Thank you

I know some people won’t like what I have to say today-that’s often the case, ha ha. That’s ok some will.  But either way.  It matters not to me. I find I am no longer concerned with what others think of me so much and I thank God for that- I have thought about how much to disclose here- but the whole point of this page is the good, the bad and the ugly. It is all for God’s glory.

I thank God for making my heart free and releasing me from the irons that kept me chained to my past and all the hurt that lived there, the bonds that kept me from feeling His love in my heart. The yoke that choked me and kept me from speaking out in His name. The chains that deafened me and kept my mind so full of noise that I was unable to hear the words He spoke to me.

All the work I did, or thought I was doing on myself… all the years of counseling and suffering and fighting- constantly at war with myself and everyone around me- never trusting anyone, doubting every thought I had and fully believing, at times, that EVERYONE was out to get me. My own mind delighting in playing tricks on me. I spent sooooo many years wrestling with myself and against the God who would let these things happen to me, who would ALLOW these blows to land on me. Just a girl. Some of my earliest memories were of church, I had always been there for him. How could he let me be hurt? Over and over and over again?

Against my better instincts– against my natural inclinations- I turned away. I turned away because I thought he had forgotten about me, I thought he had no love for me. I knew he was there, but I was now, somehow, unseen. Invisible. He had more important things to worry about. People whose circumstances were worse than mine. I felt invisible to him and that the real me had also become invisible to others. I shrank. I shrank into myself, believing that I was damaged beyond repair. That the ME that was inside my body was now, in some way unworthy. My soul began to shrivel and I became a shell of a person. I stopped saying my prayers at night and I no longer talked to God throughout my day. I was alone, even when surrounded by people. My family, my kids, my husband. But I had never felt more alone. I knew how to smile and make small talk and to get through the day but my insides were hollow. The heart of me was gone. My soul, me, the girl I was, it was all gone.

There is no other that could have broken through. No other who could have reached the depths in which I found myself. Alone in the dark. Buried alive.  No other like the God who saved me.

Thank you, God for giving me a grandbaby, a girl- to remind me of the joy of a girl. In her there was laughter and wonder.

In her I began to see myself and was reminded of who I was. Of who I was meant to become and of the possibilities. That was the beginning for me. My new beginning. Thank you. I cannot even express in words what that did for me, but you know. You know.

Thank you, God, for giving me life long enough to ask your forgiveness.

For my selfishness, for harsh words spoken, that I cannot take back. For not always being there for the people who needed me. For sometimes, seeing that there was a need in someone and still turning my back, instead of pulling myself out of my own pain for a moment. For the times I’ve lied or been dishonest in some way, to myself, to others and most especially, to You. The one who knew anyway. For half truths and white lies. For all of them.

For the times I’ve hurt myself, hurt others and been complicit in others hurting themselves or someone else.

For the damage I did to my body- although I must pay for that forever. It is yours and I selfishly did whatever I wanted with it. I’m sorry. I will forever be sorry for all the wrongs I have done, and there is not enough memory on this computer for me to name them all. (Probably not on Google servers, either, lol)

For all the alcohol consumed, the drugs I’ve consumed, the lost time and moments that these things gave me that I, unfortunately, can never get back. For all the time wasted.

I thank you, God for that day you woke me up and took me away from the drugs.

My boyfriend at the time was in jail, for-surprise, surprise- selling drugs…  I had spent who knows how many days high and awake. I had snorted the last of the meth or coke or whatever it was that day-At that time I would take anything that would keep me awake and out of the dreams and nightmares and flashbacks that invaded sleep every time I closed my eyes-  out of the carpet after spilling it on the floor and called in an order of fried seafood for pick up, I was going to eat and come down. I got to the Mayflower restaurant on that Sunday afternoon-it was filled to the brim with the after-church crowd and I started to get dizzy. Then I broke out in a sweat. I don’t remember hitting the floor. I don’t know how much time passed. I DO remember hearing a voice-as if from a distance, deep and baritone, somebody was praying- ‘Dear God, bless this child’s soul’, a voice asking for mercy on me… Those are the only words I remember and I remember them over and over, although I’m sure he must have said something else…- Opening my eyes, my ears ringing, I could see a large, man in a suit- some preacher I always assumed- kneeling over me and praying for my soul. (When I think of this incident these days, I imagine him as T.D. Jakes, saving my soul, lol…  I remember thinking, “Why are you praying like I’m dead? I’m not dead.” Who knows, maybe I was… He helped me up- they had called an ambulance, I remember saying, “I’m ok, it’s just hot. I got dizzy…” I grabbed my food; I don’t even remember paying for it- I ran out of there in mortification and drove home with my eye on the rearview mirror the entire time. Waiting for the police or an ambulance or something lol. That man saved my life that day.

