Growing Up

Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, sure, but it’s integral to me having more of the life i want.

Every part of me, except the main me, is a child, in some form or fashion. They were all split off, frozen in time, or purposefully created, when i was very young. I think i’d stopped breaking myself off into pieces around 8 at the outside. My mother’s relationship with the man i called Daddy had been falling apart for a year or more by then, and took another year or so before its death throes were complete. For reasons i cannot fully ascertain or fathom, she fled their circle of friends and associates, cut off contact with everyone she knew save her parents, set up housekeeping in a small town with an underage boy, and began churning out babies.
Once we lived there i only had 2 predators to contend with (sometimes more, but not all the time), and the people who lived in my brain could handle 2 relatively easily. I’m as sure as i can be that the last new members joined my tribe sometime between 7 and 8yrs old.

It’s taken me a long time and a lot of work to get this far, maturity wise. I knew i needed to learn and grow and get more functional, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that i understood how much of a child i still was, in so many ways. My development was not only arrested by trauma, it was actively held back and hampered by a bunch of kids living in my brain. I would often jokingly say, “I’m ‘x’ years old, and i still don’t feel grown up.” There was a reason for that – i wasn’t. I only looked like an adult on the outside. On the inside i was a roiling tide of children. Even those parts of me that presented as an adult were merely a child’s conjectures and fabrications of what an adult was and how they acted. It was mighty humbling to see how immature i still was in so many ways, but it was the truth. It didn’t set me free, exactly, but it did give me tangible behaviours to work on changing.

After the initial mortification at discovering i was a big, poopyheaded babypants, i set about examining my various behaviours and holding them up in comparison to those i considered mature and good at “adulting.” I soon noticed something that gave me a burst of self-esteem. Turns out that i had surrounded myself with a variety of folks who were rather adept at various grownup-type stuffs.* I knew people who could pay their bills on time and keep to a budget. I had friends who kept a tidy home and person. I have friends with a remarkable level of mastery over their emotional responses. I know those who manage relationships respectfully and navigate life’s problems with careful, critical thought. They live life on life’s terms, and live it well.

Further, i marked that i had pulled away from relationships that fared poorly in a cost/benefit analysis. I saw that i’d eliminated abusive and/or go-with-the-flow family members, along with many i didn’t even know (which leaves one – just sayin’). And more than that, i’d toned down my involvements with local “friends” that i only had because i associated with them when i was manic. I now know that party buddies aren’t necessarily friends, and i discovered through social media and a few sober interactions that i wasn’t interested in anything more than shallow niceties:

Them: Oh hi, i haven’t seen you in forever! We should do coffee!

Me: Yeah sure, i’m free whenever, just text or DM me and let me know when!

(I learned it’s just something that some people seem to think they should say, and i’m happy to play the game, because i know it’s just empty words and they won’t follow through. I’m not mad about it, in fact it’s preferable to me. I’d rather not have to come up with a not-hurtful or not-rude reason why i don’t want to hang out with them anymore. If they wanted to hang out with me they would. I see it as them trying to be polite and not hurt my feelings, which is nice. I’m fine with a bit of light, mutual bullshittery.)

So, while it was hard on my delicate little feelings to see just how far i had to go to grow up, there was evidence that i was already working on it. Setting myself up for success, as it were. My circle of friends had become of my own choosing, and they were people who had something i wanted. They modeled a quality or behaviour that i wanted for myself. My friends today are people i want to be more like, in some way. I like being around those whose comportment i see as that of a good human. A lot of my friends today are very accomplished by the world’s standards, and to do that, one must embody some traits that i categorise as mature. As in, “behaving like an adult.”

I’m pondering all this today because i need to be as grown up as i can possibly be with respect to a particular area of my life right now. It’s extremely important, and how it plays out will definitely change my life, whether for good or ill. I must carefully consider what i want, how much i want it, and what i’m willing to do to get it. I must manage my emotions and keep a level head. I’ve invested a great deal, and it’s time to start collecting, or cash out. And if that happens, i’ll have to be the most grown up i’ve ever been.

As they say, i’m hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
<insertincrediblydeepandunfortunatelynothistrionicsighhere>

One of the oddest things about being grown-up was looking back at something you thought you knew and finding out the truth of it was completely different from what you had always believed.
~ Patricia Briggs



Love and Peace,
~H~
* These are things i identify as being what adults do. These are basic, surface definitions and personal to me. If your house is a shambles or you’re always late, it’s not for me to say why that is – it’s for you. It may be because you need to grow up a bit, but it might be due to something else entirely. Things that i identify as problematic for my life might not bother you one whit.

