Tag Archive: Survival

Missing places I have never been

I find myself, now and again, missing places I have never been. ~me


These are my three favorite quotes:

3783182Expectation is the root of all heartache. ~Unknown (usually attrib. to Wm. Shakespeare)

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~John Lennon, from Beautiful Boy, which I used to sing to my son nightly

Never ruin an apology with an excuse. ~Kimberly Johnson

 


I never expected the life I’ve led, and I feel like I’ve been in a constant state of surprise from both the good and the bad for my whole life. When I was young, I never expected to be old. I was sure I’d die before I hit 20. Then 30… I’m still here at 47 in spite of some stupid mistakes and a couple of serious medical messes. I was never going to get married. I’ve been married twice. I was never going to bring kids into this crazy world. I’ve done that twice too.

Once, when I quit working in corporate America to stay home with my son, I vowed I would never return, and never, ever, work in a cubicle again. I was hired back into the fold the very month I began looking for work, the very month after separating from my first husband over five years ago now. My next two positions found me in cubicles with those shortened walls, the last one ending with my boss sitting literally an arm’s reach away to my left, munching on hard boiled eggs while I tried to inhale fresher air from the other direction.

I never thought I’d homeschool a child. And then my son was given a diagnosis, and evaluations, and trips to the principal’s office for a growing number of violations of other people’s space and well-being. I learned and adapted, and found some wonderful help along that path. I was never going to put my children on medications either, believing as I still do that we over-medicate in this country to an alarming degree. But, while I was busy making other plans, my children have managed to come up with a variety of creative and terrifying ways to harm themselves, and have needed some unexpected help. The one thing I expected that has always been true is that there’s nothing, within reason, that I won’t do for my kids.

But I’m in a weird place now, a place where those kids are full of anger, hatred, and blame for me for my many shortcomings, and some other things I can’t claim as my own. I knew, I expected that this could happen someday, because all children seem to go through some level of this thing. But when they were born, I believed I would have the support, and love, of their father, and a stable place to help them through their rougher years. I’ve tried to make stability my priority, but it wasn’t all mine to give. I’m sorry to my kids for my own lacking, and for the many disappointments they have endured, and the many more they will face along their paths. I hope they manage to find their own stable places someday, and live in peace.

So I’m standing now in a land I’ve never seen on any map, never contemplated. Uncharted territory. I’m going to recover from the heartache of my own failed expectations. I’m going to keep making other plans. And I’m certainly going to keep apologizing to those I’ve harmed, but not over and over again. Because now is the time to figure out where I am, and who, and to learn to forgive myself and those who have hurt me and the people I love most in this world. Along with the sorrows, I have so many unexpected wonders, new love, new family, a chance to work at meaningful things, and friends who know my worst and best, and have loved me throughout both.

And while I learn to let go of the places I will never, ever be, I will accept that missing them is a part of becoming who I will be. I was never promised an adventurous life, but that is exactly what this is.

Ya gotta believe…

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Approaching the danger zone

I joke around about losing my sanity sometimes. But like most jokes, there’s a grain of truth in there that makes it funny.  It’s kind of like how sometimes I tell my kids I’m gonna have a stroke if they don’t settle down. I mean, I actually *had* a stroke, and I still come out with that one, second nature. But it’s been almost five years since the stroke, and the kids don’t panic about that anymore, I think.

Now if you ask me right out, I don’t think strokes are funny. I don’t think mental illness is funny. I joke because it keeps me from crying. I joke because it’s a beacon in the fog, and I could use the light.

From time to time, other people have tried to own my sanity, to define it for me. No, not the “experts” – they actually keep telling me I’m as sane as anyone else (which, you know, isn’t that reassuring). But I haven’t always been able to believe in myself. Rational me says “It’s okay, you lost your temper/swore at someone you love/told the dog you wanted to stab him with a fork. You are a good person, you’ve never hurt anyone on purpose, in fact you’re haunted by the memories of those people you’ve hurt even decades later, and that fork thing was pretty funny under the circumstances.” Rational me is… rational.

