Well, Ain’t That A Kick in the Head?

Mid-October 2016 is the last time i wrote about my physical pain at any length. It hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s been steadily, yet thankfully slowly, building since back then. This new therapy has intensified my fibromyalgia pain, but it’s more than that. Sure, pain can be based in psychic trauma, and the stresses of day-to-day living can amp it up, but there’s more going on.

I’m just not dissociating as much.

I’ve done all this work and it’s brought me here. I know i refer to it in nearly every piece i write, but i’m not sorry for the repetition. It’s important, i think, to hammer it home for anyone reading my blog. It’s one of the most important things i want to get across. Not that this kind of thing takes a lot of work; this dealing with childhood abuse, and the way the brain and body copes with the devastation.

You already know that.

What i’m driving at is that it’s all work that we’re doing – this surviving it.
It’s all good work.

I hurt, and i had a dysfunctional and unsatisfying life and i wondered why.
I thought about it and i asked questions and took suggestions and tried things. And then i thought some more and i talked to people – professionals, friends, mentors, religious and lay folks, gurus, anybody… everybody. And then i thought some more. I pondered and i marinated, and i tried some more stuff and read books and went to lectures and joined groups and took courses, and i drew a smidge of wisdom from this and a pocketful of encouragement there and a wee cup of self-awareness from that, and i kept on going.
I picked up tiny jewels of truth here and there and i locked them up in a vault inside me, guarding them carefully, watching over them like treasure, like innocent babies who only had me to keep them safe.

All this movement, all this questing, all this work, all this surviving i did over the years, and yet i despaired a thousand times that i was getting nowhere, changing nothing, and learning little, fearing that i would be forever lost and broken and rudderless.

I kept looking back and seeing only the passage of time and my footprints.
Plus lots and lots of mess.
There were times i stopped. Sometimes frozen with fear, sometimes collapsed with exhaustion, sometimes consumed with rage, and many, many times weighed down to immobility by the cruel and crushing weight of my past.

But i learned to weather those tonic storms, to honour them, and as i’ve worked and persevered, i’ve drawn closer to the light.

There’s enough light now that i can look back and see, with emergent clarity, that nothing i did or did not do was in vain. All the mess was garbage that needed to be tossed: structures that needed to be torn down, toxic relationships that needed to be ended, hoarded memories that needed purging. The swamps filled with poison that i swam around in – it was poison that had washed out of ME, and i left it behind when i finally crawled out, cleansed. It was all good work.

Because i sought, because i wanted, because i tried, it all mattered.
Here, in this moment, i have both peace and confidence. I am, at last, at a place where i am no longer at the whim of unconscious and reflexive coping skills and protective actions that ceased being helpful long ago.
I am leaving behind my life in the land of the dead, and moving into the light, to live with the living. Yes, there are bits and pieces of me that are still afraid, but i’m not anymore.
I’m no longer stuck in a feedback loop, replaying the horrors of my past.

I’m in this current bit of business now because i want to be. I’ve done enough to manage and be okay, both for myself and my loved ones. But i want MORE. I want the next level, whatever it is that is more than just enough – and i suspect that is usefulness.

And to that end i am telling you, that i think, that as long as i keep seeking and wanting and trying, that nothing i have done or not done will be in vain.

**********

I was talking about physical pain. Right. Heh.

I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early ’98, after a car accident in August of the prior year. I tried many different treatments, all to little or no avail. I suffered tremendously – and then suddenly i didn’t. I mean, i still had pain, for sure, but it wasn’t like before. The intensity lessened and i was no longer consumed by it, every day, all day, where it even chased me into my dreams and i would moan and cry myself awake.

At first i thought it was a supplement i’d been given to try, but when that stuff was scientifically debunked, i stopped taking it and my symptoms did not intensify. I still had the occasional flareup, but my pain levels didn’t spike nearly as high as they had. I thought maybe i’d just become acclimated.
I watched other people with the diagnosis suffer far more, and i told myself i was fortunate to not’ve been afflicted as terribly as they.

This was shortly after my massive weight loss, the mania that followed, and the more conscious and chaotic experience of my multiplicity that quickly took hold of me whilst in that state.

It’s probably obvious where i’m going with this, but i’ll spell it out anyway.

As i’ve become sounder of mind and clearer of purpose, so has my pain become bigger and harder to ignore. I’ve tempered the voices in my head and adjusted their various volumes, only to have the confusion they brought replaced by so-called “fibro fog”, which happens when pain saps my energy and robs me of deep sleep.

I remember my doctor sending me to our city’s FMS specialist, for an official diagnosis. I don’t know if it’s still done this way, but one of the things he checked was my response to certain trigger points in my body. All but 2 of them were very tender.
The pain was terrific, sometimes all i knew. There were days i couldn’t move without tears. I gained a prodigious amount of weight. I slept my days away, yet never felt rested.

Then i had another baby and i needed to do better. So i had weight loss surgery, and well, i’ve already mentioned here what followed: thin begat bipolar mania begat dissociative chaos begat a parade of people who live in my brain coming out to experience life in the face and wreak not a small amount of havoc.
But my fibro had become easily manageable. I figured the weight loss had done it.

I spent years learning how my brain worked and how to coexist with my Bits N’ Pieces and live a decently functional life.
And i got there and thought i was done.
But i wasn’t satisfied after a while, and more than that, i became unsettled, my carefully constructed wa was rattled. I then did what i do — i thought about it and went looking for answers and for help finding them.
And what i found was that there was more work to do if i wanted, and i knew right away that i did.

This work involves being in my body and feeling my feelings -both emotions and physical sensations- while being present in my brain and listening to what it’s saying. My thoughts and my emotions and my sensations have been disconnected from each other since i was a baby enduring trauma.
I’m bringing myself back together, and the physical pain is a sign that it’s working.

Well, ain’t that a kick in the head?

It’s all coming back to me now. The pain, the insidiousness of it, the gaping maw of it. I see how it swallowed me whole back then, and i looked up hopelessly from the bottom of its belly as it slowly digested me.
This time ’round it’s different.
The pain is still incredible. I’ve woken to a painful throat from moaning in my sleep. Mornings are awful, the pain and the stiffness at times barely tolerable. I often wake as tired as i was when i fell asleep, or more. It’s advanced in severity over the years, quietly and unbeknownst to me. I can feel it seeping into the bones of my hands, like i’ve been in subzero temperatures with no gloves. I was recently diagnosed with osteopenia in my lumbar region, and i can feel the fibro ache radiating like an electric sun. I’m going in to see the doctor after a bunch of tests that were ordered because i’m now telling her about things i used to ignore, like chronic UTIs, like plummeting blood sugar, like maybe tennis elbow?