IMAGE: Annie Spratt

Jiggling It Loose

I’m stuck. I’m in a weird place and i don’t quite know what’s going on or how i’m feeling. I’m having trouble defining it at all, let alone identifying, then describing and sharing it with my readers.
And i’m usually so eloquent and erudite. *snerk*

Well first – i’m low. My mood is blah, somewhat dark, and slightly negative. It’s not dangerously low, like, i need serious support/intervention. I don’t have much energy, but i get enough done. My house is clean and so am i. I’m struggling with overeating a bit, but i’m handling it well enough that i’m still losing weight. I get out for some solid exercise 6 days a week. My skin care regimen is back up where i like it best, and i put on a bit of makeup every day. I’m enjoying cooking again, and have resumed baking. I’m reaching out to friends and connecting emotionally. I’m sober. My marriage is good. My brain chatter is quieter and more easily managed than it has been in months and months, maybe even years. Maybe?

Still and all – lots of things suck. I’m in a major flareup (fibromyalgia). My RLS (restless leg syndrome) has been intense, and sometimes wakes me 2 or 3X a night. It’s coming on during the day too, and creeping up into my arms, shoulders, and mid back. My Botox injections wore off months ago, so now my face aches and my jaw throbs most of the day due to chronic, severe bruxism. I can barely move my hands and feet in the morning, they’re so stiff (fibro? old age?). I’ve had a persistent headache for months (yes fibro, yes stress). I’m experiencing dumping syndrome (a result of gastric bypass, and not what it sounds like) every time i eat, no matter what i consume or how much (definitely stress, but my doc has been on the lookout for an ulcer for some time).

Moving on, my relationships with my children aren’t where i want them to be. My marriage is good because i’m choosing to let go of all the things that don’t work for me in light of other, more pressing circumstances. I’m disappointed in humanity as a whole. I’m overwhelmed by politics and social issues. I have a sick pet. I’m extremely concerned about our financial situation. I’m lonely. I miss shopping and eating out. I’m struggling with writing. And i just learned a few days ago that a friend that i’d lost due to my craziness and manic behaviour has passed away, and i will never get an opportunity to make amends to her and maybe earn her friendship back.

Only weeks ago i would have been swimming in my cups over all this. I’m not entirely sure why i’m not, honestly. I should be switchy AF – but i’m not even very slidey.
I’m depressed, anxious, disillusioned, fed up, frustrated, sad.
I’m not happy and the things that i want seem very far away.
I’m restless and unsatisfied.
But, despite all of this, i’m stable.
I’m not falling apart. I’m not picking fights or losing my temper or drinking or eating anything not nailed down or causing chaos/drama or catastrophising. I’m not even histrionic.

I’m in foreign territory. I don’t know what’s going on with me. This state i’m in is unfamiliar. I’m wondering if… I’m thinking that i might just be… functional. Perhaps i’m living life on life’s terms. Considering what’s currently going on in the world, i’d guess most of us are struggling in some form or fashion, so this might just be how it is for non-crazies and the higher functioning. Could it be?

This is not dissociative behaviour. I’m not putting distance between my thoughts and emotions. I’m going towards relationships and making connections rather than climbing up inside my brain and hiding in some darkened corner. Physically, i feel like shit. Emotionally, i’m wrung out and stretched thin. Intellectually, i’m foggy, muddled, vapid.
And i know and am experiencing all these things in real time.

I’m not obsessively analysing things to figure out wtf is going on. I’m not trying to package it, to keep it manageable and contained. I’m not tying it all together and sticking a pretty bow on it. I am just in it. This is the hand i’ve been dealt and i’m playing it. I may win i may lose, i don’t know. I do know that i’m sure as hell not folding.

The anxiety and frustration are big right now. I can feel rage wanting to come and take the burden from me. I can hear it knocking, i can feel its heat, i can see the red glowing under the door, but i have no urge to open it. Rage is an important component of who i am. I’m grateful for some of what its done, and i give it honour and respect where i think it’s due. Rage pulled me back from the brink of death and made me want to live. It shook me until the dam burst and washed away the rot and the scum. Rage pried my eyes open and made me truly see as it tore off the sheepskins of the wolves surrounding me. I’m not done with rage – i need it. But not now and not for this.

This is my life today, and while it is hard, it is not anything like the hell i knew as a child. The wolves are long gone. All my basic needs are met, and then some. I have the means and the ability to hunker down and weather this current storm, that is indeed raging just outside my Little Crooked House.
I’m not tearing the walls down around me out of fear. I’m not shrieking into the wind. I’m not at the mercy of any of my emotions; i see them coming, and i let them wash through me. I know why they’ve come, and it’s understandable. They’ve a right to be here. It’s normal to be feeling this way under these circumstances. Most people are probably feeling somewhat similarly. Normal. Appropriate. Me. Is this real?

