Sneaky Little Suckers

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imagesI got a text today.  Not an auspicious event in my life, as lots of people text me. I tend not to respond often, or when I do my responses are one to two words that perfectly states what exactly I am thinking.  But today’s text threw me literally for a loop.  What was a pleasant question from a friend, asking how I was doing, led to a bomb of epic size exploding right in front of my eyes.

It always amazes me when emotions especially, sneak up on me.  For heaven’s sake, I am bipolar; how can an emotion sneak.  I feel happiness from the top of my toes to the bottom of my hair follicles.  I play in happiness like it is bubbles in a bath. And I have so much fear there are times that I can’t move. My emotions tend to be big, loud and on good days, the life of the party.  They are rarely hidden.

And why do emotions hide? Why do they sneak up on unsuspecting fools like myself as if to one day wake up and decide today’s the day? What made today different than the other 364 this year, what made it possible for my emotions to come to the forefront of my life? And what ultimately is the price I am going to pay for these dormant little suckers?

When I thought about what I was going to respond to that innocent little text, I realized I am extremely angry and devastatingly hurt.

Did my psyche protect myself in order to keep from responding to these life changing emotions? Technically what I am angry about and what hurts me so much, is probably not much in the scheme of things. Many people, not living in this moment, would probably even say to get over it, the problem was not that bad.  Even you, dear reader, would say something similar, this I can almost promise. It is the kind of issue that isn’t an understandable issue. It isn’t noticeable when looking from the outside. It isn’t something that can be put into actions that are as readily seen as the latest blockbuster movie.  But it is there.

At first, I did what I always do.  I went to the internet.  I looked up the problem, the anger, in a quest to mitigate the damage before I did something regrettable (although I don’t know what that is).  The problem with anger, as many of us know, is that it doesn’t go away; it either festers and explodes like Mt. Edna, or it pops as loudly as fireworks in July.  Hurt, hurt is a little harder. It destroys the fabric of the self until one isn’t able to even recognize themselves in a house of mirrors.  Hurt destroys slowly, silently until one literally buckles. It may be a fist in the face hurt, or a jab in the back, but hurt kills more softly than the greatest cancers alive.

The internet, of course, had many suggestions.  First, there was the popular exercise.  My problem with exercise, beyond the fact that I am lazy, is that it certainly gives me those celebrated endorphins, but only for a brief moment. Don’t get me wrong, it may last a day but after that the high is gone and I am in the same place and even sometimes a worse place. Plus, I tend to get obsessive about things, and the one thing I can’t afford to really get obsessive about is exercise.

Then of course, the internet encouraged talking about it.  Problem with that.  I don’t have many friends; I am pretty much a loner.  And it is difficult for me to call upon the friends I have just to talk about this one thing.  I didn’t call last month just to see how they are, is it fair to call them for something like this?  I don’t have insurance so therapy is out.  And my family is not the type I tell anything to; various reasons really, but compelling all the same.  So talking to anybody other that you, dear reader, was out.

I can write about it. That tends to put things in perspective.  Of course, I fear that I would be writing a chapter book that ultimately would defeat the purpose of entertainment.  Where is the time? Where is the will to write this long and this hard about something that is so sneaky as to surprise the dickens out of me?

If you are a fellow Pintrest fan, than you might be yelling at your screen right now, the popular sayings regarding ridding oneself of the things that are making me feel this way.  And yet we come to another problem…I am an adult, I can’t.  The things that are making me angry and hurt are not things that can be easily trashed or recycled in the compost bin. The things that are bringing these emotions right to the front are not something that I can easily walk away from; nor should I.  Instead they are a part of life that is sometimes unfair, and most often completely wrong.  They are the demons that have voice and they are the diseases that ravage one to their ultimate death.

So let’s recap.  I have something that makes me angry and hurt, yet I can’t exercise it away. I can’t talk or write about it until it goes away, and because I have the misfortune of living until adulthood, I can’t walk away from it.  I am stuck. I am stuck understanding that I am angry and even why I am hurt; but I am stuck with those emotions as surely as I am stuck with the freckle on my nose.

Angry and hurt will one day take all of my being.  It will become the large monster in the corner of the room and it will become the inescapable necessity of the rest of my life.  It will grow and fester, and it will end of destroying that which is precious to me.  And I will sit here years from now, rereading this post and nodding my head in the knowledge I knew the moment I read that innocent text.