Irrational me has trouble making sense of stuff, and typically tries to blame me for everything. When someone says you’re crazy, everyone wonders. Even you. And the fact remains that I have hurt the people I love. However you define it, this stuff isn’t easy. I do suffer from depression sometimes. And I have trouble with expressing anger. I do it wrong often. It’s a fairly new thing to me. The mere idea that conflict is, or can be *normal* is really only about seven years old inside my head. Thank you therapy.  And only six years ago I learned that anger is just a feeling, and it’s okay to feel it, even if you can’t list a perfectly acceptable reason. I learned that yelling doesn’t mean you’re unstable. It means you’re mad. I learned that working things through is really healthy, and running or storming away is not. And I learned that apologizing means you’re strong (unless you apologize for breathing, a habit it took me a couple years to break).

Depression, bipolar, borderline, ADD – these things aren’t personal failings, they’re just something we’re born with or injuries we’ve sustained. Getting help when you think you might need it is a sign of incredible strength and bravery. You don’t have to suffer alone, and you don’t have to beat yourself up. You can get help, answers, and support. Everyone deserves those things. Even you, even me.

I’ve had a lot of crazy thrown at me in my lifetime. And I need to accept that I always will. But for now, until I hear from experts and friends alike that I need to worry, I’m going to try to trust myself. I know my own crazy pretty well. I’m working on the things that need work, and I really am sorry to everyone I’ve ever hurt. And of course I’m sure I’ll hurt someone again. Screwing up is normal too. Anyway, if you hear me joking, please joke along, and if I need it, help me up, and I’ll do the same for you.

Bravery, cowardice, and Amanda Palmer

People have told me I’m brave, and I have been, a lot of times. Maybe I’ll list all those brave things I’ve done and it will help me stop feeling like such a coward. But first, I have to look this bravery thing head-on, because it’s been keeping me up at night, and when my mind starts veering off on its own so completely like it has been, I’ve learned to just go with that. Good lord, I think I’m my own nagging wife.

Once upon a time, bad things happened. For a long time, I hid myself away from the world, afraid. I did this by staying in, and by eating myself invisible (isn’t it interesting that being big can make you so small in this world?). I’d been fed some of this fear by someone else, but I’m the one who swallowed it along with everything else. At some point, my life collapsed out from under my feet. I fell into the deepest rabbit hole, and I stopped even trying to see daylight. That’s a really long sad story, and not the one I have in mind. Because I eventually woke up, got strong in every way, changed everything, ruined things worth ruining, built things worth building, fucked up over and over again and kept on going. And oh, did I dance. I was really badass for awhile there!

Then a couple years ago I slowed down some; I don’t know why exactly. I got (happily) remarried, to a musician who is also a good cook! And I wasn’t working out anymore. And I put 20 lbs back on (not nearly what I lost, but…), and felt more and more unworthy and fat and old. Because the soft body that used to feel like security now just feels like a prison. And that’s where I’ve been for awhile now, and it’s pissing me off that I’ve stumbled again, and it’s pissing me off that I’m so against judging others, but I judge myself so harshly. I don’t deserve that bullshit, but there’s a voice somewhere in my head that whispers old lies to me in my sleep. The truth is I *am* badass. The simple fact of my survival, and the way love still flows through my veins, more than ever actually, that means something. I stand for things, and I have so much to say.

But I’m only just letting that sink in these last few months, and here’s why. Amanda Palmer. At least three entirely different strands of my social media world told me to check out Amanda Palmer. It went something like this: Felicia Day (I was a gamer and guild leader in another life) to Wil Wheaton to The Bloggess to Amanda Palmer *AND* about 20 fellow non-famous writers I’ve never met to Neil Gaiman (I’ve always been a fan, just keep forgetting to follow famous people for some reason) to Amanda Palmer *AND* various and sundry wonderful geeks (actually, this includes Neil Gaiman again because he recommended backing The Infernal Device, which I did) to Kickstarter to Amanda Palmer. And so I said fine, I guess I better click on this chick! I still don’t understand AFP (that’s what I’ll call her from here on, because it is really feeling weird to keep typing her name, and it’s reminding me of Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, and that was pretty nuts to watch as a ten year old). But I know that she is brave and open and someone to admire. I backed the very brief but amazing tour called An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer and kept coming at her music and personality sideways. Then I heard her song “In My Mind” and I cried so damn big.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9WZtxRWieM