I think this feels weird and different and dodges my desire to define it because it is brand spanking new. I think i’m functioning at a higher level. I think i’m meeting some of my goals, and i think this is setting the stage for more and better. We’ll see, though. I don’t know this for sure, although i do hope it is so. If it’s not, or i suffer a setback, i’ll handle it the best i can and continue on. It’s what i’ve striven for and what i have attained. A doggedness, a tenacity, from whence has unexpectedly arisen a confidence, yes, a surety. I’m finding a certainty bubbling up inside me that i can do this. I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me so far, and the fear that i cannot or won’t is falling away from me with each stubborn, willful, intentional step i take.

Things are quieter in my head. I still hear and feel my Bits N’ Pieces all day, every day, but it is not the cacophony of voices it once was. I’m not always thinking and acting from a place of imminent danger and the need to survive. I’m not as constantly troubled by the dark, private, unknown parts of humans that i believe we all possess. And i’m not scrambling around, frantically trying to figure out who i really am and what i really want. Or even who others really are and what they really want.
I’ve finally done enough work that i just know*…

I also know i’ve got scads more work ahead of me, but this is an important moment in my journey. I still can’t see what lies ahead, and i’m trepidatious yet, but i WANT to jump. It’s time and i’m ready.

I didn’t know what i was going to write about today, just that the time had come to stop trying and post something. Anything.
I didn’t expect this, but i’ll take it.
Damn straight.

I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill
Shoes that were not made for running up that hill
And I need to run up that hill
I need to run up that hill, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will

~ Fiona Apple, Fetch The Bolt Cutters

*I know for me. Anyone else is as much of a mystery as they wish to be, for the most part.

Image: Karsten Winegeart

Letting Go, AKA The Jump

healing is in the air
life is a precious ring given to us by love
to polish and shine with all we learn

~Jane Siberry, Morag

Letting go is a helluva thing, innit? It is where i currently find myself. As i said to a friend the other day, i am on a precipice. I feel my feet are on solid ground, but i’m close to the edge, and i can see the vastness of the chasm just a step or 2 away. I mentioned in my last post that i wondered if my parachute would function properly, and bear me safely to the ground below. I felt the significance of it as i typed it out, and knew i’d be writing more about it at another time. Off we go, then.

All the work i’ve done over these last years has been leading me to a moment. Okay, there’ve been many moments, times that i’ve known/felt were significant. I understand that that’s what therapy is, a series of steps that lead to moments that prepare me for and bear me on through the next steps. Some moments though, are more charged than others, more thick with fulfillment and promise. I’ve sought epiphanies and had many as a result – they’ve been vital, perhaps integral, to my continuing on with this work. It has mostly been cerebral stuff yes, that is, until i’d dug deep enough. Once i struck the well i moved into the emotional, and i felt countless times like i was drowning, like i’d never find dry land. When i did, i thought everything was done. And then i stumbled and fell. When i looked up i saw a mountain in my path, and i learned that the only way forward was up.
These last years have been physical, literally physical work. Physical AND emotional AND mental. As i climbed i saw something waiting for me at the peak.
A moment.

We know that mountains are not just a pointy bit at the top, as they appear from far away, or in a child’s drawing (because that is, after all, what they see –what we all see– from a distance). If you’re a hiker/climber you well know, and if you watch nature programming and/or have seen the coverage of the Everest questers, you’ve at least seen it. There are summits sure, but also ledges, ridges, shoulders, cols, dikes, faces, saddles, and oh yes, pinnacles. Mountains are a lot of parts, and are certainly a most apt metaphor for my journey over the last 2yrs. It’s been a climb… One helluva climb.

Can you see where this metaphor is leading? Of course you can. Yes, i’m at the top, and it’s a summit of a sort, almost extreme enough to be called a pinnacle, i suppose. The thing is, i cannot see what lies in front of me, nor below. The question is, will i jump? BASE jump life, are you crazy? Why thank you Sir/Madam, i am. In this case though, i don’t think my crazy factors in. The preparation for this has been hours and days and years of work. To meet pain and fear in the daylight, to know them intimately, to build relationship with them. I had to learn how to know them, in order to relate to them, to communicate, and most of all, to listen to what they had to share with me, to teach me. I had to provide the atmosphere for communication to happen. I spent my early years in a brain fog, but once i hit my mid-30s, it was nothing short of cacophony up there. Although i’ve never experienced quiet in this old noggin of mine, at least when i was younger it was more like a soft buzz than the shrill and the shriek of my 40s.

I marshalled my brain-voice force and soldiered on, sure.
I wish i could continue on with metaphors – they’re so much easier for me.
More romance and less suspense/thriller.
Ah, well.
Letting go scares the everloving you-know-what outta me.
Horror may fit better. (A tad histrionic, that. Heh.)

Until now, the question regarding this work, this journey towards better mental health and functionality has not been “if,” but “when.” But letting go is not a small thing.