Two Peas With A Disease

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peasI am huge fan of Pintrest.  I don’t know what it is about those random pictures featuring everything from a lovely dresser to a desert I can taste without once stepping in the kitchen that keeps me entertained for hours.  I like to use the pictures to fly away from my little world and create with them a world that is of my exacting and sometimes eclectic taste.  I dream of the places I would see, in that perfect focus, and the dresses I will never be able to afford.  It gives me a taste of the elegance, the sophistication, the beauty that life continually seems to deny one. Life is simply too dirty to ever look like Pintrest.

If you ever go on Pintrest on of the things you will be inundated with from the beginning are little sayings, cute little quotes, and famous words.  These poetic life wisdoms will be on wood, glass, paper, and even sometimes the shirts you probably would never wear.  Some are cute, some are inspirational, some are downright rude.  But they are there to pick you up, dust you off, and change your point of view.

I often read the quotes and chuckle.  Other times, I will save those little bombs for future use; whether in decorating a home I don’t have or in painting a masterpiece that I am incapable of.

Little bits of wisdom are strange and wonderful things.  When they hit you at the exact moment that you need them, it feels like a wind tunnel has blown not just your hair but the whole course of your life.  For days you might remember the words that so powerfully lifted you up, but eventually you will either replace the saying with one more appropriate to that moment, or you will simply slow down enough that you can’t keep up with the very wind whispering those potent words. This is life. This is what happens; and no matter how much you need those words back, you will forever lose the incredibly mighty lexis that once filled you.

I have spent many years looking for those sayings, even prior to the invention of Pintrest.  For some reason Marilyn Monroe’s words, or Aubrey Hepburn’s words, can transport me through the curve that is currently causing me trouble.  They are my muscles, my strength to not give up.  And I use them as easily as I use the words I am writing on this paper to get through the tough times.

Not everyone does this, of course.  There are those who use other inspirations to stay the course, or to beat back the demons of negativity.  Then there are those who simply don’t let the unenthusiastic, unconstructive, unhelpful, pessimistic words to ever bring them down; they are made of eternal sunshine.  I often wonder if these types of people actually exist, and then I simply want to know what they have drank, smoked or swallowed – I need me some of that.

Me, I am pessimistic until backed in a corner or worse, until someone actually sees me.  Then I put a smile on my face, roll up my sleeves, and start with a drop kick in defense.  It maybe in my imagination, or it may in someone else’s, but I fight only when I have to.

My husband is different.  My husband starts out for about forty-eight hours being happy, confident and full of the vinegar needed to make things happen; and then he slides for the next three months into a level of pessimistity that is hard to describe.   Walls have fallen, and then rebuilt.  Worlds have moved, and then stopped dead in the face of a pebble.  Blood that once ran red, all of a sudden look black.  And once that depressing attitude begins, there is no stopping the excuses.  There is no way to change the tide; the woe is me has begun and it is on a train that has no wheels to turn.

Don’t get me wrong, I am bipolar.  There are moments of pure depression that make my husband look like a ray of sunshine.  There are moments of anger, frustration and then sadness that make it impossible for me to comprehend why I even begin to get out of bed.  And most of my optimism is paid by that little pill I take multiple times a day in order to stay sane. But whether it is the pill itself, or my own self, I mostly do get out of bed.  In fact, I will often get out of bed over and over again to face the same dreary reality, rather than stay in bed as I should.

To listen to my husband make excuses when those wheels aren’t turning, when the tide is pushing so quickly and so dramatically, pushes my buttons faster than anything else God has yet to throw at me.  I hear it, I listen to it, I rage against it.  I see red and literally can feel the blood began to flow through my heart as it races to keep up with the demons I can’t keep reined.  I will anger, I will scream, I will cuss, and I will find myself quickly in a place that is as destructive as the place my husband as found.  And then we are both lost.

The worse for me is the what happens when the excuses begin to fly.  My husband’s excuses come in the form of drinking heavily and laziness.  Did you not know that excuses come in other forms; not just words?  Sure the words always exist, but excuses are actually the actions you take in reaction to the insidious words of doubt or even happiness that comes into your mind.  The words that change the reality are important; but they don’t hold a candle to the reality of the actions they make.

