Sunday, January 31, 2010

What I have learned by staring at the ceiling

I wrote a long entry about depression and how...(wait for it)...DEPRESSSING it is. HAr hAR HaR. It was so anti-illuminating that I deleted it. The condensed version is " Boy Howdy! I am REALLY depressed!"

My ex's dad, Pop-pop, lives down in florida. He had quintuple bypass surgery. I don't remember if I wrote about this, but there was drama involving my ex and Pop-pop, and just hearing about that sent me into a downward spiral. Triggers can be so insignificant, and yet, these little things are all it takes divert my emotional river. The good news is, Pop-pop came through the surgery just fine, and called us sounding cheerful yesterday morning.

I called my mom to try to talk to her about my ill health, and we got into a big fight. Talking about depression has always made her really uncomfortable. She told me that she didn't like the person that I have become, and then got into a plane and went to the carribbean for ten days. For ten days I have been chewing on this ascertation, and I have decided that it is really great that she doesn't like the person that I have become, because that means I am FREEEEEEEEEEEEE of trying to Be That Person That She Wants Me To Be. Yes! Ever since my mother and I became friends in 2004, I've been trying so desperately to please her so that she will stay my friend. I've considered myself a fuck up who needs to improve in order to gain access to her "Successful In Life Club". This is not her doing. It is all my skewed perception, and now I am FREE OF IT! I am going to be my own person, which is what I was doing from 1980-2004, not giving much of a jot about what she thought.

Dear Skewed Perception That I Have Of My Mother's Expectations,

1)I will not be white, upper middle class and suburban.
2)I will not be thin.
3)I will not be happy all the time.
4)I may never have a mortgage.
5)I will not sell my soul for health insurance.
6) The goal of being the perfect daughter is dead. Sorry.

Love ya! Have a nice trip!

I want to make clear that this is not my mom's fault. This is all about the weird stuff that goes on in my head. I thought that if I wasn't the person that she wanted me to be that she would not be my friend. Seriously! I thought that! That is a HUGE sacrifice to make, you know, reorganizing your entire life just for one friendship, even if that person is your mother. I have treasured her friendship, but I have sacrificed too much of my own free will in the valiant effort to be what she considered acceptable.

I'm grown. The only person who needs to consider me acceptable is ME.

So, my mother does not like the person that I have become, and actually, that is pretty awesomely great news.

On to other revelations that I discovered recently while staring at the ceiling:

I have been through a FUCK LOAD of trauma in my life. I will not list them because that would be painful, but there have been a lot.

Since Nov 0f 2008 I have had a reprieve, but that doesn't mean that I can jump right into being emotionally healthy. I am not saying,"Poor me, lets focus on all the bad stuff all the time and feel sorry for Mountain. She should get a cookie." What I am saying is I have been hit by a proverbial truck. Although I look normal, it still hurts. Even though years have passed, I have triggers, phobias and scars. I have clinical major depression. Sorry. I don't need to make past traumas the center of my life, but neither do I need to pretend that I am totally fine.

I have felt pressured to act like I am totally fine, which I guess is the same for everybody. We all try to act totally fine. I have not felt the space or freedom to work it out. I have felt like my "time to be traumatized" was over. The bell rang, but I'm not finished with my test.

So, with a grand wave of my wand,"I allow myself to feel any emotion in the arsenal. I allow myself the space and freedom to work it out as long as the children are being taken care of and I am still holding a job. A job. Not the most wonderful job. I can accept help. Spending time "being depressed" is part of my healing process, and if I don't deal with emotions as the come up, they will come out in other, less convenient, ways."

I came across a book that has helped me almost as much as Cunningham's Depression Workbook. It is Ben Mikaelsen's Touching Spirit Bear. I even wrote him a fan letter, which I have never ever done before, and received a warm, wonderful response. If you or someone you love has experienced a life altering trauma, this book might shift your perception towards positive healing. This book also has amazing, emotionally full male characters, which I appreciate. Maybe this book will help you, too!

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Late January Miscellaneous

I haven't been writing too much lately, as you might have observed. I have been walking around all emotions, but only the painful kind that feel like chunks of glass in the circulatory system. I have cried and laid in bed and studied the ceiling for hours on end, without the ability to pull myself up, put on a cute outfit and throw my beret in the air like Mary Tyler Moore. I have lost my inner Mary Tyler Moore.