And friends, writing is a misery. I have little energy, and my brain is cloudy. I can’t find the words to formulate a cohesive sentence, and i get frustrated and tired out so quickly. Grrr. Argh.
But i’m learning too, and it’s not as hard as it once was. Because i’m in my body and feeling the pain, i can figure out where and how much i can push through it. I’m finding ways to still have the quality of life i desire, according to my current set of limitations. I’m being reasonable, and careful, and conscious. One of the most helpful things i’ve learned over the years is that small tweaks over time is what works best for me. Don’t push too hard or too fast, jumping in with both feet doesn’t tend to work well.

All the work i’ve done prior is coming into play. The small tweaks, the slow pace, the mindfulness, sharing my thoughts with a safe person, breathing, gentle self-talk, hygiene, and today, finishing a piece for my blog in spite of wicked pain. A piece that took many more days than i’d wish, but a thing that wouldn’t have been conceivable, let alone doable, all those years ago when fibromyalgia first made a meal out of me.

One more thing – i thought the urge to dissociate from this pain would be a constant battle, but amazingly, it’s not. Once again, i believe it’s all the work i’ve done that’s making this possible. I’ve been careful and diligent with the others who live with me in my brain. I’ve gotten to know them and addressed their concerns and met their needs as much as i’m able, thus winning their trust and earning their compliance and assistance. We’re as close to one mind as we’ve ever been, and so my desire has become theirs. My work, their work.

I’m not looking to suffer, i don’t think there’s anything redemptive or rewarding to be found in it, but it’s what some people do, every day. They learn to cope, to live, with suffering and pain, emotional and physical. They don’t leave their bodies, they don’t perform psychic surgery on themselves, they don’t play dead – they deal with it.

I want to be more like regular people, like normal people. Let me immediately follow that statement by saying a couple of things:

1) I don’t want to hear about What’s normal? Who’s normal?
While i grok the sentiment behind it, i know what i mean when i say that – to be just a little bit more like other people. You are of course, free to not want those things.
And,

2) I’m both mentally ill and neuroatypical, depending on your definitions, and while i’d love to ditch the Bipolar Disorder, that’s not how it works and i’m okay with that. Being a multiple is considered by some to be more neuroatypical than a disorder, and although i’m moving in a direction that some might call integration, i personally don’t see how my brain works in that regard as a “disorder”.
NOTE: I am not a professional, these are just the thoughts and feels of someone living with it, not someone who’s gone to school to understand and treat it.

I want to live as present a life as i can, including feeling pain, both physical and not.


Yeah, i’m still a bit crazy.
I like me this way.

IMAGE: Without Hope (1945), Frida Kahlo

I’m Not A Bitch, Pt. IV

Warning: Contains some indirect references to integration, and refers to child rape and trafficking. This is a positive piece, but make sure you have good support in place.

**********

So, as i was saying… I’m not a bitch.

But i’ve been told i was one, and called one, ever since i can remember. My mother often exclaimed, “Oh, you little bitch!” when i failed to live up to her expectations, which were unrealistic, unreasonable, and very often unattainable, for my entire childhood. To give you an idea of how high they were, i could cook an entire roast beef dinner when i was 4yrs old.

One time when i was 6, i came home from school and realised i’d forgotten to thaw the liver i was supposed to be preparing for supper, and so i put it in the oven. I didn’t know the plastic container it was in would melt as well, so when the intense chemical smell hit me, i yanked open the oven door and tried to pull out the container, which was stuck to the rack, but managed to drip onto my wrist – a scar that’s visible today.
Her response when she got home from work was, “You stupid bitch!” plus the obligatory beating.

When i would ask for money to participate in a school activity, i was often called a selfish bitch. I only thought of myself, she’s needed new work clothes for years, all i care about is going to the stupid zoo/museum/farm/play, do i think money grows on trees?

And on the rare day when i completely lost my mind and dared to question or correct her, she’d slap or backhand me and call me some form of smartass/smart aleck/smart-mouth, attached to the ubiquitous “bitch”.

I learned that asking for anything, complaining about anything, and questioning anything were all bad and dangerous, but more than that –  they meant i was a bitch. Once i’d learned that lesson anyone could control my behaviour by indicating to me in some way that i was being a bitch. I let toxic people become close friends and allowed toxic family members to maintain contact with me. And i let them all have control over my life decisions and manipulate me into behaving the way they wanted.

Some told me i was the black sheep.
Some reminded me i was only half related to them.
Some pointed out i was only attached by marriage.
Some informed me i was a drama queen.
Some called me a liar.
Some said i was faking.
Some simply acted as if i didn’t exist.
Most treated me like i was the problem.

If you’ve read enough of my blog, you may well wonder how this fits with a self-professed “good girl”.
It is simply one of the gifts of being a multiple. I have many facets to my personality. Some, i’m now discovering, are intrinsically me. Some are aspects i took on in order to please and find relative safety. I have some parts of me that i created to be for me – parts that were on my side 100% of the time. These parts would occasionally come out and get me something that i wanted to have or be someone that i wished i could be, but could not.

They could tell people off. In fact, they could lay a verbal smackdown that left some folks practically punch drunk. They were capable of the silent treatment, a certain stubbornness that wouldn’t allow me to grovel or beg family for anything.  And they were able to keep the wrong kind of intimate relationships out of my life, almost entirely.
When the first person i seriously wanted to be with physically was a girl, they got her for me, in spite of all my religious upbringing, and my mother’s vicious homophobia.

It took them a while to gain power. I’m not sure when they were made/created/born, and if they were around when i was being regularly sexually abused, i’m not aware of it. However, once my mother stopped trafficking me, they grew in influence inside my brain.
They mouthed off to my mother, and stole food from her for us – and took the beating that always followed.
They told opportunistic boys No, when those creeps figured the fat girl would be only too happy to give them sex because i was getting a little attention.
When it was men, they got me the fuck outta there. And there were men.
Of course there were.

They built a wall of protection around me. Once the raping stopped, they began laying bricks. Occasionally someone would get through a hole in my defenses, and they’d brick it up right quick. They drew lines in the sand of me that no one could cross. No one. Kept my need for love and acceptance and understanding and compassion in check. Managed my levels. Made sure no one could sneak in and eat the fruit of the 1 little tree that had survived the violent plunder of my garden.

