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*written July 2013
I did something amazing. I was in Boston to meet a friend and I went home. I went back to the place it all started, where I experienced so much pain. I knew I was ready. I knew I needed to do it alone. I’ve struggled so much to retrieve memories of my youth that were not traumatic – I couldn’t find images, feelings, laughter from so many years while I felt imprisoned behind the gated doors and windows. I was scared to meet up with that sad little girl crying on the stoop, but I went. I marched right up the street from the station. I took a picture of my old school and remembered Molly asking my why Malik always looked up my skirt in the coat room in Kindergarten (I replied, “I think it’s because I can read.”) I remembered running down the street to Caroline’s house where her mom made cookies and we were allowed to lick the bowl. I remembered roller skating the day Ronald Reagan was shot. I took a picture of the Mackie school yard where I smoked my first cigarette behind a dumpster. I got a little scared as I approached the block my old house was on – I walked on the far side of the street and pondered it from there for a few minutes. I knew I was strong enough. I knew I was ready. That little girl wasn’t crying anymore. Alison Meridith can go f*ck herself – I *do* have friends. People *do* like me. I’m happy. I’m healing. I’m intact. I’m integrated. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been… so why was I so scared of an old brick house with bars on the door and windows?

I took a deep breath and wandered down the block. I realized just how busy the street was where I used to run across four lanes of traffic to get my mother’s newspaper three blocks down. I don’t remember how old I was, but I know the Sunday Globe was almost too heavy for me to carry. I remember it was scary. Nearly as scary as crossing the same street to catch the T to school in first grade – my mother never got up in the morning, so I usually missed the school bus and had to get there on the city bus. Those places were so big… I used to be so small. There was a lovely little shop on the corner – a building I remember burning in an apparent arson when I was a girl – so I thought I’d find something to mark the occasion. I discovered a sweet card intended for a newborn, and I realized that is what this day was – a rebirth. I decided to mark the occasion with a gift to myself and bought the card and a cheap bangle bracelet. I steeled myself for the next step and walked back up the block to my old house.

The magnolia my mother planted the year I was born has grown almost to the third floor. The bars were still there but there was the sweetest little dog asleep in the dining room window who perked right up as I stood there to take a picture. I was weeping the most cleansing tears. The little girl wasn’t there anymore. She’s happy now. She’s healing. She’s whole. I felt like an honest to god grownup, ready to move on and live life without that sad little girl hanging off my skirt. I scanned the house looking for traces of my old world when a young man came out of the house to smoke on the stoop. I had a lovely conversation with him about the house that belongs to his family now. I don’t know if he noticed the tears behind my glasses and sweat.

I called my boyfriend and texted my therapist to let them know what I had done. It felt amazing. I was released. I was liberated. I am free.

I wept all the way back to Copley Square then proceeded to recount the experience to a dear friend I spent the day with. We went into my old church and chatted with the receptionist before going into the sanctuary to say a prayer of thanks. I’m not really a praying kind of girl, but this day was extraordinary, and that church was as much my home as any other place – I found real sanctuary there for many years. My gratitude fills me. My liberation is like this incredible gift I never dreamed I’d receive although I write that with the knowledge that this is no gift. This was hard-fought and hard-won. I busted my ass to get this far. I worked like a beast to battle demons and ghosts, misunderstanding, sanctimony, judgement, rejection, loss… I won.

I know I’m not done yet. I have plenty of work left to do and there will be ups and downs for sure, but I’ve made tremendous strides and I’m pretty freaking proud of how far I’ve come.

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My heart aches, bleeds with grief for the senseless loss of life and innocence. I’ve been reeling all day, torn between wanting to avoid the horror of the news and wanting to be prepared to discuss it with my own children. And then there’s that magnetic draw to become engulfed in the news, to try to glean some sense from the madness… because it is all about madness, right? That’s where I get mad.

First they trot out the reporters with half-confirmed fact-like information, then come the psychologists to talk about the crazy. If the massacre happens abroad it’s a terrorist, but if it happens here in the US it must be a crazy person. There must be some diagnosis to explain this horrific crime. Except when there isn’t. Or when the mental illness is a result of trauma, abuse, bullying or just lousy parenting. Or when a human being perfectly capable of making choices makes some terrible, terrible choices.

