Monday, September 25, 2017
“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” We all know the rest of the line. Unlike the evil queen, I would not like my mirror to tell me the truth. Hell on a good day I never look in a mirror. I usually don’t like the visage looking back at me. On any given day it will either show me as being fat, unkempt or a total mess.
I fought with the reflection in the mirror all of my life. It is for this same reason that I hate to have my picture taken. I don’t like what is reflected back at me. As someone who has fought with my weight my whole life, the mirror is a kind of hell to avoid. I don’t need something else to tell me what I know, what the world tells me and what I feel I can’t change.
I also avoid the looking glass when I am in the throes of a deep depression. No need to see proof that I just haven’t cared to brush my hair or take a bath, you know because why does it all matter? On the flip side when mania is ruling my emotional house, I hate seeing the wild-eyed harridan that can’t seem to slow down. If in fact, I can take the time to stop and look.
Every once in a great while I will catch my reflection out of the corner of my eye as I am leaving the bathroom. Usually, I keep walking, but then there are those days I face my fears and take a glimpse. What grabbed my attention is that on this given day, I study myself and find things that I like about myself. “Hey, today my hair is actually en pointe.” My face seems lit with an inner glow, I think I might go find my makeup back and make an attempt to look human.
As I have grown older, I have found that my old demons don’t seem to bother as much as when I was younger. I have learned to accept that I will never be a size two or probably even a twelve. I have learned to do the best I can and not sweat the stuff I can’t fix. I look at the fifty-year-old woman and see the frown lines around my mouth and between my eyebrows and think of all the ways I could have prevented them. I also know that there is no time machine to take me back to repair the damage. I have to accept that.
I see in that wicked old mirror, a woman who has lived her life. Maybe not easily but she survived. I see the inner strength that got me through the rough times. Mixed in with the frown lines are the fine lines at the corners of my eyes that speak of the smile hidden in my eyes. I like the woman I see most days now. I have finally come to terms with my myriad illness’. I have learned to look for signs in my mirror to give me warning of health issues that are blossoming. I have come to think of my mirror as an impartial second party; A witness to the tolls that illness has taken on my body.
Am I still overweight? Yes. Do I look like hell when Depression has its hooks into me? Yes. Do I look like a wild woman on a rampage when I go manic? Of course, I do. I have learned to accept those facets of myself, and yes, I still avoid the mirror when they appear but I have also learned the answer to the question “who is the fairest of them all?” I may not be the fairest but I am me.
Who do you see in your mirror? Let me know in the comments. Remember no matter the reflection in the mirror, to always love fully and laugh often.
Monday, September 18, 2017
I decided the subject this week will be Depression. To invite you, my reader, into one of the most desolate times in my life. Most people don’t like to talk about suicide. When I was a teenager it was a taboo subject. As taboo as the thought of having a mental illness and admitting that you suffered from it.
When I was a teenager I didn’t think to myself “hey, I have a mental illness.” That was reserved for the adults in my life. As I have mentioned before both of my parents suffered from mental illness. They were too busy dealing with their own demons to recognize that I was battling my own. I had survived being placed in a foster home where I was subjected to mental, physical, and sexual abuse. All on top of feeling abandoned by the parents whose job was to make me feel safe and protected.I was in second grade when all of this came raining down on my head.
What made it worse is I knew there was something wrong with my Dad. I remember the adults whispering in small groups, and on the phone trying to keep me and my brothers from hearing the grown-up talk that was circling around having my dad put into a mental hospital. To this day my mother is in denial of what occurred during that time in my life. She likes to hold this sanitized version of the events that pushed the button to “on” in my own mental issues.
I couldn’t have remembered it correctly as I was only a child at the time. I want to scream at her “I remember! I was there, you weren’t. You signed your own children away after you said that if anything happened to you or dad we would be kept safe with family and friends.” But she had lied. Instead of going to stay with my aunt or my uncle. Even her closest friend, the police came and ripped us away from safety and delivered us into hell. That day marked the beginning of most of my fears. Up to that time, yeah I was afraid of Dad when he would have a schizophrenic episode, but somehow I knew he would never hurt me or my brothers. He turned all his pain onto himself.
You know what is bad. The fact that what occurred during those days became locked away in my child’s brain. I blocked it all out once our family was whole again. I locked all the pain, betrayal, abuse away in a small lightly lidded box and hid it away in my psyche. I lived with this huge fear and couldn’t for the life of me remember why I was so afraid. My whole personality changed after those months of hell. Where once I had been an outgoing friendly girl who dreamed of being an actress up on the stage. I became a secretive, withdrawn fearful shadow of myself. I spooked easily and soon learned to stay to myself. The world overwhelmed me now.
