Angles

I took a picture of myself to send to a friend today and as I looked at it I was a bit ashamed.  Not from the overabundance of boobage or of how I’m wearing very little makeup but because all I could think was, “I am not that skinny”.  In the first picture, I am standing, with the camera up high and giving him an incredulous look (he’s quite ridiculous at times).  In the second picture, I am sitting down and I called it my “truth in advertising” picture.  I wasn’t sucking in my gut, pushing my chest out, or using filters.  It was all about angles.  We all do that at times, don’t we?  We use an angle to our advantage.

 

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The angle isn’t always about looks.  It’s in the way we present ourselves to the general population.  We make ourselves look better than we feel we really are.  Note: I said FEEL.  We rarely advertise our faults, insecurities, irrational behaviors, or anything else that makes us who we really are as a person.  We want people to like us so we give them what we think will be liked.

 

There is no vulnerability in angles.  Angles are all edges that show no softness.  If we were to tell people, “hey, the reason that I feel this way about a certain topic is THIS”, well..they might laugh at us.  Talk or think bad about us.  They might *gasp* realize that we are human.

 

Every single one of us is a story in the making.  Every single one of us has good sides, bad sides, shady sides, and some sides that we don’t even want to encounter ourselves.  We mask it with angles, with clothes, with makeup, with filters, with anything that we can get our hands on.  Some of us mask ourselves with personalities and attitudes that are off putting in the hopes that no one will realize inside we’re just mush.  That we are bitten by the sharpness of the world and that we cringe on a daily basis because of the lack of respect and love for people who are just like us in that they are imperfect as well.

 

As a society we need to accept that everyone of us is imperfect.  That we are all just as messed up as the person who gives the angle of having it together.  It takes a single moment in your life to make that facade crash down.  How much easier it would be to put ourselves back together if we met ourselves head on instead of from an angle.

 

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Accepting the pain of the last year

I have spent the last year stagnant.  I have simply survived the day and kept doing the same thing over and over again.  There has been very little done with passion or intention.  As I wean myself off of the antidepressants I am now having to deal with a year that was very hard.  While on the meds I didn’t even realize to what extent I was not paying attention to my life.  Now I sit here and I’m lost.  I have no goals.  I have no direction.  I am full of indecision and I despise indecision.  And yet…and yet with a grateful heart I will look into the last year…and the coming one…and ask for more to be thrown at me.

 

On February 6th of last year I lost one of my best friends to a brutal murder.  My chest is still so heavy when I think of it which is often.  I think of the fear in her last moments.  I think of the life that was cut short.  I think of the laughter we shared and how she would never want me to still be in mourning.  I mourn Mary Lou though, I mourn her immensely.  Grief is a funny thing that while we are trying to fit it in our heart with all the love and joy that we had with that person it sometimes starts to eclipse it.  Our love turns into rage and denial that someone can be gone from our life in an instant and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  Death…is the only guarantee in this life.  

 

On February 13th my on again off again boyfriend of 9 months told me that he loved me but he “needed to figure some things out”.  This after 3 months of him sometimes living with me, playing a father role in my kids life, being unemployed, and then when he went back to work he left me and got back together with his ex wife who he always said was “his best friend but he wasn’t still in love with her”.  I have forgiven him.  I even emailed him and told him I wished him well.  My God, it still hurts.  I loved him beyond all reason.  It hurts to be taken advantage of, to be set aside, and to know that he is now married to someone else.  I have to forgive him though or I would never be able to move on.  

 

On November 28th my ex-husband, and the father of my youngest, died by suicide.  We had not seen him in 8 years.  8 years that he sometimes didn’t pay child support, that he never contacted her, 8 years of being so mad at him I couldn’t stand it.  8 years of missing him, and knowing that I would have taken him back even knowing that he was a habitual liar and cheater.  I never stopped loving him really.  I mourned him for 8 years and now it seems I’ll be mourning him for a bit longer.  The amount of rage I feel towards the man has grown.  He left me another mess to clean up.  He left her with the loss of hope.  No longer can she think that maybe she would see him when she got older.  He’s gone.  I still miss that man and the way he made me laugh.  

 

This past year was a year of many doctor’s appointments and the diagnosis of Celiac Disease and possibly Rheumatoid Arthritis.  My health has gone downhill quite a bit and I’m so very tired all the time.  I just want rest.  Physical, spiritual, and emotional rest.

