wanted to be when i was a child, and who i am today. Very different indeed. I thought i wanted to be famous. An actress, a singer, a jet-setting bon vivant. Someone admired and respected and sought after. Beautiful and elegant, witty and urbane.

Heh. It makes perfect sense. I was made for such a world. I survived much of my childhood by escaping into make-believe. I lost myself in music, in books, in television programs. My therapist has said that people like me are superheroes and my mutant power is imagination. I created another life to slip into whenever things were particularly unbearable, and i played various characters depending on the set.

The ease with which i did it lent itself well to school drama productions, church plays, and choirs. I never got nervous, only excited. Zero stage fright. Everyone was always impressed, and i loved the attention. Unfortunately, as i got older i kept getting bigger, and not just up, but out. And fat girls didn’t get picked for the lead. Eventually i became too tired and too broken to fight. I still played many roles, but no longer on a stage.

I used to be sad about it, and then i was angry. I may have been very good. I might have even made something remarkable, something that had longevity. But surviving my childhood just took too much out of me. The effort and energy it took to keep my inner reality safe, and to care for all the characters that i’d become so very attached to… I lost the joy.

Today i’m grateful that my dreams didn’t come true. Not in a philosophical, “no regrets” kind of way, more like, “Phew, dodged that bullet!”
Really.

If that had happened for me, that dream that so many little girls have, i don’t know if i’d have ever been able to acknowledge and face my past or my mental illness. With an imagination like mine, i don’t need a Clarence to show me what life might be like had i made different choices. And though i have many regrets, not being famous isn’t one of them.

I spent so many years of my life trying to find acceptance and approval, that i didn’t realise how solitary a person i really am. Maybe people were spoiled for me from the beginning, or maybe i was born this way. I suspect, as is the way of nearly all things – it is a combination of the two. I love you guys, but i find you bloody exhausting. I’m still learning to manage my brain: my thoughts, my feelings (that come from my brain, not my heart), and the fantastic and terrible way my brain works. I must dial down my hypervigilance to being merely vigilant. I sought relationship yet i would go to crazy-sick lengths to avoid rejection. That set up a constant push-pull inside, which only amped up my already significant level of ambivalence and ambiguity.

I guess what i mean is it takes an incredible effort to shift my existence from the relentless pull towards opposite extremes. To reverse it in fact; to seek the middle, but not quite the middle. Balance. Sometimes that’s way over to one side, and sometimes it’s the other. Perpetually making minor adjustments to thoughts and behaviours in order to be healthier, more functional, and hopefully happier in my connections with other humans.
Exhausting, as i stated earlier.

To return to my original point, if i’d enjoyed any noteworthy success at all, i might’nt have ever needed to stop playing roles. Slipping from character to character might well have made me even more successful. I would have fed hungrily upon any accolades and adoration such as that i see those actors and singers and celebrities receiving today.
It would have kept me sick.

And let me tell you, i’ve had my struggles with excess: food, drugs, sex… Please sir, i want some more, and thank you sir, may i have another? I believe that lifestyle would have animated and emboldened my proclivities for debauchery and debasement. I’d have burnt out rather quickly, i think. I’d be fortunate to be alive when the ride was over. Who’m i kidding? It’s amazing that i’m still alive now. I would have lived fast and died young. And nobody leaves a beautiful corpse.

So now to wrap all this up in a succinct summation: I’m glad to be here on this bit of land, in this little, crooked house. I have my husband and my children and their children and my dogs. I don’t need to see anyone else except my health care professionals. I’ve been afforded the time and the space to figure out when, where, and for how long i want to be around any other humans besides those ones. It’s a safe and happy and gratifying place for me to be today.

 

Love and Peace,

~H~

But Yoda, Try Is All I’ve Got

Every once in a while it hits me.

I’m angry, and i have no idea why.

Although i’m slowly learning to live a more conscious life, i’m not, nor do i want to be, a deeply introspective person. Whatever that means. I don’t fucking know what i mean.

I’m still pissed off.
I want to know who i am and what i want and what i think and why i think it, but i don’t want to live my life as a floating head. You know, all cerebral and nothing visceral. All thought and no action. Never going outside and getting dirty. As if i’m sitting on a mountaintop crosslegged, watching the world happen while i smile and sway to some wicked sitar music. I wouldn’t mind seeing the view from up there, but those folks in the valley really know how to party.

Some balance is what i’m aiming for in my life. I don’t need to see everything coming, but if i get coldcocked, i’d at least like to know by whom. I have enough reasonably uncrazy time under my belt now that i recognise that this has been happening for a long time. Maybe all my time. I don’t know if i’m triggered by anything in particular, or if it’s like a bleed valve and i had too much pressure built up. I don’t think it matters for now.
The first step is recognising that it’s happening. So, check. Now i have some basic ideas about where to go from here, based on identifying other emotional/behavioral issues before this one became a blip on my radar. It mostly involves being aware that it’s going on and then doing a lot of information gathering:

– What was happening before i noticed this issue?
– Is this relatable more to the current precipitous event, or could it be a childhood-based reflex?
– How have i handled this before, and has there been fallout from that as well?

Then i just get down to the business of trying.

I do not subscribe to Yoda’s philosophy, particularly “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” It makes a great story, but in my life it has no place. The foundation upon which all my successes are built is trying. It’s the bedrock that provided stability as i floundered around in the soft, shifting loam that has been my own personal edification.

What i mean is i just make as educated a guess as i’m able, and then i just try something and see if it helps. Something that cuts down on or (ideally) eliminates negative outcomes. Then i assess its effectiveness and tweak to improve my results. Some things i try don’t work at all and some work pretty well. Nothing’s ever worked perfectly, but i’ve never expected it to. I’ve never found a panacea and i don’t think that’s even possible.
What i expect is some level of chaos and mess, and in that i’ve never been disappointed. I care about that kind of thing less and less these days. As i let go of my desire to be liked, accepted, and understood by everyone, my fear of rejection has diminished to the point where i just wade in and start swimming towards that other shoreline. I can’t let a few sharks stop me from getting there, and i see a couple of boats that i can ask to take me in if i need a break.

I now realise that occasionally i find myself inexplicably angry. Even enraged. I’d like to know what it’s about so i can figure out what, if anything, i can or want to do about it.

And it’s already over. A couple of simple steps later and it’s gone. But the next time it comes ’round, i’ll be ready. Well, i’ll try, that’s for sure.

~H~