My husband is an alcoholic; he doesn’t actually need much to decide to drink.  Give him a good day, give him a bad day or anything in between, and he drinks.  He hides it under the bed, just like any other alcoholic; I suppose in an attempt to keep me from knowing how much he drinks.  He convinces himself each and every time that I don’t know; yet I know before I even get my whole body through the front door.  I can smell it, see it in the redness of his face, and I can hear it in the stories he wants to tell.  Then there is the laziness.  Life not going the way you want, my husband’s response isn’t to fight, it is to concede and hope the next round is easier.  My husband doesn’t use anger or frustration to come out fighting; he uses it as a way to make it simple.  My husband longs for an uncomplicated, effortless, and painless life; and despite his age he hasn’t figured out it doesn’t exist.  My husband sees a mountain, and rather than climb it, go through it, or around it; he sits down and begins the excuses.  He begins to figure out how to become the mountain so no one will see him; and no one further push him.  Being the mountain no one can hurt him, turn him, no one can destroy him.

I understand this about my husband and I love my husband.  There is so much of me that wishes my husband knew how I felt about him.  There are so many times I wish that when I explained his wonderfulness, that he listened.  There are so many times when I tried to explain to him that life is beautiful, but he won’t see it.

From my husband I instead get asked if I love him? Why am I not supporting him? Why am I not seeing the unfairness that is staring into his face?  Horrible questions for a person who believes soul deep that she is trying.  And sometimes I wonder if the old saying about two people with diseases being married is true?  Maybe we are destroying each other with our own destructions? Can I truly make him see that I need him at his best, to fight the darkness; can I give him the words convincing him that he is not less?  That I need him to believe that everything is going to be okay; because fair or not…I had the disease first.

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

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imagesI enjoy listening to music.  I like listening to music when I work, when I play, even when I am writing.  There is something easy about the ability a well-written song has to change your mood, to redefine your mood, or even to simply make your mood.

Typically when I listen to music it is on my computer.  I use a system that has all of my favorite songs listed, and plays only from that list.  Never deviates to something similar, and there are no commercials.  It is just my musical world. 

I have groupings; like for writing, for exercising, Disney, etc.  I use those groupings only when I am in a mood that desperately needs to be reinforced by words written by magicians I have never met.  Put on the music of Gladys Knight or Adele, or the lyrics to Whiskey Lullaby or I won’t Give Up and I can and will successfully accomplish that which I need the music for.

Today, I need the music to remind me.  To remind me that while there is no castle in the sky, nor is there a place I can go to find the serenity I so desperately need, there is a place in the notes of a great song.  I listen to Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding, and while I am briefly reminded of Tom Cruise and a shirtless Val  Kilmer, I am also transported to a home by the sea; to a swinging bench, to the salty air.  I can hear the ocean in the early dawns as the rays of the most beautiful sunrise bathe your face.  I can hear the lack of noise, the quiet for my mind to settle, and the calmness of the simple.

The power of music stuns me.  The ability for a series of notes, that once whistled softly in someone’s mind, to take you exactly  where you need to go, to give you the reminder that you have so harshly lost, or to help you to unburden in a world that accepts drowning as a normal life, is exceptional.  Those simple strings that you have to listen for, that bass line that some have to pull forward and others push back, makes the world if not understandable, as least a little more beautiful.

I often talk about the fact that I desperately need a safe place; a resting place.  I have been to multiple therapists over this concept, and I have finally begun to recognize that a safe place doesn’t exist.  The journey, while holds its own importance, is destined to fail.  There is no safe place.  There is no place to go to that will give you the comfort, and even more importantly the understanding, you desperately need.  Even the songs that we so love are nothing but a substitute, and while usable for brief moments especially when you are singing at the top of your lungs, ultimately they are just a series of notes that the layman can’t read.

But what about that fictional Dock of the Bay?  In your mind it can become a place; a real world that you can find and relax into as long as the measures of the songs continue.  It is a place that only exists in the four minutes of the music, but it is a place that can be captured over and over by the repeat button on your radio.  It shows no understanding; even our affair with the composer lasts no longer than an affair with an author of a book.   It shows no compassion; and while it can wrap itself around you, it is a figment of the imagination God gave us to survive.  It is as real as we make it, and yet it has no powers when silent.  Unlike the eyes, it cannot see beyond the notes; and it cannot comfort in silence.

There are tangible things that I need in my life; things like hugs, warm shoulders, and snuggles from my babies. Those are some of the essential things that I must have, but they are ultimately dependent on another.  Even the snuggles from my babies are dependent on my children’s whims.  These tangible things cannot be synthetically created nor can they be reproduced; no matter how essential I hold them.