 

I don’t write all these things to show “oh look.  I had a really shitty year!  Feel sorry for me!”  or, “oh yea? You think you have it bad? Look what happened to me!”.  I write this because I will be grateful for the things that rip my heart out.  If I had not lost these people, if I had not gone through this pain, would I be who I am?  Stretching back through all the years when you think of all the sorrow, joy, struggle, triumphs, and sometimes the vast expanse of nothing-all of these things made you who you are.  I could hate them and hate who I have become.  The past few weeks I’ve been struggling to find the words and to find the emotion that I am feeling.  I am feeling stagnant.  Restless.  Uncomfortable. These are feelings of future growth.

 

If I didn’t have depression would I have the compassion for others that I do now?  If I didn’t have physical pain would I have the empathy for suffering that I have acquired?  If I hadn’t lost loves and lost loved ones to death, would I have a heart that gives more than it ever takes in?  

 

Most importantly, if I had not had this life would I be able to write effectively and reach so many people so that they don’t feel alone?

 

Feeling grateful and blessed to have felt this grief, loneliness, helpless, and rejection is what I was meant to learn.  I spent most of the year in a stupor, having no clear idea of what I was doing.  I still don’t really know but I am learning and I am growing.  Pain is about growing.  You learn from it.  Sometimes you just learn that you are tough enough to withstand the pain.  Sometimes you learn that you have to accept it and not wish it away.  Pain will always be here while we’re alive.  It’s what we do with it that matters.
Even as I am being battered by the storms of life, ridiculed, forgotten, maimed, judged, and deceived- I will lift my face to the sky and ask for more. It is not my place to be comfortable but to comfort. It is not my place to be accepted but to accept. Storms bring renewal after the damage and they reveal the truth by blowing away that which isn’t solid. Give me the storm that I will know the strength of my roots and the beauty of a life that was tested.

Falling off the wagon

I fell off the wagon.  I’ve smoked for the last 27 hours.  I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to deny that it happened.  In fact, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long with the amount of stress I’ve been under as well as how much pain I’ve been in.  For a few reasons, though, falling off the wagon has been a GOOD thing.

 

If I hadn’t fallen off the wagon I never would have realized how much better I feel when I don’t smoke.  I know that seems silly but when you first quit all you can think about is the loss.  Giving up an addiction (at least for me) is like losing a piece of myself.  I don’t know if I’m going to be the same person, I don’t know if I’m going to think the same, I’ve spent the majority of my life as a smoker.  It’s a scary thing to take something away that has habitually been there.  The thing is, I am always me.  Take me down to the bare minimum of vices, and I am still me.  A bitchier, more tired, more emotional me, but in essence still me.

 

If I hadn’t fallen off the wagon I wouldn’t have realized how much I hate smoking.  I hate taking the time to go outside and smoke.  I hate smelling like it.  I hate that I feel a burning in my throat.  I hate having to take regular breaks to go smoke.  I hate dependency.  On anything.

 

Tomorrow I will start again as a non-smoker and I’ll have learned my lesson on it (hopefully).  I don’t feel ashamed or like a failure.  I feel like a student and that I learned a lesson.  

 

Snippet from Whiskey Bent

This is a story that lives in my head.  I haven’t worked on it lately but I’m getting there.  Background: Whiskey Malone grew up poor in a small town in Missouri called Blue Lake.  Her father was nowhere to be found and her mother died when she was twelve.  Whiskey came back to the town after college to run a bar on the lake.  That’s all I’m telling you for now! Happy reading!

 

“Well, if it ain’t my favorite shot,” rumbled a southern drawl that would have made Rhett Butler jealous.

 

I looked up and smiled.  Two of my favorite out of towners were standing at the bar smiling at me like I was the first woman they had ever seen…and they liked what they saw.  Therein lied the secret to Jared and Jasper’s likability, they loved women and they oozed charisma.  Neither of them were more than moderately attractive, both standing about five feet ten inches and built like brick walls: strong arms, barrel chests, sturdy legs, but their eyes are what saved them from being looked over.  A clear, perfect, ice blue that conveyed exactly what they would do to you with a single word of affirmation and a quiet place.  The eyes were exceptional but there was just something about the Tully boys that made you feel like you could tell them your deepest, darkest secrets and they would hold you in their arms and make love to you…or rough you up.  In short, they would do whatever it took to make you satisfied.  

 

Luckily all they had to do to make me smile was to show up and drink.

 

I moved out from behind the bar and was engulfed in a massive hug from Jasper.  After he had squeezed my ass and winked at me he passed me on to Jared who did the same but one upped his brother by pulling my hair out of the clip holding it off my neck.  My red hair tumbled down my back in waves and the brothers sighed.