Pull out this brick, she needs some sun.
Shit, someone’s coming, put it back!
Shhh…

Then i met someone i wanted more than i’d ever wanted anyone — more than the girl all those years ago. I had relationships by pure accident. I wanted companionship, i occasionally wanted sex, but mostly i craved normalcy, and being in a relationship was what society and religion seemed to be telling me i needed to have in order to get that.
But no one ever got passed that brick wall. If the relationship fizzled or fell flat, i was fine in a day or 2, tops.
Then i found myself dating an excellent human, and i took down the bricks, crossed my own line to go over to him, and i pulled him close to me and haven’t let go for going on 24yrs. I found my person, my soft place to fall.
And i fell.

I’d been trying, before i met him. I tried my best sometimes, even. Like when a family member attempted rape, like when my mother died, like when my first son was born. But between not finding the right kind of help with the right person, and running from any hint of a DID diagnosis, i was just spinning my wheels. I couldn’t find any traction. I’d get exhausted and quit for a while, only trying again when crisis would hit.

When i fell in love with him and started building a life with him is when my work began in earnest, and although mental illness and the way my brain works has tripped me up hard here and there, i’ve never not picked myself up and gotten back at it as soon as i was able.
And as building a life with him created safe space around us, i set to rebuilding myself. As per my own specs.

I’ve put in a tremendous amount of work, i’ve suffered setbacks aplenty, and i’ve despaired at length. I’ve lost and/or eliminated a great many people. I’ve stripped myself down to the absolute barest of necessities: air, water, food, shelter, love. HIM. And at one point i was prepared to continue without him, if need be.*
Many times i’ve looked behind me and only seen wreckage, but ever so slowly, as i turned back, tightened my focus on the path directly in front of me and set my shoulder to the wheel, i found my perspective broadened. Each time i turned back i saw less of what i’ve lost and more how far i’ve come – what i’ve gained.

It was tough for me last year, when i thought i’d done all the therapy, and was so dang functional and fine, only to have my body pipe up and ask, then beg, then INSIST that there was more work to do, and it was deeper and more painful than that which came before. I panicked when i saw what i was looking at: to bring together my thoughts and my emotions, that have existed separate from each other since i was a baby.
To feel what i feel while knowing what i know. At the same time.

The last few months have been filled with terror. I lost sleep, i slid into fibro agony, my system worked up into a chaotic froth, bringing with it a constant headache, loosening my hard-won grip over who could be in the face and when – losing control, losing time, that old, internal imperative built into me to GO HOME. A place that no longer exists, and only held suffering and misery when it did. Between the hard switches and the drinking i was doing to cope, it was beginning to look like a stay in The Bin was in my very near future.

But the time and the work i’ve invested in myself and my quality of life have begun to pay off. Panic and terror are not fun to feel, but they don’t actually last for long. These are states of feeling that are intense, and they tend to burn brightly, but fizzle or at least fade relatively quickly. I know from my past that i can ride these feelings through, and they haven’t killed me. And they’ve had a chance to more times than i can count.
My therapist says that no one ever died from feeling their feelings, but they have from not feeling them. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but i can see it blazing bright in my own life. Feeling this stuff won’t kill me, i have that repeated experience to have at least a small amount of trust in. And if doing this chunk of work can bring me an even higher level of function and more opportunities for happiness, helpfulness, and success than i was enjoying back when everything went for shit last year (and my therapist –in whom i also have some not-insignificant trust in– assures me it will), then i’m not just in, honey i’m ALL in.

Now, finally, this is the part where i tie it all together.

Becoming a multiple is what i did to survive my childhood. My system has saved me countless times from losing my life or my mind. Dissociating from what was happening around me was the best i could do, but once the trauma had ended, it became more and more of an impediment to experiencing life on life’s terms, and inhibited me from building the life and the relationships i wanted. It all came to a head and burst when i fell in love and got married. I knew, both from intuition and from every single experience i had with him, that i could trust him, and he would support me as i fell completely apart and put myself back together again. And he did. He has. He will.

I’ve figured out how my brain works, and i’ve gotten to know everyone that lives in there, formed relationships with them that work, and helped them get along with each other. I’ve studied the people around me, the people who left me, the people i left and the ones i let go, and my relationships with them. I’m at peace with it all, and though my current circle is small, it’s tight and strong and healthy and there’s room for more if i so choose. My requirements for relationship are appropriate and well thought out, and i know what i bring to the table.

Clearing a spot for me to do this next-level therapy has not been easy. I had a home safety issue that i’d been avoiding, because i wasn’t getting the help that i’d repeatedly asked for to deal with the problem. I had to get that squared away. Then i had to simplify and streamline my day-to-day routine, because my energy was limited, and my current therapy needed to be my priority. And i also had to ask people in my circle for understanding, for patience, for help. I had to take a hard look at what others were asking of me, prioritise, and say No to people. Dearest loved ones, even. No, i can’t do that, and No, i won’t do that anymore, like ever. I put up some walls and drew some lines in the sand, and when they weren’t respected, i raised my voice and pumped my fists until i was heard. I require this, and that, and ohbtw, that must stop immediately.

I built this safe space for me to live and be and work. And if you’re not on board with that, either you go, or i will. Whatever. I’ll build another place to be safe. I’ve seen a light coming from somewhere just over this next peak, something bright and beautiful.
I think it’s me. Or maybe it’s a mirror.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with mirrors my entire life. I’ve always hated looking into them. I have to be careful not to look into my own eyes. I can glance quickly, but if it’s more than a second or 2, i dissociate. I pull back – retreat inside myself. I’m suddenly further away from the mirror. Quite a number of my Bits N’ Pieces love to look in the mirror, though. They’re curious. What do *I* look like? When i first began getting to know them and stopped fighting all the switching, some of them had a field day. Makeup, clothes, the mirror, and hundreds of selfies. As i’ve brokered a mostly peaceful coexistence with them, i’ve lost a lot of the fear and loathing i had for the mirror, but it can still be a trigger when i’m low or tired or already sliding around a bit.

Yes… I think it’s a mirror. I think i might meet the person i’m creating inside that mirror, and i’ll bet when i turn around i’ll see who i once was – all of them. I think the work i’m doing right now is a pretty huge fucking deal.

Something has happened over the last month and some, and i think it’s empowerment.

I’m moving into all the spaces inside my brain and my body – i’m filling myself up with ME. Sharing space with my system and moving into the cold and barren places, letting in the light. I am the light.

I’m not afraid.
I’m not afraid to piss anyone off.
I’m not afraid that someone i love won’t like who i’m becoming.
I’m not afraid that people won’t “get it”.
I’m not afraid to lose someone i love to this process.
I’m not afraid to be alone.

