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Another Dad Story

I don't know the man in the picture, but he reminded me of my Dad the other day and it was nice. My Dad loved dining out, from white table cloths to Waffle House, he liked restaurants. And, in his 58 years, he managed to frequent a lot of the same establishments-often at the same time and day. He was a creature of habit and routine and sometimes, though I doubt he'd have ever admitted it, maybe a little OCD.

So, my Dad had to retire early due to his congestive heart failure and COPD, but he managed plenty of outings. He was the go-to man in our family for mid day errand-running. Dentist appointments. He even sold a car or two for friends because we lived on a pretty well-trafficked street and he was home for test drives. He also managed his Waffle House breakfasts at least once a week and O'Charley's champagne brunch on Sunday's.

Before hurricane Katrina took the O'Charley's on HWY 90, my dad had his name on a gold plate at their bar. He's one of those patrons. Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him. After the storm, my Dad moved to the one built north of our house, as with his Waffle House spot.

The last four years of his life, Dad rarely missed a Sunday. He went early to help the bartender take the stools down or carry napkins or glasses. He sat in the same spot (no nameplate there, but that didn not matter) and ordered the same thing. Always. Having given up alcohol when he was asked to quit both smoking and drinking by his doctors, he said I'll quit one: he picked drinking. But, on Sunday's, he had champagne. Not much, it was not his old bourbon style, so it was clearly for the fun of it. The routine and the celebration of a weeks' end even though his weeks had not been work weeks for many years.

Sometimes I get a little sad that my Dad only had 58 years on this earth, but then I see a man enjoying a beer at an O'Charley's bar on a Wednesday afternoon and I'm reminded that my Dad lived! He knew how to have fun. He knew when it was time to work hard. And, he made a lasting impression on people.

Not only did waitresses and bar tenders and restaurant managers attend my Dad's memorial service, most brought food to our home and shared stories with us about him and now greet us with a warmer-than-normal sense of southern hospitality. My Dad lived. And people liked him. And, I like this man who is living. I like him a lot.

Depression 101

Sorry for the delay, I have been and am a little depressed. Depression takes hold like quicksand. It feels like being tied down by invisible straps. You can kick and scream, but the straps keep you paralyzed. And, when you have had depression as many times as I have, you no longer kick or scream because you now know that this has to pass through you, just like the anxiety or the anger, the sadness. So, I have been paralyzed. Again, the longer you combat depression, the better you get at living with it.

But, being a seasoned depression-fighter does not change the depression, I am changed. The depression is still: sadness, loneliness, helplessness, fear, doubt, self-loathing, hopelessness, dread, guilt, negativity, exhaustion, pain, and deep apathy.  I still feel all those feelings, but I know them each very well. I have also been taught that feelings are not things. I am not literally walking around with a ball of fear, though it does feel that way. I am feeling fear, while also walking around because I am alive. For me, that is a great definition of depression-being alive when you want to be dead.

In the winter of 2008, I was fighting depression with all I had. And, I was losing. The crying would not stop. The thoughts of ending it all were becoming more and more enticing and more and more plausible. My family would never want me to feel the way I did. They knew how much I was struggling. My husband at the time would move on, we had no children. I was home from work-one of the MANY days I could not make it in, which I knew was wrong and felt incredible guilt and humiliation about, so very much. Home alone, I pulled every pill bottle I had in the house out and set them all on the coffee table. I was in therapy. I was being seen by multiple psychiatrists and physicians. I had a lot of pills. A lot. And, I knew if I took these pills, I would be free. Free from what was coming next. Free from what wasn’t coming next. Free from worrying. Free from crying. Free from exhaustion. But, before I could open the first bottle, my dog walked into the room. My dog was most often in his bed when I would be home from work, sad and/or anxious. And, my dog walking out bolted me into the reality that leaving him would be more selfish than leaving my family and friends. I could not do that to my dog, who I chose to have and love and care for forever. And I thought, for longer than I would like to admit, maybe I should just take him with me. To say it was a low point is an understatement. But, then I was introduced to a woman in a mental health facility who’d put herself in similar situation. We bonded even before we knew each others’ stories. And, while our stories were different in almost every way, our answer to the problem was the same, only she had children. It may sound drastic and incomprehensible, but so is the thought of living a life of constant pain, sadness, and depression.