To me, letting go means to step away from hypervigilance. To stop functioning from the constant, underlying fear/belief that everyone will hurt me. To be present and mindful when experiencing fear. To look it in the face and then hold it in my arms and soothe it with true things:
It’s over,
We’re safe,
Everything’s going to be okay, because i can handle it.
To understand, with wisdom and maturity, that some people will hurt me and i won’t die from it.

Letting go means dropping the facade (a facade is different from a social mask, which i use without compunction). To live from a place where i am fully myself in whatever capacity i know myself at that time –with appropriate protections at appropriate times– like, not telling someone private things about myself because i want to fit in and be liked.

Letting go means releasing my grip on the controls, i.e. allowing people to be who they are and think what they think – which most importantly includes what they think/feel about me. This ties in to the fear of being hurt, rejected, or betrayed. I spend an inordinate, unhealthy amount of time and attention trying to read others. I have reams of mental scripts for social interactions. I’m always trying to anticipate someone’s reaction, and i still wrestle with the desire/perceived need to orchestrate outcomes. My subtle manipulations are, in a significant way, removing, or at least interfering with, a person’s autonomy. Once i gained that insight, it instantly became not okay. It’s proven a difficult thing to lay down, and its time is overdue.

Letting go means being kinder and more forgiving to those to whom i’m closest. I’m unfailingly polite and friendly to those outside my circle, but if i’m married to you or made you, not so much. From the place of childhood trauma, the amount that i love them is a threat, and from that place i can be prickly, sometimes downright cruel. I jump to conclusions and assume ill intent, because in my mind it’s better than being caught off guard. Hurt occurs in loving relationships – the intentional sort, too. It is not abuse, however. If i was being abused i would have left or had the offending party removed. I’m not though, yet i’ve been allowing parts of my system to behave in ways that are unacceptable.

Many of them are trapped in past abuse, and some of the more developed parts stubbornly refuse to move forward with me. They’ve been on notice for awhile that things are changing, and getting set to change a lot more yet. I have the will, the ability, and the power to take drastic measures if need be. I’ve ended physical violence, verbal abuse, and destruction of property over the years, but i’m ready for more. Yes, everyone gets grouchy and snippy sometimes – what i’m referring to is not that. I’m like a rescue dog that’s been savagely beaten, who keeps growling and snarling and nipping, long after they’re being treated properly.
I am not a dog.
I have what it takes to stay the sarcastic comment and silence the passive-aggressive commentary.
I know i don’t need protection from these people.
Time to stop baring my teeth.

Most of all, letting go has to do with my past. Of course it does. At first, i couldn’t have let it go if i’d tried (i wouldn’t have, but if i had, you know… ). Once i’d become well acquainted with, and more than a little attached to my system, i resisted it as hard as i did the mere thought of integration. It felt like letting go of them (my memories) was a betrayal of myself and a denial of my past. And on an insidious level, i thought it would rob me of any legitimate reason for being so messed up. I also thought that maybe it was about forgetting, and a part of me wanted to forget, but was afraid i’d never be able to, that i’d be stuck in the horror of it for the rest of my life.

Letting go of my past doesn’t mean forgetting, nor does it mean that i won’t still be dealing with it and working through it. It means stepping out of the past and living as fully as possible in the present. There are parts of me that are trapped in the past, so this would involve bringing them along with me, and i know there is only one way to do that, which in turn calls for more letting go. That is care. It wasn’t only abuse that caused me to split; the stage for it was set by lack of care. Perhaps worse than the abuse itself was unmet needs, the overarching of which was love. My physical needs were given sporadically, and taken away on a whim, but i was never loved by the one who brought me into this world and charged herself with my care. To her i was something to be consumed, more possession than person.

The thing is though, the abuse stopped when i got away from her and my stepfather at 21yrs old. My mother’s been dead for 30yrs and i’ve been comfortably estranged from my stepfamily and half siblings for maybe 10. No one is abusing me anymore. I’m surrounded by people who love me and accept me for who i am and how i work. I’m safe and in a loving situation and i receive daily care. I care for myself and i take care of myself, and i trust my partner to care for and take care of me, too. He’s stepped in countless times and done for me what i was unable to do for myself – both emotional and physical care.
It’s time to stop living as if my childhood is still happening. It’s time to let the wounds close over and stop picking the scabs – time to let it all scar over.

I’ve been preparing for this moment for years. I’ve always known that letting go would be a thing, but i didn’t know what it entailed or how to do it. As i’ve shared here, i have developed some ideas on how that would look, and it’s time for me to try it. I’ve always bristled a bit at the insistence of others that i’m a survivor of mental, emotional, physical, sexual violence and abuse. I watched others like me bristle at being called a victim, and i got it for them, but it was not for me. Every time i get super low and feel like the world’s biggest failure and total screw-up, my husband says gently to me that these things aren’t true. He says, “You are not (x), you are a victim.”

