Missing You

 

I miss my morning email from you, like a big hug from far away.

I miss the thrill that it gives me, the lift to my spirits

I miss your eloquence, your intelligence and your point of view

I miss your stories of everyday activities, dearly held dreams and even your darkest fears.

I miss the connection, the history and what we’ve built together.

I miss the knowing, the laughing and the encouraging.

I miss the reminiscing of happy days, the sharing of hopes and dreams,

seeking out our truths, discovering life is not always what it seems.

I miss you, every bit and part and piece of you. Like an addict without her drug,

I feel your absence like a painful wound; darkness where light used to live.

I’d almost forgotten what life was like before I met you.

I’ve become addicted to your wit, your humor and your unique perspective; your point of view.

I crave the conversation, the debate, the exploration of thoughts and philosophy of living.

As with most creatures rare and beautiful, you seek solitude and safety when the world becomes too much;

too much noise, too much pain, too many voices, too much chaos.

I know you are hurting and I wish I could make it all go away.

But you are there and I am here, you walking your path and I, on mine.

I can’t promise I’ll be here forever, no more than you can promise me.

But I know we’ll meet again one day.

Maybe not this at this time and in this place,

perhaps not in this body and not with this face.

I found you once before and I truly wish no more

than to find you once again.

I miss you

and wonder

do you miss me, too?

 

 

Issues, Therapy and Me

I couldn’t write about issues without including this song; it’s been the anthem for my whole life, especially when it comes to love. Enjoy.

I know it’s been quite a long time since I last wrote, but I have been going through an awakening, of sorts. Actually, it may be more of a emergence from a long-term state of denial. I have known for quite some time that there are some deeply seated, dark and painful memories that have haunted me in my weaker moments from time to time. I say in my weaker moments because like anyone who is in denial, there is a certain amount of energy and headspace that you have to maintain, like throwing a sheet over an attacking mountain lion, basically. As long as the sheet stays in place, the big kitty can’t see me and therefore, cannot bite, chew and eat me. But once the sheet slips, the eyes lock, the body lowers and the hindquarters twitch, pupils dilate and the mouth waters in anticipation of that delicious first bite into my sweet, white flesh. Denial is the sheet and the memories are the mountain lion; so long as my state of denial was firmly in place, I was protected from those memories and if they even came up, they were  heavily photoshopped and edited to the point of being unrecognizable. That is another component of not only denial, but basic human survival. Our mind will do whatever it takes to get through whatever is happening, whether that be fracturing into different personalities, wiping the memory entirely from the mind or rewriting the scene to be an entirely different experience and transporting oneself to that beautiful, safe place. At any rate, I have known on an intellectual level for some time now that therapy would be something that could potentially help me to really, truly work through the memories, the events, the recurring thoughts and anxiety that are frequent visitors to my psyche. Having my 50th birthday approaching may have been the extra nudge from the Universe that I needed or maybe I had made an agreement with myself a long time ago (when I thought 50 was basically on death’s door) that I would deal with any demons I picked up along the way well before that specific birthday; whatever the case, I found a therapist named Lisa, had a getting to know you session and now have an appointment to come back and begin therapy.

The type of therapy that Lisa would like to do with me is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) and I actually know someone who has had many sessions with her therapist and was amazed at the results. It is a relatively new form of therapy and does not involve pharmaceuticals in any form, so therefore there is a belief in some circles that it’s not real therapy. I believe the people’s experiences speak for themselves and there are a great deal of them. It has shown great promise with victims of rape, violent crime, natural disaster survivors and those diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) including but not limited to military veterans. In the book I’m currently reading entitled “EMDR” by Francine Shapiro, there is a woman who survived the Oklahoma City bombing and her story, along with many others are nothing short of miraculous. Should you wish to learn more about EMDR, click on the link below.