Choice. Ay, there’s the rub. Mentally ill people make safe choices every day. Victims of child abuse choose not to abuse their own children. Children exposed to domestic violence grow up to choose not to abuse their own spouse.

It burns my ass when the media wants to paint the picture of a killer as someone who is mentally ill, because whether that person is or is not mentally ill should not paint the mentally ill as killers.

The vast majority of mass murderers in the USA are young, white men of privilege, yet the vast majority of young, white men of privilege live a lifetime without killing anyone.

Sigh. My heart aches. Sad times.

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Will I ever stop chasing the little girl I was? I wish I could stop her from feeling all the hurt, change her path so she might find an easier way. I guess it isn’t up to me. All I can do is work to heal the woman she has become.

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My dad buried his best friend yesterday.  She was a beautiful dog who was gentle, devoted and slightly neurotic.  He would sing “I’m leaving on a jet plane” to her when he left the house and she would hang her head and wag her tail as if begging him to stay.  She’s resting in the shade of a tall spruce with pink granite marking the spot.  She’s been sick for a while, so we all expected it, but I thought it would be easier.  I’m going to miss her.

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It was cold and gray today.  I pulled on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a faded old flannel plaid shirt.  I pulled my black Chuck’s out from under the bed and felt a little more like myself when I slipped them on.  I might look a little silly, pushing forty at almost 300 lbs in my All-Stars, but it feels like me.  I spend most of my days in pretty anonymous clothing, the same stretchy comfy clothes that every other plus size Walmart shopper in America wears.  Today I was inspired – just a little.  And it felt good.

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I made it through another day upright.  I was surprised when my friend stopped by with a pretty bouquet of flowers and an ice cream cake for my birthday.  We had a nice visit and I was inspired to neaten up the kitchen while she was here.  My kids were really terrific today – the oldest made a peanut butter cake with peanut butter / chocolate icing from scratch 🙂  I wish I didn’t have such a chip on my shoulder about birthdays, maybe I could feel happier about the blessings I do have.  My heart has been pounding out of my chest all day – I don’t know if it is anxiety or my blood pressure, either way it stresses me out.  My mother called.

When I turned sixteen, I got a card from my mother saying she’d take me to see Les Miserables for my birthday.  I subsequently did something wrong and as a punishment, she didn’t take me.  That hurt.  I didn’t send her a Mother’s Day card.  It hurt worse the next year when she missed my birthday.  I didn’t wish her a happy mother’s day.  For twenty years she did not acknowledge my birthday on my birthday.  Some years she would call or send something after the fact, but it was not until my 36th birthday that she acknowledged it on the day.  Thus, the big ol’ chip on my shoulder around birthdays.  I was dreading her call today – I haven’t spoken to her since I asked her for some money to help me buy Christmas presents for the boys and she refused because she thought it was frivolous to spend money on presents when I was behind on my bills.  She called with my step-father on the phone and they sang happy birthday then he rambled on about how he was going to be 94 in a few days and he’s busy writing his obituary because if he doesn’t, my mother won’t write what he wants and all his friends are dead.  It was a real treat.  She said she needed ideas for my birthday present and joked about how proud she was for getting my youngest an ipod shuffle for his birthday a few weeks ago.  I told her he really liked it – it is the same color as the iPod Shuffle she got him last year for Christmas and almost as much capacity as the iPod Shuffle his brother got him for Christmas this year…  It is awful.  As much as she has hurt me, I don’t really want to hurt her, but I can’t resist a little jab when I have the opportunity.  She asked how I am and I said fine.  I don’t know what I am supposed to say – thanks for the birthday wishes, my life is perpetual hell.  I don’t sleep but I sleep all the time, the only time I’m not eating, I’m in bed, I can’t wear any of my clothes because I’m almost 300 lbs, I want so much to heal but I can’t even afford to go to therapy.  My kids are terrific and I wish I could get my shit together to be a better mom to them.  What am I supposed to say?