 It still took me 20 years after that to figure myself out after that though, lol.

 A few months later when that boyfriend was out of jail and he once again punched me in the face, and blackened my eye, I remember something coming into my head-I was staring straight into his eyes, it was like a shutter came down- it was something I could feel- and I remember this voice inside me- it wasn’t mine- it was just there, inside my head and it said, ”Never. Again.” Firmly. Strongly. “No more. Drugs. This is over.” The relationship lasted a few more months, but I never did any more drugs. Well, not those kinds, marijuana has its uses. I didn’t even have a craving. I had no desire. That’s how I know it was God inside me. God speaking. That preacher saved me. My life and just by his asking, my soul. I thank you, God, that he was there when I needed him. Whoever he was…

Thank you for being the Father you are to me and reminding me that all I needed to do was just ask. Thank you, God, for forgiving me.

Your forgiveness and the weight that was lifted off my heart by that one act have made it possible for me to begin forgiving others. I have forgiven others. And with your forgiveness of me and my forgiveness of those who hurt me, I am now made free. I cannot thank you enough for that.

I am now free to follow you, to praise you and to speak to others of your goodness. I am free to follow the path you set for me before I was born, whatever that may be, whatever direction it takes me, it will be better than any I could have carved out on my own.

Thank you to God who loves me, for teaching me how to love. Better. Purely. With trust. Softly. With actions instead of words.

Thank you to God who is patient with me and for teaching me patience. Thank you for constantly reminding me that my time is not like your time. Your time is an eternity, mine is a blip. I need to remind myself of this every time things don’t happen as quickly as I would like them to. Which is more often than I would like, lol.

Thank you to God who listens to me and who has taught me how to be quiet and still and listen for his voice. Thank you, God, for giving me the discernment to tell your voice from all the others in my head and around me. Thank you for always being there to let me talk things through. In the end you always give me the answer I need, even if it’s not always the answer I want. Thank you for the times I went with your answer, instead of pushing through with my own. Thank you, God, that when I did push through on my own, that you kept me safe and put me in the place you had intended anyway, in the long run.

Thank you, God, for giving me a husband strong enough to let me go when I needed to go, both times this last year. For letting me go to the children. They are the important ones, they are our future. Thank you, God for making me brave enough to really go through with it (both times), even when most people thought I had finally lost what was left of my mind. Maybe I halfway thought that. Ha,ha. But I didn’t let it stop me and I attribute that to You. Thank you, God for giving me the courage to follow your plans for me.

When I was frozen, with my body clenched in fear and confusion, you were everywhere I needed you, just when I needed you. I thank you for all the reminders that you were right there beside me. That you calmed me through the word of a stranger, a song on the radio or a verse on my phone. I thank you for making my soul open to feel your Spirit.

I thank you, God, for daring me to do some of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done in this last year and I thank you for giving me the faith to blindly follow. I will trust you have great things in mind for this coming year. I know now that all things work together for the good.

When we are young- when we are children- we are less afraid to be different. We are ourselves the only way we know how to be. That is why children belly laugh and smell all the flowers and love kittens and puppies and other animals ‘to death’ with big hugs and drooling kisses. It is why they touch everything just to see if it soft, hard, fluffy or prickly.

Then one day you notice that others don’t talk like you, dress like you, act like you and the desire to be different than we are made takes hold.

We change the way we talk, our accents, our words… We change our style to be more ‘professional’, casual, metro, punk, goth, whatever, just to be like others… We grow our hair out although we prefer it short or shave our beards after we longingly shape and care for them and spend months growing them out. We stop talking about dreams and beliefs that aren’t like others because we don’t want them to think we are ‘weird’.

The push to be like others tends to come from outside you- but it feels like a pressure crushing your insides. There is no daring in conforming- but there is danger.  Danger to our hearts, our minds and our souls… you can lose yourself trying to be what you are not called to be.

Speaking out for God can get you mocked, called names like ‘sheep’, ‘Jesus Freaks’, or worse- to me , anyway- the ‘ Christians’- with a sneer, people will say it like they are spitting something nasty out of their mouths. I am no longer afraid to be called any of those things. I’m sure some people could come up with worse. Am I the sheep or is it the guy who does things because ‘everyone else does it’? I would be happy to be called one of God’s sheep. Just sayin’… I gave up the idea of being popular quite a long time ago. In exchange for being true to myself. I’ve found it’s the only way to be that works for me.

I thank God that my soul is free and no longer shackled and submissive to the sub- standard conventionalities that have become the norm in society.  I thank God for making me brave enough and strong enough to buck these same conventionalities and set out on my own to discover what he has in mind for me.

I thank God that my heart and soul are now free from the shackles of my past and I wake in the morning with songs and praises in my mind and on my lips.

