Saturday, January 13, 2018

In Order

The books haven't moved.
They haven't moved.
Each one is in it's proper place
just like they were
two minutes ago,
just like they will be
two minutes from now,
and yet I cannot walk away from them.
What if?
Just what if
Lit by Mary Karr
tumbles from the top shelf
where it is the 19th
book from the left
and lands between
Naked by David Sedaris
and like the red panda by Andrea Seigel?
I mean, it could happen
and then they wouldn't
be in alphabetical order by author
and the book police
would come knocking on my door
and I would lose custody
of the books forever!
So I check them again.
They still haven't moved.
But they might.
So I will stay home again today
and stand guard,
a sergeant at the tomb of the unknown soldier,
lest I dare forget to check.

Me Too

Me too. Those are two words that I wish I didn't have to say. But they are a part of my story. Its been thirty years now since I was raped. Sometimes it seems like yesterday. I still have nightmares on occasions and they are so real and so vivid that it actually feels like I'm being raped all over again. I struggled for a long time with blaming myself for what happened. I played "if only". If only I hadn't been drunk. If only I'd left the party with my friends. If only I hadn't worn makeup and perfume. Yes, I had too much to drink that night. Yes, I stayed behind. Yes, I wore makeup and perfume. But I didn't ask to be raped. I said "No!"

He's calling me a bitch.
He's pulling my hair.
He's sticking his dick in my mouth.
He's ripping off my jeans.
He's forcing his way in.
He's thrusting hard.
He's hurting me.
Why did I wear makeup?
Why did I get drunk?
Why didn't I leave with my friends?
Why didn't I fight back?
Why didn't I scream?
Why didn't I report him?
Why didn't I die?
I said "No!"

My "Nos" should have been enough. They weren't. I now know that it wasn't my fault. I did not deserve for that to happen. No one does. I wish that I hadn't been afraid to speak up at the time. I wish that I hadn't run straight for the shower and stayed in there for hours, douching and scrubbing my insides with a tile and grout brush. All I could think about was getting him off of me. Showering has never been the same since that night. I have obsessive compulsive disorder and that event triggered a bathing ritual that I still can't break today. It's as if I'm trying to wash away a sin that isn't mine. I now understand that I did the best I could at the time to survive. I pray that one day I will get past surviving and learn to thrive.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Melancholy sounds like such a pretty word. It's much too pretty to describe my depression. No, my depression is like being strangled by a boa constrictor. A squeezing that I can feel deep inside my bones, that sucks the life right out of me and leaves me wiping sweat and blood from my brow. My heart bleeds blue blood that bypasses the lungs, failing to pick up the oxygen molecules needed to sustain me. I sit in my overstuffed recliner, leaning to the left, lacking the strength to hold my head up. I'm wrapped tightly in a blanket. A cocoon of sorts. Maybe I'll emerge a butterfly one day. Until then, I'll continue to watch the shadows dancing on the walls in the light of the moon coming through the living room window.

My cats are adjusting to my new normal and go about their business despite me. I don't shower. I don't get dressed. I don't brush my teeth. I don't eat. I don't talk. I don't watch TV. I don't read. Sometimes I don't even breathe. One day of doing nothing turns into four days of doing nothing and eventually the week passes. The longer I go without doing anything, the harder it is to do something. Terrible thoughts race through my mind and I think about murdering them with whiskey or brownies but I know that won't help. I dream of breaking out of this prison cell but fear that I'd only be buying a first class ticket to hell. My mattress has a permanent dent in the middle of it and I lay in bed until my body aches so bad that I can't stand it. Then I cry. My tears stream down my hot cheeks and are dry before they reach my lips, leaving me thirsty and confused. I miss myself. I don't even remember what I was like before. Will the sun rise when this is over?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