I pre-ordered her new album with the Grand Theft Orchestra, called Theatre Is Evil (buy this thing!), and I bought two tickets to see her in Chapel Hill. I had no idea who I’d go with, because my husband had a gig that night, and I wasn’t sure I’d bring him anyway. I realized yet again that I am missing that strong girlfriend that I can trust, and who isn’t afraid to grow with me, who didn’t have someplace else to be or someone else to be with. I also realized that I was panicking underneath because at 46, I’m “too old” to go to this show, I’m not the right demographic, they’ll notice I don’t belong, and on and on. For a couple of weeks I was tempted to tweet AFP and ask if I was too old, but I figured that was kinda crazy, and even though I was feeling exactly that crazy, I didn’t want to out myself. So the show was Friday, and this is Monday now, and I didn’t go. I was genuinely sick, but I’d put the tickets up for sale, cheaper than I paid, on the bulletin board at work before I was entirely sick yet. I told myself if they sold, I’d make someone happy and if they didn’t, I’d just go to the show and push through the fear. Then I got sick, and it was ironic, but also another handy excuse to hide.

Friday morning I found out the show was sold-out, and I found someone who was “looking for a miracle” (and she mentioned the Dead, so yeah, that) and she just wanted to buy two tickets to take her son to the show to see this amazing woman. First I texted, then I wrote, then around 2pm I called her and told her the tickets were hers, free. I did it because I wanted to make someone else happy while I was sick and full of self-doubt. It was really a wonderful feeling! She told me about her kids, and the 15 yr old son she was bringing to the show. She was shocked, and I loved it. Remind me to give stuff away more often.

I ended up going out anyway, but close to home, with a few friends, and did a few new things like eating at a mostly gay restaurant/bar, and listening to original music at a place I’ve always wanted to check out. We can call this demi-bravery. But I didn’t see AFP, and I regret it, even though I knew if I’d have gone I’d have been too sick and tired to enjoy it, and maybe gotten other people sick, and also, anything else I needed to tell myself to justify not going when I probably should have. I did spend the next afternoon learning to sing “In My Mind” though (it took 4 run-throughs to do it without crying), and I’ll be working on learning ukelele this week. I will sing this song in front of other people at least once, because I want to.

And because I’ve had to face my own cowardice, I’ve figured out a bigger truth. I’ve been brave, but I haven’t been brave enough. Because during this same dilemma, I realized I care more about the rights I’ve had and used, and I care that people are trying to take those rights away from the women who are coming after me, and I realized (yes, I know it’s a long run-on sentence, sue me) that “old” people like me have decided somehow we are irrelevant, that the world has moved on to younger, braver voices. But I haven’t finished yet, and I have so many things to say, and those younger, braver women need to hear from us older, brave women loudly and clearly, and I’ve let them down. And I want to fix that somehow.

So I’m going to start telling the truth, even though it is hard and it hurts, and it reveals very tender places that really have never finished healing. I’m going to call these things Truth is, I think, and write them here. And maybe someday I will post the links to Twitter and places like that and actually invite people to hear what I have to say. And also, I’m going to put a damn woman’s rights sticker on my car, which is an act of bravery here in NC, don’t kid yourself!

Also, people started trashing AFP for asking for volunteer musicians, and it was a big stink, maybe still is, and a bunch of bullshit, and you should read about it and think about it because it is a metaphor for your life somehow. She wrote about it: http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120914/


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And this is the picture that Laura took during the show! She also sent me one of her and her son, smiling and looking so freaking cool! Needed that!!

Oh and irony lives here, Neil Gaiman is telling stories tomorrow night with the very cool Unchained Tour in the same NC town, and it’s… SOLD OUT!

 

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