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Posts Tagged ‘birthdays’

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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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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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I’ve really been struggling the past few days.  I’m so angry with myself and my situation for over spending on my kids the past couple of months – now it has caught up with me and I’m behind on all my bills and can’t afford to drive anywhere.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed.  There is usually escape in sleep during the day and at least I don’t eat when I’m sleeping.  That is, there used to be escape in sleep.  I had the most vivid and horrible nightmare the other day and I can’t stop the images from recurring every time I close my eyes.  In my dream I was picking a spot on my foot that revealed a huge worm.  I started to pull it out, but it would only stretch and finally snapped, flinging off my pinched fingers into my screaming mouth where it became fused on my tongue.  I couldn’t get it off my tongue.  Now I can’t stop seeing the images – feeling the stretching coming out of my foot – sensing the gooey mass on my tongue.  I can’t get rid of it.

I missed therapy for the second time this week because I couldn’t afford the gas and spent another day in bed.  I get so frustrated by the ups and downs!  I had such a good weekend, I laughed with my kids, I had fun watching my son’s first track meet, we played together.  I didn’t sleep during the day all last week while the kids were on vacation and I was okay.  Then I checked my bank balance.  I hate telling my kids no all the time because I can’t afford whatever.

This is the first time since I stopped my meds that I’ve had serious obsessive thoughts.  I was hoping that they were aggravated by the stimulants I was on for ADD and had been grateful for their absence.  I keep going back and forth on the medication issue and come to the same conclusion – the way I am now is mostly better than I’ve been on meds and not worse, so no meds wins.  They tried me on the antipsychotics a few times for the voices – but I felt like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man… it was awful, I couldn’t stand it – the voices were better.  I don’t know if I can heal sometimes.  Some days I’m optimistic and I believe that I will find my way out of this and lead a productive life again and then I have days like today when I feel like I’m just destined to be sick all the time.  I want my children to have a better life than this – even if I can’t be persuaded that I deserve better, I KNOW that they deserve more from me.

I want to feel the sun shine on my face again.  I want to smile.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? . . . Your playing small does not serve the world. . . . as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…”

– Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

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I’m watching the Today show where Kate Gosselin is talking about how difficult it is to be a single mom and how hard she has to work to provide for them.  I’m torn.  I want to vomit and / or punch her in the face…  But I digress…

On this day, twelve years ago, my younger son was born.  I had gone into labor the day before, Easter Sunday.  I felt the first contractions in the middle of the Easter egg hunt I had planned for my four year old, Z.  I was in such a panic.  I didn’t want to end the hunt early and leave him forever resentful that the arrival of his little brother ruined his Easter egg hunt!  So I rushed him, waddling around the yard trying to remember where they all were – I left him with a hug and a kiss and raced off to reach my friend and labor coach before she left work for the day.  My labor stalled and it ended up being a sleepless night and a long next day before he arrived.  Little did I know at the time that the waiting had only just begun!  He takes his time with everything.  Although he talked in complete sentences ridiculously early and was reading at age 4, he was almost 2 before he walked and just recently learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  A few years ago I would describe him like a little extra-terrestrial, here to study our planet and the ways of humans 🙂  I discovered that he has Asperger’s Syndrome which explained his physical development and quirky behavior.  On the flip side, he is a genius.  He is smarter than anyone I know.  I am constantly amazed at his insights and the ideas he has for inventions.  In short – I’m a proud mommy.

So today I am feeling grateful to have this amazing little human in my life.  He always smells my hair when he hugs me.  Taking in big gulps of air like he is drinking in my scent, he always tells me how good I smell, because I smell like his mom.  He makes me smile every day, and every day my heart aches to know how he is marginalized and bullied by the privileged and athletic kids who dominate his class.  I know how he longs for the father he idolizes who abandoned him again after coming into his life for the first time at age eight.  I know his big brother is his hero even though his brother thinks there is nothing more annoying on the planet than to have a little brother.  I worry about him getting depressed, because the world is not easy for him.  He is constantly frustrated that people around him are less intelligent, yet he tries to dumb himself down to fit in with his peers.  He feels injustice so keenly, his tears shred my heart.