And i’ve seriously needed to hear that, over and over, because i couldn’t accept being as broken as i’ve been without someone who is safe and loving and providing me with care to tell me that it’s true and accurate and understandable and okay, to be as incredibly fucked up and non-functional as i’ve been. Being called a survivor felt like being told i should be done dealing with my past. I wasn’t. I’m not. And by letting go, i think i’d like to skip that whole “survivor” stage, and just get straight on with living. I’ll keep on doing the work, but my path will look different. I don’t know how because, as i’ve stated, i can’t see the bottom. I haven’t jumped yet but i’m fixin’ to…

Very, very soon.

we’ll see things we’ve never seen before
they say we will do this and much more
we will have the healing hands
to help the ones we love
which will be every living thing

~ J.S.

IMAGE: Cristofer Jeschke





Swerve

There were many times before i was diagnosed, when not knowing how to handle my thoughts and feelings caused some wreckage. I don’t like looking at them, because they’re mostly mortifying, and because often when they occurred my multiplicity would be in play, so the details can be hard to recall. This week though, my mind keeps turning to some of these events, and i haven’t been able to shake the feeling that i need to examine them now, or i’m risking a return to those behaviours.

What i’m referring to is somewhat hard to define for a couple of reasons. One reason is because the emotions are so intense, the people who live in my brain take over, which often leaves me with little or no memory of what’s happened. Another is that scrutiny can be difficult just because the events precipitating them are unpleasant to recall, and my behaviour is so embarrassing to me that i must fight dissociation to even examine it. I’m sitting here with my morning cup of tea, my husband is beside me doing his morning guided meditation, and i’m struggling hard to concentrate. I was feeling out of sorts yesterday around suppertime, and so i went to bed early, thinking i’d read to relax and try to get some extra sleep in.
Ha. I woke every hour or so all night.

I’ve been going back to bed after the guys head off to work/school for this last week. I’m tired and not sleeping well, plus i’m still working on getting back to reading fiction, a thing that fell by the wayside when i began learning to deal with DID. I can and still do read a lot of non-fiction, but the imagination stuff was like skating on thin ice – i’d fall through the thin, brittle membrane that held me up, and begin flailing around in a panic, the cold, slushy soup of all those who live just underneath quickly deadening my limbs and pulling me down into the murk. I still struggle staying present while reading good fiction, but it’s worth every effort.

Allow me a brief digression from the topic at hand. I know that this  may be reading as a bit strange (maybe more like, HUH?), so let me try to make it a bit clearer.
My therapist told me that if some people really had mutant superpowers, that mine would be imagination. The mind of a multiple is capable of internal flights of fancy that can seem real. I know that there aren’t actual people inside my head, yet they seem real, and they’re capable of accomplishing daily activities and handling emergencies when the consciousness that my brain recognises as ME can’t be located. They aren’t real and yet they absolutely are. They’re so real it just took me nearly 5mins to be able to recall the word “integration”. That word is hard to remember because to all of us who live here in my brain, it carries a connotation akin to “murder”. It happens every time i try to remember that word. I could go deeper with this, and i likely will someday, but for now, if you’ll just take that little description and think on how that ability might apply itself to Tolkien’s works, or King’s, or to Gaiman’s, Bradbury’s, Vonnegut’s, Atwood’s, Well’s, Shelley’s, Pohl’s… Yeah, i’m partial to sci fi/fantasy – act shocked.

So, i’ve been going back to bed every morning this week, laying there and trying to read and rest,  but not accomplishing much of either. Part of my inability to get enough sleep may be due to depression, which i think has hold of me, although its grip isn’t nearly as rough as i’d anticipated. I’m vaguely tired and mildly irritated all the time, and i lost a much-loved family member on Sunday, which i know has intensified all the depression stuff i was already feeling prior. I try to concentrate on anything right now, and i can’t quite do it. My head is foggy. I can see the smudgey outlines of my thoughts speckling the mists like grey shadows, but the ground is like a skating rink beneath me, and squinting at the images makes them no clearer, rather they seem to disappear in the watery blur that swims between my eyelashes. I can’t think a thought through to its conclusion, or follow a question to its answer. The path fades before i can find firm footing – i’m not even clear what direction to go. And these attempts leave me cranky and frustrated, with one of those headaches that feels like a bass drum being repeatedly struck by a pedal-beater that’s been covered in muppet-fur. Fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump… Hitting so hard i can hear the distant metallic rattle of the wires on the bottom of the snare above it.

I usually give up at this point, but this time i can’t. I can’t because i think i may be building up towards that kind of blow-up that i mentioned at the beginning. The kind of explosion that causes a lot of collateral damage. Like the time when i was 21yrs old and i ruined a funeral because i found out my girlfriend had cheated on me. Or the time i got drunk for 2wks and my Peanut Gallery all thought i was dead and my kids all hated me and were hiding from me. So they took a bunch of pills and first destroyed my own home and then went to the place the kids were at and put a metal chair through the front window and we wound up committed AGAIN.