October 2, 2005

I mixed a cocktail.
Lamictal, 200 mg, 60 pills.
Trileptal, 300 mg, 30 pills.
Trazodone, 300 mg, 60 pills.
Remeron, 30 mg, 30 pills.
Seroquel, 300 mg, 60 pills.
All taken together, at once
with 64 ounces of milk
to coat my stomach.
I thought I could make it
to the park bench by the courthouse fountain
but I collapsed 200 yards into my journey.
My legs just buckled,
my body ignoring the commands
to get up out of the middle of the road.
I vomited.
Retching, spewing pill fragments and milk
all over my face, all through my hair,
and I remember thinking
"Oh my God, I've really done it this time!"
The end of my life.
I was instantly gripped by panic.
It's not supposed to feel like this!
Where is my sense of peace,
that amazing white light to welcome me home?
Then everything went black
and there was nothing.
I was intubated in the street
and wheeled into the ER
as a Jane Doe, suspected drug overdose.
No ID.
Just a cryptic note crumpled up in my
right front pocket of my jeans.
I awoke days later
to the hiss of the ventilator
ringing in my ears,
my eyelids fluttering in time
to the rhythm of the heart monitor.
Five bags of fluid on the IV pole.
Wires everywhere.
I tried to move
but my wrists were in restraints.
I began to cough,
choking on the tube down my throat
and I heard my mother's voice saying
"Get the nurse! She's waking up!"
Who? Me?
But that can't be!
I did it.
I really did it this time.
Now what the fuck am I supposed to do?
Am I okay
or am I going to be a vegetable?
Why is Days of our Lives
on my hospital room TV?
My days were supposed be over
but now there is a social worker in my room
talking to my parents
about the number of days
I'll need to be under inpatient psychiatric care!
Dammit, again.
I want to say "I'm sorry", but I can't.
What am I sorry for?
For putting my family through this?
For asking them to love me anyway?
For not dying?
is such a mess.
I already sent out invitations to my funeral
because I wanted to be sure
someone would be there
to remember me for me
because I sure as hell
don't remember me.
My mind's long term memory
is racked with guilt and shame and pain
and my short term memory
is, well, what were we talking about?
And the day I almost, almost died.

A Glimpse of Mania

My depression is a whisper.
My mania is a scream,
no, it's a shrill, high pitched shriek.
The kind that hurts a dog's ears
and fractures the stained glass windows
at Pine Village United Methodist Church
early on a Sunday morning
because when I'm manic
I'm up early,
because when I'm manic
I never go to bed.
No, I go to Utah.
Driving on I-70
through Illinois,
stopping briefly in Denver
to call my boss at 5:30 a.m.
and tell her that I quit my job,
effective immediately,
and oh, yes, have a nice day.
The heavy snowfall in Vail
doesn't deter me,
sleet pinging off my windshield
as I belt out Pink's "Family Portrait"
for the 57th time.
It's the only CD I brought
for I packed light.
A wad of cash.
Two cases of bottled water.
Eight bags of marshmallows,
the jumbo ones so I could play chubby bunnies.
And a blanket.
I have no idea where I'm going
but I'll stop when I get there,
have a burger and fries
at a local dive in the middle of the desert,
eating only three bites
and leaving a $50 tip.
I suddenly remember that I have cats.
That's right, my cats, not my family
get me to turn around.
The roads in Kansas
are a solid sheet of ice.
The bunny.
Dammit, the bunny!
SHIT! I ran over him,
so I put my car in park,
grab my blanket,
and crawl across the ice to the bunny.
It never occurred to me that I could be that bunny,
run over by a semi unable to stop on the ice
and when I reach it
I see that it's dead
and I weep.
"Oh God, what have I done?"
I wrap the bunny gently in the blanket
and slide him across the ice
over to my car
and delicately place him on the front seat,
not knowing that when I get back to Indiana
my therapist would reject my offering
and my dad would
throw the rabbit in the dumpster.
For five days and five nights I was gone.
Gone from home.
Gone out of my mind,
spinning wildly, uncontrollably,
jacked up on gas station coffee and menthols.
Wait, why am I buying those?
I don't even smoke.
But, oh, today I do
cuz I am cool!
I am queen of the world!
The weeping over the rabbit
is replaced by maniacal laughter,
raucous laughter
exploding from my lungs and I crank up the bass.
Yes, today I am the obnoxious one,
the one with the bass so loud
that it vibrates the car
and pushes everyone else away.
I am the one.
The savior.
The messiah.
The alpha and the omega.
Nothing can stop me now!
No, it will go on like this
until the crash,
ripped from heaven
and plunged into the depths of hell.
Sleeping for ten hours.
Twelve hours.
Eighteen hours.
Praying the flames will incinerate me
so that my family can go ahead
and have my goddamned funeral,
buy a pretty urn,
place it on the mantle
and stop worrying
about when the next time
I'm going to lose my shit will be.