I thank you, God, for my 40 years wandering in the wilderness. It took from when I was 8 to 48 to trust in you again. That’s a long time but you never gave up on me. You are my everlasting Father. I thank you for the lessons and the perspectives of the down and battered that you have allowed me to gain. I thank you for the hurts and the recoveries. I am a sinner and I have been sinned against. I have been absolved and I have forgiven. I am available, use me as you see fit. I trust in you.

I thank you God, most of all, for bringing me home. Back to where my heart and soul are free to sing. To the place where a stranger prayed over a broken girl. Thank you God, for bringing me home. And for reminding me, that in the end, we are all God’s children, we are equal in your eyes.

Hey. Again.

I feel a little like I’m starting over here and I guess in a way, I am. I’ve been away from here for a long time . The fact is, the person who started this blog and poured her pain out for all to see does not live inside me anymore. I thought about taking those stories down, but I won’t. Those stories are my foundation. Those and many others like them. They are what built me and formed me, this magnificent creature I have now become- ha ha ha.

I stopped even thinking about writing publicly after I received some negative feedback. From a family member. Who was never mentioned or named. “Stop doing all that whining on Facebook,” she said to me at a family reunion barbecue late last summer. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about since the only thing I had posted in the prior few months was something about how awesome green Kool-Aid was on a hot summers day. Later that night my husband mentioned this blog and that’s when it clicked. He remarked at that time that he had also been asked (by others) how he felt about me putting all my “personal shit” out there.

My response to this was was an angry, “F*&k them! This isn’t their story to tell! I’m gonna do what I need to do, that’s what I’m doing! If just one person gets something from this, then I’m good!” But I let those two comments stop me. For a long time, as it turned out. I felt judged. Afraid of embarrassing my family. I doubted myself all over again. Oh, I kept on writing. In notebooks, on scraps of paper, on my phone, on my laptop. I composed books on sheets that were only in my mind. I wrote in private and kept it hidden. Just like I had all along. Secrets. In the darkness.

I spent time with my granddaughter, then cried and moped for weeks when she moved away. I went on an extended cross country road trip and fully cleaned out the garage and basement. I did my best to keep myself busy. Binged a lot of tv. Early this summer my younger sister asked me why I hadn’t written anything in so long and the only response I could come up with was, “I’m thinking…” Thinking about what, I couldn’t say…

Im done thinking. Thinking about what is appropriate for public consumption, anyway. It all is. I was recently reminded of the effects of living in the darkness. The shame, the acting out. The inability to make correct choices for yourself because you are hiding another’s bad ones. The time wasted. Frozen. No.

If you don’t like what I have to say, stop reading. If you don’t relate in some way, these stories are not for you. I don’t really care if you like me or approve of me or my methods. When you, your child, your sister, brother, mother, father are forced to live and remain in the darkness- it’s damaging. It changes people and sometimes they can’t come back. They lose their voice and become unable to form the words that may save them. They lose themselves in drugs or jail or heap abuses on others. They suffer through bad relationships, just to feel loved. They punish themselves for another’s crimes. It takes an incredible amount of courage to stand up sometimes and not all are able to muster it. Someone must stand. So no.

I will no longer live in the darkness. I am God’s child. And God created the light. So we wouldn’t have to live in the dark.

Trying

Conditions must be ideal for me to sit down and put words on paper and, regrettably, that is rarely the case. It is never quiet or easy to concentrate. The dogs will distract me with their wild carrying on. This winter has been longer than usual and they, like their humans, have cabin fever. They jump, growl and chew on each other, always at my feet, in what I am sure is part of a concerted effort to drive me mad. My three-year-old granddaughter brings me much joy but she is at my house for the better part of the week and she has a lot to talk about. There is no time for my brain to refresh after she falls asleep at night and when she goes home, I will sit for hours in the quiet, trying to get my thoughts together until eventually I will fall crash, exhausted in mind and body.