Like everything in life, that which we long for is often held far away from our dreams.  The reality of human beings requires that dreams easily change to disappointment when faced with time.  This is a truth far more real than science.  Human beings will disappoint, they will take from each other the necessary air, in order to fly.  They will give you only what they are capable, and the dreams of your own reality will rot as the truth is found.  There is no escape from this; there is no momentarily respite from the knowledge that we aren’t capable of saving anyone.

Music gives us the illusion.  It gives us the illusion that for just a moment we are free; for just a moment the dream that we hold onto so desperately in the night, cannot be felled by our own reality.  It gives a break from the search, not for perfection, but for sanctuary.  It gives our mortal soul a moment of immortality and rest.  It gives an illusion to hide behind.  And then the guitars start, and fly to a different world altogether.

 

Life’s Greatest Sword

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swordI need to write.  It is burning within me.  As my days jumble themselves together in the misery of a life I do not want, the freedom of flying is slowing down to a barely recognizable crawl.  The need to see and feel something beyond these sad souls that surround me is becoming once again a compulsion.  The need to breathe without the stink of failure is crushing me.

I have given and I have taken. I have given my heart and tried to bring solace to the part of my soul desperate for the freedom of art; the fighting strength of the pen.  I am drowning in the mundane seconds of a normal life; the job, the dinner, the afternoon tea.  I am drowning in the extraordinary commonplace that has become my only world.

The dreams still float along my conscience like sparkling lights in the middle of the day; there but so magical as to be almost part of the dream.  There is the hole that is not filled by the passion that I call so easily, and there is a moment’s fear that death will come before hope. There is a space the sits, closing tragically and systematically, as I ignore all that I know and all that I feel for the drudgery that is common life.

I feel the breath slowing as my life is drying and feeling like the arid winds of the Serengeti.  I want to scream Hallelujah, and feel the wind as it runs through my drifting fingers.  I want to know love as only I can see in the darkness of my imagination, and I want to create the facts that will redefine the world as I know it.  It is there; waiting.

I want to believe without worrying about the eventual death.  I want to swim in the direction that will provide the sustenance I need to live.  I want to run so fast the wind mourns my presence.  I want to be so much more than what is dictated, what is determined, what is never risked.  I want to sing so that God himself can fall asleep.

I feel the angels pushing and pulling me away from the decisions I have made this day.  I feel the muse yelling in my ear to find another path; and I feel the truth, the loneliness of not listening.  I feel the death solely stealing over me, and the knowledge that in the darkness I will never find the light.  I feel the twin swords dueling to stay or fly.  And ultimately, the sword of responsibility will kill not just the floating dreams of today, but the very essence of me.

The tip of that sword lies on the heart that is atrophied by disappointment and disillusion.  The tip of that sword lies on the broken promises and the knowledge of the pending destruction that will destroy the hope of rebuilding.  The tip of that sword takes no prisoners, and no hostages; it makes no promises, it only destroys.  And the beats of my heart is leading to a destruction that will destroy even the weapon that fells it.

There is beauty missing; there is no journey through the veritable monsoon of colors that life shows in each instant.  There is a sincere lack of magnificence to sustain even the simplest corners of my soul.  Rather the bleakness of reality has smothered so much in me as to make me mute.

But I remember the feeling of flying, as if I did it in the splendid dawn this morning brought.  I remember that hope, those promises, those dreams that I once promised were so easily attained.  I remember those thoughts of imperfection that brought the truth of heaven and earth like nothing else could.  I remember the secrets of the angels that reminded me I was more.

There is no path but the one in which I crawl.  There is no solution to a world that has wrapped it’s darkness around me and given me nothing but a depression I am fighting with a sword pointed in the wrong direction.  There is no other way. There is no other way to endure.

The responsibilities of parenthood, the simple tasks of being a wife, requires that dreams and hopes lay on the side of the path like carcasses of life.  The meaning of the accountability, the dependability, the reliability, takes the beauty out of infatuations.  The grey takes the passion; the indifference takes the madness.  And one is left with the one I knew my nightmares could bring.

Will I continue to lose myself until the death of my dreams, and the death of my soul, becomes a simpler path? Will I continue to find no strength in losing a fight with a monster that succeeds in drowning all beauty from the eye?  Will I continue to be silent, and lose all the comfort of the madness I hold onto it?  Will I forget the feeling of a beautiful turn of words?  Will I forever be blinded by the simplicity that surrounds me?  Will I slowly lose the capability to breathe until the night finally comes to rescue me and send me to the home I always dreamed?