Last night he threw himself on my bed, telling me it was my last chance to give him a hug as an eleven year old.  I hugged him with all my might.

People tell me what an amazing kid he is – how bright and polite and thoughtful he is.  They tell me what a good job I’ve done with him.  Today I want to celebrate.  I want to celebrate my little human for the amazing human he is, and I want to stop and celebrate myself a little bit for being the mom that helped him be who he is.  It is so easy as moms to imagine that we have great kids in spite of our flaws.  I have to listen to the words I tell my friends – I have great kids because I am a good mom. (fighting back tears)

I worry so much about the damage my mental illness does to my kids – how will they be scarred by my madness?  Today, though, I don’t want to worry.  I want to celebrate how far we’ve come.  His love of reading comes from me.  He is smart like me.  He is compassionate because that is what I’ve taught him.  He has good manners because I value those things.  He has tremendous capacity for love because I love him.

I’m going to celebrate today by taking care of myself.  I’m going to take a shower and shave a winter’s worth of growth off my legs.  I’m going to scrub my face and brush my teeth and blow dry my hair.  I’m going to put on clean clothes (I even finally found my underwear) and head to my therapy appointment, then I’m going shopping for my baby’s birthday.

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Two days ago I went to bed feeling so positive and optimistic – my head and heart were light and I really felt like I’d made progress with my healing and that I was headed in the right direction.  I had woken early for the two hour drive to therapy.  I showered and dressed (which was remarkable because in my entire load of clean clothes in the dryer there were no underwear which would have sent me back to bed on any other day), and headed out in the sunshine.  I enjoyed listening to the news on the ride and noticed two bald eagles flying, a flock of wild turkeys near the road and even saw the buds on the trees starting to swell.  I was weepy in therapy, dealing with a recent conflict with my best friend, but I was grateful for the tears, because they mean I can feel.  I didn’t cry much on meds, I was just numb.  When I stopped the anti-depressants, the most amazing thing I noticed is that I could feel the air on the hairs on my arms.  I had a second cup of coffee on my way home and my mood only improved.

I made a short detour to stop and see my dad on the way home.  He recently bought a camp and has been working on clearing the land to build a new cabin further up the hill.  There was a note on the door that he was up the hill, so I hiked up.  The sun was shining, he was happy to see me and spread his shirt out for me to sit down on and he took a break from clearing brush to have lunch.  We visited for about an hour.  I laughed a lot with the kids when I got home, made dinner and it was just a great evening all around.  I felt so hopeful and sleepy when I went to bed.

So how can I wake up the next day with a huge weight on my chest?  How can I have such trouble opening my eyes against the glaring light.  Why is it so hard to lift my arms to put on my robe?  How is it that the very air has become shards of glass, shredding my lungs?

I went back to bed until after noon, yesterday, and when my son needed a ride home from practice I tucked my nightgown into a pair of jeans and threw on a coat – hoping I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone while I was out of the house.  As if the universe wanted to prolong the agony, I did not sleep.

This morning I knew I needed to get to therapy.  I went back to bed after my son got on the bus, setting my alarm for 9am.  When the alarm went off, there was a sunbeam just beside my pillow, so I scooched over and the cat came up to join me, his fur just grazing my cheek as we shared the sunbeam.  For just a moment, it was bliss.  I kept hitting snooze until after 9:30.  I dragged on clothes from the floor, snagged my hair in a barrette to hide the grease and got in my truck before I could change my mind.  I didn’t buy gas on the ride home, knowing my account was getting low – I checked my balance online and I have exactly $2.37 until my disability check is deposited next Wednesday.  My son turns 12 on Tuesday.

I can’t think.  I can’t breathe.  I don’t want this blog to be some big pity party, but honestly, WTF???  I have all these goals and shit to get done and I literally can’t afford to leave the house until Wednesday.  Assuming, of course, that I could even get my shit together to find clean underwear between now and then…  These are the days I wonder if I’ll ever conquer this beast.

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