February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
We were watching television, a completely irrelevant program, when I paused the show and threw myself on the floor. First I sobbed suddenly, a puppy yelp of ridiculous sorrow, and said, “I don’t want you to die!” The word “die” was long and desperate, I held that vowel sound like a hot ember and carried it flying across the sky, leaving a white jet line of cartoonish sound. Yes, I was a cartoon as I threw myself down, with the anvil weight of picturing my lover dying, my friends dying, my family, everyone around me crumbling like buildings over a bomb, and me, left standing dirty and alone. I wailed, “Everyone is going to die,” sailing past reason with that vowel again, and he looked at me in disbelief. He was surprised as hell, and so was when I saw the horror reflected in his face. An eye somewhere deep in my mind saw this happening and even now, I still believe that it would be much less painful to die first.
It would be less painful if I died first. Right? After picturing everyone I know die, after seeing their skin stretched across their bones and then see that skin rot away in the speedway of time, I felt horribly guilty. With similarly morbid obsession, I imagined my own death. I’d like to go first, I sobbed, I hope I can die first so that everyone else is spared (even though they will eventually die) and so, selfishly, I won’t have to experience the torture of loss. It’s not bittersweet, this thing we call grief, it’s fucking painful, and it’s time we started getting more real about that.
May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Healing is hard. Really really hard. It takes a long time and often it is not very much fun. I think we have this picture of healing that has something to do with a woman’s peaceful face upturned towards the morning sun and she is free and she is happy and radiant on a mountain-top near a stream which symbolizes how she’s cleansed of all the toxins that had previously oppressed her before this great liberation claimed by her own self. Healing is actually very painful and frustrating and usually reminds me that I am one of the most impatient people I know. Healing feels icky like an itch that happens over a scab that you shouldn’t touch. But want to. And deciding to heal is only the beginning of a very long cassette tape that you have to listen to in a hot, cramped car on a road trip with all the family members you dislike. When the last song on the second side fades out that moment of silence where you have to sit with your hateful thoughts is the worst because you know that fucking tape is clicking over and getting cued up for another round of the worst song of all, the first song, the one you started with, the one you always go back to, the day you realized you were really fucked. But years later, you’ll be in the car again, this time with someone you love, and that first song will come on, and you’ll smile because even though you now have the freedom to turn the song off and/or smash the stereo in with your fabulous made-for-walking-shoes, that song reminds you of the hot, disgusting car ride with many versions of your hateful self and that even though you are certainly not on a mountain-top with your radiant face upturned towards the sun, you have never left the road, and you have come just as far as you could.
May 10, 2013 § 4 Comments
I only saw the therapist with the long stares twice. In that time, her stretched-out stares made me feel as though we had enjoyed weekly visits for years and that we had walked all the way to the end of my earth and returned again with the sun setting on our backs. She may have even come to a few of my landmark birthday parties, later, when we became friends. I bought her a bracelet that looked like driftwood trapped in silver and she met my mother and they talked about canning vegetables with a knowing kindness. This is not to say she made me feel comfortable. No. She did not make me feel comfortable. But I sat right down in the armchair of my discomfort and I suppose I’m glad I tried to settle into her quiet strangeness.