http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/

Now, all that said, there is still a certain hesitation to open Pandora’s box, to remove the sheet and face the mountain lion; there is a comfort in stagnation for me in many ways. Change is pain and pain is what I’ll do anything to avoid even if it means more pain. Funny how that works. These issues have been my unwanted passengers for decades now and have effected my life in every possible way imaginable. Even then, they have not been successful in their desire to see me fold, quit and ultimately take my life. I have dreamt of being free of them all, the burden lifted, the darkness made to light. Well, dreams are all fine and good but at some point, I must wake up. This is my awakening and I’m going to share it with you as I go. I believe that we as a whole have more in common when it comes to dealing with demons and living through horrific events than we are aware. If any portion of my story reaches someone else, causes a shift in thinking, an opening where hope can shine through, I’m all for that. That’s basically why I keep waking up each morning, apparently. I have to believe that all of the negative that has attached itself to me throughout my life thus far has simply been for my education and in return, to share those lessons, revelations or insights.

In the words of the great Malcolm X –

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

All that being said, I will be more than happy when I have been able to get the lesson wrapped in a shell of pain, unwrap it, throw away the shell and take the lesson with me as I move forward, a bit more stronger and wiser. I’m happy to have you on this journey with me and as always, amazed and pleased that someone is still reading what I’m writing. Thanks for that and thanks for believing in me.

Wishing you a great 4th of July everyone! May you celebrate your own personal independence in whatever way you choose. A huge thank you, hugs and kisses to all our military service men and women out there. You are the heart and soul of all of us. Words will never be enough to thank those who are with us and those who have fought and sacrificed their lives for what they believed in and what we enjoy today; freedom.

Deja Vu/Vuja De

It was a year ago, around this time on the calendar when I finally admitted to myself and to my psychiatrist that everything was most definitely NOT fine and a change of venue was in order. My doctor, being the good doctor that he is, referred me for psych evaluation and an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) to deal with the immediate concerns and to eventually get my mood rightened and myself back to the land of brilliant Technicolor, instead of the shades of black in the world I was living in. Well, fast forward a little over a year and guess what? I’m back in the same place, with the same therapists and doctors, cafeteria style lunches and rooms with uncomfortable chairs, lots of Kleenex boxes and people with stories, like me and very much unlike me. My immediate thought upon having to tell my doctor YET AGAIN that I was losing my s**t was not one of “Atta Girl!” but more like, “Seriously? Didn’t we JUST do this?? WTF is wrong with you, loser??” because my first thoughts are always from a place of extreme judgment and an unrealistic goal of perfection, no matter the circumstance.

Now, I wouldn’t say that to my worst enemy anymore than I would say it to someone who was doing another round of chemo or radiation in an effort to destroy that which is trying to destroy them. Treatment is treatment; the disease may differ, the course of treatment may differ but the goal is the same, to provide relief of symptoms and improve the health of the individual, thus improving the quality of life. Mental health is really no different, although much less one size fits all. Mental illness and those who battle depression, mania and other disorders are as different and varied as any selection of human beings can be; one person’s burden is another’s blessing. There is no absolute 100% guaranteed course of treatment and whatever course is selected, the patient must be able and willing to follow subscribed course of treatment, which often if not always includes eliminating substance (pick a poison, alcohol included) abuse and implementing a medication program that includes a cocktail (pardon the pun) of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers and perhaps a little Antabuse thrown in for the hard core alcoholics. The patient must be willing to give up those self-medicating methods and switch to the psych meds, which usually come with a hefty side of side effects, weight gain being at the top of the list and covering all manner of ailments including, but not limited to: psychosis, permanent facial and/or body tics, blindness, headaches and possibly (of course) death by suicide, because some of these drugs have induced suicidal tendencies in certain groups, such as adolescents and the elderly. Go figure. Seems kind of counter-intuitive, but every rose has its thorn, as we learned from Guns ‘n Roses/Poison.

If you’re still reading and still awake, I commend you. 