If you go back and read my report cards, the remark made most often was that I was too quiet and needed to come out of my shell. I was better friends with my teachers than my schoolmates. I had friends but I wouldn’t let any of them in to see the real me. I didn’t want them to see my shadow world and hate me for it. I kept to myself to avoid being hurt. I refused to let anyone close, I thought I was tainted by what had happened to me. To my mind, I was dirty. What had happened was all my fault. The thoughts swirling in my head were not appropriate for other kids my age. They were unspoiled. Clean.
Deep inside I felt this evil mixture swirling around me, enveloping me in a cloud of despair. By the time I was in junior high, I had become a proficient actress. I kept everything locked up and went about my day as if I was any normal teenager. Once I got home and behind my bedroom door though my demons ran free. I was basically the mother of my brothers at this time. My mom had checked out. I kept the house clean, I fixed the meals, I was the mom. I didn’t have time to be a kid, a teenager. I didn’t go to sleep-overs, parties, or join any clubs. The only subject in school that made me feel happy was my choir class. For that one hour, I let my voice rise, I sang my heart out.
When the others kids mourned having to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. I loved that I could sing both the soprano and alto parts. The only other class that held my attention was history. I loved learning about the olden days. About what happened before I was born. It was around this time that I made a friend who would become more like a sister to me. The sad thing is even she didn’t know how the darkness was closing in on me. The feeling of desolation, the feeling that if I was dead the pain would go away.
This was a disturbing thought for as I was raised from birth in a very strict religious household. You know the ones. Every time the church doors opened we were there, no music except for spiritual, no TV except for news and a few family shows that my mother deemed safe such as Little House on The Prairie and the Wild Kingdom. When other kids were watching the latest shows and going to the movies, I was busy being “mom”. The church taught if you committed suicide then you would go to hell. Since our religion preached that hell was all fire and brimstone, you were left reliving all your wrongs, my mind swerved away from the thought.
With each year though, my fear of the church’s hell grew less as I lived in my own living hell. All I wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up. Through all of these morbid thoughts though, I maintained my act that I was happy and the world was great. I learned to lie like a pro. I still find myself doing it to this day when someone asks how I am doing. “I’m fine. No complaints. Everything is coming up roses.Yadda, yadda, yadda.”
When I was fifteen I reached the point where I was done. I started looking for my way out.My dad had booze hidden up in a cupboard in the bathroom. I started sneaking drinks to get through my day at school. The problem was I didn’t like the taste of alcohol, still don’t for that matter, so I started gazing longingly at the medicine cabinet which was filled to the brim with all kinds of bright shiny pills just beckoning me to try them. Who was I to say no? I began experimenting with the drugs trying to find the perfect blend to make me numb. The perfect blend to let me sleep forever.
I began to flunk out of my classes at school. I was just not in the mood to learn anything. Why spend my time learning when I was checking out? When asked why my grades were failing, I would just say that it was the new school. I wasn’t adapting to it. Around this time I also started having health issues. I was out of school for a month with the mumps. And then because I had to walk in the weather in Illinois winter between classes, I caught a cold that would turn into pneumonia. I was miserable. I was done.
I woke up. The mix had let me sleep for a day and a half. The real kicker is that no one noticed me not at the dinner table, or doing my “mom” chores. They hadn’t missed my presence. That was the real wake-up call for me. I truly was alone. You know what? I let that build me up instead of knocking me down. I came out stronger. I decided that I was going to do anything I could to break free of this hell I lived in. I stopped caring what my mother thought, what the church thought, what anyone thought. I was a lone wolf without her pack. I have to admit the first few months after the attempt, I wandered in a fog of how I would get stronger but I began the process.
We moved again not long after my journey into awareness. I also moved into a new school. It was here that I found two people who at the time were so left field of everything I knew. They were just what the doctor ordered. They would become the best friends in the world to me. The first was a guy, who had grown up in a broken home with some really messed up family values, who was just figuring out that he was gay. The second was a girl who lived her life wholly. She didn’t care what others thought. She was a force unto herself. They did what no one else could do. They made me laugh.
They made me live. Not in the shadows but out loud and in the open. I was now part of a group. Funny now that I think about it, but we were the kids that really didn’t fit into any clique in high school. We weren’t the jocks, the brains, the rich kids, the poor kids, the outsiders, the weird kids. We were beyond definition. We could easily slip into any of the other groups and fit in, we just chose not too. We would sit in a cluster, off in our corner of the cafeteria and study the drama happening in the other groups. For once I felt like I belonged somewhere.
Did I still fight with my darkness, yeah? Only now I had friends I could call and talk to. They helped me keep the feelings at bay. Did I still think about those bottles of pills in the medicine cabinet? Of course. I had discovered something new though. I had discovered recreational drugs. I found alcohol that I could actually drink without gagging. I could medicate the darkness. Numb it for small bits of time. Did I ever let someone get close enough to know all my secrets? These two people came the closest to breaching my walls, but I hid even from them.