I made a desk of the dining room table and here I sit for hours, staring out the window at the road and the house in the field beyond it, as if it were my muse. In a snowstorm, their cedar shake cabin looks like ‘Little House on the Prairie’, smoke billowing out the chimney, simple and cozy. If I go to the living room in the morning- to the couch and the morning news, I will be sucked in and will spend my day rocking to and fro, right there for a good part of the day, if not until bedtime. If I get up and sit at the table, if my playlist reads my mood, if the weather is nice enough for the dogs to go outside and if I have minimal distractions, I can sit at that table typing all day and into the night. Unfortunately, trying to create the correct atmosphere is enough to send me to the couch. This is a new routine for me and I am trying. I am putting effort into trying and that is more than can be said for the previous 13 years. In my defense, I thought I was trying all those years but the bar is set remarkably low for people like me, which is stigmatizing in its own way. I am also trying to train my family into this new routine, that part is harder. I don’t think it is possible for them to know what this means to me, this writing. It looks like sitting and listening to music to them but to me it is my life, my future and my well-being. This is everything to me. I think my husband’s hope is that this will keep me busy for a while and help me in some obtuse way and he is down for that but, as always, my family expects me to be ready at their beck and call. ‘Do I have clean socks? What’s for supper? I need a ride. Can so and so come over? I want to have a LAN party, we’re having a Marvel marathon-do we have food? Why is it so cold? Are you going to light the wood stove? Do I have to make the trek, from the basement up the hill to the lean-to behind the garage, with that crappy yard wagon and its falling off wheels, to get wood? Can somebody else PLEASE wash a damn dish? Why do we have a dishwasher? Can ANYONE ELSE load it? Turn on the washer? Are my appliances so complicated that no-one else can run them? No-one can crinkle up some paper or strike a match? The dogs are on a schedule- why am I the only one who knows it? The vacuum is not that hard to operate. What do you mean WE are going to spring clean this weekend? No. Is it spring? Can’t we wait till it is? PLEASE!!! What about what I am doing? That thought doesn’t ever seem to enter anyone’s mind but mine. To them, I am always available, all that is required is my presence.

What happened this week is that I slept. I went to bed early and I slept late. Later than I wanted to on more than one day. Earlier than I wanted to on more than one evening. I don’t do this. I don’t like to sleep. My biggest sleep goal is to get the 8 recommended hours. Not 15…My husband is thrilled! Encouraging me to sleep more…” That’s great, baby, you need to get some rest.” I feel like saying- “Screw you-this is how you get rid of me- if I sleep all day and night, you don’t have to deal with me and if I could get a moment’s peace around here, I wouldn’t be exhausted but nobody gives a shit as long as I do EVERYTHING for you people.”

That’s not true. They do care. They care because they have seen me at my worst and they don’t want to see it again for whatever reasons they have. Their reasons are probably different than mine, but just as real. The fact is, I don’t like to sleep. I don’t like to sleep until 2 in the afternoon and I don’t like to go to bed at 8. I feel like my day is wasted, that there are opportunities missed. I get angry. I get angry at myself and take it out on others. That is exactly what happened this week. I tend to get upset when others take advantage of my time even when I am not in some cycle or another. I was already mad at myself for sleeping too much.

I waited in the parking lot an extra 45 minutes at the school for my son on Tuesday because they decided to start their SAT testing a half hour late but told students they couldn’t use their phones to let their parents know. I do not even agree with SAT or any other ‘assessment’ testing. Wednesday mornings they usually start school an hour later than the rest of the week, but because of the amount of snow days we’ve had this year they have been using that hour as make up time. This week they decided not to take advantage of that but AGAIN, they decided not to tell parents, we found out when the bus did not come at its usual time. I raged at our country store Tuesday, (which I have personally boycotted for years at a time) because, once again, I walked in and there was a line but no clerk in sight. It didn’t help that the nosiest bitch in town was in front of me in line and it didn’t help when she asked me what was wrong, like she cared, and I turned to her, spitting, ‘Don’t f@%$^&^ talk to me.’, to which she responded, “What is going on?”, again pretending to care, so she could spread it around. Then I responded. She got exactly what she wanted. Venom. Word spreads fast in a town of 3,000. I am sure my husband and his family have heard the version she is spreading and they will take her side, because I am just ‘crazy’. That store is boycotted again.

After that, still Tuesday, I got into a huge blowout with my son because I was watching my grand-daughter so he and his significant other could go to work. She has a habit of NOT working. I saw a post on Facebook that she was tagged in, about how for 4 years in a row she went to eat at Fat Boy’s, a seasonal drive-in, on this day. After I picked up her baby at 7 that morning so she could get ready and go to work. She made it 3 days that I know of at this job. It is her average. I love my grand-baby. I credit her for bringing me joy. I truly believe she is the biggest gift in my life. She makes me laugh. I love watching her learn about the world around her and I love teaching her about it. I love her snuggles and cuddles. I love watching her for my own benefit, never mind hers or her parents. She has all she wants here and we would gladly give her anything she asked for. Everything she does makes me happy. Even when she’s bad. I laugh. She loves me unconditionally and this has been an unintended lifesaver. She has reminded me that the world can be pure. That there is joy everywhere, in things little and big.

