The Heart Bleeds

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bleedI have many faults. I have many issues that are created not only by a disease that ravages my mind but by the soul I was born with. I am passive-aggressive with everyone I know. I am often scared of strangers, of people that I am meeting; so much that I come across as snobbish. I can have a short temper and be lazy. But one of my greatest weaknesses is my bleeding heart.

There are those that would say that a bleeding heart isn’t a bad thing. I would argue passionately. I would explain about the times I have given money with the full knowledge that I would get nothing in return. I would give you stories of times that I have put myself in very real danger because of my heart. And I would tell you the times that I have felt the compulsion to help in lieu of all that should have been important.

Some say bleeding hearts are simply more sensitive than others. And I suppose this is true. I certainly have difficulty listening to stories that for a normal person would simply be a sign of a tragic past. Especially if there are children involved I will infer more about the situation than the facts that I know. I will step in to protect a child no matter the actual need.

On top of all of these very real weaknesses, I acknowledge that I am a voracious reader. Most wouldn’t see the correlation between reading and a bleeding heart; but here is where it is most evident.

Today was an abnormal day for me in terms of routine. My children were home from school because of a snow storm. So while I am typically home – desperately searching for a job that can not be found – my children are not. This leads to hours of silence that I very rarely disturb with calls to friends or discussions with strangers beyond my doors. And yet as often is the case, today I read two books: a romantic suspense that was lighthearted and contained a happy ending, and multiple chapters of the new biography of Joseph Kennedy.

Take these two facts about a person – their bleeding heart and their insatiable reading – and what you get is someone who is not only angry at the world but still believes so much in the goodness, the perfection of humanity. Despite the knowledge that there is neither perfection nor disproportionate goodness in anything, the hope is still there.

But it leaves my heart without repair. Time and time again I find myself disappearing into the bloody heart of my conscience without the means to ever leave. I am tired of the horror. I am tired of the destruction of humans. I am so tired of the continual need for one-up man-ship that resides in all of us.

I know the naivete that these words portray. I know the child that wants happily ever after resides in me without apology. I know that all my beliefs about what this world could be and all my beliefs about what this world should be are simply dreams. There will always been someone who needs to be on top. No matter how naive I sound, I understand the seduction power can bring to each of us. I know power; I have felt power. And yet, I still feel that child moving inside of me.

I am tired of humans ignoring what is in front of them for either political gain or simple need of ignorance. I am tired of each of us believing that stepping on those that never had a chance is worth the moment of release anger can bring. I am tired of believing in love, in a foundation of trust, in the ability for each of us to forgive. I am simply tired.

And truthfully there isn’t much I can do. Yes, I can sit here in my little destitute world and write about these things but let’s be honest there aren’t many people that will read it. No, I can’t get a job at a non-profit agency; I have submitted enough resumes to know this intimately. And because of my fear of others I can’t raise money or run on a platform of change that will never happen. I am not built for greatness; I am built only to mourn the lack of it.

Someone, somewhere decided that I would be educated yet never use my education for good. Someone, somewhere decided that despite the fact I have a basic need to help others I am not meant to help more than one.  Someone decided that the only thing I was truly meant to do was bring a son and a daughter in the world. That was my role in this life. That is my destiny.

We can all pretend we are thirteen years old and that the dreams we believe in will actually come true. It is good for teenagers to believe that because some of them might be right. We can all pretend that the fantasies we have at night are reachable. We can even take steps to make those late night picture shows become real.

But I long ago dealt the truth. I can’t help those victims because I have always been a victim myself. I can’t help others because the defeatist attitude that is companion to my bleeding heart knows that my simple reality is so much more real than the dreams I dream. You can’t pity someone who knows the truth; you can only nod your head in understanding.

To have a brain that can read at the speed of man’s great machines; to have the belief in children and the future with every beat of a bleeding heart yet not have the ability to reconcile or accept the incredible and often extreme horrors of this world is yet another aspect of this world that simply makes no sense.

I always supposed that someday I would understand. I started early dreaming of the day when I would have answers to the questions that have destroyed so many of my nights. I believed that one day it would make sense.

But it never has; in fact the truth is that it gets worse each and every day. But I can’t stop reading nor can I mend this broken heart. Instead I have to believe in the goodness knowing the reality of the nightmare. I don’t want to sow up my bleeding heart. At the end of the day I want to embrace all that is making me who and what I am; and in the end staunch the blood as fast as I can.

Dear Stress, I Don’t Like You

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dessertI hear a lot from those I love to try and remember that what is stressing me out today won’t matter in a few years. This advice does not help me.