I am not anywhere near the depression of ’08, but I wanted to write about it to remind me (and any others who may stumble upon this) that depression is extremely hard to climb out of unscathed, but it is NOT impossible. It takes some serious inside work reminding yourself why you are still here and why you are strong enough to have gotten here. Even when “here” is no where near where you want to be. Here is something. Do as much with being here as you possibly can muster, even if it is just sleeping. Stay here. Fight back. Remind yourself that you are needed, even if it’s just by a dog. Stay here.

The F word…

…I can barely say it. My conservative, Rush Limbaugh-loving father, god rest his soul, would spin in his urn if he heard me claim this. But, I think I am sort of a, uh, Feminist. Ugh. Why me? Why now? Analytical me has to break this down, because I have a very real idea about the differences in men and women. I respect and appreciate those differences, and how we coexist.

The world I live in, that my father did not, is a land of information overload. Instant information. Millions of sources, both men and women. Every point-of-view you can imagine or search for is available to read or watch. And, in living in this world, I am finding myself very under represented as a woman. The women writing and acting and reporting to me are all super polarized to one side or the other. Extremism is not my jam. But, extremism sells. So, I have to read a little of both and piece together my knowledge and eventually my opinion.

I agree with Feminists, for the most part. But, there are some fundamental problems I have with the race for equality between the sexes. Problem one is: I, personally, am surrounded by more highly successful women than men. So, the wage gap problems are not as evident to me. I read about it, usually from millionaire celebrity types who have just seen an article on the web and taken it on as a personal agenda. Women who have real information on unfair wage gaps are all working too hard to write about the wage gap! Two: Sexuality can be used and is used by women every day. So, when men are ‘crude’ or ‘hyper sexual’ towards women I do not see it as something totally different. I want to live in a world where flashing a soft smile gets me ahead in the grocery line, so if the check-out guy is ‘checking me out’ I am not mad at it. This is human nature, people.

Offended is not a feeling I am often struck with, but this world I live in is constantly offended by something or someone. That is where I feel this strong urge to put the whole idea of Feminism, just a big pile of offensiveness. But, then I read an article about Viagra being covered by health insurance plans but not birth control. I do not get personally offended, but I certainly see the injustice and inequality. My views on female reproduction are very liberal, mainly because I was not raised with religion and I feel our bodies are our own. I also side with euthansia and capital punishment, my ex-husband called me ‘pro-death’.  And, I am sure that will offend someone!

Another problem I have with Feminism is how different American women live their lives compared to women all over the world. How dare we? There are women in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East who endure rituals that include mutilating their female genitalia, and American women have the audacity to complain about ‘mansplaining’. Come on, ladies. Look outside your small life and use this time of information overload and freedom of speech like no other, to speak for women who TRULY are oppressed and under the rule of men like no time ever in our country. Unless you’re a black woman, and that is a whole ‘nother blog!

I guess, in closing, I will sum up that while I do not really WANT to claim Feminism; in my current world, I see no other way to get my facts than to read the extremists’ opinions and when I do read both sides-I side with Feminism. Sorry, Dad.

Therapy and Therapists

My inspiration for taking on this topic is something I heard that made me wish I could shout my knowledge from the rooftops; this person said, “I don’t want to go talk to a stranger about my life and problems, that’s what my friends are for!”. No, emphatically no, that is not what your friends are for, ever.

In an earlier post I described mental health therapy as the feeling of drowning in the deep end (of your mind) where a lifeguard can swim out to you, but they can not pull you to shore. All they can do is tell you how they might get to shore or how you can tread water until you figure out how to get yourself to shore. And, maybe you belong in the deep end, where you have to just live with the waves and learn to always tread water. The analogy could go forever, because it is the exact feeling: drowning, with help that can not help you. Therapists are lifeguards, essentially, in-training. They can swim out to you and help you not die, but you have to get yourself treading water or to the shore.