This is NOT the first time her mother has done this to me or my son but it is the LAST time she will do it to me. We should have heeded her own mothers warning, the first day we met, that she was a user and would use him and me and anyone she can. I just thought she was her own ‘crazy’. Clearly, she was frustrated in her own way. There is a lot of winter in this state, and it does its own thing to everyone. I drove to their house after finding out she was gallivanting instead of working, ready to tell her exactly what a piece of shit I thought she was. All the way there all I could think was that she was NOT using me again, and I intended to make that clear. In the loudest, nastiest way possible. Something came over me as I turned onto the road leading to their driveway and I pulled over to the side of the road and tried to take a few deep breaths. I don’t know if you have tried this, but it is practically impossible to take deep, slow breaths when you are insane with anger. I was a volcano and the lava was already spewing. I prayed,” Please God, help me to use the right words because I can’t do this right without you.” That is all I could pray. Anger was driving me forward. I pulled up the next few feet until I was at the end of their driveway. She wasn’t HOME!! I got the message, laughed to myself and said, “Ok, God, I get it…” I drove down the block to my sister’s house, visited for an hour or so, and then left to go home. I did drive back by my son’s house but the driveway remained empty. Meant to be…

I’m still angry but I became more resolute. Put on my big girl panties, so to speak. I had to turn my mind. This is difficult. She was not the original source of my frustration so I must become resolute not only in my dealings with her but with my family. My heart is closed for now. I have done this only a few times during my life. It is not easy to close myself off from people but I must for my own protection. My husband claims it is a visible change, that he can see it in my face. Must be all that disassociating I practiced so well… My son says she needs help and I agree, but if she has ‘issues’ and her own diagnosis, I can’t help her. She needs to want that. Nobody else can do it for her. This frustrates me because I wonder if his patience with her is patience that he learned dealing with me. I don’t want him to need to have that much patience with her. I would rather he cut his losses and try for some peace and happiness in his life. I don’t WANT him in a relationship with someone like me his entire adult life. I don’t want this for any of my children. Is that bad? Is that stigma? The stigma of one mentally ill person against another? Well, if anyone knows about it, I do. At least I am not an uneducated, insufferable fool acting like I know. I know I should be the LAST person judging her, but maybe I see it better…That is not an excuse, I’m trying to reason it out for myself. I have no patience with ignored mental illness. Ignored by the afflicted or those near them. Undiagnosed is one thing. If you are trying your best and you are struggling, great. I’m here for you, I will do everything in my power. Will I watch the ones I love around you suffer because you refuse to get help and all the SHIT gets dumped at my doorstep? NO. For now, though, I will do my best to kill her with kindness, like my Momma keeps saying. I will rally my thinking around those Alabama and North Carolina years in my past and I will smile and say,” Bless your heart…”, with a big smile.

The fact is, all this BULLSHIT will fill my mind until it turns foggy. Until I can’t think or DO anything. Most of this happened on Tuesday but ruined my week. A week I can’t get back. I become so worn out that even when I am awake, I am sleeping. Then, suddenly, an entire week or month or year is missing from my life and I can’t get it back… I don’t have enough time left in my life for that at this point. Words screamed and feelings run amok, are things that can’t be put back in the can. Time wasted now, doesn’t return later. Sometimes my biggest desire is just to run. Run far and away. I want to get in the car and keep driving until I am somewhere new and all anyone sees in me is just another friendly face. No bi-polar, no PTSD, no checkered past…clean…fresh.

None of this addresses the issue of time that I wish I had. Closing my heart is only necessary when having it open will continue hurting me. I must start saying no. I should say it even when I want to say yes. If you are poisoning me, I need going to tell you that I am aware of it. I can’t let it keep happening. I need my time alone and the quiet. I need to find a balance between the housework and the rest of my life. Between my family and my mind. Between life outside these four walls and the life within. I somehow must create, out of whole cloth, a world in which I can practice self-care while caring for my family. I need to create a family that knows that, even though I am here and present, I am doing something for myself right now and could you please try to understand that this is something that will hopefully benefit all of us in the long run. I’m trying. Please leave me alone and let me try.

Radio Silence

Since I was a child, music had been inside me. It is what had saved me all along. It rescued me from many bleak moments and situations with its fighting lyrics and beats. It was what blocked out the inner horror of the childhood I had been living. It blocked out scary noises and bumps in the night and somehow corralled every terror and fright inside me and quieted them. I could be a different me if I focused and sang. I could feel myself be lifted away from the hell I was in and carried to a lighter place inside me. I used music to escape my life. Every song was like a little story in itself. Each one could either make you happy, sad or melancholy. There were songs you could scream along with when you were angry and ones you could cry to if you were sad. I listened to music in my room, on my headphones and in the car, I would fall asleep listening to the sounds of the top 40 and at 6 a.m. music would gently wake me.  I knew classic rock, pop and country. I would play disco and the “Battle of New Orleans.” I had my favorites of and I knew them all by heart. Notes and lyrics would carry me away and for three minutes I was somewhere else, in a world of my own creation. It was a place inhabited only by me and the only place I knew I was safe. No one could follow me in, I had a secret door and I was the only person who could open it. I know that the reason I survived my childhood was because of music. It was always there when I needed it to take me away so I could escape for a while. It was my ONLY coping mechanism. Besides forgetting..