I’m not a bitch for focusing on myself.
I’m not a bitch for needing or even just wanting things, and i’m not being a bitch by asking for them, or going out and getting them myself.
I’m not a bitch for creating a safe space, and defending it against all who threaten it.
I’m not a bitch for demanding to be heard and respected in my own home.
I’m not a bitch for saying NO.
I’m not a bitch for calling out abusive behaviour.
I’m not a bitch for refusing to take anyone’s shit.
I’m not a bitch for not taking on other people’s burdens.
I’m not a bitch because i’m tall, and strong, and smart, and pretty, and funny, and wise… I’m not a bitch because i take up more room than someone wants me to, and i’m not a bitch if i intimidate the absolute fuck out of anyone.

This is my road.
Move or i’ll move you.

~H~
*Hey, every relationship goes through rough patches, if they stay together long enough. It shone a light on both our flaws and made us painfully aware of our personal baggage that we’d brought with us. But that’s a story for another time.

 

Friendship

I’ve developed a close friendship for the first time in many years. The kind of friend i check in with most days and hang out with every week.
She’s seen me switched, and had to deal with some of my shenanigans. It’s horribly embarrassing to me, but it’s also been good. She hasn’t walked away, and she hasn’t hurt me. I’ve lost some treasured friendships to bipolar disorder and multiplicity, and the way i coped was by keeping people at arm’s length, and hermitting in my Little Crooked House. I reached out to her for more friendship because i thought the cavalcade of crazy was pretty much over. Blargh.
She’s handled it better than anyone has, ever. Having a friend who accepts me exactly as i am is great, and having a friend who doesn’t treat me any differently after she’s seen my particular brand of cuckoo has been relaxing and healing and freeing. I’ve experienced the silent reaction (pretending the conversation never happened), the bullshit reaction (you are lying, that isn’t real), and the sideshow freak reaction (wow, how many alters do you have, what are their names, can i talk to one, what happened to make you that way).* Her reaction is relatively new. It’s a bit meh, and it’s nice.

Friendship has been a loaded issue my whole life. I’ve wanted connection, but the first half of my life i was running blind, and after that i pulled myself out of the race.
I’ve always been able to draw people in, i can make friends quickly and easily when i’m settled inside. Where i have trouble is building something deep and hanging on long term.

For the years since i accepted my diagnosis and began working on how to live with multiplicity, i’ve shouldered the blame for all my failed relationships.
I’m not easy to get to know.
It’s hard to get close to me.
I can be unreliable.
I’ve disappeared for weeks, even months, with no contact.
I can be histrionic and chaotic.
I can be emotionally unavailable, cold even.
I can be so focused on my own stuff, that i’m clueless about anyone else’s problems.

That’s not so much the case anymore, but back when i had a number of dear friends, those descriptors fit me rather well. I needed to know myself better in order to be able to function more effectively, and i studied it all, good, bad, or indifferent. I looked under every rock i found. It’s a tricky bit of business, trying to find the balance between being understandably broken because of how i was raised, and taking responsibility for the wreckage of my life. I wasn’t much of a success at life, beyond surviving. Don’t misunderstand me though, this is a balance thing, as i stated. I don’t believe in miracles, but the fact that i lived through my childhood and managed not to be a shitty human is as close to one as i’ve ever seen. I’m amazing, and i know it. I should either be far less functional and barely living, or a high-functioning, horrible person. But i’m not. I’m a likable, lovable woman who’s getting a little bit more awesome every day.

What i’m talking about here is an appropriate, adult level of personal responsibility.
And when it came to all the people i’ve lost, i took all the blame. I truly thought it was mine.

Recently, my new close girlfriend told me she’d been reading my blog, and bluntly stated that i’m too hard on myself. A couple of days later, someone who doesn’t know me but reads my blog offered up some similar commentary. I immediately bristled with my friend, but i noticed that i did, and so i went home and thought about it. By the time i received the second comment, i was more receptive, and more still when an online friend who’s known me for 15+yrs shared some lovely thoughts she had about my last piece. She also implied that i’m a harsh critic of my own work.

I’ve been pondering this for a week or 2 now, and i think it’s a valid criticism. I’m too critical of myself. (There’s a joke in there somewhere, but my current headache won’t let me find it. Pfft.) This is difficult for me to accept, as it runs contrary to my upbringing. I was the family scapegoat. I was bad, i was wrong, and i screwed it all up. My every move was scrutinised, and regularly and soundly criticised. I never met my mother’s expectations, nothing i did was good enough. There is constant chatter in my head from my Peanut Gallery, and someone is always picking at me: how i look, how i talk, how i cook, how i clean, how i write, how i mother, wife, friend… They sound like my mom.

I want to deal with this inner critic issue, but i have enough on my plate already. I do counter the voices quite often when the subject is how i look.

System: You look ridiculous in that outfit.
Me: I feel pretty, so it’s staying on.

I realise now that i don’t deal with the other stuff, though. I’ll try countering those voices where and when i can, but i won’t be pushing too hard right now. However, i do want to do one thing, it’s been percolating in my brain since that day in the car with my friend.

It’s not all my fault that i’ve lost the friends i’ve lost. Some of them naturally faded away, but a few were toxic to me in one way or another. The truth is they were shitty to me, and did me a favour by leaving. I was taught loyalty is all, and crappy treatment is to be expected. I didn’t see the behaviours until they were long gone, nevertheless i still saw the blame as mine.

But they used me, and i just loved them the best way i knew how, and when they weren’t getting enough from me to tolerate how sick i was getting, they left. I desperately needed help, and they left.

So there, i said it. I have a bowling ball in my belly and i feel like puking, but it’s out there. I may have sucked, but they also sucked.

There is my bit of growth for the day.
I’m not the bad guy, i’m the good guy. I also think i might be a pretty decent friend. It’s their loss, and they can kiss my pale, fallen ass.
Heh.

*I don’t particularly have a problem with any of these reactions. If it’s too much or you just don’t have the spoons to deal with my stuff, that’s okay, we can pretend i never said anything. I’m not lying, it is real, but i don’t blame you for thinking it’s a load of crap. I thought the same thing for most of my life. It’s cool to be curious, too. Feel free to ask me anything you’d like, just be aware that i might choose not to answer; some things i don’t share.

Cycles, Seasons, and the Fine Art of Gardening

I live with Bipolar Disorder. It’s a cycle of mania and depression. Mine is of the unspecified variety, meeting various criteria for BP I, BP II, and Cyclothemia. This means that sometimes my manias and depressions can be so intense as to require immediate hospitalisation, and sometimes i can cycle between less intense versions incredibly quickly (days), or interminably slowly (years). It is, for me, a cycle though; one invariably follows the other. On and on, round and round. Circular. Perhaps relatively infinite.