The Russian Peasants

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Russian PeasantsI admit that I often have strange thoughts.  I usually have these thoughts in order to somehow put life into perspective.  My life, which is by most standards, incredible, feels often like a hamster on a wheel.  I am stuck on the bottom of the wheel, moving and running with all my might to get to the highest point, yet I stay in the exact same place.  Life, the wheel, certainly moves, but I seem to just run in a world without change. Not the scenery, not the challenge, not even the air changes as I run.

I think of those Russian peasants in the old photos.  You know the ones I am talking about; they look beaten, weary, old before their time.  They live in some of the remote places of Siberia or other places of hell on earth, and they do so each day of their lives. They wear unadorned clothing and scarves around their head that have no color.  They eat what they grow and they happily live in a world without internet, the newspaper, and in many cases neighborhood friends. They are isolate, maybe by choice, but mostly by survival. They don’t know who the dictator is making choices for them, nor do I imagine, they care.  Their days are routine and they survive with it.

I am the first to admit that I may have dramatized this world for my own sake. I have never been to Russia.  I have never visited the far reaches of Siberia. Instead I look at photos and read stories and feel like I know people who have their own hearts, their own minds.  I see beauty, but a harsh beauty that is probably not appreciated within the need to live.

And I wonder about their children.  Those few who decide that this life isn’t their own.  Those few that leave the comfort of routine for the big city and jobs in factories and mines.  Those children that move beyond the comfort of their parents to find something else. It is not an urge usually taught by parents, anywhere in the world, but rather a single light fed into the soul that says something is different. I think of those thousands in little lives, and I think about those ones who lives spark something much different.

And I wonder if different is change.  We all romanticize change.  We believe if we just move to a new house or a new job, or if we simply change our diet and exercise plans, things will be different.  Maybe if we had bigger or better, or maybe if we just had new, things would be different.

What I have found instead is change, changing that around you until you don’t even recognize it, doesn’t get you off the hamster wheel. Maybe the tank was moved and so the view is different, or maybe someone finally got tired of the squeaking in the middle of the night, and revolutionized your wheel.  Doesn’t really matter, you are still running and you are still living.

Recently, I changed pretty much everything in the hopes of making a better life for my family.  I moved multiple states away, got a job that was different than any I had before, moved in with family so that some of the stress of bills would be lessen, and I promised myself that I would seek and work towards a more comfortable person.

None of that happen.  Oh, I moved, I got the job, I live with my wonderful mother, but none of the real things changed.  And that is somewhat heartbreaking.

I still deal with stress – that of raising children, and that of closing my old life.  I still deal with a disease that makes it literally impossible for me to fundamentally believe that everything is going to be okay.   I still come home some days worn to the bone, look at my children, and wonder when it will end.  I still get up and I still go to sleep.  Life doesn’t fundamentally change.

For all those who have tried to change, and found even in the midst of the big ones life is fundamentally the same you know exactly what I am speaking about.  There is so much that is the same, even when everything looks different.  There is so much that you can’t walk away from, no matter the books or cute little sayings that promise different.

Life is a continual struggle to race to the top of a wheel.  It doesn’t matter what state you are in and it doesn’t matter what you are wearing.  You don’t have to look the same, to see the same. And it is sad and depressing this truth.  It makes one wonder what the point of going forward really is.

One of those ridiculous sayings points out that if you are not going forward, you are standing still.  I wonder today, what is the difference? Does life really change or does the outside, the ineffectual change, and the inside where it counts, stays the same?

One then has to posit the age old question, what is the point? Why move forward? Why work to change when it all seems to stay so much the same? You can’t change me.  We can’t change our fundamental selves. Who and what we are deep inside doesn’t change when we exchange outfits anymore than when we exchange states.

Growth to me, especially growth of the self, is something that happens so slowly as to be like watching the earth crack.  It happens, sometimes at a burst, but for the most part so slowly as to be boring.

And change, real change that can help you out of the drudgery of your life only happens when you change yourself.  And please allow me a moment to remind you that we are talking about your own self, not anyone else’s. But change of one’s self when you accept that you are in Siberia, with a warm but unattractive scarf, practical shoes, and no makeup or jewelry, takes more time than one can watch.  Instead one is only allowed to look at that little watch on the treadmill to find jubilation in how far you have come. And even then you have to remember to change the batteries.

 

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