 

Jasper said apologetically, “we’ve been waiting all year to see the fire ignited”.

 

I laughed, grabbing my clip back from Jared, and put my hair back up.  “What can I get you boys? A beer? Some shots?”

 

Jasper answered, “we’re heading out on the water early; we’ll take some shots, sweetheart”.  I grabbed their brand in bottles, twisted the tops off and handed them to the boys.  “I’ll start a tab and there are a couple beauties from Colorado hanging out in the back corner.  If I were y’all I’d stake a claim before the rest of the crowd gets here. I’m sure they would like to meet some Georgia boys” I winked at the brothers and sent them on their way; two boys who would never grow up until forced…or tied up.  

 

I sighed and turned towards the grill to see if there were any orders up.  I loved Jared and Jasper dearly but they opened up a hole in my heart that I normally filled with work.  The one downside to their amazing personalities…they made you want something.  Sometimes you weren’t even sure what it was but you wanted.  The boys would be in their cabin for the next two weeks, fishing by day, romancing the girls by night, but I knew they would show up for an off night at my cabin.  Just three friends around a fire pit, enjoying companionship.  It was the most…and the best…thing I could hope for in my life.

Can’t we rest?

There are layers upon layers that swirl around, not stopping because of other pathways, but making new ones or going through the existing ones.  I try to follow one path only to end up on another one and then another only to find out that I have been going in a circle all this time. Defeated, dejected, and somewhat perplexed, I look around trying to find the right path.  The one that will lead me to the clarity I had not minutes before.  By now there are so many intersections, pathways, interruptions, responsibilities, other thoughts that I want to pursue that I am so lost it hurts to breathe.  My chest heaving, I look around for a guide, a signpost even, that will direct me to where I go.  Everyone sees my confusion and starts telling me the path that they took to get where they wanted to be or they tell me to look above.  I look above and the Almighty smiles tenderly at me and tells me that He has given me the directions I just have to find them.  Disgruntled, I keep searching but by now the exhaustion has come and it has decided that what I need is sleep. Sleep will help me figure it out.  

 

I try to sleep.  I lay my head down, say my prayers, and try to go to that quiet place where I can rest.  There is no rest though.  There are more thoughts and directions I feel I should be taking as well as the dreams.  Dear Lord, the dreams.  The dreams that seem so real, and he feels so real, but he’s not, and he never was and he is gone.  I wake up, always, at 3:30 am.  I have yet to figure out what is so important about that time.  I try and sleep for a few more hours.  I wake up, exhausted.  Wanting nothing more than to rest but I have many miles to walk through the day.  Always seeking out what I can’t find.  If I could just find it, that place that I seek, where there is rest, compassion, solace, clarity, and softness then I could be content.  The world is so dark, and hard, and negative, and striving, and grasping at me.  It’s this monster that is always telling me I am not good enough, never going to get enough done, that my kids are better off without me, that everyone is against me, their laughter and jeers follow me everywhere, and I can’t get off this merry-go-round that is my life.  

 

I see glimmers of hope sometimes but then reality comes in and takes it away.  My hands, my poor, bleeding, swollen, hurting, helping hands are battered beyond belief at what has become of them.  Where I would love nothing more than to help people I am left attempting to help myself.  There are some days that I can’t even keep myself together let alone others.  Those are the hardest days.  The days in which I want to do so many things but I can’t.  I can’t get up and do the dishes, or vacuum, or even put on makeup.  My mind is so exhausted that my body collapses.  My kids are there needing me, needing me to be okay, needing me to support them, and there are times I just can’t.  

 

And so starts the circle again, trying to find the way back, trying to find the light, trying to follow the cues that I’m given, and I just want rest.  Is that so bad?  Can’t we all just rest?

Drugs, drugs, and more drugs

I haven’t written in a while and honestly I couldn’t tell you if it’s from not wanting to write or not being able to write.  My mind is mush, so to speak, and I’m trying to find the pathways that make me who I am and sometimes it’s a damnably hard thing.

 

I started seeing a psychiatrist a few months ago.  Here is what I have learned: brain chemicals are the psychiatrists playground and they are only interested in an end goal.  I’m not entirely sure what that goal is for me.  I was started on a wonderful little drug called Lamictal.  It’s a mood stabilizer (this Dr is leaning towards Major Depressive Disorder with mixed symptoms…lovely) and you have to stop it immediately if you develop a rash.  I totally got the rash.  Okay, well, Dr says, let’s try you on Viibryd.  Holy Aggression, Batman!  I told him by email that I was very agitated on it.  Dr says okay, well here, have some Klonopin.  I went and saw the Dr and he said since I wasn’t having apathy and depression per se that the Viibryd was doing it’s job so just use Klonopin when you want to kill people.  Oh, and here, try some Topamax for a mood stabilizer.  I took the Topamax one night and felt like I was having seizures all night.  I wasn’t…that I know of…but that’s what it felt like.  I woke up that morning and cried for a couple hours for no apparent reason.  I’m not a crier.  It’s just not something I do very often at all.  