Back to the present time – I am back in the land of black and bleh, trying to find my way to the light and a coherent, relatively calm mind so that I can make some decisions that will hopefully keep me from having to return again at this time next year. I have a great many decisions to make at some point in time and I want to choose wisely and make choices that are good for me and my health. It’s easy for me to say that (I’ve said it over and over again) but the execution is where I falter. I guess if I’m thinking about what I SHOULD do instead of what I NEED to do, that could lead me to an unwise choice.

For all of you who have sent happy thoughts, well wishes and in reached out to me in general, I want you to know I feel the love. Seriously. Those of you who are thinking about me but haven’t reached out, I assure you, I still feel the love. You are the difference between me giving up or carrying on; your belief in me is my sword of truth, fighting against the lies and untruths that hold my spirit hostage, trapped in a dark and dismal mind. Your love and support brings a light to the darkness, a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow to come back to the land of the living and love. I have talked to many people who have no family, no friends and oftentimes it is because their mental illness/addiction issues have exhausted the supply of people willing to lend a hand or support that person. Some people have a limited time only offer of assistance and once that window is closed, there are no more. I understand the reasoning behind this; if you are trying to save a drowning person, but don’t know how to swim yourself, you will both most certainly drown. Dealing with mental illness is neither pretty, Facebook post-worthy or fun. It tests  your limits, your love and your own mental stability. It’s like a fire you can’t get too close to or you end up with some pretty serious burns. It’s a rollercoaster ride you don’t remember buying a ticket to ride, a storm that was born of sunny skies and fluffy clouds; sunny and bright one minute, dark and destructive the next. It can tear apart the closest family, take away your best friend and leave a wake of destruction miles wide and years long. Knowing this makes you and your continued support all the more precious and appreciated.

Shooting thoughts of love and gratitude to you. Wish we were there (Half Moon Bay)

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Scotland -Part III

The day after Christmas 2015 found me at the airport, excited, tired and ready to be on my way back to Scotland. I had arrived at the airport at an unreasonably early hour (per my request) and had thoughts of my previous two visits and wondered what this visit would bring. I’d been there all alone, with eyes wide and full of wonderment for my birthday in December 2014, met someone in July that multiplied the happiness, the pleasure of traveling and exploring, not only Scotland, but our personalities, our experiences, hopes and dreams, fears and flights of fancy. I didn’t think I could be happier than I was on my first visit, but the second visit changed all that. What would the third visit bring? Would it be even better or would I have raised my expectations so high that they couldn’t help but fall short? These questions swirled around in my mind as I walked the airport, burning nervous energy and trying to fill my mind with something other than those unanswerable questions.

Well, it’s now almost the end of January and I’ve been back about 3 weeks and I have to say, this time was such an incredible experience. I couldn’t have scripted a better visit, traveling and exploring again, but this time, with hours in the car, talking about nothing and everything at once; taking photos like a mad tourist while speeding down the highways and two-lane roads. Sometimes the only car as far as the eye could see, with endless stretches of gorgeous landscapes, skies full of strange clouds I’d never seen back at home; sunsets and sunrises so beautiful, it takes my breath away each and every day. Being so far away from everything and everyone I know, I found myself. I found the calm I’d always prayed for, the serenity I didn’t think existed and the ability to live fully in the moment, not looking back in regret and not looking forward with fear and anxiety. This couldn’t have been possible without the company I was keeping; I have been a solitary creature by choice most of my life but this was comfortable, effortless and I had the feeling that all was right with the world.