I emailed her after the call and told her a little more frankly how things are.  I hate that I spend so much time crying on my birthday.  I hate that she says all the right things and makes me question my sanity for all the ways she’s hurt me.  She just answered my email and it has me reeling.  She says all these nice things about loving me no matter what and how I misunderstand what her expectations of my are and how EMDR is good but her friend married her therapist and in a grand ol’ WTF  moment finishes with this:

“One thing to think about is what you expect of yourself now that you have a disability check.  Almost everyone I’ve known who has gotten one comes to think of themselves as disabled and staying that way in order to justify getting the check.  I know you won’t want to hear that, but it is what it is.

Love,

Mother”

I am at just about the lowest point in my life – but I must be thinking about staying that way to justify the $787 a month I’m trying to raise two kids on???  Like I WANT this??? Like this is what I wanted to grow up to BE???? Like this is all I have to aspire to now???  AAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!

I want so much to be productive again.  I want to keep my house and pay off the car that was repossessed last fall and stop saying “no, we can’t afford it” every fuking day!  I want to help people, I want to work, I want to draw and make music… I have SO MUCH to offer the world when I am well, I know it is still in me.  I WANT TO BE WELL.  I don’t intend to collect a disability check all my life,  I just don’t know how to get out of this hole.  I just want to stop crying and be grateful for being alive.

I took the dog for a walk and found the jaw and spine of a rabbit scattered in the field.  I feel like scattered bones.

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I don’t know much about Samson and Deliliah, but somehow cutting off my hair seems to have given me power – maybe because I just didn’t have any left to deplete.  I thought about it all day yesterday – I would run my fingers through my hair and come out with handfuls of long hairs that just cling to my clothes, the furniture and create some pretty radical dust bunnies when combined with the dog’s copious shedding.  When I couldn’t sleep, all my Scrabble turns were played and nothing but reruns were on tv, I decided around midnight to start chopping.  I posted on my facebook status, “Hm.  I think its time for short hair.” and an immediate response from my friend along the lines of Stop.  Wait.  Don’t do it now just because you’re upset about your birthday…  I found this kind of ironic, because part of my struggle lately is the distance that has grown between us – why she doesn’t pick up the phone and call, I don’t know.  I got a few replies from friends that were more encouraging, asking me what style I was thinking about – I don’t think they imagined that I would just start chopping in my bathroom in the middle of the night.

I don’t recommend cutting your own hair.  I don’t usually follow my own advice.  I started by brushing all my hair into a ponytail at the top of my head and then cut that off – leaving me with a bit of a mullet, but it successfully layered the top and sides about the length of my bangs.  Then I just cut off the back.  The whole time I’m wondering if I really care how it looks – after all, I stopped looking in the mirror ages ago and I have become so fat that none of my clothes fit, what difference does it make?  I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut the back evenly, so I got out the clippers and pondered shaving it all off.  I did that once (well, a friend of mine did it for me), and discovered that the back of my head is really flat and my skull if pretty small.  It is not a good look for me.  I managed to restrain myself and just used the clippers with the longest guide to trim the back roughly.  Probably the best thing that came out of it is that all that prickly hair forced me into the shower I hadn’t seen in a week.

I decided to leave well enough alone and went to bed with wet hair, knowing the morning would bring a surprise.  I groaned when I woke up and felt the super short locks in the back.  Sleeping with wet hair left me with quite the do, but I didn’t panic and wet it down.  I trimmed a bit more on the sides and some of the longer pieces from the back and kind of spiked and scrunched it a little.  It isn’t actually too bad.  If anyone casts more than a passing glance, they’ll likely notice how uneven it is, but the overall look is kinda cute.  I even spent some time plucking my scary eyebrows.  All that time looking in the mirror and it turns out, I don’t really mind how I look so much.  Then I took the dirty clothes from the bathroom downstairs, started some laundry and did the unthinkable…  I put on a bra.  I don’t even have to GO anywhere today, and I put on a bra… big stuff.  I finished it all off with a clean shirt and pants with a zipper – call it a banner day.

So, what else does one do when wearing black jeans?  Oh, yeah, decide it is time to wash the floor.  Good thing the jeans let me know the cleanser I picked up had bleach in it…  Oh well.  My kitchen floor is cleaner than it has been in months, the windows are open and I am still up and dressed.  Oh, and I even took the dog for a nice walk – not just the cursory go-out-and-do-business, but a genuine walk.  Seriously??? She just thanked me by throwing up under my desk as I typed those words!  Oh well – it has been a pretty good day all the same 🙂

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