It has a lot to do with the sun. I don't seem to be able to change my depressive trajectory, but I can remove myself to observe that these bouts have to do with the moon and my hormones, and not having enough fun and light. My days are filled with one obligation after another from morning til night, always to meet someone else's expectations of me, but never actually for ME. Christmas was one HUGE obligation to everyone I'm related to, work is rewardless, and it is grey, dark and cold outside.

My husband is wonderful at depression triage, and has been urging and beggging me to tattoo, but I am too much of a wet noodle to get back in the game. My bad days do not flood me with a surge of creativity. Creative types get depressed, but depression does not make one creative. I feel a total drought in creativity. I can't even pick out which socks to wear. Boo hoo.

Things are not all bleak, though. My eldest daughter seems to be finding her footing with her schoolmates, at last. Yesterday was a rollerskating birthday party at the roller rink, all the 9 year olds from the charter school were there, and my daughter skated her little heart out to the sounds of Thriller and that media over-saturated Taylor Swift girl. She was red-faced and beaming when I came to pick her up with a neighbor kid in tow. He goes to the old school, so wasn't invited to the party, but was hanging out at our house yesterday afternoon.

"I had a great time, even though I had no one to skate with at couples skate,"she said.
"I would skate with you at couples skate, next time. We could come on a regular day and go skating some time,"said the little neighbor boy, and I just melted into a puddle. Awwwww! Then in his next sentence he called some other kid a dickhead, and I had to be parental and put the kibosh on that, but for a second, I was a puddle of butter.

My younger daughter is her same ol' plucky self. We went out for chinese the other night, and at the take-out place, there was a paper party-warehouse type palm tree, decorated with Christmas tinsel.
"Nice tree,"I said.
"What is that? Do they have palm trees in China or something?"says the little one.
"I guess. China is big. I think they have everything in China."
"They don't have ME in China!"
I've been laughing all week at that. "They don't have ME in China!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pitfalls by Jesse Wolf Hardin

I don't know if you will be much interested in this, but I found some valid points here. It said post freely, so I did. I wanted to hold onto it to look at later.

In other news, my coworker is still in the hospital, but has been chatting happily on the phone and seems to be in good spirits. I don't ever want to be around when someone quits breathing ever again!!!

On the Animá Path of Self Growth, Self Realization, Service & Purpose
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Part 6 of 7

The following is the sixth in a series describing dangerous or limiting pitfalls on the path of personal growth and purpose, misconceptions and maladies that can hinder our understanding, development and manifestation. Please feel to share these with friends:

• The Goal Of No Suffering
Religions have long promised an end to suffering in the “life after death,” while some New Age and Eastern dogma promises techniques to rid us of suffering right now. Avoidance of all suffering in this life, however, can be counterproductive. The expression “no pain no gain” is true in matters of personal growth as well as bodybuilding. Pain is not punishment, but a call to attend. It is not our duty or karma, but rather, the balance to exquisite pleasure. It is the counterweight against which we pull, and it is that pulling which provides the strength of our joy. Pain is not how we pay the fine for past crimes, but how we pay the dues of our membership in the rolls of the aware. It is, in one form or another, one of the prices of heightened sensation, and part of the reward of being a heartful feeler. And beware the draw of drama: The trick is to be awakened and deepened by it, not addicted.

• Misconstruing Illness & Vilifying Death
It is wrong and harmful to imagine that good health and long life is proof of one’s spiritual level or personal powers. At its worst, such thinking can cause the ill to feel at blame for their maladies, and make death seem like a defeat instead of a teacher and unifier. Additionally, while healing oneself physically is important, it’s not as essential as learning from our every illness or disability. It is the practitioner’s sometimes painful lessons and trauma-instigated transformation that affords her the power and wisdom to assist others.

