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~

Under My Dome

This is one of those days where i really, really wish i was normal.

I’m not having that glib toss off comment that people often make about no one being normal, or what the heck is normal anyway. I understand where it comes from, and i know people don’t mean any harm or offense when they make it. And it doesn’t harm me or offend me when it’s made, either. I’m just saying that for today, if one were to make such a comment regarding this post – that might be considered by me to be a little insensitive.

I’m not referring to everyone’s little quirks and oddities. Yes, we all have those. I’m talking about living every single day of your life with a brain that works -in some very significant ways- much differently than most people’s. In ways that slow me down in my daily life, and have even held me back from achieving some things that i’ve wanted to do.

I’ve always had a terribly short attention span. I’ve struggled with concentration. In recent years, with the addition of bipolar disorder, i’ve had an awful time reading. Reading was one of the biggest things that saved my life growing up, and it’s been a slow and exasperating process trying to retrain my brain to read for pleasure again.

My thoughts either race so fast with mania, or process words so slowly with depression and dissociation, that i stopped reading novels. I forced myself to deal with the issue starting with non-fiction. As a person who’d finally broken free of my childhood programming that had taught me not to think for myself or question authority, i was hungry for information. So i started reading a lot of news articles, science articles, political pieces, and learning about philosophy. I’m not entirely sure why it’s been so much easier to read non-fiction, but i suspect it has something to do with fiction triggering my dissociative behaviours because it stimulates my imagination.

I’m trying though. I’ve had to, because i’m currently on a news/social media fast. The last year’s worth of campaigning, leading to the most frightening and disappointing election result in the US in my lifetime, necessitated a break. I’ve got too much going on in my personal life to even begin to process that event. Even typing this little bit about it in my blog is ramping up my anxiety level. And the Peanut Gallery in my head is on hypervigilant alert, meaning social media isn’t a good idea, either. I’m at a high risk for switching, and i can’t ask my online friends to go through that with me. It’s confusing enough for my husband and my children, i can’t imagine how much harder it would be when you don’t live with me, and don’t even have experience with me outside of the internet. (I was gonna say, “in the flesh”, but that sounded a bit dirty. Heh.)

Anyway, i’m trying to read a book i’ve been trying to get through for 2yrs. I’ve read other novels over the last few years, but King novels are especially hard for me, i think because he’s my favourite. I didn’t understand until a few years ago that my experience of imagination is different than most people. My therapist says that i am a superhero, and my mutant power is imagination. I was able to create people and worlds inside my brain in order to escape some of the awful things that happened to me as a child. My brain is a whole different level of creative. Not better than you, but very intense. Like, for those of you around my age, think in Technicolor, with Sensurround! If you’re a more recent arrival on the planet, think over 9,000!

When i found Stephen King novels it changed my life. It was more than just giving me an escape, the fact that they were based in horror helped me stay alive and be more sane. No, really. There were things that happened to me that i never spoke about. As years went by, they became like dreams i had, and as i grew i eventually “forgot” that they were real events and believed instead that they were only dreams. When other young people would talk about their dreams, i would wonder why mine were so strange and terrifying compared to theirs. I think King’s stories made it easier for me to, in due time, accept that there had been true evil in my life, as there is in the world, and that it can be overcome. As if reading about it in well-told stories made what i had lived through a bit more palatable. It was art. Dark, terrible art. It was maybe more romantic/poetic to me, seen through a writer’s eyes. That may not make sense to anyone else, but it does to me. Stephen King helped soften the blow in a way. His stories helped me to acknowledge and accept that my life was a story that he could have written.

For a week i have sat with this massive book in my lap. Forcing myself to read half an hour of this novel every day. It’s laborious and sluggish work. I have echobrain right now, meaning that i hear the sentence i just read bounce around inside my skull over and over, until it gradually fades. This forces me to say the sentence silently in my head as i’m reading it in order to cut down on the echo. Unfortunately, it also sloooows me doooown. I find it demeaning. I know i shouldn’t, but my reading speed and comprehension was something i was always so proud of, and here i am slogging away at a snail’s pace. And when i get frustrated i can always count on a voice or 2 to pipe up in there, which makes concentrating even more difficult.

So this is why i’m whining and wishing i was normal. It goes much deeper and darker than that though. It starts with the once-star-reader-turned-plodding-toiler and ends with oh-for-pity’s-sake-i’m-almost-50-and-i’m-barely-functional.

You thought this was gonna be a bombastic tirade on how you non-crazies have it so good, didn’tcha?

Nah. I’m just PO’ed because all i want is to read my dang story. *sigh*

Who you lookin’ for
What was his name
you can prob’ly find him
at the football game
it’s a small town
you know what i mean
it’s a small town, son
and we all support the team
~James McMurtry

Y’all have yourself as good a day as you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~