And in a couple of days i’m going to a funeral, and it’s for the person whose window i demolished all those years ago. She’s my mother-in-law and she’s been a better mom to me than my own mother ever was, and i’m devastated to lose her. Over the last 2yrs dementia has stolen her from us all, a piece at a time, and last Monday morning she had nothing left to give.
I must look at the ugly past, learn as much as i can, and prepare myself in case anything comes up for me.

Wow.

This is why i write.
This right here.
These moments of clarity.
Of insight.
This peace i suddenly have inside me, because even though i was dreading it, even though i feel embarrassed and humiliated looking at those past events, those awful things i did, i am committed to doing the things i’ve put into place to do when life happens to me. When even death happens.

Be present in the moment. Practise mindfulness if necessary. (It’s necessary.)
Avoid triggery people, places, and things.
Do not attempt to eat, drink, drug, or fuck the problem away.
Write about it.
And most important of all…
WRITE ABOUT IT.

Well i did, i have. Er… I AM.
Suddenly it happened. I just realised that, although i need to look harder for what i was feeling and thinking that preceded my destructive outbursts, i’m not going to behave that way this time. It’s a non-issue. I’ve grown up enough and i’ve learned enough about myself, how i work, and the world around me, that i won’t be losing control like that in any fashion, due to my MIL’s death or the upcoming funeral.
It’ll all be okay, and i’m going to be all right.

I’ve fashioned my own Guide To Happy Usefulness, and it works when i work it.
I had to force myself to sit down and write about it, but once i did, it worked.
Holy fuck, H.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~William Carlos Williams

Knowing Me Knowing You*

As i continue to know myself better, so do i know others. What i’m learning is that i know so little as to be laughable, yet the pittance that i’ve gathered is worth more than anything else that could be considered mine.

I thought i was so tragically unique.
I’m not like most people. I’m odd. No, but i am. I’m so very different.
I took the tests they gave me growing up, and they confirmed it.
Various teachers and helpers of every ilk and stripe echoed it.
When i was grown, i formed deep and lasting love relationships of my own choosing and my uniqueness became less tragic, and more romantic. As i had my unconditional love reflected back to me by non-abusive people, i began to accept, and even like myself a little. I began to see myself as the muse of all the poems and love songs where the subject is a mass of contradictions and is loved/desired in spite of/because of them. She is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, ethereal, unknowable, beyond you.

So dramatic. Such art. Much longing.

As i mature and deepen as a human, i see more beauty in truth. In flesh, bone, blood, breath. Enduring mystery has lost it’s appeal, and i’m not as interested in things that are, at least historically, unknowable. I’ve become far more curious, however. And that curiosity is naturally extending itself beyond my own borders of skin and brainspace. I reach out into the spaces outside of me and i want to know more about it, and them, and you.

And i can see something.

I see that you are like me, and i see that you are not like me.
I can define you, but i also know that i can never quite define you – just like me.
I see that i can sometimes be something, and sometimes not. Take patience, for instance. When i’m happy and well-rested, i can be very patient.
Where my boys are concerned, my patience could be my mutant power.
Sometimes though, no amount of happiness or sleep is gonna stop me from losing my shit, and sometimes, no one can cause me to lose it so easily as my husband and my children.

I know you get it.
I know, because i see you are the same. Maybe not exactly, but enough that you understand. For you, perhaps you had a great example of parental patience at home and so you just easily model what you grew up with. Or maybe your parents were terrible at it, and you made and have kept a vow to never be like that with your own kids.
You have your own story and your own reasons and some subtly or even wildly different motivations… But it is enough that you get it.

I see that you are multifaceted and contradictory and conflicted and ambivalently ambiguous and weird, just like i am. I also see that you aren’t like me at all. You cannot be. You were not born to the same parents or under the same circumstances or at the same moment as i was. You did not live through the same situations as i. You may have lived through similar things, but you did not process them the same way i did, nor did you react to them in the same way. But you may have reacted in a comparable, or otherwise homologous, fashion. Even if you didn’t -even if our reactions were miles apart- perhaps you can relate anyway. You may have felt emotions on par with mine and given consideration to expressing them as i did. Or maybe, as was so often the case with me growing up, you just reacted, as there was neither the opportunity or inclination to consider anything; the reflexes of a child that follow many of us well into adulthood. They most assuredly have in my case.

You may have zigged while i zagged, but i get why you did it that way. Or maybe i don’t. Sometimes i don’t get you at all, or some particular facet of you is too much like me that it hurts too much or i am too afraid to look at it and see. Maybe as i grow i’ll be able to or maybe i never will. I don’t know, but i do know that i can quickly and easily find many more things that i have in common with you, and that is what i want to do and what i will do. It’s who i want to be. I like me this way. I like you this way. And hey, even if i don’t like you, i find you ever so much more tolerable. And you being relatable makes it easier to like you – even if it may only be parts of you.

