Survival

Some days are spent, in their entirety, holding my breath. Keeping things in.

I want to scream.

I want to run away.

I want to cry and sob.

I’m so tired.

Some days I just want to let go. I want someone else to take the wheel and drive this car.

I want to ask for help.

I want to not have to ask.

I want to rest.

I’m so tired.

These years have been the greatest of my life. They have been filled with endless joy and happiness. But those things did not come easily or free of pain along the way. They came with days and nights full of fear too. Living on edge afraid of losing my babies, my self. Many torturous lessons in staying in the moment, and letting go of control.

Today I am far better at both of those things. I’ve learned I absolutely have no power over anything outside of myself. And I have learned that if I am constantly worrying about tomorrow I miss the joy of today. I could see and hear those sayings all of my life, but I would have never learned what they truly meant if I hadn’t lived what I’ve lived.

I’ve perfected nothing. I am still in the trenches learning as I go. Today I am reminded that with joy can also exist pain, simultaneously. I know for me, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the ups in life, and a peaceful knowledge that the downs don’t last forever.

True, these years have been survival years. Truer still, these years will soon enough be a distant memory. So, for now, I choose to be present for all of this. The pain, the joy and everything in-between.

Actually

So, I write quite a bit about not exactly knowing who I am. But during a stranger that normal week, and with plenty of time to think, the thought has occurred to me that perhaps I do know.

Maybe I know exactly who I am.

The thought continues on to suggest that possibly it’s more that I’ve been too fearful to let her out. Afraid to show myself. Not just to you, or the rest of the world. But I’m kind of terrified of my own inner self.

I’ve spent an exorbitant about of time hiding who I am from everyone else, and even longer stuffing it all down, deep down. Not allowing myself to feel the things I knew damn well where there. Thinking I owed a piece of my soul to everyone and everything on the outside. Never taking into account the toll it was taking on my insides.

I feel free today. Maybe not entirely, but definitely more so than I have in quite a long time. Today, I owe to no one but myself. And what I am owed is liberation. From boxes, and cages and self deprecation.

22

Twenty Two.

That is how many drafts I have sitting in a folder that I can’t finish, can’t publish, can’t get quite right.

I want to write something joyful. I want these words to not always read so dark and deep. Sometimes I wish my mind, or heart, were lighter. There is no doubt I am grateful for my life, my children and the many blessings I have. Those are the things I think of first. That’s how I start my day, grateful.

But today, being back at work during this time, is strange to say the least. The office is empty compared to normal, and there is no-one to talk to, and if there were we still wouldn’t due to social distancing protocols. The café we normally use is half operational at best. There is sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Everyone is walking away from you instead of toward you. At first it was good to catch my breath, have some adult time. I needed to have time to sit in peace and quiet to actually get things done.

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to getting back to work today. Two weeks felt like two months without my routine. And while today I feel more grounded than I have in weeks, I wish I could sit here and tell you what an amazing day it’s been.

That I am feeling great, things are great, life is great.

But I don’t want to lie.

I needed to run errands on lunch since I haven’t been able to get out to the stores being that I have at least one of the boys with me at all times. The thing is, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point over the last several years I developed a fear or going out alone. I have mentioned it before, but today it was worse than it has been in a while. I have been on lockdown for two weeks. Maybe it only took that long to go back to being the scared little girl I started out as this summer? I don’t believe that, no. That can’t be.

I’m thinking more likely that the anxiety over current events has my regular fears heightened, escalated. It amazes me how real they feel. A quick trip to Home Depot and the Grocery Store had me lightheaded and clutching my chest to breathe by the time I pulled back into my parking spot at work. If it wasn’t absolutely essential that I get what I needed from the grocery store I would have put the car in drive and high tailed it out of there. Instead I put my head down, clutched my keys in my hands and quickly walked in and out.

I don’t always know when it’s going to hit. I freaking love the hardware store! Go figure! I know in certain environments where there are a lot of men and a lot of eyes, I will ultimately be more uncomfortable. But the thing is, I haven’t been out in the world alone in a very long time. It is so easy to forget that my ex and I did everything together. I barely left the house without the crutch of her being there. Then I could be comfortable. Then I could be in our little world and never even notice anything or anyone around me.

I hadn’t noticed the people around me for nearly a decade. And now it’s like someone walked into my head, took off the blinders, and turned the volume all the way up past ten. I can’t stop seeing people. I can’t stop hearing words I don’t want to hear. I can’t push away the uncomfortability no matter how hard I try today.

Not for long anyhow.

It always seeps back in as if it were just waiting for me to step outside of my bubble.

Life Raft

When the main vessel capsizes our only remaining hope is the life raft we may have been lucky enough to find. Maybe we had to build it with our own two hands with anything and everything we could scavenge up for materials.

That dingy becomes our most prized posession. It’s the one thing keeping us from a cold, dark, agonizing death. We rest our head on it when our body’s collapse as the adrenaline leaves us. The rafts firmness gives us a sense of security in an otherwise morbid sea of fear.