It is both poetic and not. When i’m not currently depressed or manic, i can look at what’s past and describe it with clever metaphors and colourful analogies, which is fine – even good. It’s an indication that i’m ready to clean up any messes, take inventory, and restock my shelves in preparation for the next (potential) disaster. When i’m currently experiencing a depression or a mania however, if i’m seeing my situation within a poetic framework, it’s not usually good – it’s often dangerous. Getting all romantic about either feeling 10ft tall and bulletproof or suicidal while i’m in it, can be a red flag that i’m dissociating, and am or will soon be unable to control what happens next.

This last mania was prosaically endured. That is a bonafide victory. I was in it hip-deep before i figured it out, but that’s markedly better than last time i was hit this hard, when i had to almost slip beneath the water before i realised how far i was from shore.
I figured out i was manic.
I did the things i’ve learned to do that can help:

– minimise social interactions;
– practise mindfulness throughout the day;
– avoid people, places, and things that provoke intense feelings;
– be gentle and forgiving when i’m not doing things correctly, or at least as well as i can do them when i’m not manic;
– process thoughts and feelings with a safe person, often.

It turned out pretty well, i think. No hospitalisation, no police involvement, no massive drama. I didn’t have any terrible fights with anyone – not even my husband, who is usually the target. I don’t have access to credit or cash when i’m manic, and my husband even keeps my ID with him for safekeeping (because i lose stuff when i’m on a tear – sometimes very important and/or expensive stuff), and to discourage me from going anywhere. I didn’t go on a bender, either. I drank a little, but not falling down drunk, picking fights, or crying jags. No drugging. This is all good.

There were things that could have gone better, of course. It was still gruelling. It was sometimes ugly and painful, and it was consistently scary to varying degrees. I lost my ability to write coherently – and i couldn’t find a fuck to give about it. My carefully crafted daily routines fell away, one by one. The paranoia and hallucinations (both visual and auditory) that often come with an intense mania, meant that my daily walks had to be put on hold. I can see people in my peripheral vision that i’m certain are coming to get me, and that can easily trigger my multiplicity; a complication to be avoided if at all possible. My brain got very busy, but it also got very scattered, so my husband would text me he was heading home for supper and i hadn’t yet gotten dressed or washed my face. I started watching crap telly again, too. At those times i gravitate towards reality shows that highlight other people’s misery. I think that subconsciously i’m telling myself i’m not too far gone because i’m not bedridden by my weight, or hiding in a house filled with garbage. I don’t need an intervention, and you are NOT the father, so… It could be worse, eh?

When it was over i cruised for a while. I was exhausted, and it was the right thing to do. I also wanted to take some time to examine where i was at emotionally, to see if i could anticipate the timing of the depression that would surely come, and maybe even gauge its severity. I don’t know how realistic that was, but i did need the rest. I think that i may have quietly crossed the line into the next phase already, but i’m not sure, because it doesn’t feel as intense as the mania did. My downs are usually inversely proportional to my ups, and if i’m presently in a clinical depression, it’s a very mild one.
I’m often tired and my desire to sleep more has returned (although i never have much luck getting more).
I feel a bit inept, and everything looks a bit greyer and somewhat ominous.
And i am definitely, definitely irritable. Ornery, even. I find those closest to me to be rather exasperating right now – the most intense of all my symptoms.

Once again though, i have worked hard to find and develop ways of coping with this disorder:

– try to say Yes to one social engagement per week;
– practise mindfulness throughout the day;
– avoid sad stories/movies/tv shows, etc., no wallowing allowed;
– be gentle and forgiving when i’m low energy, and acknowledge every accomplishment and small adherence to routine;
– process thoughts and feelings with a safe person, often.

So, as i have mentioned many (MANY!) times before, i just pick myself up, dust myself off, and resume my slow, steady movement forward. Mania means often reining myself in, because going too fast can cause a stupendous crash, whereas depression means often dragging myself just a few steps before i collapse, overwhelmed and tired for no particular reason.
But as i have also said before – it gets easier every time i do it, and this time was no exception. It was still easier than the last time.
Even though this mania was far more intense and longer than the one that preceded it.
Despite wrestling with dissociation and losing time, sometimes days.
In spite of 2 or 3 or 4 angry walks, which have not occurred in probably a year or 2.

There just came a point where i knew the mania had waned to the point where i had the power to stop it. And i did. I decided i was done, i informed the Peanut Gallery that the shenanigans were over, that i’d be taking a little time off to recover, and then i was gonna get back at it; their full cooperation was expected.
So there was a couple of weeks of no expectations, save arrested manic behaviours.
Then i started back to my routine. I went back to one thing, and that was to only eat between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Because i’ve had gastric bypass, i have a very small stomach pouch – but i can still gain weight by just grazing all day long. I did gain some back, probably somewhere around 10lbs, but that’s all right. The changes i’ve made to what, when, how, and why i eat are sound and healthy and meant to be lifelong, so a blip is okay. I have no doubt i will get back down to where i was before i started gaining a month or so ago, and then some. This is a process, all of it, and the pace is necessary, and it doesn’t bother me.

I started with my 12hr window to eat, and then i just started adding bits of my routine back as i felt able. It didn’t take the months of dogged dedication that it took to make them habits. I didn’t even need to give myself a week before i added on something else. It’s all back except the exercise, the caloric restriction designed for weight loss, and the 1 home improvement chore per week. I’m back to my sleep schedule, my morning and night hygiene routine, my reading, my writing, my baking (which i never completely gave up anyway… AMAZING). The rest will come in the next week or so. I don’t know exactly when, but so far i’ve seemed to have decent judgment regarding the timing of these things, so i’m just gonna keep trusting myself to know when. For now. If i fuck it up, say, if i’ve taken too much back on too quickly -oh well- that’ll become obvious at some point, and then i’ll reassess and tweak my lifestyle where i think i need to, and i’ll just keep on truckin’.

**********

Just a reminder: I’m not trying to fix anyone’s life but my own. I’m looking for my own answers, my own solutions. I am not, and have no desire to be anyone’s life coach or guru. I share how my brain works, and the way i’m learning to live with it because i’m 50yrs old and still pretty fucked up and not highly functional, but i want so badly, as i’ve wanted all my life, to contribute something to my fellow humans. To be of some use, some help, TO DO SOMETHING GOOD.
I’m working with what i’ve got, and what i have is what you see here on these pages. I have kept plugging along no matter what, and i’ve kept trying to figure my shit out, and i’ve banged on all the doors and cried at all the windows and did all the diets and seen all the headshrinkers and attended all the groups and whispered/screamed/wailed all the prayers and made all the sacrifices.
And it’s working. It has all played a part in who i am and where i’m at today. Some words, some wisdom, some therapy, some information, embedded inside me like seeds.
And ALL the kindnesses, ALL the mercies, ALL the graces, ALL the forgiveness, ALL the handouts, ALL the love – watered and sunned and fed and growed my garden until it now produces enough to feed me, to shelter me, to nurture my thoughts and my feelings and my dreams and desires. Now i till and water and fertilise my own soil. I can protect the tender shoot from the invading weed – and i pluck that sonofabitch out without hesitation and free of misgivings.