That being said, returning to reality is rarely effortless or comfortable and this time was no exception; the higher you are, the harder you fall. The dizzying heights I had occupied while in Scotland gave way to the deepest depths and dark days (and nights) while my spirit tried to break free of the shackles of everyday life and return to the freedom and wide-open spaces I’d flown; now seemingly a dream I had dreamt. Remembering the calm and trying to get that thought to translate to feeling isn’t the easiest or most natural thing for me to do; I am more prone to go worst case scenario and lock the memory away, for the pain of being away from such bliss is too much to delve into. But this is a new year and the time for change is always, so I am embracing my pain, along with the pleasure the memory holds. Bittersweet is a flavor we’re all familiar with and while it’s not something I’d want to taste at every meal, it’s one of the flavors of life, so it will make an appearance from time to time. Every piece of pain contains a lesson, something learned or experienced that will last far longer than the original discomfort that bore it. It’s easy to say and hard to remember when it happens, but it is a choice. I choose to take the bitter with the sweet, the pain with the pleasure and the heart break with the bliss.

I choose to get up and try again. I choose to belief this, too shall pass. I choose to believe that I will return to Scotland, hopefully again and again, until I am an old lady tottering along with a cane, telling my grandchildren about my time in Scotland over and over again, until they can tell the stories themselves, word for word.

 

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Swim

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim”Tyler Knott Gregson

My big little brother sent me this quote via Pinterest and as always, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, as if in answer to the questions I’ve been yelling at the Universe lately. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy many things because I have been solely focused on trying to cope using ways that (obviously) have lost a degree of effectiveness. I have been so focused on just “keeping it together” that I have turned blind to simple things that I had once remembered to seek out; tiny moments of everyday miracles happening all around me. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a baby is born far too early and fights to draw each breath, yet he fights, and he lives. People die, yet their spirit and the essence of who they were live on; the deaf can hear, the wounded heal and rise to fight another day. A mother does the impossible everyday, bringing food to the table, keeping her children safe yet aware of the dangers in this world. A father works himself into an early grave so that his children can have a better life than he did. So many miracles, unnoticed when I’m so deep into myself, my “troubles” and my rollercoaster of emotions that are as much a part of me as my curly hair and my tattoos. Living with mental illness, addiction and temptation are my trifecta of Troubles. But there is so much more to the world, to me, to what I want to accomplish and who I wish to become. As with anything, I must adjust, adapt and/or accept what is happens to me, around me and within me, but that doesn’t mean that I should disregard the beautiful insanity that is my world. A world where people are still my friends, even after I have proven myself to be less than perfect and wholly human, a world where a man knows me, good and bad, happy and sad, sane and mad and still loves me. Where I have a son who has every reason to begrudge me happiness, yet wishes it for me abundantly and repeatedly; where a friend sees the crisis and helps in the the best way possible, giving me sanctuary from stress, mental exhaustion and emotional bankruptcy….next stop Complete Shutdown. I was able to avoid that next stop and it’s due solely to my friend’s generosity, which I will try to repay, but can’t imagine how I will be able to.

These last few days have been an effort to get back into the River that is Life and swim, just for the sheer joy of it. Spending time being creative, whether it’s writing, coloring with crayons or just seeking out beauty and capturing it in a photo, stealing a moment in time and keeping it forever, unchanged and unspoiled. Just walking through a park, on a trail, really looking at the trees, majestic and tall, decorated in Autumn’s colors and waving to me with the crisp morning wind shaking their leaves. This brings me back; this slowly cleanses away the grime and dust of depression, that black dog who creeps in and lies on your chest until you know you will never rise again. Nature fights that, gives you light and beauty and life, but we need to be aware, to reach out to it and let its goodness in.

Oh – and swim. Just for the love and the sheer joy of it.