I hear people say that everything will be ok. This advice does not help me.

I hear people say that stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  I don’t even understand how that is supposed to make me feel better much less help me.

Here is the truth about my stress. I live in it. I breathe in it. It surrounds me each and every day and through my dreams until I can’t tell you what exactly in my life is not stressful. There are days that I actually thrive on the stress and can produce amazing work that should make my life easier. I literally don’t remember a day I haven’t been stressed out.

Whether it is money – and it is money a lot – my children, my marriage, my family, my inability to find a job; you name it and I am stressed about it. Even my car causes me stress and I worry every time I listen to the engine; is that noise bad? Is my car shaking too much? Taking my children to birthday parties stresses me out. Trying on clothes, despite my small frame, stresses me out.

The good news is that my heart is really, really healthy. Between my pulse and my blood pressure which is as near to perfect as you can get, stress doesn’t seem to be doing long term damage to my vital organs. There is no indication physically that the near insanity I feel each and every day about every aspect of my life is actually causing harm. And the doctors like to look.

No, the stress is all mental. I am not able to understand people who seemingly go through life without stress. I don’t get that. If I am not stressing about something, and my stomach isn’t tight with some worry that I can’t fix, then I am not breathing. Sure I don’t talk about it at those birthday parties that my children attend, but trust me it is there.

There are many, many sayings about stress. And there are many, many pieces of advice on how to counteract the stress.  Working out. (Which stresses me out because I have to be around strangers).  Listening to music (Okay, but I am really, really picky about what I want to listen to).  Or even laughing (stressed, not laughing, stressed).

Sometimes I can delve deeply into my writing. Sometimes I can escape my natural inclination to be stressed by writing about other people’s worlds. This is all well and good except for one small matter – the only place to write currently is on my kitchen table. Right beside where my children are playing. And my family is watching TV. And where the snacks happen to be. Understand the problem?

Sometimes I can go for a long drive and listen to my music. Of course, this costs gas money which I don’t have. And it means that I have to secure some sort of babysitting for my precious children which is another stress.

I truly, truly believe that most days it simpler to be stressed than to try and do exercises to reduce the stress.  It is almost as if this world is built to handle and thrive in the stress and fall apart when one tries to do anything about it. Sort of like someone high above doesn’t want us to be without stress so they through curve balls each and every time you try and put it in perspective.

Maybe I am destined to always be stressed. Maybe my true problem is that I can’t put it in perspective. Maybe by not getting away, either through my writing or by disappearing for an hour or two, I am not allowing myself to put my stress in the target importance. Maybe I am drowning in stress because no one allows me enough time to realize that all I have to do is stand in the shallow end of the pool.

If I can’t pay a bill, is someone going to come and take my children away? If I can’t move out of my mom’s house in the next couple of months is she going to throw me on the streets? If I can’t give my children all the things they deserve, are they doomed to living a life so much less than they could? If I am sick for one day and the house doesn’t get picked up, am I really going to be systematically punished?

I know the answer to these questions as well as you do. But there is a drive to be perfect, to have all our bills paid and our children healthy and happy in every moment. I almost want to believe that when nature gave us the ability to stand on two feet it also gave us this drive to be perfect. And the falling short of that perfect is what continually makes us stressed.

And until I can get over the need to be perfect, there isn’t a page to write or an exercise to do that is going to make things better. Until I can understand that the reality is I can’t pay all my bills right now, but I am not truly doing anything bad, there is nothing that is going to make my stress go away.

That is the heart of it. Stress is the product of lack of perfection. And no one is perfect. So we simply are stressed each and every day.

And since there probably is no way to get away from this truth, this desire to be perfect, we may as well eat dessert.

A Boy and A Girl

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brother and sisterI have two children; one boy and one girl.  Growing up in a household with two girls and having been surrounded by children of same sexes in most of my family, I didn’t know what to do when my daughter was born. Did I treat them differently? What about gifts? What about clothes?

There were so many questions and so many complications. I couldn’t just pass down clothes from one to another because they didn’t even work the same way – the zippers and seams didn’t mesh. I couldn’t pass down the bikes because while Lighting McQueen was great for my son there was no way my princess obsessed little girl was going to ride it.

For all that they are different, and man are they different, I still wanted them to have a cohesive relationship. The greatest relationship of my childhood was my sister. She was the only one earth that was literally in the same position that I was over and over again. She was the only one who knew without me saying a word; and I wanted that for my children.

So as soon as my daughter was out of a crib, she moved directly into her brother’s room. They shared closets and dressers, and while they had their own beds there was still a closeness that I nurtured carefully. In the dead of night, I needed both my children to be comforted by the sound of breathing from their sibling sleeping so near.