Do You Sleep?

Do you sleep?
I mean at night when you're supposed to,
not during the middle of the afternoon
when you're not supposed to be
hiding from the world,
curled up in the fetal position,
covers pulled up over your head,
cursing your cats
who are walking around the apartment meowing,
looking for you
because it's the middle of the day
when you're supposed to be up
doing chores,
petting them,
singing to songs on your Echo,
writing shitty poems no one wants to read.
Do you sleep?
I mean the mirtazapine is supposed to help
but mostly it makes me hungry
so I get up and eat Fruity Pebbles at 1:00 a.m.
No, I devour them
like it's the first food
I've had since Monday and today is Friday, I think.
I'm not sure because my days all run together now,
an awful run-on sentence,
my life sentence without  the possibility of parole.
Do you sleep?
I'm jealous.
The prazosin is supposed to help keep the nightmares away
but I still see elephants
with pink stripes on their trunks
and daisies on their ears,
which is kind of like a nightmare
if they are stampeding right over you
while you're pushing
a little old lady in a wheelchair
through the plains of Africa at dusk.
Why won't my mind rest?
Is it punishment for something I've done
or haven't done that I should have?
I know, I know,
should is a forbidden word,
a no-no.
My therapist will gently remind me of that
every time it leaps from my lips.
But sometimes I disagree.
I should be able to get a god night's sleep.
Do you sleep?
Be thankful.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"I Love You Too"

I have been sitting in front of my computer for over five hours now, trying to decide what to write. There is a lump in my throat and there are tears welling up in the corners of my eyes as I reflect back on my visit to Pennsylvania four weeks ago. I went back with my parents to see my two grandmothers and my aunt and uncle and some cousins. I was looking forward to the trip and thoroughly enjoyed playing games and spending time with everyone.

But there were some difficult moments too. A year ago it became necessary to place my grandma in a care facility. She has advanced Alzheimer's as well as a number of physical health issues that made it unsafe for her to remain at home with my aunt and her family. It was a difficult decision for everyone, but grandma's condition was really declining rapidly. I had not seen my grandma since       
July 4, 2014. When I last saw her, she was able to go to a picnic with us in her wheelchair, and sit and visit with me. She did not remember what we were talking about, but she was able to participate in the conversation and laugh and smile. Grandma has changed so much.

The first time I went to see her she was lying in her bed on her back, sound asleep. When I had come around the corner and first laid eyes on her, I stopped suddenly, as the sight of her frail body took my breath away. Her mouth had fallen open and her eyes were fluttering behind her paper thin eyelids. She was breathing deeply and evenly. Her skin was cool and clammy to the touch. I took the back of my hand and gently brushed a wisp of snow white hair away from her brow and bent down to give her a kiss on the forehead. I'm not even sure if she knew I was there.

I went back to see her the next afternoon, as they called from the care facility and said that she was awake and up in her chair. When we got there, we found her up in her recliner, leaning over to the right, and yelling. I pulled up a chair in  front of her and said hello. The only response that I got from my grandma was yelling "Ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh". I tried asking if she was hurting. I tried propping a pillow behind her back. I tried rubbing her arm. My cousin tried singing to her. It was just tearing me apart. Finally, it was time for us to leave. I got up from my chair and went over and knelt in  front of grandma and took her hands in mine one last time and said to her "It's Kristen. I came from Indiana to see you. I love you very much!" And in a quiet voice, my grandma said "I love you too."  Maybe there was a brief connection there with her, maybe not. Whether she remembers it or not is not what matters. I remember it, and I remember her. And that's why I was there, hard as it was for me.