I was 14 when I saw my first therapist. It was 1992, there was only one place in town to even get mental health therapy, and that place was old and sterile. The green, scratchy fabric chairs and florescent lights buzzing did not help the situation. I went in, and the lady asked me why I thought I was there. The first of MANY to ask me that, and every time after that first time, I thought, here we go again. And, I love to talk. But, having to recount the very things that you don’t really understand yourself to a person who knows zero about you, your family, or your life-only what you tell them is super taxing and stressful. Pay attention here: if you are going to lie in therapy, do not go.

However, if you are ready to be bold and honest with a stranger to better your life, therapy and therapists are who you need. Our friends are our friends for a reason; they accept us and they are most likely to agree with you or feel similarly to you, because they know you. Your friends know your family. Your friends know your co-workers. Your friends are there as a support system, not a life-saver. The only life-savers out there are us. Only you can save you. And, you’re there to support and enjoy your friendships-not make them be work. Friendships are not work. Therapy is work. The work you do for yourself, with or without the help of a professional, is what saves you. You are who keeps yourself above water and treading or swimming to that shore. Despite the swelling and crashing waves, this is your job in life.

When I was 29, I saw my (probably) 15th therapist and she told me I had low self esteem within the first thirty minutes of meeting me. I was too depressed to laugh at her, because she was dead wrong, but I never saw her again. Just like every other relationship humans have, a therapy/client relationship must be built on trust and mutual understanding. So, if you struggle with those two things, finding the right therapist could take years. It is an investment. It is a commitment. It is hard. It is hit or miss, which is frustration amplified when you are already dealing with chemical imbalances in your brain. It is very easy for a doctor to prescribe you a pill, but a therapist is who helps you manage all that comes with trying to balance freaking brain chemicals! It is not diabetes; there are no strips or devices to detect how much of my anti-depressant to take each day.

Then, 2011 brought the most rude of diagnoses, and only after meeting once for MAYBE sixteen minutes. She said the words coldly and frankly, leaving me in a million confused pieces. “You have Borderline Personality Disorder.” Usually I could just add them to the list, the diagnosis list was already pretty lengthy, but this was different. Basically, BPD is a nice way of saying you are inherently batshit crazy with little chance of change. This is my opinion, not fact, about Borderline Personality Disorder. I did not have that, and if I did, I was going to figure out how to fix it, and started with never seeing that therapist again.

At 32, I had my last therapy appointment. I had been seeing this particular therapist (I think he was my 24th one) for over a year and our rapport was quite helpful. I was an old pro at being in therapy, which I am sure helped, but he also stood out for me because he never diagnosed me with anything. He would always say, “you are a very thought-provoked woman, and a seeker” and never once spoke of me HAVING a mental illness. It was a new feeling and I did not quite understand it for a while. On our last visit, I came into his office like always, with my purse and a bag carrying my books about mental health, anxiety and depression, dressed in whatever I had slept in the night before and ready to cry. He greeted me, we said our pleasantries and got into the session. A few minutes in, he stopped me and said, I have your diagnosis, Wendy. I was then diagnosed as “smart and careful, intuitive and empathetic, and introspective to a fault’. He said, “You could easily run a major bank or company if you wanted. Stop reading about what you have been told you have for twenty years. Stop. Or, go back to college and become a psychiatrist.”.

I went home, put all my books away, and kept treading my waters.

Dad Story 2

I am doing really great things in my personal life, and know that my Dad is somehow seeing and is the MOST proud. My Dad died never fully understanding me as a person. We discussed it. He and I could talk about anything. So, we did. This post may ramble but these are some of the better conversations I was blessed to have with him.

