Cigarette, Drink, Wall

Tags

, , , , ,

The Simply Lux LifeThere are days when I simply and desperately want to enjoy a cigarette. There are days when a really well made drink seems to be the answer. And then there are the days that I wish I could bang my head on the wall repeatedly.

I try not to complain, seeing as I have a good life. And interesting fact, my seven year old thinks I whine too much. I told him he is lucky to not be in my head. Life is life, we all know it and we all live it. Despite the incredible amount of thoughts otherwise, life is life. We can try and change it, we can even move in different directions in the hope of changing it, but as long as we are ourselves there is not many places we can go.

I dislike that about life. I dislike that I can’t simply find change deep inside of me where those hopes and dreams live and pursue it with all my concentration. The truth is between money, time, children, and the myriad of other decisions I thought were a good idea at the time, I am stuck.

I know that everyone’s life revolves and evolves. I know intellectually that we all have highs and lows, but what I have never been able to figure out is if my ups and downs are more pronounced. Could it be I am just a whiner? Does everyone suffer from knowing that tomorrow could be a really bad day? Does everyone instinctively know that a certain time and a certain place means a certain pain?

My disease makes it possible for me to see all the range of human emotions that are allowed in the deep psyches of our brains. My disease makes sure that I am intimately connected not only to the everyday but the secrets of the next. My disease means that I can and will fall. And I truly have a hard time knowing if that is a good thing or not.

In darkness, in the bad days, there is a release. There is the knowledge that you have probably sunk as low as you are going to. There is the silence of the darkness that allows us to rest and find comfort. And there are bad days when I know I finally have an excuse to sit down and stop pretending.

I think one of the greatest tragedies of mental illness is the desperate need we each have to pretend. After years of being told it is all in our head, denied medical care or medicine, and even mocked we learn to pretend. The times I have been gently let go from my job, I have learned how to pretend. And the thousand of times I have been told by a doctor that not only am I their wet dream come true, but that I need them desperately, I have learned to pretend.

When we are born we don’t have an innate ability to pretend. When we are hungry everyone in a two mile radius knows it. When we are tired our parents can sense it before we make one step out of bounds. When we have a growth spurt our parents know. There is nothing externally or internally that we can hide because it is not a gift when we are born.

Some may blame the childhood games of cops and robbers or the ever popular dress like a princess afternoon. Some believe that these games not only ensure that our imagination and therefore our ability to see the other is engaged, but that our need and in some ways our ability to pretend is engaged. By teaching pretend, some believe we encourage pretend.

I dare anyone to meet a person that isn’t pretending. Quite frankly in this day and age of internet sensationalism and million dollar discrimination it is no wonder that we all pretend. Despite who and what we are, we all desire to be a part of a larger circle. Maybe that circle only includes those with the same disease as we have, but it is still a circle. It is probably one of the few human instincts that scientists and religion can agree on.

There are days when I am smoking my cigarette or drinking something all those little pill bottles warn me against that I know that all I am doing is pretending. I know that those around me, those who love, truly believe that like a child they can predict and know who and what I am. For the most part, however, I am pretending.

I pretend to keep people’s emotions from being hurt. I pretend to keep people from knowing that I have a disease. I pretend so that my children are considered by others to be safe. I pretend so that at the end of the day I can find that darkness that I so love.

I pretend to live. I pretend to have at least the illusion of freedom. I pretend in order to hide my true self.

When did it become necessary for me to pretend what I am feeling? When did it become necessary to hide my true self in order to protect the world that I have built? When did it become essential that no one knew what I really felt? When did it become necessary to lie?

I grew up in a normal household. Lying was considered to be a punishable offense, and if caught I could expect any number of lessons. I was told that lying was a bad thing, that I needed to be true to myself because I was great just the way I was made. It is the same thing that I teach my children. Who and what you are is plenty enough for anyone; and if they don’t like you simply walk away.

But that isn’t what happens at some vague point in your life. All of sudden you come to the conclusion that you have to lie. You have to pretend in order to save feelings; even the feelings of those who don’t give you the same respect. You have to pretend to the doctors that you aren’t falling in a way that can’t be recovered because there is fear in where they will send you and if you will ever come back out. You have to pretend because the consequences of being yourself is so dangerous as to make sky diving without a parachute look like a sane idea.

Most of the time I am so used to pretending to be something that I am not that I don’t even notice the difference. Many times I am concentrating on surviving to a point I don’t realize I have regressed into the lying and pretending diseased person that I have to be. Most of the time pretending is so ingrained to be as much a part of me as breathing.