My children shared food, play dates, and most of all space. It wasn’t incestuous and it wasn’t dangerous. It was simply fostering the relationship that they could count on their whole life.

What I didn’t recognize was that I was also setting myself up for a hurt that I didn’t know was coming.

I have written about children breaking their mother’s hearts, and the reality that this is actually very much their job. They are suppose to make their mother’s hearts hurt every time they skin their knees or fail at a challenge that other’s soar through. They are suppose to make us feel proud when they grow to new achievements at the same time we are weeping that they are slowly moving farther and farther away from our arms. This is the natural relationship between mother and child. And while I will never for one moment take my eye off of them, I do have to learn to let them go.

I am just never prepared when those moments come.

My children are starting to play rough. They are starting to recognize the differences between boys and girls, and worse between polite behavior and devious humor.  If I have to deal with one more joke about peeing or farting from my children I can’t be held for my reaction.

Last night my husband saw my children playing innocently in the bath together. But they were playing games that weren’t appropriate for two children of the opposite sex. They weren’t doing anything wrong and their dad and I didn’t even mention what we had seen, but it still came to light that it was time to separate my children in certain ways.

It is time that my children have their own room to get dressed and escape to. It is time that my children have separate bath times and it is time that they begin learning the separation of the sexes. My goal is never to blaring shine a light on those differences, nor to ever lead my children to believe that they can’t do something because of their sex, but I have to begin drawing lines.

And it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because it means that my children are taking one step further from my arms. They are growing up; and I am forced to see this in the clearly innocent way they play that can’t continue. (For all you with minds in the gutters, they didn’t do anything sexual or anything that is shameful. They are still very innocent.) I have to draw lines between male and female and how to treat each; and I do it with a heavy heart.

I am not interested in my children developing any relationship beyond sister and brother; but there was a joy in watching them grow together. There was something so innocent in them playing together that is slowly going away.  And my heart hurts.

I can’t have babies forever but what I would do to have them for one more day.

Worth the Whiskey

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barI dropped my children off at school this morning and as I was returning home a song came on the radio station about someone being worth the whiskey. The singer, who I can only assume is a heartbroken man, is at a bar drinking to his work week and the soldiers busting their ass for us, but refuses to acknowledge that she is worth the whiskey he is drinking. A little tough to probably listen to if you are the ‘she’ but the song got me thinking.

There is a thousand adages if you need them about everything under the sun. There are those that say ‘Choose Happiness’ or the ones that ask if what you are fretting about will really matter to you in five, ten, a hundred years. There are little sayings to get you through each and every possible crisis; some said by the greatest thinkers of all time and some said by random 15-second celebrities that probably have no concept of anything but what is on television.

But when it comes down to it what is worth those cliches; what is worth the whiskey?

Personally, I am a complainer. This makes for interesting reading on my posts but probably eye-roll inducing for those who know me best.  For instance, I get upset at the ‘happiest place on earth’ because everyone is trying to figure out what to do next but no one is actually making a decision.  I get upset Christmas morning because the presents don’t seem to be honored by the recipients; instead of looking and oohing over each thing my children tear into one package just to get to the next. And I bought all the presents so I set myself up for that one.

I complain about being too cold routinely but won’t touch the temperature in our house because I don’t want anyone else to be too hot. I complain about my face, my hair, pretty much anything that is on my body – but have I actually done anything about it? It annoys me. But I do it.

Do I do it in order to get attention and to get someone to try and fix my problems for me? Do I do it in a bid to feel like I am the most important person in the room; or do I do it for the compliments that invariably come from the complaints? Do I complain about each and every thing in my life in the hopes that by putting it down than when it is resolved I will get a better joy? Probably a combination of all.

But what is really worth the whiskey?

I don’t drink, but if I were sitting at some dimly lit bar, on a cracked and wobbly stool watching as the bartender cleaned ancient and cracked glasses what exactly would I drink about? What would be strong enough, loud enough in my brain to drink about?

Death certainly. That is a no brainer. But what else in my life deserves that shot of aged whiskey in the cloudy glass? What else in my life deserves the bending of my head in misery?

I know that I have a disease that perpetually makes me feel worse than the circumstances call for; I have learned this after years and years of having such depression that no amount of drugs or whiskey will actually drown the feelings. I know that my perspective on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is always framed in that depressive state. It changes everything that I am; and rules with the strongest iron ever fist. So the average daily things that I complain about are influenced by the depression that I feel. We can’t ignore that; I can’t get around that.