 

The Ghosts of Friendships Past

As I have said before, when in recovery or just trying to better oneself, there are certain people, places and things that need to be left behind in order to be successful. I have had to make that call more than a few times and was able to do so (or so I thought). Like a zombie that just won’t stay dead, one old “friend” in particular keeps coming back from the past to haunt me. Not directly most of the time, but through friends we both shared. Just a few weeks ago, I had yet another “friend” try to contact me after over 5 years. Really? Five years later? Did you not understand after five years that I had no interest in stepping into the swirling mass of dysfunction that is your world? Or maybe you thought my life didn’t have enough misery or that my recovery was “just a phase” perhaps. Well, to set the record straight, I have no desire to fall back and regress; I feel as the only things missing in my current life are narcissistic people who are all about themselves and married men who don’t have enough balls to leave their wives and instead want to have the benefits of a whore without actually having to pay. They want to choose from a group of people they and their wives call friends. I guess it’s just easier for them. Well, I am ashamed to say I was one of those women who for lack of self-respect and desperation to feel something resembling love, gave the best parts of myself away and received in return immeasurable guilt, more loss of self and buckets of shame. I WAS. I am no longer that poor, pathetic creature. I understand my worth, I value those best parts of myself and like precious stones, I treasure them and hold onto them until I meet someone worthy.
In this world of social media, it is not easy to remove someone completely but it is not impossible. I bear no ill will to these ghosts but I will not invite them back into my life, as I have far too much to lose. I will pray for them (and pray they will eventually move on to new prey) that they will find whatever it is they are looking for and also that karma will find them. It’s not my place to cast judgement or to seek them out and return tenfold the pain and hurt they inflicted upon me, but the very human, flawed side of me wants that badly. Bloodlust and long-stored anger are my constant companions and are much like a dormant volcano until these ghosts appear and their names invoked. I know that I will not heal holding onto these old hurts and feelings of betrayal but I also don’t know yet how to exorcise them. I will keep trying to find a way to move beyond it all and be mindful of those friends that feel the need to rip open the wounds and speak of those who I would much rather lay to rest under a mountain of dirt in a crypt so far down, they will be warmed by the fires of Hell. I do not wish to lose myself in the bloodlust or the need for retribution; I just want to move forward, learn from my lessons and continue on the path I’ve chosen.

Perception and Passing

Scientists are sometimes pretty strange. They can be so engrossed in reality that they seem almost absent from it, as if they float above the Earth. That’s a bit how you feel about things, too, Sagittarius. You like to explain the world in your own special way, the way you see it and not necessarily the way it really is. That’s your secret. You know that no one else can see the world the way you do.

That’s my horoscope for today according to “glo” on msn.com. I like the thought but I believe that we all see the world in our own unique way, interpreting images and voices and sensory sensations. I always go back to that saying

Normal

I think our view of the world is much the same way; a hot, dry, sunny day in the 100’s for me is torture but for Sibling #3 (let’s just call him 3) it’s a picture perfect day, made to order just for him. I joke with him and say he must be part reptilian to enjoy such heat, but it’s his personal taste, his personal experience that makes the day good, not the day itself. The same way that I believe the high temperatures are at fault for my unhappiness and discomfort, I know that it is my refusal to adjust my belief that keeps me unhappy, not the weather itself. The very definition of insanity comes to mind – doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result; refusing to change ones ways, beliefs, attitudes but mourning their unhappiness is much the same, I believe. I cannot expect the world to stop rotating on its axis and time to stand still because I desire the quiet and the absence of the ticking clock to attempt to absorb and process the last few months. I cannot expect people on the street to not smile because I have lost my mother; the world cannot be shades of gray, the colors are still bright, the sky is still blue, the birds still sing and time marches on. What was in the past moves farther into it while the future unfurls itself slowly to me, showing me seemingly only what I am ready to see, what I will be able to get past my ego and my will to control everything I have no control over. I cannot expect the sun to stop shining, though there is a shadow on my heart; I cannot stop laughing for fear of minimizing the loss. I have to face forward, with the knowledge and strength this time has bestowed upon me, the experiences like beautiful gifts wrapped in roses with sharp, stabbing thorns. The pain is a part of the gift; it needs to break you down and empty your hands so that you may be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything, you control nothing and you are ready to accept the gift on terms that are not your own. That is when the growth happens, that is when the ego must recede into the shadows and allow the spirit to stretch and to reach up, seeking the light of enlightenment and the courage that only faith can bring. Love and loss walk hand in hand, along with life and death; we cannot ignore the loss but we cannot go before it is our time. I will move forward, drinking in the beauty of this world, the colors of the flowers, the laughter of little children, the song of the birds in the trees. I will pull from each day every bit of joy, happiness, gratitude and grace that it has to offer. I will live, really live, in the moment, in the eyes of another and with the love of my parents tucked safely away, deep in my heart where it glows and keeps me warm. I will live until I can live no more and then I will go quietly into the night, as I will know that it is my time to join them.
It’s always interesting to me the difference between what I think I’m going to write about and then what the finished product actually is. I love that about writing, but I hope it doesn’t make for a scattered post for you, my readers. Thanks for sticking with me and if you’re new, thanks for giving me your time and attention.
A Very Happy Friday to All!
MP