I take those cigarette breaks in the hope that for that five minutes I can let down my guard. I take that drink in the vain hope that somehow the liquor will finally give me the courage to be me. And the banging my head on a wall? That is simply me trying to shake my self into not giving the truth away.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

Tags

, , , , ,

fantasy artDante eloquently and beautifully described the circles or levels, if you prefer, of hell. There is something poetic about the words written by Alighieri and despite the many years it has been on the list of banned books, one of human kinds more impressive attempts at explaining that which we believe.  Inferno, which is Hell in Italian, depicted nine circles of hell and was only one of the books Dante wrote about the journey of souls through heaven and hell.

Dante wrote that the nine circles of hell were actually here on Earth. Everyone from Keats to Star Trek has either quoted or copied the poems. If you ask most people they may not be able to tell you how many of circles there were or even what exactly the poem was trying to portray but they will know of the story.

Our art, our literature, even our own writings can describe hell and its corresponding pain in many ways. If you have ever Googled ‘fantasy art’ you will get a view of other people’s pain that few pens are able to duplicate. The worlds that come in all colors often represent not only the places we wish we were but the people we wish we were. They show tears and anger, despair and even love. It is an amazing genre of art that I never knew existed in the early days of my journey through this disease. It is one I visit often now.

I need to see other people’s pain in art. I don’t want to be responsible for pain in myself or others, but there is something soothing about a work that shows you exactly what you are feeling. I consider these pieces mirrors showing me not what I want to see, not what is peaceful, but what it is that I am feeling. I get this way with other arts, including those marble sculptures that are bent into positions depicting pain so horrible it literally makes the body contract, but it is fantasy art that I most often get lost in.

In case you are wondering I actually don’t have any talent for visual art. Not my forte and not my specialty. I like the written word to comfort me. But the premise is the same; we search for ways to see pain, to be able to describe what we are feeling, so maybe we can fix ourselves; not for the enjoyment of others. Maybe by staring into the literal abyss painted by some unknown artist we can finally climb out. Maybe by staring at a warrior, set for battle and angry at the life he knows, we can finally vanquish those demons. Maybe if we see a broken angel lying almost dead, we can find a way to live.

Art is an important part of my life. I sit here writing on this machine, listening to the morbid words of the greatest soul singers, and wonder how I can depict in a way that the reader will not only enjoy, but in a way the reader will understand. I surround myself with art. I look for it when the pieces are falling into place and when the pieces are causing me to cut myself into the puzzle I can’t get away from. I have learned how to bend, who I am, and what pain I am capable of through the art that moves in my veins for the length of time it is in my memory.

And then there are the pieces that show the pain that I can’t forget. The paintings of Edward Hopper, the sculptures of Bernini, the music of Otis Redding can not only transport me to a place that I desperately like to escape into, but it also can convey the emotions that overtake me. I dare you to see Proserpina by Bernini and not feel all the ecstasy that is in a single moment. I dare you to stare at Hopper’s Automat and not feel like you too have willingly been abandoned for the more glamorous and glittery world of a life with a meaning. And then listen to Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long and not feel like you have continued on this useless journey for so long you can’t be free.

I know what the silence in death is like because I have seen death in many forms. I have felt the tearing of an angel’s wings because I have seen the artist fall apart. I have known the nine circles of hell because someone has written about it.

In moments, in bitter seconds, I am not alone. I am not out here experiencing what the others can’t. I am capable of crying and feeling because this art gives me the license. When I am leaning against my bed and tears are falling down my face, there is something incredibly beautiful in art’s depiction of the loneliness. I can move in the notes of a song, and rather than listen to the words, allow the melody to carry me over the oceans and trees of my dreams; it can take me far out of the world I am suffering in.

I will be the first to admit that when something is drastically wrong, something that those who profess to love me can’t see, I often turn to my own words. I type what at times are symphonies of darkness and sometimes simple drivel. I make myself move not from the seat I am sitting in, but toward the place in my mind that is finally illuminated by that sentence, that word, that image.

There is comfort in pain. There is comfort in knowing that sometimes you aren’t traveling this world alone. Sometimes there is comfort in being able to explore the world that they have left you not through your own mind but the imagination of others. When you can shake off the shackle of your mind and travel to worlds that greet you with the love you desperately want, life is connected.

I feel alone with this disease. I know others have my disease but I also know that no one on earth has my same experiences and my same weakness. There is no one that can feel what I do when the lights are turned off and the world starts to sleep. There is no one that can feel what I do when the earth is moving faster than I know how to run. I know there is no one that can anticipate my disease nor cure my disease.