I share it all in the hope that you might believe that you can do as i have done, because i believe you can. Take anything you like from here and use it to seed your own garden, but do not feel obligated to plant any of it. Feel free to just look upon it, whether it’s to drink in its beauty or to see in it only what you don’t want to grow in your own.

You are welcome, regardless.

Enjoy your weekend, if you can.
I’ll do the same.
Love and Peace,
~H~

Tubthumping

Youda thunk ida gone done and learned by now.
And yet… NOPE.
I’m a big Nopey McNoperson in this regard, every. single. year.
I get blindsided by Easter/Birthday season.
I forget how hard it is for me. I forget how the way my brain works is going to kick into high gear and my Bits N’ Pieces are gonna need a lot of care and attention.

Birthdays are much less a big deal now that i’ve hit 50. It’s been that way since i hit 40, really. I’ve never much cared about the number insofar as how OLD i am or how old i look, or how much time i have left. None of that. As i stated in my blog entry right before this one, it’s the lack of accomplishment and the low level of functionality that trips me up. However, that’s only been since i’ve been functional enough to critically assess my levels of anything. Heh.

Birthdays, however, have always been an issue.
We were so poor at times, that there was no money to celebrate.
My mother was often incredibly stressed out on any holiday or for any celebrations, the brunt of which i often bore.
More than once i was sick on my birthday. I was mostly left to fend for myself whenever i was ill. To be fair, if she didn’t work we didn’t eat, and her parenting “style” left me incredibly independent anyway. At 4yrs old, for instance, she would often leave me on weekends. I’d wake on Saturday morning and she wouldn’t be home, so i’d watch cartoons until noon or so, longer if there was a Stooges or Abbott and Costello movie after, and then i’d go outside to play for a couple of hours, making sure to come back inside in time to put the roast in the oven and peel the potatoes for supper, as per the instructions she’d left on a note for me. Yes, FOUR.
So if i was sick, i’d just watch telly and occasionally vomit in a bowl. Or if Mom was watching telly i’d be in my room reading, and occasionally vomit in a bowl.

More than a couple of times i would be sick on my birthday. Stress made me vulnerable i think. There were some family members who could swoop in and make birthdays wonderful, but that wasn’t every time. One year, 2 Auntie type women that i adored were coming to celebrate. I think it was my 6th, and i got the Mumps. Not only was i severely sick and feverish, i endured my mother’s fury because the party had to be cancelled. She beat me more than once before i recovered.
Then there were the birthdays where i was put in my best dress and she’d do my hair like for a picture. A man i didn’t know or already knew i didn’t like would be invited… And that is all i’ll say about that.

I won’t say much about the Easter season things, either. Just that there was conflicting indoctrination going on. During that time i was under constant stress to act one way at Mommy’s church, and another way at Daddy’s. I was almost constantly switching from one part of me to another, depending on what was being required. Everyone had one face at one church and a completely different one at another. Everyone close to me was volatile and mercurial. The rituals, the purported inescapable supernaturalism, the drama, the surrealism, the abuse, both subtle and overt, the sick and hungry practitioners, the fakery, the fucking circus… It twisted my brain into so many knots so tight they frayed, and some split entirely, requiring new knots to keep them together.
Do you see?

Every year since i began seriously dealing with my past and trying my hardestfreakingbest to manage the way my brain works and enjoy a better quality of life i have been 2X4’d in the head by this bloody season. (There was no punctuation in that sentence because i said it all in one breath.)
So yeah, i got coldcocked – again.

This is the part where i do what i have been practising to do when i get into a mental jam like i am. Where i assess the damage, look for the positives, and make any changes or alterations necessary to handling it better next time.
I’m happy to tell you it hasn’t been that bad.
The voices in my head rose from their characteristic background mumble to a constant, reverberating rumble – but there was no roar.
I lost the face more than a few times, and i even found myself walking on the road a couple of times – but none of my people did anything damaging or even particularly inappropriate, and i didn’t hitchhike into the city and lose myself for hours or days to high-risk behaviours.
I drank a bit too much – but not enough to make myself shake, puke, or wish i was dead. And it wasn’t every day, all day.
I’ve been wicked-depressed – but not suicidal. No ideations, no plans.
I haven’t picked any fights with my husband and there has been no drama of any kind with any other person.

I guess i kinda knew it was coming. Not consciously enough to avoid gettin’ bonked on the head, but once i got back on my feet, i wasn’t utterly gobsmacked that it had happened. I’ve been able to look around and get my bearings and say, Yeah, it makes sense for me to be here.
I’ve been able to communicate to my Peanut Gallery that it’s okay, but some things were less okay than others and let’s work on those things… I’ve been able to negotiate some internal deals that i think will really pay off in the future.

There was no drama.
There is no debt.
No rides in police cars and no trips to the hospital.
No crushing booze/drug hangovers.
Communication amongst me and my people has actually improved.
My husband and son are impressed and proud of me.

I didn’t even turn to food.
Yesterday i tried on the jeans i use to track my weight loss progress.
They fit fine and i wore them out to supper.

Don’t get me wrong, this has not been an easy couple of weeks. The way my brain works has been incredibly difficult to manage lately, but this is my life, and this may always be my life to some extent or another. I have found a way that works for me – a way to manifest long-term changes that have lasting positive effects, and contribute to a happier and more functional life.

Tubthumping is defined as expressing opinions in a loud or dramatic way:
I will not stop, no matter what.
Every time i fall and get back up, that statement becomes more true.I get knocked down, but I get up again
You’re never gonna keep me down
~Tubthumping, Chumbawumba

Have a happy day if you’re able. If not, try again tomorrow and know that i’m cheering for you and i want that for you.

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

Unique Up On It*

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine made a comment on a blog post regarding my willingness to know myself, and all the hard work i’ve put in to doing so. It relates to some stuff that’s been sloshing around in my brain, so i thought i’d write a bit about it.

My mother was intensely interested in psychology. I think she may have genuinely been seeking help for herself in the beginning, but by the time i was ready to attend school, it was more of a weapon than anything else. She jumped on every bandwagon, embraced every fad, and swallowed every line of pop psychology she could find. There were therapists i saw for individual and family counselling during the day, that would be involved in our nighttime activities, and then there was the odd social worker who would come to school to speak with me. The former were criminals, and the latter merely useless, but they both cemented a distrust of all involved in psychology – a science so soft one could call it “mushy”.