• The Cult Of Happiness

In the pursuit of happiness, some spiritual approaches recommend we avoid negative influences. However, it is exposure to the so called “negative” that tests and fortifies the positive. Systems, habits and regulations are potentially more dangerous to one’s spiritual path than chaos or disruption could ever be. Besides, nature teaches that happiness is too easy a goal for our fleeting finite lives, too low a mark for our aims, too little to ask for one’s primary prayer. Better we covet childish exhilaration and sensual ecstasy, strive for quiet contentment and raucous excitement, pray for the realization of our truest, responsive, sensate selves! Better we seek the fullest expression of that being, suffer the price of our increased awareness, and bear the utter joy that is then our reward! After all, joy and suffering are polar twins, pointing to the same capacity and willingness to feel. Together they widen the scale, expand the measure of how alive we truly are! Happiness is the mind freed of immediate worries, the basket of our lives emptied of all disruptive input. Joy, on the other hand, is an ecstatic disruption – that together with longing and sorrow – fills that basket to the brim. Happiness is comparatively shallow and inevitably conditional, whereas joy is so deep it remains undefeated, even with our honest embrace of the saddest of events. Animá teaches us to embrace both, and to give thanks. For to really enjoy, one must fully enjoin… and fully rejoice!

• Transmutation Of Desire & The Distrust Of Instinct
At times bosses, husbands, priests, politicians and gurus alike have taught that we can’t trust our intuition, because it’s what tells us that “something’s wrong with this picture.” All vested authorities should fear the power of our inherent, native intuition, for it’s what warns us when we’re being disempowered, and what begs us to strike out against what binds us. It’s a red light designed to warn us about the hours of our lives burned up without engaging in truly meaningful activity, the days spent stuck in artificially lit boxes, our earth damaging or soul deadening careers, and any partners we might live with who don’t love and honor us like they should. Intuition is simply “body smarts,” ancient corporeal knowledge directing us to what best serves our real needs and authentic selves — and away from anything failing to serve us in this way. It’s fulfilled by mindful food gathering whether in a store or a field, but it recoils at standing in line. It’s attracted to learning, but suspicious of schools. Our deepest instincts are the still-valid messages echoing the cumulative experience of our evolutionary past, and the forward looking intentions of the Whole. While ideas can be independent of and even contrary to the direction of earth and Spirit, instincts are inseparable aspects of anima inclination and will. Teachers can pass on all the best ideas and processes in the world, but we still need to develop intuition, instinct and discernment in order to personally know how, where and when to apply them.

…to be continued

(To further deepen your study and practice we recommend enrolling in the various Animá 8 Week Courses described on the website, especially the introductory “Orientation, Principles & Pitfalls” and the new course on “Awareness”)

(Forward, copy and post freely)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A few things rattling around in my brain concerning compassion and suffering

I just thought I'd write down a few things in here. Thank you, Lucy, for the sweet comments. It seems like it's just us chickens around here, but that is fine. I just NEED to write things down. It's an idiosyncrasy, like my doorbell phobia. And my constant hair color changing. And my passion for burritos. Idiosyncrasies, friends, are brush strokes that when taken individually can be largely unattractive, but when put together will form a fascinating individual. I remind myself of this when I get irritated by my own unflapable quirks. If you took out one puzzle piece, the whole picture might be ruined, right?

So today was a sad and terrifying day. A lovely young woman at my office was just fine, and then all of a sudden stopped breathing. I don't want to talk about it too much because clearly it is not my story to tell, but it was ghastly and horrible and really made me think about God a lot. I'm praying, and I've been praying all day, which feels extremely futile. I don't mean to insult God, but I just feel powerless. Life seems to drone on like this oppressive, unshakable thing, and then today I was reminded that life can be light and flimsy, and fly away like a careless lightening bug just out of reach. We aren't really all that important.

In my early twenties, I used to talk a lot about religion, about Wicca, about The Goddess, and The God and spirit guides and ritual, etc, and now I don't feel so Wiccan. I know that my God and Nature are inseparable, but I have lost all desire to wave my Pagan Pride banner. I came to understand Magick so much more by learning about The Law of Attraction, but I don't feel limited to any narrow ethos lately. I enjoyed attending church on Christmas. I find hope in hanging buddhist prayer flags. I have an active relationship with my pantheistic Gods, and if you think that's ridiculous, it doesn't much bother me at all.