So I seek comfort. So I seek others that feel. Sometimes I am lucky and someone is able to share the perfect piece of art with me; the dream that they painted or sculpted. And I find someone who can see deep inside of me and put color to the pieces of my soul that I hide. Sometimes the comfort I seek are from the masters and sometimes it is from the student.

Because it is not the hand I wish to feel but the deep seeded emotional release of a stranger. It is me that travels those nine circles of hell; and it is me that will forever know the shape and feel of each of those sins. Dante may have written it, Bernini may have sculpted it, but it is only I who can find it. And it is only threw the colors of someone’s imagination that I can find my flight.

If You Don’t Hear From Me, The Change is Complete

Tags

, , ,

aloneThe other day I was speaking to someone about my blog. I don’t enjoy talking to people about my blog. Not because I am not interested in people reading my blog but because it is one of the few places I have total control.

No one gives me ideas for topics or pushes me to explore a certain idea. In fact you can almost bet that anyone who tries will find that I don’t follow the advice at all. I may even immortalize the action of trying to tell me what to do so all may know. The only down-side of this, of course, is that when I am blocked by whatever muse is supposed to be sitting on my shoulder there isn’t anyone I can turn to. It means that there isn’t a post everyday – which I don’t think Word Press likes.

The idea of control is defined somewhat differently by everyone. It manifests itself in large and small ways and in different cultures and religions. There are those who like to be in control and are women and there are those who like to be in control and are men. It really can’t be defined by color, race, sex or even sexuality.

Soccer moms and wannabes the world over believe they know what the idea of control in a sexual relationship looks like because they read three books by the great Ms. James. They believe that by reading those little snippets of someone tying you up a person can understand a dominant and submissive behavior. No offense to Ms. James but the books that are so popular as to be ridiculous aren’t actually about dominant or submissive behavior. Its kinky, but it’s not submissive.

By the way it needs to be noted that if you read a book and then pretend to act out the scenes in your own bedroom your likely to get hurt. And if you are not careful, playing around can be very dangerous. Read something other than Ms. James and the Romance section if you think you want to try this. They have many how-tos from spanking to tying someone up. Read first.

Now that I have gotten off that soapbox let me return to what I am really trying to say. A passive person is defined by outside influences and while it has some relative connections to the sexual themes that you may wish I was speaking of it can also be very different.  Many people who call themselves passive or introverted often believe they are the type of people to get walked on, to be treated poorly, or even that they can’t have opinions. Many people asked to define passive and submissive behavior will speak of quietness, their shyness, and the interest in not going to parties.

Like you will find throughout my blog, I dislike labels. I dislike putting a person in a box and defining them as just only. I believe that we are all complicated. We are human and while we may tell our children that everyone makes mistakes we all tend to ignore this sage advice when it comes our own turn.

In my mind a passive person is one of the most complicated personality types. Because you can’t define a passive person using one or two words. The personality rarely comes from tragic pasts or even historical events. It is born within you. And while you may slowly and steadily learn that you are in fact passive, you may not always act like it.

I am a passive person. Despite the fact that my husband loves to tell everyone within hearing distance that I am “liberal, feminist Democrat” it isn’t that easy to define me. It is a trip that I have struggled to come to terms with these last couple of months when my marriage has been on the brink of that slippery and muddy road to divorce.

I am passionate about discovering who and what I am. And on this journey of discovery one of the things I found to be almost the gospel truth is that we change. Times change and we change sometimes with them and sometimes very much against them. Who I was twenty years ago has very little resemblance to the person I am now.

I know there are very lucky people out there who are the same person they were when they were born.  They know who they are and they know what they are. There are no surprises, no considerations, no wishy-washy behavior. They are true to themselves because they are only themselves. They can trust in their minds, souls, their reactions, and their beliefs; because it never changes they have the confidence of understanding.

I am not like that. I think sometimes I change on a daily basis. Sometimes it seems that I spend all day moving from one extreme to the other; kinda like balancing on Justice’s scale and never quite finding that magic spot in between. The cause is simple to explain; I have a mental illness. It means that there is change. It is the definition of the disease.

Even with the acknowledging of this change I find myself constantly having to shift viewpoints.  One minute I am high on the swing with nothing but the fathomless blue in front of me and the next I can see the marks and drags of the thousands of children before me. Despite knowing the basics I am not the same as I was so long ago. Maybe I have grown up; possibly I have grown down. But I have budded a completely different color than those long ago winters.

These days I tend to avoid conflict like the plague. I don’t put myself in contentious arguments and will often go out of my way to be sickly sweet so that the person I am facing thinks well of me. I smile and answer questions that I hate like, “how are you?”. And I will allow others the right to push me in the direction they wish me to go. I am learning as I age that I don’t want to be a boss of someone, I don’t want to shop at the grocery store at six o’clock at night when it is so busy, and I will literally react in a profound and loud way during tense situations but not with anger, instead false laughter.