While caring for my Dad, in his last months among us, I would tell him about my emotions and feelings–something he did not see the point in ever talking about, but I had a captive audience, so I took advantage. I’d struggled with mental health issues my whole life and he’d forever told me, “it’s all in your head” and I began to respond, “that’s exactly where it is.”. Comic relief is the only way I know, and laughing about his figurative being my literal was funny. One afternoon, in between Rush Limbaugh radio and Judge Judy, I asked my father if he ever truly understood my struggles with anxiety and depression. Did he have empathy for me? He said, no, I do not. Quite frankly, which is the only way my Dad knew how to communicate, he did not ever understand me or my diagnosed illnesses. And, I am so thankful for that raw honesty. I respect it. I accept it. And, it did not change me, nor my relationship with my Dad. In fact, it got stronger. I got stronger.

Once, when Dad and I were picking up lunch from a local bar and I was in the car waiting for him when a REALLY nice, new car pulled up beside our Pontiac sedan. He comes out with our food and gets into the car to light his cigarette and I said, “Dad, look at that car! Those folks must be so rich! How awesome?”. With not much more than an exhale of smoke, my Dad smoothly responds, “Kiddo, money doesn’t buy any of the things that are going to make you really happy.” while getting out of the parking lot and ashing his cigarette all seamlessly. I think I was about 10 years old. It stuck.

At the ripe age of eight, my Dad, while handling some inane argument my brother and I were having, told me something that I did not understand at the time but have lived by ever since: Nobody ever told you life was going to be FAIR or EASY, so don’t go looking for it to be. Boy, was that man right. I think I have repeated that to myself and to others my whole life. Again, he did not sugar coat things. It wasn’t his style. I notice that same style creep in on me more and more, as I age. That characteristic does not always go over well with my fellow humans, but I just always remember that they too need to learn; life isn’t supposed to be fair or easy. Deal with it.

My decision to divorce was heavily influenced by a conversation I had with my Dad. I had been married four years and he and I were in the process of moving back to my hometown. I had a job first, so I came to live with my parents and work while my husband finished his job search and handled our home. I spent a lot of time with my Dad during this transition period and time of great doubt in my life. We often talked about my work life relationships, so I figured, why not get his feedback on my marriage relationship. I asked my Dad if he ever felt like my Mom was just his family, because she took such good care of him when he was sick (which was often). I explained to him that my husband had become more like a close brother or cousin to me, and that I did not see him in the same light after all that we had been through because of that Hurricane and whatnot. Dad quickly replied, and spoke sincerely, saying that through all the hospital stays he and my Mom had endured, it got very far from romantic intimacy but never had he ever thought of her as family. She was his wife and partner. I knew in that moment what I had to do, as hard as it was. And I did it. Now, I am proud to say that my Dad not only was able to walk me down the church aisle to get married, he also managed to get me down the courtroom aisle to get divorced.

I love that man and miss him so much.

 

An open letter to Mothers

Let me preface this entry with the fact that I am childless by choice, and in that, I do realize I have “little room to talk” about being a Mom. I fully accept that and this letter is to Mothers from a non-Mother that is downright tired of complaining Mothers. Since 1973, women have had the legal right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, I am speaking to any Mother who became one in this time frame. Odds are, if you’re in your late 20’s to late 30’s and have children, I am talking about you.

STOP COMPLAINING. I hear more complaints about children and the activities of said children and the money spent on said activities and the time-suck all said things take out of parents, and frankly, I am sick of it. You chose this. YOU wanted to be a Mother. You chose this lifestyle, because no matter how poetically you put the joy of having a child-it is, in essence, a lifestyle. Lifestyles are not forced engagements. And, in the USA, we CHOOSE our lifestyles. Now, understandably, Motherhood is an incredible life choice that keeps the world going round; but, when did it become so acceptable to complain about these “joyful bundles” once the rubber hits the road?