So I know I complain. I even know why I complain. I know what precipitates this complaining. And I know that there will probably never be a time in my life when I won’t complain.  So we have to take everything that I have ever complained about and take it off the table.  It isn’t worth the whiskey; mostly because it is brought by a chemical imbalance in my head and not what is truly important – my perceived reality.

So if you take the complaints off and you take death off – because that is always worth the whiskey – what do you have?

The fact that I am trying to find a job and don’t have one isn’t worthy of any shot of whiskey. The fact that my children are learning to push me and challenge me to be a better mother by seeing how far I go until I break isn’t worthy of that shot of whiskey. Even the fact that I don’t have enough money to pay all my bills isn’t worth the shot of whiskey. None of these things, and none of a thousand others, are truly worth a shot of whiskey for one simple reason -none of these things truly matter.

Is there anything in life worth the sorry picture one makes sitting alone in a bar drinking shots of that amber liquid? Is there anything truly worth the ritual and the pain of drinking for no other reason than you need a moment of oblivion? Most of those participating in this life know love, money troubles, family, home, work, and faith. But are any of those things worth even the moment of importance that a drink of whiskey gives?

Or should we only be drinking to happiness? Instead of drinking to loss love, should we drink to the possibilities that have now opened because the poison of another is gone? Instead of drinking to having no money should we simply drink to the knowledge that we tried? Instead of drinking to the complaints shouldn’t we drink to the little, tiny, and almost missed moments of pure joy?

Next time I sit alone in a bar, this is what I will raise my glass to.  In the meantime, let me tell you what those children tried to pull last night…

Ahh, the Blahs

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blahI am having a day of the blahs. Even the computer that usually sits on a table waiting for me is currently on my lap as I can’t find the energy to get even that far off the couch. Today I won’t eat. Today I know I won’t get up and continue my healthy lifestyle. I will sit on this couch and watch TV and ignore the millions of things that would be better for me to do.

These days used to be much more common than they seem to be the last month. The last month I have worked hard to do the little things in life that I used to ignore so easily. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming; all those things that important for the health and continual ease of my family I have actually been doing.

I worry that even one day on the couch is going to be the start of a pattern.  The first day of the old me; the me that couldn’t find the energy to live but instead focused solely on the easy. Easy being not getting up, not being productive.  Easy to be lazy.

Despite the fact I sit here and write this today and know that I don’t want this pattern to began, I also feel that talons of that laziness trying to flow through my veins. But like the blood that flows so easily, how do I stop it from coming? How do I get up from this couch and began to start a new beginning.

Because while the last weeks of trying to do more, of being more present not only the lives of my children but my own life has been remarkable; the hard part is going to start now. Can I get off the couch and not fall into the loneliness? The laziness? It isn’t hard to sit on this couch, it is hard to get off this couch. Not once, but over and over again.

In the last weeks I haven’t done anything amazing. There is so much more on my list that I want to add to my daily life. Not things that are large or even very flashy, but rather daily little tasks that I think I could add to the equation to make me happier. Not to change for anyone else, but a chance for me to look in the mirror each not and smile.

When you live with depression and live with bipolar disorder one of the first things you deal with is the disappointment. The realization that what comes so easily to others will never come easily to you.  The knowledge that it is difficult to get daily tasks done because there is a living, breathing weight that makes it almost impossible.  And when you do those little things you don’t do them for your own happiness but only because you can’t stand the pity, the look in those you love eyes.  You don’t get up because you have the energy but because you don’t have the energy to deal with anyone else’s disappointment.

I am not interested in running a mile. I have no need in me to learn how to finish a marathon, eat only healthy and low-cal foods, or even have a need to wear my makeup and hair styles each and every day. I have no need to entertain my children each and every moment of their days, nor do I have a need to mow the lawn in the dead of winter.

I only have a interest in being a part of my family each day. I only have an interest in feeling good about myself by doing the things that most others would take for granted.

I don’t take anything for granted. I simply can’t. I know how difficult I am to live with, so I certainly don’t take those who do live with me for granted. I have looked into my checking account and known the reality of losing a job simply because I was sick on the inside rather than the outside, and not taken it for granted. I have been on the couch for days, months at a time so I know that these last three weeks have been absolutely amazing.

Can I sustain it? Can I keep it? Or I am stuck one more time in a life sitting on a couch waiting for the world to come and get me? Because if you think for one moment that I wish to get up with this weight laying on my chest, you’re wrong. But if you think for one moment I want to sit on this couch and give up, you’re wrong.

Where I go from here, whether I will be on the couch tomorrow or moving is almost completely out of my control. But there is one things greater than anything weightly or horrible in this world…hope.

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