I don’t talk about my feelings, I don’t share my thoughts – at least the good ones – and I hate to be touched. I will shrink away from everyone’s touch including my mother’s and my husband’s because sometimes the feel of them are actually painful. I am not interested in inventing the next great tool or even to volunteer at my child’s school. When someone is mad at me, I shut down. When someone embarrasses me, I shut down. When someone talks about me like I am not there, I will find myself shutting down.

I would rather my husband get his way than to fight about it. I would rather lay there and have sex than admit that the touching is painful. I would rather spend weeks with my mother searching for the best apartment than stating that I want to do it alone and form my own opinions. And the idea of showing off my brand new jeans in some little show between the girls in my family can lean to me excusing myself to the bathroom to literally regroup.

I am not in an abusive relationship although I can see where that would be possible; for the most part I don’t even see others treating me badly. My mother has to point it out. I literally don’t see it. I don’t like making decisions and am uncomfortable suggesting anything to the point that I eat food I hate.

There are times I am assertive. I think I am more assertive when it comes to the children. I think that when someone or something is being abused or hurt I can stand up. But it comes with a cost. And often a high cost. I know that I can fake my way through every situation at the expense of everyone in my life. I can literally put on a different face and teach my husband that what he knew about me was wrong. I can be mean, not with words so much, but with my actions. I can hurt someone intentionally.

But as I age I find the passive behavior is more prominent in my life. I see that simply walking away, simply not engaging is sometimes not just easier but preferable. This disease allows me the pleasure of being anyone I want; convincingly. But what I really want is the silence of a life alone.  And as I retreat not only physically but emotionally as well, I often wonder who I will be in the next twenty years.

Shedding Skin

Tags

, , , , ,

miWhen I am writing these posts I tend to stick only to the facts and personal epiphanies about my own self. I don’t like to involve others unless it is some fluff piece about how great my children are. I don’t use names and I work hard to make this blog about me and only me.

I am breaking those rules today.

Sometimes when we look deep inside of ourselves we see truths that dramatically affect the lives of those around us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we can change those truths nor that those truths are so horrific that they need to be eviscerated. It just means that the illusion we carried as children and teenagers of our own indestructibility is in fact a lie. It means that at one time we could honestly and with our whole hearts ignore the world around us in favor of believing our own greatness.

As we get older we are supposed to lose that illusion, shed it like a layer of skin. Some do, and some don’t; we all know both types. We are supposed to gradually and with some kind of net below us learn that who and what we are affects the world around us. It may be an uncomfortable realization but for the majority of us it is part of the process.

I don’t mind learning about myself too much. I like learning about how I will react, what I truly believe in and what I am capable of. Mostly those lessons aren’t all that impressive in the scheme of things but it makes me more interesting in my own mind. It gives me a grounding to work from; much like one plus one was the grounding for those calculus problems we all suffered.

The reason for this learning is simple: if you know what you believe and how you react you can begin finding the trust and the net that will support you in the journey of this cruel life. Mental illness is a disease, unlike cancer, that requires you to be better not from the drugs but from your own lessons. The drugs will fail, the emotions will run riot, the predictability of your life will never be what it was when you were ten. It isn’t possible with a mental illness.

So you have to look at yourself. You have to determine how you are going to react so that you can easily put yourself in those positions that will cease causing incredible damage. You have to understand your own beliefs so that you can avoid those conversations that will create the storm those you love dread. We have to know in order to give to our loved ones the shiny artifice that they can live with.

It is a process. And it is a process that changes from day to day and year to year. Like everything with a mental illness change is the only word that easily describes the majority of what we live with. It gives the necessary hint to those who can’t understand these diseases but try and love us anyway. It gives those surrounding us an excuse to rely on. It gives those we love an easy out in the world we can’t survive in.

There are times that process is so easy as to make it seem arbitrary. And there are times this process is so hard to come to terms with that our own darkness is required to shelter our heart. There isn’t a manual or some sort of accurate prediction to what we are going to deal with next; like the disease itself there is change and there is unpredictability.

Prior to my getting married and having children I didn’t learn about much of this process. I didn’t have a need to delve into the workings of a brain that betrayed me over and over and I didn’t have the necessary skills to look beyond the skin to what was really happening. I am not sure if this is a normal course for those of us that get the news we will never be the person we once thought we were going to be, or if the illusions were so beautiful as to seem logical.