This Someone

As I stand inside my mind

The colors of darkness I do find.

The blackness of extreme depression

Brought about by lack of possession

of clearer, lighter, brighter thoughts

of sunshine, beauty, things I have not.

To see the sun halfway in the sky

Think of it as rising to a greater high

See it not as setting, as to an end,

but rather a new day, ready to begin.

If the colors in this mind

Were lighter, sweeter, more sublime

I believe I would have achieved

the inner peace of which I’ve not yet received

Is there hope for this to be?

Can I ever truly love this person that is me?

Will I ever feel that happy glow from gorgeous dreams

Of touching clouds, embracing sunbeams?

Or will I always be so tightly wrapped

in heavy blankets of gloom; so completely trapped?

I do not wish to feel forever down

To hear only the drumbeats of lonesome sound

But change is pain and pain is growing

I cannot keep this all from showing

In weighing the fears of what is to be

Against the measure of this person that is me.

Can I rise above the fears that bind me

and let the truth at last find me?

The courage to do what must be done

is hidden deep within me,

this someone.

-October 1993, Gulfport, MS

Creativity, Mania and Meds

“Saying I don’t take my meds because they make me feel funny is like cannibals saying they don’t eat clowns because they taste funny” 
― Stanley Victor Paskavich

For the longest time, I fought against taking any kind of psych meds for a myriad of reasons; it would most certainly interfere with my alcohol and substance use, it could make me “normal” (God forbid!) and more importantly, I was deathly afraid that I would become someone else. As someone who could handle anything, it seemed as though it was somehow cheating to take them. Of course, drinking and self-medicating were perfectly acceptable and didn’t constitute a crutch at all, in my mind.

There is a great deal of fear around medications, especially psych meds for those who have the bipolar diagnosis. I can only speak for myself, but when I look back at all the wonderfully dark poetry I wrote while in the midst of a manic episode, I wonder if it was the mania or me that created them. I know now that my talents are not solely dependent upon my state of mind, but rather the end result is colored by my mental state. I don’t need to be hopelessly depressed to write about sadness or riding the tsunami of mania in order to write of bliss. I now know that my creativity exists within myself, my heart and soul. My moods may change, but the core of who I am remains. I will admit that a good manic episode, much like a good acid trip, may open doors within my mind to places that I would normally not be granted access to, but that does not diminish my potential for creativity. I am able to open doors to creativity through meditation, deep thought and following my intuition to wherever it leads me.

I love the quote above because it reminds me so much of myself in years past. I have argued with my psychiatrist for many years about getting clean and sober, taking my prescribed medication and finding sustainable sanity. It was as though I feared sanity more than I feared a lifetime of wild mood swings, severed friendships and day trips to insanity. I am thankful that I was able to finally face my fears and give myself the chance to live without extraordinary pain and suffering. Of course, this is not the end of my story, but rather the beginning. I hope that as I continue to write, I will be able to open those doors in my mind that will allow me to better understand my illness, my talents and my future as a creative woman who happens to have bipolar disorder.

I hope you will follow me on this journey.