 

I have made the decision to say screw the meds.  After a couple of my closest friends and my daughter told me that I had been very angry lately I decided that I would much rather have depression than anger.  I was getting mad about things that never bother me.  I was furious.  I would have racing thoughts for hours, planning rants that I would tell people in my head whilst I should be asleep.  

 

Add onto this that I’m wearing the nicotine patch to try to stop smoking cigarettes (13 days cigarette free yay), that I’m having some kind of flare up that is making my hands hurt like hell, and just the stress of being a single parent.  I am utterly exhausted.  Maybe a little depressed.  

 

I’ve started titrating down from the Viibryd and I am starting to feel a little better.  I’m still cranky.  I’m still moody.  I had to take a half a Klonopin tonight instead of buying a pack of cigarettes.  Everyone says  “reduce your stress!”  Ummmm….how?!  How do I reduce the stress of bills, kids, work, illness, and trying to quit smoking?  Oh, and here’s a fun fact for you…depressed people are more likely to smoke because the nicotine has fun with your serotonin and dopamine making you feel a little better after a cigarette.  I don’t know if it’s worse or better to have that information.

 

All in all, I do know that I need to be writing more.  I have startling moments of clarity (especially when driving) where I know exactly how I want to make a presentation on mental health to a high school student body, where I want one of my books to go, how I’m going to overcome EVERYTHING with working out and eating better, and how to enjoy life.  I lose my grasp on the clarity though so easily.  It falls like sand through my hands and then I’m down on my knees, sifting through the grains, trying to put the pieces of the sand into a coherent picture once again.  It’s maddening.

 

Depression and all mental illness is a horrible thing to deal with because what works for one may not work for others.  Medications and I do not get along.  I don’t like not feeling like I am ME.  If there is one thing that I can say about my life it’s that I have always tried to hold onto who I am as a person…not even as a person.  As a soul.  I want my soul to remain true to how God created it.  It’s been banged up, there are some black marks on it, and some jagged scars but it is still mine and it is still me.  Medications make me feel like they are making the decisions in my life and that just doesn’t work for me.  Good or bad I will be true to myself.  

 

On the plus side, depression always leads to some of my best writing (that’s a secret you know…creative people with mental illness enjoy it somewhat.  The darkness is where the truth hides).  So does hypomania…or whatever it is.  The meds lead to no creativity, passion, or truth at all.  I cannot abide that sort of life.  It is not who I was created to be.

Voices

2016 was a year that a lot of well known entertainers died.  I was even a little sad about a few of them.  It got me thinking though.  Due to their medium of creativity, we will always have their voices, their faces, their characters.  It’s not really them that we miss.  It’s their persona.

I lost two people this past year and there are pictures of them.  I got to thinking the other day that I just wanted to hear Mary Lou’s voice.  I went through all of her Facebook and I couldn’t find a video of her.  Sure, in my memory I can see her beside me in her Xterra, dancing and singing or rapping along with a song.  I can hear her laughter and see her eyes crinkle up in a smile….but what if I lose that memory?  What if it goes away too?

Brad left 8 years ago.  He was the one who I never really got over.  I loved him so much.  I see his face every time I look at our daughter.  For 8 years I tried not to think about him though it was impossible.  And our daughter has no memory of his voice, or of how he threw back his head in laughter, how he would dance in the car, or how he could two-step well, or how excited he got when OU would make a touchdown (and he would quietly celebrate as I slept on the couch beside him), or how steely his eyes could get when he was mad.  She’ll never see him run a pool table, or feel his hug. She doesn’t even have these memories of him.  I do, but how I wish that I had video of him.

We spend a lot of time making fun of people for taking videos or selfies.  Yes, some people do it to a huge extent.  I think that others need to do more.  When we are gone, our loved ones will miss seeing our smiles.  They’ll miss our laughter, or are sarcasm.  For those of us who are too self conscious to let people take videos and pictures…they’re losing a part of us.  We live in an age where we don’t have to rely on only our memories.  We can utilize them now.  Don’t take anything for granted.