After my second admission, which was technically for bipolar depression- but I think the hospital’s decision to admit me probably had a lot more to do with my admission that  my husband had hired someone to kill me and that they had been following me around for days trying to find the best place to perform the deed than that I couldn’t stop crying. This statement drew quite the look from my sister in law, who had kindly driven me to the emergency room and agreed to stay with me for the time being. I’m sure the stories were flying around her dinner table that night and for many nights after. I’m sure they did because I still get the looks now. They don’t say anything to me about me being”sick.” It’s just the looks they give me, like nothing I say can be trusted. Same old, same old…..

I’m not sure I came out of the hospital alive that time. I couldn’t smile, I couldn’t feel anything inside me. No feelings- not sad, not mad, not happy- just blank. I spent time staring at the walls, rocking in my seat, talking to myself, acting just the way the patients at ST. Mary’s did that freaked me out so badly. I had told myself that would never be me..Never say never…I spent a lot of time trying to discern what was fact and what was fiction in my mind. I did need my husband to take care of me during that time and he was patient and kind and observant and gave everything of himself that he had to give. I needed him. I couldn’t form my own thoughts, I couldn’t remember to get out of bed , clean my house or brush my teeth. I needed to be reminded to do anything, everything. There was no more music in my life. I wondered why people even wasted there time turning on the radio. There is no real music now anyway. Not music that means anything. It’s all just fluff. Riding in the car, I rode in silence because anything extra was just too much noise in my head. My mind was so busy with itself that any extra noise was more than I could bear. I could call them the silent years, but there was more noise in my head than any orchestra could make. I just couldn’t hear what it was saying….

Last year-after 5 long years- in 2017-the music began coming back. It started coming through to me in my sleep, every day waking with a song lyric in my head. Finally I began to get up and play the song I woke with, then it was songs from my childhood the 70’s, classic rock and some disco, then the music from my teens-Prince, Bruce Springsteen. Then it was Pink songs- and slowly, oh so slowly, my life began to come back. Then I grasped onto it like a lifesaver and held on for dear life, knowing that the music was going to pull me free. With the music releasing my spirit, somehow I began to get flashes of memories and to feel an inkling here and there of who I used to be. I didn’t realize how silent it was until the sound began to come back. The memories that it brought were not always happy. More often than not they weren’t. They were dirty and hard and traumatic. When I get the flashbacks now I get them written down in the hopes of exorcising them.

I didn’t realize until recently that there are other times I’ve lost music and with distance I can see that the times I did were not good times. No matter what my family thinks, whether they think I am well or crazy, whether they think I’m wasting my time writing or should be doing something they consider more productive, I will take it with a grain of salt and know that I am on the path God put me on. It will take something a lot bigger than some second guessing of me by my family to deter me.

Suffocating Under Good Intentions

“Do we need to adjust your meds?” Every time I hear these words, whether from my doc or my husband or any other person who thinks they know the inner workings of my mind better than I do myself, I immediately let out an exacerbated sigh and think to myself, “Why can’t they just let me be happy?” Or a little down or a little energetic? A little less sleepy than usual? Why can’t I make grand plans for myself without being “sick?” It’s not like I’m going to build a spaceship or anything. If I decide to rearrange the furniture and stay up late playing games on my phone why can’t it just be that? Other people do these things on a regular basis and never get questioned, as if they’re off their rocker, about it by anyone.  Those are the so called ‘normal’ people. Maybe I’m just extra tired this week and I want to stay in my bed for 5 days, so what? Give me a minute then. If I’m still in the same spot in a month perhaps you should be concerned.  Why is there always a question mark after every decision I make? There is always a well meaning, “Do you think you are ready for that? ” or “Maybe you should take a break right now and get a little rest.” Don’t forget to eat, are you drinking enough water? How can I convince these people around me that I am not sick? That I won’t freak out in the grocery store because there are too many people or because someone looks at me sideways? Will my husband always watch me out of the corner of his eye, standing at a distance in public because he is unsure of me, and in case I start rambling or screaming at strangers he doesn’t want to be in the fallout zone. Will I never be allowed to drive any distance by myself or make a decision of my own and then just go out and DO it?

The boyfriend that I had during that first admission became my husband four years later. We have since been through another admission, that one for depression, and we have fought many battles, real and imagined . This May will be our 9th wedding anniversary. Since my last admission in 2012, he has driven me to all my monthly doctors appointments. He has given me baths and washed my hair when I couldn’t do it myself. He has dressed me, made sure I took a few bites of a little something at least once a day. He has kept our cell phone provider in business by calling me 45 times a day to see what I was doing or to remind me of something I needed to do. He has been the sole breadwinner for most of our time together. He was a father to the four boys I brought with me into our marriage. He built us our beautiful dream castle and still managed to find time for fishing and stock car races so he could relax himself. I owe my life to him. Literally. I owe everything I have to him. He is the angel that God sent me. I am forever his and I will be eternally grateful. His devotion and the care he has given me exceeded ALL my expectation.