STOP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA. The internet is written in ink, people. Your children will be able to go back and read that complaining you did about their Science project or book report. Put yourself in their shoes…what is going to affect human nature more-reading that your Mom thought you were a beam of blissful light when you were born, or the meme she posted about needing to get drunk because “kids are hard”? I know not all Mother’s take to social media to complain, but NONE should. None. You chose this challenge and you did not have to; making children is NOT a life requirement. So, when a woman complains about work and having to pay the bills, I get it. But, a Mother bitching about having to wake up early to take kids to school is just downright insulting. It is insulting the child they made and the life of Motherhood they chose, and frankly insults the beauty of complaining.

Imagine a vegan complaining about wanting to eat meat. That is how I feel when my Mother friends and family complain about washing extra clothes or planning kids’ birthday parties. Hey, gals, you did not have to do this. You wanted it. You got it. You loved it until they were two years old. You still love it. But, you’re complaining is unacceptable and at the end of the day, just plain ridiculous, because this was your choice. Live with it. Love it. Own it. Shut up about the hard stuff. Everyone is dealing with hard stuff, it is not our fault you chose to add more humans to yours. And, remember, those joyful bundles will be reading your complaints about them one day and ruin some really important “memory-making” you were doing with them.

 

 

 

Fat, but not…

…is who I am. That may sound harsh, but let me explain: culturally, I am seen as a fat person and I accept that fact and don’t care what word anyone uses to describe my voluptuous being.

I weighed 10.2lbs when I was born, bruising my Mother’s tailbone on the way out. A funny and accurate metaphor for our adorably functional codependent lifestyle. So, I have not known ‘skinny’ ever in my life. As a toddler my wardrobe was the same as any other little girl, only I poured out of mine around the edges, and I knew no different and cared not. Adult me cares, and will never let my mom off the hook for not even trying a cap sleeve for her fat-armed, happy child. But, that is where I think I may have gotten my inner confidence with my body. My mom dressed me like everyone else-I was like everyone else. I did not need much more convincing.

Junior High happens. And, as I am sure anyone knows, that is when girls (whose self-esteem is hacked by hormones) let you know, in some fashion, that you are different as a fat girl. You do not wear similar clothes, when all the other girls have all the same pieces and ‘style’. They could shop where I could not. They effortlessly wore two piece bathing suits and knew nothing of the dreaded trip to the store for anything that had to be tried on in a room with bleak lighting and surrounded by mirrors and a nervous, yet hopeful mom at my side, tugging that suit up in the back because I can’t reach it.

I knew, then, that I was fat. What I did not know is that I should be or act any differently because of it. I am grateful to my parents for giving me that unabashed sense of self, through nature or nurture. I truly have and have always had what is known as body dysmorphia, but in reverse. My full-length mirror says, ‘Girl, you look FIERCE!’ most of the time. In fact, a pimple on my chin will do me in WELL before the sight of my big ass in tights! I love my big ass. I love my big boobs. I love my big hips. I love my body.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not love my belly fat. It is annoying, for me, more than ugly. I move. I like to dance. I like to do yoga. A fat belly can deter life, for certain; but, I am never ashamed that I have it. I own it with confidence. I minimize and conceal as needed with clothing and I live my life.

That said, I live my life like I walk around in a size 6. I do not think I wore a 6 even when I was 6 years old, but I feel like a size 6. I feel sexy when I am dressed up and I feel comfortable and at ease when I am wearing PJ pants or leggings. The latter is what I am in most, and I am just as equally comfortable. It’s why I can walk into a bar or a tax seminar and light up the room with my sass. And, when the confidence would wain or be called into question; I faked it. I faked confidence a lot in my early 20s. So much so, that I, indeed, faked it ’til I made it. Every year I age, I get even more confident, too. My friends tell me it is infectious and that makes me very proud and happy, because I am very proud and happy to be fat, but not.

All or Nothing

I have struggled with this ‘characteristic’ for a long time. Maybe forever, I can’t be certain. I go full speed or full stop. I am all in or all out. I want to live and learn like a toddler, or I want to sleep and stay unconscious as long as possible like a newborn. I will love you with my whole heart, or I will exclude you from it completely.