The better i know myself, the more like me and relatable i find you. I experience on a deeper and deeper level how we are all alike and yet not.

All of this may sound strange coming out of my agnosticism, but i don’t think so. These observances may be somewhat metaphysical, but they’re not spiritual for me in any way.
I’m learning who i am, and making decisions about who i want to be and what i want to bring to the earth’s table.

To help. To unite. To teach. To share. To love.

Happy Sunday,
Love and Peace to All,
~H~

*This was a Facebook post of mine from Friday that i suppose could do well here, too.

Like Swimming

HELLO, GOOD AFTERNOON, AND WELCOME TO THE MONTH BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY!

If you read that like Terry Gilliam stepping out of a Zulu suit in The Meaning of Life, then you’re reading it how it was written.

In one month i’ll be fifty.
I’LL BE 50 YEARS OLD! (That one was Sally O’ Malley.)
Pardon me folks, but holy shit.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not ageist. It’s not that i’ll be old, or too old, or washed up, or a failure. None of that applies.
Number one is that i never thought i’d make it. My whole life i have assumed i would die young. At this point 50 doesn’t seem that old anymore, but when i was 4yrs old, staring at myself in the mirror with a bottle of poison in my hand and contemplating suicide for the first of countless times, 50 was inconceivable.

There are other factors of course. The regular ones that most of us go through. I have regrets, and i wish i had accomplished more. Both of these things, oh, so very much. I try not to trouble myself with these thoughts overly, because what i have gathered from most of those who’ve been here before me is, honey, it’s de rigeur. As Socrates is said to have uttered, if “the unexamined life is not worth living,” then my life is chock full of value. Heh.

I’ve been feeling like i’m being slowly pulled down under. Like i’ve been fighting the current for too long, and i’m close to exhaustion. It’s largely due to the personal issue to which i’ve alluded a number of times, but some of it is because of something else i’ve devoted much of this blogging process to, and that is my certainty that i am at a pivotal place in my personal growth. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work over the years, but it has all been tearing down the old and laying the foundation for the new. Now it’s time to build. The junk’s been cleared out and the old structure razed. The basement’s poured and the framework is done. The rest is all sweat equity, and this house ain’t gonna build itself.

I’ve shared how i started with teeny tiny little baby steps. I’d take a wee and wobbly stumble forward, and immediately rest, congratulate myself, and do it again. The rest in between stumbles was not insubstantial, either. I mean, i rested. Starting with weeks. It was a long time before it was even days. It’s only been this last year that it’s become hours. Today, one month before i turn fiftyholyshityearsold, i don’t even need any time at all between some of those steps. I regularly do some of them one-right-after-the-damn-other.

Lookit me. I’m swimming. I’m stepping. I’m building.

This morning i felt the same terrible drag on my thoughts, my feelings, and my body that i’ve felt for a couple of weeks now. I thought, I’m fighting another depression. Well hell, that sucks a dirty penny, but hey, i’m just gonna keep fighting. I’ll just keep schleppin’ along, doin’ what i been doin’, and it’ll be all right.

It hasn’t been all right though, and it’s been troubling my mind and disturbing my sleep and stirring up my Peanut Gallery and i haven’t been able to write a goddamned word.
So like i said, i felt it again this morning, like more than a dozen other mornings in a freaking row, and so i went back to bed at around 10 or so.
I had the troubled dreams i’ve been having for the same amount of time, and i woke at 12 feeling worse. Worse.
Naps usually make me feel better. They are one of the things i can do between stumble-steps if i need to rest. I rarely nap anymore, though. Usually my rest/reward involves playing on the computer or watching something on telly. Naps are specially reserved for those times when i really need it.
But it didn’t bloody work.
I dragged my more-depressed ass out of bed and forced myself to shower like i haven’t had to force myself to shower in a long time. Which made me feel worse. And anxious.
Great, now i’m anxious too. Wonderful.
I shouldn’t have had leftover cheesy noodles for breakfast. Too many calories and heavy carbs. Ohai Inner Critic. I was definitely needing some self-hatred to add to this toxic brain-milieu, so thanks, ever so.

I’m still in the shower at this point, but already the doing of something positive, that is hard to do, starts having an effect. Rather than just thinking, i become aware of the fact that i am thinking, and i am, quite suddenly, keenly conscious of precisely what i am thinking. I practise a bit of mindfullness: i bring my awareness to the water spraying my skin, my hand with loofah, exfoliating, the scent of my bodywash, my fingers massaging my scalp, brushing the conditioner through. I watch everything wash down the drain and imagine that it is not just dirt and skin cells and soap, but also the psychic weight of all the negativity i’m carrying is sluicing away from me as well.