But what happens when our lifeline springs a leak. First we fill with panic all over again. We may even become angry that this one thing that had allowed us to feel so safe and secure and whole, could fail us too. Next comes the thought that we are going to die out here, all alone in this frigid water.

If we are lucky, I mean really lucky, we find hope. We rummage around for anything we may have brought with us that could repair the damage. And with all we have left we replace the fear with determination to live.

Just as we ourselves are wholly imperfect and needed that raft to keep us afloat, it too has weaknesses. We just have to be willing to set aside the initial gut wrenching, immobilizing fear in order to put in the work needed to fix it.

Now that we’ve done this, now that our life line has been restored, we can rest assured that when the next leak comes we will survive that too. All the stronger for it.

Fog

I look forward to this day all week.

It is set aside as this special time when I can finally breathe. Feel moderately comfortable. Completely and fully exhale.

This time it was different.

There is something dark and heavy in the air. I could tell myself I’m just imagining it. I know how to do that. But I’ve done that for too long.

I’ve ignored this exact feeling many times over, and eventually it comes back to haunt me. It rears it’s nasty two pronged head another day while I’m kicking myself, wishing I’d have headed the warning.

This fog is coming from one of two places. The traditional answer is that it’s emanating from within me. And only me. That’s the script that I’ve been trained to read. It says I messed up or missed something. I can correct it and clear the air.

The other, less palpable answer, is that it isn’t just me. I won’t be able to fix it. I can’t flip a switch and vanquish this darkness. It’s not mine to eradicate. This is the narrative I despise. In this version of the story I have to rely on faith.

Faith that somehow, some way, something else can mend this brokenness.

Hands in the air, no driving with my knees. Just allowing something else to take the wheel.

Intolerable

What do you allow?

Are there things that drive you crazy, make you blood boil or your skin crawl, but you stay silent?

I am finding that it’s more difficult for me to speak up than to tolerate things that make me uncomfortable.

In a way it seems that I’m used to being uncomfortable, one way or another; so why make waves?

If I’m going to be inconvenienced either way, at least I don’t have to hurt you, or worse, give you a reason to be mad at me.

God, my need to be liked and loved overshadows all of my other needs. I know it isn’t healthy and yet I allow you to blur my lines just to keep the peace.

To correct this would take hard conversations for me. That says something because I don’t often have a problem talking.

The thing is, I will lose something no matter which route I take. The tough part is putting my feelings above yours. It’s getting sick and tired of being uncomfortable.

Luckily for me, I’m growing. In this growth I’m learning to do hard things. Sometimes it just takes me a while to gather up the courage.

Unluckily for you, I’m no longer willing to be a doormat, security blanket, or worse, your mama…

I did not do endings.

I was “Ride or die”, to a fault.

I did not do fear.

I was “Never Let Go”, for fear of the unknown.

I did not do self-care.

I was “I’ll get to it later”, until there was no more time.

I did not do alone time.

I was “Please don’t leave me”, so that I didn’t have to be with myself.

There was a lot that I didn’t do.  There were so many fears in my heart, soul, and mind that I was almost paralyzed into standing still. Please don’t be fooled; the past tense here seems to imply I feel fearless today.  That is quite distant from the truth.

Today, I feel the fear. Frankly, I’m terrified but I acknowledge it.  I don’t run from it or try to hide from it anymore.  I don’t purposefully act in any way just to avoid feeling fear.

Here, on the eve of an ending, the precipice of fear and alone-time, I choose to take care of myself.

I choose to do different.

 

Do You Know Who You’re Sitting Next To?

I can put up with a lot of things.

As a woman who is Gay, Bipolar, and a victim of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, I have sat at many an uncomfortable table in my day.

I’ve had to listen to my friends and acquaintances throw around words like “crazy”, “ugh, I wanna slit my wrists” and my favorite, “so-and-so belongs in a mental hospital”.  Ignorance must be bliss.

Many times, especially lately, with current events as they are, I’ve sat through parties, lunches and dinners where they are callously and ignorantly tossing out hate speech about “the gays” and “trannies”.  Both abhorrent.

What I can’t do, is sit at a table and listen to people blame a woman for being raped, assaulted or harassed. Let alone these people blaming little girls for the same.

This has happened to me twice in the past week. Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was associating with people, women even, that find a way to blame a woman’s short skirt, or online dating for her being a victim of assault.

I can’t hear that. I can barely read it on my news feed, let alone hear the sentiments uttered aloud.

Fourteen years and an exorbitant amount of therapy later, I still blame myself.

Listen, I’m smart. I know logically, factually that I didn’t cause my assault, but in my heart and soul I blame myself.

If only I wasn’t drinking.

If only I was wearing something else.

If only I had done this or done that.

Screw you, I didn’t ask for this.

If a man can’t control himself around a drunk girl at a party, maybe he isn’t quite ready to dorm at college anyway?

If a man can’t control himself around my 19-year-old self’s jean skirt, maybe he has not business being a cop?

Let’s all do the world a favor, and stop talking about things we know nothing about, eh?

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