Needless to say, it is not easy for the people around me and takes a certain amount of patience and acceptance to be in my world. I used to worry about them, but now, I just appreciate them and make it my priority to give my all to those who have hung around through the very high highs and very low lows. And, in the same vein, I try to be understanding and understandable when I have to eliminate people from my world, or when I am eliminated. I did not choose to be this way. I have worked on balance, hell, I work on balance every moment I am awake. But, it doesn’t come easy for me and I am still trying to find my own way to achieve it.

After all, I am the one who has to deal with the after affects and the consequences and the feelings of failure and inadequacy, when I have been on top of my game and then back at the bottom. It is not easy being extremely helpful to everyone in your life to being codependent and helpless. But, what is easy is constant communication with your loved ones about your state of mind and your feelings and emotions. Your truth is always where you can find comfort. If you share that truth, others will feel comfort.

Xanax

In 1996, my general practitioner of one year, prescribed me .25 milligrams of Alprazolam, generic for Xanax. I had no clue what a Benzodiazepine was or even why I needed it, really. My doctor said, take one a day along with the Prozac I had been taking. I did as I was told. I was eighteen, I was a nervous wreck, what’s it going to hurt?

Let me tell you what hurts: depression. I did not know about sadness and depression until I was 21 years old. I can not medically or scientifically prove this; but, I am 90% sure Xanax introduced depression to my mind and brain chemicals. All drugs are different for all people, this goes without saying, however in my experience and now speaking with a better pharmacological understanding of the drug; Xanax is extremely effective in managing panic and anxiety but with a slight come down after its half-life (length a drug stays in the body) which can be from 11 to even 40 hours. While in your body, only a few hours are devoted to blocking the dopamine that is causing anxiety, so the rest of that time in the body and brain it is slowing everything down. And slowing so gradually, that you do not immediately feel the ‘come down’ for lack of a better word.

At 22, I began drinking alcohol pretty frequently, as most college kids do, only I can no longer remember a lot of those years. I have the highlights, but zero details. The depression was cyclical then, and the anxiety was constant so the Xanax had to stay, I felt. And, my doctor continued to prescribe-explaining the proneness to black outs when mixed with alcohol. I was warned, but given no alternative or any discussion of addiction. Zero. Also through those years I was switched to multiple different SSRI/anti-depressant drugs (the Prozacs, the Paxils, the Zolofts, the Cymbaltas, the Celexas, the Lexapros, the Luvoxes) which meant basic emotional and physical hell for every pill I had to ween off and every pill I had to ween on, wash, rinse, repeat. For years! If you’ve ever been on the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Grav-A-Tron at a fair or theme park; just imagine that feeling right when the ride starts and right when it stops repeating over and over, with no reprieve, and, you’re not on a ride. You’re in your every day life, with the very stressors that have you on the medicine. It’s the cruelest Catch 22 ever put into play.

By my 30th birthday, I was no stranger to depression and still suffered with severe anxiety and less, but still present, panic attacks. Add a dash of PTSD, due to the Hurricane and I was on a lot of medications. My Xanax dosage was up to 1 milligram as needed, because of course, your body gets used to the drug and then you need more. And, the doctor gives them to you and sends you on your way. I’d had therapy on and off, its importance not as harped upon as the drugs and for a few years uncovered by insurance. But, I was getting all the help I could and I was still suffering. My marriage was suffering because I could not work due to deafening negative thoughts, only curbed by sleeping. The breaking point was going to the Intensive Outpatient Therapy my clinic and my insurance offered, and my psychiatrist pretty much insisted.

Intensive Outpatient is a three week group therapy, individual therapy, homework, 9am-4pm, job working on yourself. We had a nurse on-hand, and two psychiatrists oversaw our progress and prescribed and altered medications more directly. It seemed like a really important place for me to be. I benefited greatly from the therapy and the group (see entry COMPASSION for more) and the program really helped me figure out some healthy coping skills. I had gotten so bad, that when I was in that dark, sad place I had to feel something else. Until then, I never understood self-harm, but I dug my fingernails into my forearms until they bled–so I could feel different pain than I felt, even if just for minutes. It is embarrassing to admit, but I have to say it, to say that the alternative I learned in that program has saved me from the shameful act of inflicting pain of a different kind on yourself to gain some semblance of control. Ice cubes. Put an ice cube in your hand and squeeze. Sometimes I use both hands. It hurts and your mind is seared with a very different kind of pain, and, when you are ready to drop them, you are ok.