I’m standing in front of the mirror and i look at myself and what i’m doing. I’m towelling off, i’m moisturising my skin, i’m doing my morning toilette and i treat my skin to a deep-pore extraction and my hair to some keratin creme. I’ve been practising looking at my body -really looking- while i do this, and so i find myself doing so out of habit.
But today… Today that work bears fruit. My body bears the scars of a childhood full of beatings and sexual abuse, and the resultant war of self-hatred that i waged against it for the majority of my life. Years of morbid obesity have not been kind, and now that i’ve lost most of the weight, my skin looks as empty and hollow as i might look on the inside if it were possible to see after all the psychological fat i’ve shed.

But i look, and today i see. And today i don’t hate it. Today as i was standing there and really seeing my body i thought i looked okay. I accepted what i was looking at in a reasonable and rational way, and i was kind to myself. It was not a you’re-a-beautiful-fucking-goddess moment. That’s not who i am, nor who i want to be. I saw myself as nakedly as i’ve ever seen myself and it was more than okay. It was fine. 
And it was then that my brain asploded with a lovely epiphany.
I don’t seek them and i don’t need them, but they sure are nice to have, sometimes.

I know what’s going on and i know what i need to do. It’s a lot and i’m scared AF, but i’ll even tell you.
I need to do MORE than i’ve been doing. It’s okay that i haven’t been doing enough because i didn’t know that i wasn’t. I’ve been progressing along the road to mature functionality admirably well, all things considered.
But now my brain is telling me to do more, and i didn’t understand, and so my feelings tried to help by telling me something was wrong. This is how it’s supposed to work.
I have been working the way healthy people generally work.

I need to start acting just a bit more like regular folks though.
So i won’t be going back to bed after i’m already up for at least the next month.
Weekdays i’ll be getting up at 5:30 like usual, and i’ll be going to bed at 10:30, which i try for, but it’s a bit spotty (maybe because i can go back to bed?)
And i’ll be blogging too – Monday to firetrucking Friday. (I know i cussed a fair bit for this post, so i’m trying not to overdo. Heh.)

I don’t know how terribly concise this post was, but welcome to how my brain works. This is who i am and this is all i have to offer. If you’re still here i thank you, and maybe i’ll see you tomorrow.

Be as well and as happy today as you are able. I’ll do the same.

It’s a lot like swimming first time over your head
It gets easier when you move your arms and legs
And for air you lift your head, why don’t we try right now
Yes right now
Yes right now
Well
~Like Swimming, Morphine

Love and Peace,

~H~

Tuesday’s Tidbit

I’ve been struggling with mood.
It’s crap. It may not seem like it, but i feel like crap and the world seems crappy.

I want to dive into a bottle or a tub of ice cream.
I want to hide in bed but i can’t – i’m dreaming all night long. It’s a sign that my Peanut Gallery is agitated.
I know it. I know why, too. The why doesn’t fix things, though. The only fix there is, is to keep moving.
Not frenetic. Not a beautiful interpretive dance. Not drill or a colour guard. No knee-scraping mortifications necessary.

Just one foot in front of the other, no cadence, no pacing, no ETA.
I’m not looking up right now. Honestly, i don’t care to see the scenery. I’m in a mood where everything seems overcast and everyone’s tainted.
I know what this is about and it’s not helping. There’s no less of a burden, no light seepage, no magic.
Just the fucking work.

If you have been reading you know i’m doing quite well, very likely better than i have ever done. More clearheaded, functional, and emotionally level than i’ve ever been before.
But i have this personal issue. It’s there all the time. And some days it weighs heavier than others.
I have set my feet upon a path and i know that not everyone will be coming along.
I have choices to make, decisions that won’t wait much longer.

My problems have been so big. They have eaten up the time and the energy of everyone i love who has also loved me. There is no fucking parade. No kudos and congratulations here. Just the catching of breath and the settling of dust.

My problems have been so big and i had to stop pretending they weren’t. I let it all hang out and gave the world a double bird flip. It’s what i had to do to get right, but there is a price to pay that i’m only now beginning to count. My problems have dwarfed those of anyone around me. It’s easy to be Jesus when you’re standing next to Legion. I see now that it may always be that way.

I’ve put one foot in front of the other and been grateful that i’m dogged and tenacious and one stubborn motherfucker. Because it hasn’t helped. I don’t feel better. I don’t feel very que sera, sera.
I know my brain is restless. I itch to wrest control away from anyone that may have it besides me. I ache to stir up some temporary drama to distract me from this feeling. This feeling that i can only do what i can do – and baby, that ain’t much.

I eat properly. I look after my hygiene. I do housework. I continue setting my house to rights. I take care of my dogs. I exercise. I touch base with people who care about me.

I write.

Sometimes, actually a lot of the damn time, all there is is this.
Plodding along. Time ticking interminably by. No fanfare. No epiphany.
No moment.
Just the investment, the commitment, the work.