Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day?

Well, here we are. Sunday, May 13, 2018. Mother's Day. My Facebook page was flooded with Mother's Day tributes. Friends honoring their own mothers and grandmothers. Friends being celebrated by their children. Everyone seemed to be happy. The stores have been stocked with greeting cards, flowers, candy, and jewelry for the past month. There are cards for first time mothers, mothers-to-be, husbands honoring their wives for doing an amazing job raising their children, mothers and grandmothers in heaven, silly cards for little ones to give to their moms...and just plain old generic "I love you" cards, and a few other miscellaneous cards mixed in.

I found myself thinking tonight about all of those women for whom Mother's Day is a bittersweet holiday. And I found myself wondering where all of the cards for them are kept. I personally know two women whose children were murdered within the past two years. Where is the card for that? Where is the card for the mother whose child has committed suicide? Where is the card for the woman whose child is miscarried or stillborn? Where is the card for the mothers whose children are in NICU clinging to their lives? Or for the mothers whose children are being abused by their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, babysitters, strangers? The mothers who are watching their children struggle with addiction? The mothers whose children have run away from home? What about all of the single moms, trying to balance work, childcare, school, and home? What about the mothers whose husbands are deployed to Afghanistan? I've never seen a card for the woman who deeply longs to be a mother but for any number of reasons, can't. What about the woman who felt that there was no way she could be a "good" mother and made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy?  Or those women who, after giving birth, knew the best thing for their child was to give them up for adoption in the hopes that their child would have a much better life than they themselves could provide?  There are no cards for the thousands and thousands of women who are foster mothers or temporary guardians. I couldn't find any cards for those who have strained relationships with their mothers and for whom those "You are the best mother in the world!" cards don't reflect their reality. There are no cards for the mothers whose children have been removed from the home by DCS. Or the mothers who lose custody of their children in a bitter divorce. And then there are those women who make a conscious choice not to have children and not to be mothers - not to not take on what is "expected" of them. And...I know that I'm still leaving some out.

To all of those women out there who are rocking it as moms, my hat is off to you! Raising children takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I'm not trying to take anything away from that or to imply that mothers don't deserve to be recognized and honored for the millions of things they do for their children every day. I'm simply wanting to acknowledge that for some, this day is one of longing for, remembering, second guessing, and wondering what if things had been different. Today, in the midst of celebrating my mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters-in-law, and siblings, I set aside some time to honor those women for whom Mother's Day is one of the hardest days of the year.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why I Don't Love Myself - A Treatise on Self-loathing

I don't love myself. I don't know that I ever have. Why, my therapist asked? Hmmm. That's not an easy question to answer. Not because I don't know, but because I know that I should love myself. I hate it that the sexual abuse I experienced as a child and the rape at age 18 turned me into an eating machine. First my body was violated by others and then it is violated by myself as I continue to store fat to protect me from being hurt again. I'm in a constant battle with my body, losing 20 pounds and then regaining it when someone comments on my weight loss. My fat forms a shield around me but that leaves me feeling horribly alone. I fail to appreciate all that my body does for me because I'm caught up in how ugly I look in the mirror. There is nothing pretty about 402 pounds. And I'm tired of hearing that I have such a pretty face because that "but" packs a real punch. So I eat a whole box of Girl Scout cookies while pretending that I'm eating celery and hating the fact that I am so weak willed.

I feel like I'm failing as an adult. I am embarrassed by my mental illnesses that prevent me from working. The OCD and bipolar disorder leave me fighting just to be okay. I hate that I have to write numbers in a frenzy in order to calm myself down. I hate that I have to have everything lined up just so on my bookshelf and that I can't leave my apartment without checking my books to see if they are still in alphabetical order. I hate that I see bugs crawling everywhere when I haven't been able to sleep. I hate that my racing thoughts prevent me from reading a book most days. I feel like my mind is controlled by outside forces that I can't stop. I used to be a successful Occupational Therapist. Now I'm barely able to do my own ADLs. I'm afraid to meet new people because inevitably the question "So, what do you do?" is asked and my answer is sadly "I exist". I often feel like I have nothing to live for. That makes my existence almost unbearable.

I struggle with accepting my sexuality. I feel like God made a mistake. I feel guilty and ashamed that I am gay. I don't like believing that my attraction to women is wrong but what if it is? Do I want to take that chance? And so I try to ignore my feelings and pretend that I am "normal". I'm angry that I'm not married to a man and the mother of three children. My feelings prevent me from having a family because I so rigidly define what constitutes a family. My life would be so much easier if I could just accept the truth about myself and stop second guessing my Creator. I so desperately want to be loved by someone but I am afraid.

I'm angry that I think so much. I spend way too much time in my own head. When will I get tired of living this way? Is it too late to learn to love myself? I hope not because I am the one who is hurting.

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.