What I do think about so much more lately is how fuckin' rough life is. Death. Disease. War. Starvation. Lies. What does your, mine, his or her religion DO about it? To borrow a well worn idiom, about as much as a mustard seed. This young woman's suffering today was rough, and I want to understand why the universe is set up that way. Is it because we are here to learn? Is it because we are animals and what we do doesn't matter? Where does compassion fit in? I think about these things on a tuesday night.

I worry that I am not easing enough suffering. I worry that I don't have enough compassion, and that even my small compassion is not important enough to make any difference. Or, to consider the philosophy of Anton LeVey, why should I resist the cruel nature of the universe? Perhaps I should just, literally, roll with the punches?

I don't know.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More on the head injury, among other things


All day long little cubicle citizens at my place of employment told me that my hair looked awesome. I'm not sure if I had fallen through the rabbit hole into an alternate reality where my hair was in fact awesome, or if my hair just was in fact awesome, or if it was the fluorescent lighting. Either way, I'll take it, with gratitude.

My mother-in-law gave me an astoundingly beautiful jade bracelet made of little carved butterflies for my birthday. I never thought,"Hey, I need a jade bracelet," but now that I have it, I feel that I must smugly inform you that It Is Mine And You Can't Have It.

Really, let's talk about the head injury. I worried myself to death all day at work about it. I was trying to do my work but I kept being interrupted by flashing neon daymares of "MY KID HIT HER HEAD! MY KID HIT HER HEAD!" I wanted to run around flapping my arms like an autistic kid having a spaz because my kid was at school far away from me and I couldn't check on her every five minutes and sing her funny songs, and feed her gummy snacks, and check her temperature, and plot it on a line graph (not a bar graph). My coworker said,"Well, why didn't you take her to the hospital?" and then I was reeling again,"WHY!? WHY!? WHY DIDN'T I TAKE HER TO THE HOSPITAL!? OH GOD! WHY?!"

When I arrived home, I rushed to her and hugged her and said,"How is your head?" And she said,"It was fine all day until I lost my backpack on the bus and had to lean over and pick up my bag. That hurt my head, but it only hurts when I bend. The rest of the day was good. My teacher played ball with me at gym.*" *They don't call it gym. It has a crunchy, granola, hippy name at their school, but it's gym.

She's like, totally fine! Yay! I consider myself a very laidback mom, but I am considering beginning a family tradition of sledding in bike helmets.

What else?

My mom wants to take the children SKIING....ahahahahaha...NO.

Did you know that skiing is not skiing? Skiing is a necessary skill that later in life will indicate one's higher social class, whiteness, northeastern-ness, and future availability for enrollment in an ivy league school. If your children don't SKI then people will KNOW that they were POOR!

(My mother didn't say any of this. It is all implied. Heavily.)

Skiing is what rich people do because their lives are SO SECURE that they have nothing else to do but HURL THEMSELVES DOWN MOUNTAINS to add risk to their padded little SUV driving, mocha drinking, remote control garage opener, music/ballet/tennis lesson, flexible spending account lives.

Personally, I love skiing, but that does not make the aforementioned any less true. I was born and raised a yankee liberal, but my children will be midatlantic greenie bohemians if I have anything to do with it.

:) Just trying to fuckin' relax.

love and light,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Relax, I'm 30, and it's just a head injury

Can you believe the astounding, astronomical awesomeness of this card by Anna M.???? Anna, I don't know how I got so lucky as to be your friend.

Being 30 has given me so much to think about. 30 was the age I dreamed about as a small child. I believed that when I was 30 I would be entirely *grown*, living in Barbie's Dreamhouse and fighting Super Villians in an invisible airplane. Am I grown? I guess maybe I am, which might be a tad disappointing because I thought I was going to be MUCH MUCH cooler.

This weekend has been good, though. My new years resolution has really sunk in pretty well, that is, to put it most poetically... JUST FUCKIN' RELAX. I have hated many aspects of my life since 2003, and have been railing hard in an effort to change it, but this year I'm not fighting. I am going to sit back, have a drink, sit on my couch, watch the sunsets, and be gentle with myself. It is ok to not be perfect. I have gotten to a safe resting point, and although there is still lots of climbing to do, 2010 will be the year of chillin'. I may not be able to control all of my rollercoaster life, but my hyper-driven-type A-never!good!enough! personality has been granted a coffee break. Take five.