I knew something was wrong with me but i never knew what. My religion taught me that i was a hopeless sinner in need of salvation, which i pursued generally, sometimes even tirelessly. (I was gonna say single-mindedly, but that doesn’t quite fit. Heh.) My family either reinforced religion, ignored the problem, or contributed to it. This left mental health professionals, from whom i regularly sought answers, despite my wariness and stunning lack of success with them.

It wasn’t all for naught. As i have with many things, i took what i liked and left the rest – like the religions from which i took that advice. Over decades i’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge on the subject of the functions of my mind with respect to my behaviour within a given context. You’re not going to hear a bunch of current buzz words coming from me. I’m not a spiritual person, but neither am i only about that which is tangible and provable. Every day my understanding that i am a truly unique individual, deepens. I think you are too, although that understanding is more exoteric. What i know about myself is more abstruse.

There endeth my grandiloquence.

I draw from this font of knowledge every day. The more i know myself the better able i am to make good decisions and enjoy positive outcomes.
Take for instance, my lifelong, contentious relationship with food. From chubby at 8, to super-morbidly obese at 35, to thin at 38, to Bipolar Disorder packing 80lbs back on… I’ve been through it all with food. Abuse and neglect warped my mental and physical connection with food. Being intermittently starved, and frequently lured, rewarded, and placated with food, has done an incredible amount of damage in my life.

You’ve heard the stories before. Some of those stories may be like your own.
Yeah, i eventually tried all the diets. It was in later years though, not really ever as a child. Regularly not having food in the house made the thought of dieting anathema.
School was excruciating. The children were unrelentingly vicious until the latter half of grade nine, when i switched to a half decent school where only about half of the boys and a few of the girls were truly heinous. I cried myself to sleep as so many of us fat kids have done. I sobbed out desperate prayers to the god i was raised with, begging him to make me thin. I mostly thought my school troubles were due to my weight, i only came to realise through years of the kind of self-study that i’m right now referring to, that it was sosoSO much deeper than that. I look back now and i see a chubby girl who was quiet, another who had money, one may have been wide, but she was very, very short, and one or more of them came from families whose names everyone knew and respected. None of them got it as bad as i did.
I’m telling you, i’m a very nice person, but there are some people from those last 2 schools i attended that i would be hard-pressed not to punch right in their smug faces and gouge out those glittering eyes filled with cruel glee. I may be odd, honey, but you’re still a shitty human being.

Sorry for the digression – i don’t know if that school stuff will ever go away.
So, back to food and fat then.
And diets.
Oh my eff-you-see-kay, did i ever try ’em. All of ’em. The late-night infomercial scammers, the impossibly petite and perfect, smiley Buffybots, and the anti-science pitchers of expensive woo solutions… All of ’em.
Exercise is the answer.
Eliminating the sugarcarbglutenfat is the answer.
Eating like a caveman. Or a coeliac. Or a diabetic. Or a fat man on the fasttrack to a massive heart attack. Or a runway model. Or a toot widdow bunny wabbit.
I’ve done most of it, and had similar results to those of you who’ve also done it.
PFFT.

You know how i said i take what i like and leave the rest? Well, here’s something i picked up from one of those places and put right back on the shelf for someone else.
“Terminal uniqueness”.
See now, that just doesn’t work for me. The implication is that the answer is already out there, you’re just not working the solution correctly. Or hard enough. Or long enough. Or honestly enough. Or… Eff you in the eh with a dee.

It’s not to say that that concept is never helpful for anyone.
I’m saying it was not helpful for me in this particular aspect of my life. (Honestly, it wasn’t particularly helpful for me in any area, but i’m trying not to do that digressing thingy i did a while back there.)

I AM unique, and if one bears in mind that i will one day die – terminally so.
I wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to be like other people when i wasn’t. To fit in when i couldn’t. To belong to groups i didn’t want to be a part of, and be liked by people i didn’t care for.
For years i ran away from a diagnosis that would change my life, forever and for the better, because i thought being different was bad and being alone was bad. Neither of those things is either always the truth, or always a lie.
Not for any of us.

And so none of those diets worked. For all the reasons that anyone who struggles already knows, but also for this reason that i am now telling you – because i AM terminally unique.
The only “diet” that will ever have a healthy and long term affect/effect on me is one that is tailored specifically for me. It will only fit me. It will not fit you or anyone else.

I now understand that i’m the only one that can craft the perfect solution. And between all the knowledge i have acquired over the years about dieting and myself -you throw in a registered dietician (the ONLY people i think should be trusted regarding the science of nutrition)- and i am set. I am set for life! (That’s the title of some diet book i read once, i think. HEH.)

I will give you one example of how this works for me, and then i shall stop jabbering at you for the day.
I read a very popular diet book once. Well, actually i bought it and all the stuff that came along with the book, and i read the book itself several times. The first thing this doctor, author, diet guru did was tell me that i must go through my entire house and remove foods that he deemed not healthy, or dangerous to my eating plan, or however he put it. (That book is no longer in my house, so i can’t/won’t refer to it for accuracy.)

Removing foods from my house is a bad idea for me. Removing foods that some call treats or junk is an exceedingly bad idea for me.
I was starved growing up. There was regularly not enough food in my house. And worse.
My mother ate while i starved. She would hide sweet and salty treats from me, and often cook for herself after she’d sent me to bed. She kept money aside to support her junk food habit, that should have been spent on clothing for me, or school supplies and fun activities. She would serve me spoiled food. I’d be starving and i’d scrounge food from the garbage, from other people’s homes. I stole other kid’s lunches or dug them out of the trash.

To this day, when i get low on something, or my fridge doesn’t look full or my cupboards are emptying out, i get nervous and anxious. I will leave a smidgen or a dollop of something in a box or a jar until i can get to the store to buy more – because being completely out of something can cause an anxiety attack.
And here’s the other thing, the barer my larder, the hungrier i get. When my kitchen is full of food, i don’t graze as much, and i snack less frequently. And when the sweet and salty snack foods are around i don’t experience an overpowering craving for them. Those things don’t call to me when they’re on my shelf, but when they’re not there, the 7-Eleven is a siren song.

So that extremely successful dude that’s sold millions of diet advice books starts out with a bad idea for me, and goes downhill from there.
Factor in all that science can and has debunked as far as diet fads and crazes, and i can toss out almost all the other books and videos and videotapes and CDs and equipment that i’ve bought over the years (decades).
Factor in that i’ve had weight loss surgery.
Factor in my Peanut Gallery.