But I don’t know how to get him to stand down. I feel good right now, and no one believes me. I guess a person with a mood disorder shouldn’t be trusted to know their own moods. I have wanted to write since I was in high school 30 years ago and I took a crooked path but here I am. I feel that I am following the path that God set for me. Finally! I have a somewhat formed plan in my mind and I’m not letting anything stand in my way this time. My kids are grown and mostly out of the house so I see it as my time now, I’ve been waiting all my life and I’m ready but all around me there is resistance. I’m hearing it from my husband, “Don’t put yourself out there too much, everyone can see that, you know..-Are you sure you want your family to see that…?? Maybe you should start small..Blah, blah, blah.. Two weeks ago my doc said she was worried I was becoming increasingly hypo manic and increased my meds, “Just to be safe, you know how fast you tend to cycle…” Yada, Yada… It feels like stigma is sitting on the couch next to me eating pistachios and every time I want to say something, I have to check it, reel it in some, test my line and end up tasting not the big nasty Northern Pike that I have on line, but what amounts to be the bait fish, little and cute, but its not sustenance.

I can’t live wrapped in the bubble wrap they rolled around me. In this padded house they built for me.  I can’t breathe. I can’t see the sun. I want to be happy and sing a song and dance in my kitchen without having someone say, “OH NO!, I’ll call the doctor.” I know everyone from my family to my doctors have all meant well as far as my treatment is concerned but I think now it’s time for them to let go of the reins and see what happens. Maybe I will be able to control it. What’s wrong with a little hypo-mania anyway? It’s one of my favorite places to be.. I may just fly.

 

Admission

My first trip to the psych ward was because I went bat-shit crazy. It is hard to get into a lot of detail because I remember it as flashes. I remember being at a bar with my boyfriend, at that time having been together barely a year, and a guy we knew from work.

I remember leaving there to go to the wooded site where my sister had been murdered. I remember the woods, and the dark and the moon. I can feel the early September crisp in the night air. I remember sobbing and telling her that I was sorry and that it should have been me. Sorry because I was the one who had already been broken and it should have been me. It just made more sense that way. I told her that I was sorry that I prayed so hard to God that day in July, only one day before she was murdered, while I was being raped 3000 miles away in San Luis Obispo, California praying over and over that this man wouldn’t kill me and leave me out here in these mountains where no one I knew would ever find me. I prayed so hard God couldn’t hear you or I made him make a choice between 2 sisters and he chose to take you. You probably deserved heaven more than me anyway. Instead it was you, I told her. You left in the woods, tortured. Dead so young. Still a baby you were, just turned 12. I got off too easy. It just wasn’t right and I’m so sorry.  Telling her I was so sorry that it went all wrong.

Then I remember being home and my oldest son chasing me around the dining room table trying to get me to calm down. I do not remember biting my husband but the proof was on his shoulder. Vibrantly red and round. I DO remember him trying to leave while I was raging—at I don’t know what– life, God, every man I ever knew, society, humanity, myself, whatever it was that made me this way…I remember hanging onto the door of the truck while he dragged me down the driveway, trying to back out- the proof of that I wouldn’t feel until the next day. I remember him calling my mother and uncle and I remember spurts of talking to them but not the topics and I’m not sure that I was talking in any way that made sense. If it sounded the way I was thinking and it was circular and magical and definitely delusional. I remember waking up the next morning in my mom’s bed at my uncle’s house not knowing how I got there and I remember asking her to take me to the hospital.

She drove me to St. Mary’s and I waited to be examined by a doctor. I never saw one that I remember. I saw a social worker and tried to explain to her the best that I could about what was going on. I wasn’t sleeping well and I needed to relax. She asked if I had any injuries and I showed her the road rash down my right side from my shoulder down to the knee. She asked how it happened and I told her. She left the exam room- I didn’t realize until years later that there wasn’t even a bed in that room- just 3 chairs and a table. I don’t know what I was thinking would happen exactly; that they would give me medicine or a shot that would magically flush the demons inside me out. Maybe they would give me an appointment with a counselor, or both but either way they would fix this hurt inside of me that was causing the infection that was slowly and steadily poisoning and destroying my soul. I only knew I was broken. I was broken and I had been for a long time. There was a hole inside me that nothing could fill. This was not the first time I had behaved in a manner similar to this, it wouldn’t be the first time I needed medication or counseling. This was not my first ride on this bull. I had experienced more than a few less than satisfactory relationships and as usual, my boyfriend just didn’t understand me. Nobody could understand me, I think differently than others, I’ve always felt that way. I spoke with the social worker, then waited for her or a doctor to come give me my prescription and my referral for my counseling appointment.