I made it about two months after the Intensive Outpatient ended. I had my ice cubes. The doctor had upped my Xanax to 2 milligrams twice a day, yes that’s 2 milligrams. Yet, I still felt the urge to run as far away as possible. I would hold my breath, defying my body’s innate defense to smothering oneself. I cried. I worried. I took all the medicine as directed and I still cried and worried, felt sick, exhausted, doomed, worthless. My husband came home to me sitting at the coffee table with all my medicine bottles on the table and a bottle of Fiji water. Just staring at it all. Needless to say, I was in the Intensive Inpatient Treatment the next morning, for more help.

By day six of my second round of group therapy, the doctor had me up to 3 milligrams of Xanax…wait for it…twice a day. They’d added another SSRI/anti-depressant, I have blocked out the name of it. It was horrendous. I felt completely done with everything that was happening to me. Pulled out of group therapy because of my obvious tremors, I went to the doctor, with just an insane amount of fear inside me. I could tell these professionals did not seem to know what to do next. Scared doesn’t even cover how I felt when he looked at me and said, ‘it’s time.’ Dazed, yet shaking like a leaf with panic and nerves, I ask, ‘for what?. I can not remember any movie I watched from the age of 29 to 31, thanks to doctor- prescribed Xanax, but I will never forget the words that came out of this doctor’s mouth.“You have to go to rehab, we have you on too much Xanax, and in order to take you off, we must monitor your vitals 24/7 and withdrawal can be very hard for some.”

 

Inside the box

As I sit in my room, procrastinating today’s entry, I see my clothes in the closet-many haven’t been worn in years-and the bookshelves I most recently re-organized. I made a box for donations and a box to go in storage. It feels good to have cleaned up and gotten some of my belongings in place.

I moved back home with my parents in April of 2009. Part escape, part urgent need for a sense of home, I slid easily back into the role of child. Then, my Dad’s health (which was already poor) steeply declined in July of 2010 and I was quickly jolted into the role of caregiver and definite equals with my Mom. We cared for my Dad, her husband, until the moment he passed. It changed me in a lot of ways that I have not really understood, yet. Except one, one thing I will never be a again, an innocent child. The role-reversal with my own father was starkly jaunting for me. I may never have my own children, but I know all too well the feeling of another human being completely helpless and needing you to survive. Needing you to help them eat, drink, go to the bathroom. There is a primal instinct that comes when you have children, and I believe it is the same when you care for anything helpless.

So, as I sit in my childhood room, it is VERY metaphoric of my life right now. My room is full, cluttered, with a king size bed that allows just enough room for a chair and a chest of drawers. I have two closets, but one has my Mom’s winter clothes in it and other seasonal hodgepodge. My adult, married, home-owning life things do not fit in this room but I have made it work just like I make the fact that I am still in this somewhat stagnant time in my life where I have independent tendencies and a job; but, I am not living or working to my full capacity. I am stuck in a small space with a lot of life that has already been lived that is  no longer fitting in my space. Dare I say, I am outgrowing myself? I don’t know, but I know that when I look at the room I have created for my adult self that once housed my childhood, it is not big enough for all that I have. Just as this semi-stagnant life I am outgrowing.

It is an exciting and scary feeling. My stagnancy has been completely (mental) health based or driven but I am watching myself come out of it. I am making and attaining goals. Small at first, with plans of bigger and bigger. Plans, even. It has been a long time since I have said the word ‘plans’ without a distressed sigh or an outright verbal complaint accompanied with a teen-like eye roll. Not today. Today, I feel glad to look at the organization in my room and liken it to the momentum my life is gaining. I know I will get out of this box.