I know how to eat now, to be healthy, and to lose some weight. I’m on my way down, very slowly and mostly surely, and i’m fairly certain that, barring mental/physical issues i may face in the future and the resultant medications – it’s staying off for good. I’m not even excited. I just know it’s a pretty safe bet.

So yeah, to clumsily bring it all back around to my friend’s comment on my blog from the other day.
I’ve been thinking about how none of what i now currently enjoy along the lines of daily functionality and enjoyment of life might just not be possible at this level if i didn’t know myself as well as i do today. (That’s a helluva sentence; i hope it made sense.)

To know myself, to know who i am, what i think, and why i think it, is without question, the best thing that i have ever done, or will continue to do. It makes me better, happier, and more productive in every way.

Have as good a day as you’re able. I’ll do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*From a favourite old joke:
Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?

A: Unique up on it.

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?

A: Tame way.

Traction

So, it’s clear to me that i’m gonna need to force this one out. Meh, it’s okay. Sometimes i’ve gotta drag out the first bits before it begins to flow. Sometimes the whole thing is pure straining effort, but not as often anymore.
(Did that sound like i’m constipated to you? Because i just read it and snarfled.)

The words aren’t so much stuck as i am maybe holding them back. I’m afraid to tell you this next bit. Not because it’s painful, or embarrassing, or ugly, or anything else like that. It’s because it’s good, and i’m afraid of good.

I’m afraid it’s a fluke.
I’m afraid i don’t deserve it.
I’m afraid someone will come and take it away from me.
I’m afraid it’s not real.
I’m afraid it won’t last, that something terrible will surely follow.

I’m certain i’m not the only one who struggles with good news. I was the receptacle for all my parents’ negativity. I was raised believing i was a bad seed, that i provoked the hatred and the rage and the disgust that spewed out at me. As a result i felt less than everyone around me. The teachers, preachers, caregivers, and of course, my fellow students, mostly confirmed for me that i was low and wretched, unworthy of the good things in life.

And yes, i was one of those people who would sabotage the good things. That is, if my mother didn’t do it first, so full of envy and jealousy, she was. I was approached a number of times to do commercials when i was a little girl – NO. Twice, my teachers suggested skipping me a grade – NO. Good families offered to take me in and raise me as their own – NO. By the time i left home i felt destined for a hardscrabble life. Looking back now, i see a dozen missed opportunities for really good things. At the time they were offered i didn’t even see them.

Things began to change once i started dealing with my problems, and the childhood abuse from which it all seemed to stem. I could see how badly i’d been hurt, how much wrong had been done me – having children of my own made it glaringly obvious how awful my mother had been. Although i wrestled with corporal punishment due to my continued affiliation with my religion, and when Bipolar Disorder got its teeth into me i was shamefully neglectful, but the sexual abuse, the terrible beatings, the constant manipulation of my thoughts and feelings – that was anathema to me.

Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, i began to allow myself to want good things, and to think that maybe i even deserved them. Even typing that causes a reaction though. Still. It’s hard, but it is easier than it was, and i expect it to get better and better, as i continue to do the work that’s in front of me. I’m learning more about who i am and what i think, healing this skin suit i was born with and finally growing into it so it fits. It’s what i came into this life wearing, and it’s served me well. It’s held together despite some serious wear and tear. I’ve spent years now, stitching it up, patching the holes, mending burst seams and tacking up all the fallen hems. I’ve scrounged fabric from wherever i could get it, at first taking the stuff in the bargain bins, but working my way towards the fine and fancy bolts of cloth that are always displayed in the window. And why shouldn’t i have them? I can afford it now.

This skin suit i wear is now rather natty. I’m haute couture, y’all. I was ready to strut my stuff. Or march, as it were. And when i marched a couple of weeks ago, i felt like i belonged.
Well, maybe that’s not quite it. I still feel apart – different. I’m open to connecting with humans outside of my husband and children (and my treasured online friends), but i don’t quite have the knack of it yet. It’ll take more work and a lot of practise, i think, but that doesn’t trouble me anymore.
What i felt was that i had a right to be there. I know that that is a powerful, perhaps even crucial step in my development, and i can’t quite quantify why or how yet, but i will. I had a right to be there.

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HERE.

After the march ended, my companion asked if i would go with her to the grand opening of a new refugee centre in our city. I said yes. And just like when i knew i was going to march, i knew i was going to offer to help if they would have me. And just like that i started volunteering.
The week following i was filled with this kind of simmering excitement, like i am bubbling to the surface. I’m ready to start being the person that i want to be, the person that i am, the person that i’ve always been. I acknowledged the wreckage and i cleaned up the mess, looking at every broken bit and deciding what could be fixed and what needed to be tossed. I arranged things to please myself, i brought order and functionality and let in the air and the light and made everything fresh, and i am good. to. go. Whether it’s strutting around town in my spiffy new suit (okay vintage, but revamped – like Molly Ringwald’s prom dress in Pretty in Pink), or inviting someone into my newly reno’ed home. I’m ready.

I do this blog for myself and my Peanut Gallery, #1, but a very close second is everyone out there who can relate to my experiences and struggles to be happy and functional. If i can encourage anyone to keep going, keep trying… If you struggle with your thoughts and emotions, if you think you’re worthless or hopelessly defective… I’ve been there, and i am living, breathing, functioning, reasonably happy proof that it can get better. Long term and consistently better.

Here is a list of the things i’ve done since the Women’s March on Washington:

-started volunteering,
-spent the day with my MIL at the senior’s home, with a firm commitment to do so bimonthly,
-asked my local community of friends for help with a problem (within 5mins i had offers!)
-asked a friend to come for lunch and take me and my doggie to the vet (he’s fine and so was lunch!)
-finally started work on a project i’ve had swimming around in my brain for a year or 2,
-set down some firm boundaries with someone very close,
-added more exercise to my daily than just dog-walking.

All of this is yippee-skippy, for sure, but it is also scary stuff. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it’s too much and i’ll self-destruct. I’m afraid of letting others down. I’m afraid of growing out of some relationships. I’m afraid of gossip and ridicule. Most of all, i’m afraid of mania. This is fertile ground for my Little Miss Maniac to wanna come out and play. But the work i’ve done has provided me with not only this foresight, but also the tools with which to handle her, should she suddenly appear.

I can and will handle it, if it happens, to the best of my abilities, and if i stumble, i will do what i have learned is perhaps my best and most admirable quality.

I will pick myself up, dust myself off, survey the damage, make recompense wherever possible, and get back to work. You just watch me.
No seriously, i mean it. Watch me. Anyone who reads anything here that i have posted – know that you matter to me. You’re a great help to me. Knowing you’re reading, relating, empathising, witnessing. You’re tremendous, and i thank you.

Always,
~H~