I finally made the first appointment after months of talking about it. As soon as I made the appointment, I felt better. This is how it is with self-care, with professional help, we procrastinate because we think we can do it all alone, and when we finally admit we need help, when we make an appointment with an understanding that business will occur, we feel better, cleansed and ready to take on more of life’s weight. I was propelled towards the professional lamp because of all the thoughts flying around inside of me, like moths that seem frantic and stupid in the light and cryptically morbid in the dark. Even though I had watched the YouTube video posted on her website in which she talked about her focus, I still wasn’t prepared to know her when I saw her. It is a small thing but I was so surprised to feel a clicking into place, like Lego pieces that make the right sound against the soft carpet of your bedroom. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
It was her stillness that moved me. I could tell that she was keeping secrets. Momentum had been dammed in the illusion of her fresh beauty. Fuchsia tie dye t-shirt, tiny acid-washed denim shorts, white high-top sneakers with rainbow laces, and her long long golden hair and long long summer legs. I was puzzled. Why was this gorgeous girl sitting separate, away from her peers, in a state of stillness normally reserved for the hunted? Under the rain forest canopy of high school, she was a tropical bird in shadows but still, still, she reflected light. I scolded myself, don’t assume that pretty girls can’t be ostracized from the social group. But no, it had nothing to do with her radiant physical appearance. It was more like I recognized myself in her stillness. I kept secrets too. I held my body in a tight frame of fear, I took short, careful breaths, I looked away when caring people asked me questions with knowing eyes, I kept my face blank and smooth, I pulled the shades down, I shut the blinds, I was the hunted, and I shook loose at night.
April 4, 2013 § 11 Comments
The furious rabbit has been rattling its cage today. It is carrying out its usual business of tearing up the inside of my heart, lungs, and stomach. It runs its path of busy, futile escape again and again.
The furious rabbit is my anxiety and I am its helpless pet. I didn’t realize this comparison until a friend admitted his anxiety to me the other day and I said, without thinking first, “Oh yes, I know, it’s the furious rabbit”. As the recognition spread across his face, I realized that this simile had been a secret I didn’t know I was keeping. I had given my demon a face, some fur and some really long ears. The furious rabbit is just an innocent being born from all the goodness in humanity but because it has lived so long trapped inside my body, it has eaten holes in my insides and started gnawing on my system wires, growing too large for its cage and scratching and scrambling for a way out. It senses that it will never be free and this tiny flame of knowledge ignites a fire in its feet. Furious furious rabbit churning me into a storm of fear and paranoia. Settle down you touched fucking creature. Let me sleep and breathe and smile like the others.
And then I went to yoga. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
Grief lurks in the most unexpected places. Like the lecherous single man in the seamy bar, it leans in the creepy corners of our bodies and comes lurching out of the dim light to startle us out of our busy, happy moments.
When I get sick in the car, always as a passenger, most often on winding roads, I usually experience the unpleasant shock of the most particular smell. It’s the stench of my childhood dog, Sally, panting at the back of the car as she gradually dried out after a swim in a river or creek. On long road trips my dad would stop at some spot he had noticed while coming around a bend, never a designated rest stop with signs, toilets, garbage bins and picnic tables, never assigned social encounters with other people wearing wrinkled country traveling clothes and eating humid snacks. We would stop at his spot and get out to quietly explore a place that felt like ours for fifteen minutes. Sally was allowed the most uninhibited enthusiasm for the experience and she would run over her own legs just to get into the crisp water as fast as possible. I always envied her as she splashed, plunged, and grinned her way through the rushing stream named something like Otter Tail River or Castle Creek. On the hotter days I longed to join her and feel the rocks on my feet as I submerged myself in the clean, wild relief. Oh sometimes, we took our shoes and socks off, or gathered handfuls of water to our faces but no one was as free as the dog. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 24, 2013 § 10 Comments
Here is the post in which I tell you about my own “mental health”. Can you even read that without cringing and wanting to leave? Me neither. While I hope you enjoy this experience of selective honesty, I ask you to be generous about the pace of it. I need you to understand that I cannot share all of it at once. It isn’t a grocery list or a river of narration in stereo. It isn’t ordered or poetic or even particularly interesting to anyone but me. To me it is both amazing, as is the first cell I started from, and mundane, like the way I part my hair after I wash it in the shower.
I’m learning more and more that people really like it when you share yourself. Now I’m not looking for likes here, I’m only searching for a deeper connection to myself and therefore to you and ultimately to the Great Pulsing Now-ness. So. In the spirit of extending my humanity to you as a plant turning toward the sun, I confess to you, I’m awesome. « Read the rest of this entry »