That’s not exactly the way it happened. The social worker came back into the room and told me to sign some papers and give my jewelry, purse and cell phone to my mom. I was handed a plastic hospital belongings bag and told to change my clothes and put my belongings in the bag and give it to my mother. I asked if the doctor was going to come in and she told me I was being admitted. I was told to say goodbye to my mom and was then led to the elevator where the social worker pressed the 3 button. The elevator doors closed, the elevator rose and on the third floor the elevator doors opened into a landing encircled with glass walls and a locked door leading into the ward. We stepped into the glass cubicle and the social worker took a set of keys out of her pocket and unlocked the door into the ward. This is the moment when I realize that this door is different. I ask why the door is locked and she informs me this is a “locked” ward. I try to tell her that this is a mistake, that I just need some rest, I’m tired, I won’t ever drink again, I’m ok, I don’t belong in a hospital ward that I can’t leave of my own volition and I am not going in there. She is not impressed by my pleas and leads me to a room that I will share with an older lady who is coloring with markers on one of those black velvet posters. I wonder why she is coloring and why she seems so excited about having received some new posters today. What’s exciting about that? I lay down on my cot and she tells me that they won’t let me sleep because I’m on “checks”. I don’t know what that means so I ask and find out, that apparently, it means I’m on suicide watch and they will come into our room and I have to talk to them every 15 minutes.. Fantastic, I think to myself, these people are morons, why the hell would I kill myself? I have everything and I can do anything. After a while, I wandered to the tv room, looking for something to do. Entering, I looked around and saw people talking to themselves, others sitting rocking back and forth, staring at the wall, arguing over the tv, some pacing- crossing the room from one wall to another and back again. I found a book as fast as I could and returned to my room. I’m glad and relieved that I’m not like these people. I’m not crazy.. This is just some weird misunderstanding.  I spent much of the day sitting on my cot alternatively reading and staring at the wall. That night, after we ate, it was time for meds. Just like on tv, there was a closet filled with pills and a locked door with a nurse behind it dispensing meds. She handed me a small dose cup with a few pills in it and I asked her what they were and what they were for she told me and I told her that I wasn’t interested and went back to my room. That was another decision that didn’t quite work out in my favor for soon there was a nurse standing over me with a syringe saying, “It’s just a little something to help you sleep, but if you don’t take the meds like the doctor ordered he will blue paper you and then you’re in here until the doctor decides you are ready. “I get the message loud and clear, “Comply!” “Be a sheep!” I tell her just to go ahead and do it and then lay down on my cot.

The next morning, my boyfriend called before he went to work and although I was talking my words were so slurred he couldn’t understand anything I was saying. I’m not sure my lips were even moving. I couldn’t feel my body. My body felt like it was filled with lead weights. He asked what the hell they gave me and I don’t know. I thought they said Ativan, but this does NOT feel like Ativan. I try to go lay back down and try to skip breakfast but am not allowed. I didn’t know it at the time but I would become way too familiar with this numbness in the next several years. When I am finally able to speak, I call my mom and tell her she has to get me out of here. This is NOT what I need.

I don’t know how many days I was in before I first saw the doctor but I know he was from another country and I had a hard time understanding him not only because of his accent but because of the words he was saying. A psychotic break due to: Bi-Polar 1 rapid cycling mixed episodes with a heaping helping dose of PTSD thrown in.   I basically tell him that he is full of crap, sure I’m moody- but he’s the crazy one. He tells me he has spoken to my mother and that I need to understand that I will not be leaving. That I signed myself in for 72 hours and it is up to him to decide when I will be leaving to go home. He told me that at the 72 hr. mark, he can decide if he wants to keep me involuntarily or send me home but that a lot of it was up to me.

This makes me feel at once indignant, helpless, trapped, tricked and claustrophobic. They told me I had a psychotic break. What the hell does that mean? I’m psychotic? They told me that my mind broke because it felt safe. Could have fooled me, there is nothing safe feeling about this entire situation. I give in and agree to take my medication and do everything the doctor says so he won’t keep me locked in this place with these crazy people. My boyfriend comes to see me and tells me he loves me and he will stay but I must promise to never go off my medicine. I agree, I acquiesce, really. I need to get out of here. I don’t want to paint pictures or color or talk in groups. I don’t want these meds that literally cause me to drool on myself. I don’t want someone watching me in the shower, handing me shampoo, making sure I’m not going to eat the soap. I want to shave my damn armpits. My only option is to follow the rules set once again by “the Man”, if only until the point that I can escape and my only chance of getting out is to comply, try to figure out what they need to hear-wait out my 72 hour hold.