Today, I lay on my white Ikea couch directly in line with a sunbeam. My livingroom was shockingly clean. Last night I had hung new art that we collected at Christmas on the walls. I unplugged the phone. I listened to spanish guitar and drank gingerale out of a wine glass. I read a book by Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins herself!) until I fell asleep. I stayed asleep for hours. It was sheer heaven! I thought I might explode from the bliss of sitting on my own god damned couch listening to my own god damned music and not doing anything for anybody.

In the afternoon, I brought the girls to the sledding hill. I stayed snuggly in the car and listened to my new Ani DiFranco cd until the girls begged me to give it a go. There was only about a half inch of snow on the hill, and that had been hardened and packed down into the frictionless gloss of a luge track. To my delight, I went down twice at the speed of 125 miles per hour, and then told the girls to have one more turn and meet me in the car.

It was around that time that my oldest daughter started screaming. At first I thought she was playing and ignored her, but she didn't quit. She had fallen off of her sled and hit her head hard on the ice. She could barely stagger up the hill where I was waiting, and I could barely stagger down. I was in full-on panic, but I couldn't show her that at all. I shushed and cooed, promising hot chocolate and administering kisses. I called my husband, and in the nicest, calmest, sweetest, fakest voice told him,"she hit her head. I'm not sure how bad. There is blood. Please come home, darling." You have to know me pretty well to know that when I am speaking at a low volume in a too-calm voice, it means that things are REAL BAD. Once at home I saw that she had a cut on the top of her head about a half inch long. My husband, the regional concussion king, gave me advice and gave her first aid, and within an hour she was A-OK, but that was a frightening hour when I didn't know if I was dealing with brains leaking out of the ear, or just a scratch.

I will be doing the round the clock wake-ups for the kid tonight, just to be safe in case she had a concussion. A little birthday cake and some Disney Channel tv has been a soothing balm. She is cheerful, bathed, pajamaed, kissed and sleeping. I just went to check on her, and told her I would wake her a few times tonight. She said,"Ok, Mommy. I love you. It doesn't hurt any more at all." Thank God.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hey What Have I Been Doing?

The windchill outside tonight is between 2 and 7 degrees farenheit, depending on which weather station you consult. It is painful to be outside without your face covered and longjohns on under your jeans. I went out for a walk to stretch my chubby post-holiday legs, and returned home after only a mile, whining like a kicked dog. The viking woman has been handed her hat. At the grocery store, I took my younger daughter by the hand and ran full throttle for the door. Although it seems on the surface to be deeply insulting, there is no reason to be shocked. It is winter. It is cold.

Life is still good. I enjoy barricading myself inside the house after the wrapping paper is torn. Every year I savor my New Year's Exile. It allows me time to read children's chapter books, drink coffee, clean, tidy and put away. Nature knows what I need, and her wicked deep freeze gave me the clear message: SLOW THE FUCK DOWN, SPEEDRACER!
It does no good to fight Nature, so I practiced some bimbling around inside The Pizza Palace.

READ: The Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
CLEANED UP: Xmas has left the building
PLAYED: for the first time in twenty years, Trouble, and lost

COOKED: Venison cheeseburgers
WATCHED: The Wizards Of Waverly Place, Julie and Julia, and my perenial favorite, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. I frickin' love Eduardo. I need an Eduardo tattoo. If I were to have a cartoon character tattoo, it would be MUCH LESS white trash if it were Eduardo, right?

LISTENED TO: The Avett Brothers, and Night on Bald Mountain, and that damned Miley Cyrus because I am a nice mom.
LOCKED THE CAT INTO: the closet. Overnight. By accident.
FACED MY WEIRD PHOBIA: of doorbells. It rang several times this weekend, and I let people in and didn't run to the corner and hug myself.
DID NOT FREAK OUT: that I am turning 30 in T minus days.

So, ***BREAKTHROUGH***** I allowed myself to let go and be mostly unproductive for a few days.
Back to the grind tomorrow.
Tell me, do you have a weird, embarrassing phobia, or is it just me?