What I do know is that there came a time when I began digging. I began searching for the answers to the questions only I could hear, and I began trying to find the path that would let me be more than what I am. I don’t think that anyone in this journey is necessarily successful; there is simply too much of the change we excuse for every day to be able to hold onto a definitive answer and let it define us.

If I had started this journey before I was married I would have read the statistics about marriage, children and mental illness. Most people either ignore the idea that a vast majority of marriages between those with mental illnesses and others are doomed before they began, and others maybe out of fear or even the lack of realistic data ignore this sign. I can tell you there are those that will swear with their whole college degree that marriages involving mental illness can’t survive, and others who will swear on that damaged Bible that it can.

I can’t predict time nor could I have known that when I walked down that aisle so many years ago I would find myself writing a blog, an online diary about my life. There would have been no way to prepare a young girl, dreaming of that white gown and the attention of hundreds that marriage and mental illness can’t coexist. I would have rolled my eyes and probably stuck my tongue out at you. And then if that wasn’t enough I would have jumped into a discourse of the greatness of the man I was going to marry and how I had a different disease.

I still have no idea of the truth of that blanket statement. But I have come to a realization about my marriage.

My marriage has been skating the edge of trouble for about eighteen months. I believe with my whole heart that both of us would have quit this if it wasn’t for the children. I believe with my whole heart that we didn’t lack communication, compromise, or even God. We tried the offices with counselors to talk to, we have tried guilt, hurt, excuses and apologies.

But I think that our marriage never stood a chance because of me. My husband is not a think outside the box guy most of the time. He likes things done in a certain way and he likes to find the cheapest and easiest way to get it done. He likes quick fixes and tends to forget about the world around him unless there is a problem. Nothing really wrong with any of that. Until you throw someone who isn’t easy into the mix.

It must be amazingly annoying to not know who you are going to meet at the door each night. It must be frustrating to get a call at work that your wife can’t handle the children and you are needed at home. It must be amazingly demoralizing to have a woman whom you love that is more interested in surviving her own disease than you.

If we are all honest, that would be difficult for anyone. I like to find my darkness and lay in it for hours, and I need to be alone to stop the world from being so loud as to hurt me. I have to walk away, sometimes run away, just for that momentary self-deception that I am free. I have to deal with the knowledge that tomorrow I may not live past noon and not because I have a wish to die, but because something deep inside of me will tell me to do it.

Even if we take all this away, a marriage with someone who is mentally ill, also requires medication. It requires therapy, doctors, hospitals. It requires safe guards and side effects. A marriage with someone who is mentally ill takes an amazing amount of side effects.

For me, these medications have giving me a complete lack of sexual desire. Not just for my husband but for every male and female in my life. It isn’t as important to me as surviving. It isn’t as important to me as giving all my energy to my children so that at least they have a chance of a healthy life. It has never been important to me because it has never been a part of me; if you can’t feel something then it won’t exist for you. While others know what intimacy and trust are like, I don’t. That truth has long passed me.

I have come to realize that a lot of marriage can be destroyed by this side effect. I have come to realize that intimacy and trust is as important as talking about the mundane and sharing the chores. I have come to realize that most people, those whose basic human desires are not wiped out by the pills taken, need intimacy and trust. And it is possible there once was a day I needed it to.

I actually experienced physical desire for about two weeks awhile back. It was the most insane ride I have been on yet. I had no control and I would embarrassingly feel emotions that I had no concept how to handle. Believe me, if you don’t know desire and never had the chance to learn it, when it comes out of the blue life just gets strange.

In this journey of mine I have come to realize that what I have put my husband through the last years isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t fair. Most would say that marriage is like this, but no, it shouldn’t be.

I have destroyed my marriage and in many cases I have destroyed my husband. Maybe it is because of my disease, my inattention, my lack of desire, my lack of trust or simply the insanity of living with someone with a mental illness.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to know what desire feels like for more than a roller coaster ride. I fear that because I have a disease that requires medication with large and devastating side effects, this isn’t something I will ever know. But I never meant to deny such a basic human emotion to another. Problems stem from one or two large reasons – not the thousand we imagine – and if there is no solution to the problem, then there is only agony.

We can sugar coat this world as much as we would like; no one would blame us. But once you start opening those doors and looking into your soul it is possible the world will simply shed the skin off your body. It is possible that you will have to come to terms not only of your own loss but the destruction of those who once loved you so much the rest didn’t matter.

Nothing

I have nothing today. Not the energy to write nor the muse needed to come up with beautiful and insightful prose. I don’t have the desire to be anyone today nor to have great expectations.

There are days like this. There are days like this in my world and in my disease. Sometimes they can be attributed to an event and sometimes it is just the culmination of a day.

Today, I have nothing.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,465 other followers