Did I ever try to commit suicide again? No. Thought about it, but something always pulled me away from the edge. Do I still think about it? More than I like to admit but that is part and parcel of Depression. You learn to be a survivor. A fighter. You learn that you are not alone. There is a lot of resources out there to help you. It took me a long time to figure that out. I like to think I can help someone else with letting you into my world. If you feel the need to talk please leave a comment or use one of the links below. Don’t try to do this alone, because you are not alone.
I hope you have stayed with me to the end of this post. When I began it I thought it would just be a short one about my attempt and the aftermath, but my muse guided me in a different way. Remember you are not alone. And above all remember to love fully and laugh often.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline-1-800-273-8255
The Lifeline @800273TALK
International Suicide Hotlines
National Institute of Mental Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Monday, September 11, 2017
I was crashing on my mother’s couch and had just started my new job. I was in search of a safe harbor to lick my wounds and move on. A friend told me that the apartment above them was available. I was in luck. It just happened to be an old landlord. They agreed to meet at nine that morning to show me the place. In my mind, I already knew I would take it just to get out of my mother’s house. I had escaped her once, I did not want to live under her roof any longer than I had too.
I had worked late the night before and ended up crashing on my neighbor’s floor to save me the forty mile drive from my mom’s. It was her son’s thirteenth birthday that day. We sat at the dining room table discussing her plans for his celebration. We both were finding it hard to believe he was thirteen already. I remember there was a movie playing on the TV in the background. Neither of us really paying it any attention. The knock on the door signaled the arrival of the landlady coming to show me my future home.
I went to answer the door knowing who it was since it was just a couple minutes before nine. I never realized how much my world would change in the opening of the back door of my friend’s apartment. I never realized how much the whole world would change that day. The date was September 11,2001.
It was the day before my nephew’s second birthday. Two boys one thirteen and one just hours away from the tender age of two. The days of feeling safe ended that day. The feeling that our country was safe. It was all ripped away in just a few short hours.
|The view that was playing on the TV.|
I remember the shock and feeling of numbness. And then the realization that this would lead to war. A war my brother who was in the military would be sent to fight. To be told to make ready on, what was the day before his son’s second birthday. I wanted to call him, find out what he knew but he was stationed in Germany. I remember we all sat and watched as the towers burned and collapsed. We watched as they reported the plane heading towards the Pentagon. We could not fathom who would do this unthinkable act. Who would risk war with our nation? The landlady finally said we should go check out the apartment, there wasn’t anything we could do. Life went on.
I barely saw the apartment my mind still focused on the scenes we had watched on the news. I paid the deposit and got the keys to my new start. I thought it an absurd thought, he I was looking to rebuild my life and the whole world was crashing around me. My day was done yet though. Panic had spread through the streets as people began preparing for the worst. The grocery stores filled with people stocking up on supplies. I thought it had been bad on the previous year when the ball dropped on the new millennium. This was far worse.
I was working at a truck stop on the edge of town that day and as I approached my workplace, the next shock hit me. There were cars lined up at the pumps, trucks circling the lot waiting for a chance to fuel. I almost was hit by another car in both my car and as I walked into the station. The news had caused a gas war and price were being raised. People were trying to get fuel before the next rise in the price occurred. That was one of the most nerve racking nights I have ever worked. We had to break up fist fights and feared being robbed. All clerks were called into work to have eyes on all aspects of the store. As it was we still had a few drive offs and caught several shoplifters. The world was in chaos.
The next few days after the collapse of the twin towers, the world settled into a sense of waiting for the next calamity. We no longer felt safe in our homes, in our towns, in our country. The rescue workers dug through the rubble looking for survivors and the families waited for news. Those with family overseas worried if they would be safe. The military began to prepare for war. The world changed and not for the better that day. Our feeling of security was ripped away and has never returned.
A lot has happened in my life in the last sixteen years. Some of it good, some bad. What remains is that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. The feeling of being safe in our world stripped away in one day. In that one single act of terrorism, the enemy both robbed lives but in the same moment united a nation. For once we all came together to rebuild our world anew. I sometimes wish that we could be united once again as we were then. One nation, one people. As we remember the lives lost today, let’s remember those lives became a symbol of unity in a world gone wrong.
Thanks for reading my remembrance of that fateful day and as always love fully and laugh often.
Monday, September 4, 2017
My first post was on August 4, 2016. This day is special for another reason besides the start date of my blog. It is the birthday of one of my dearest friends, Fred. What is sad is that I don’t know if he has even read one of my blog posts. Our communication is limited due to his lack of a computer or phone. I hope he has though because he has always been a strong supporter of my writing.
What can happen in a year? So much but not enough, is my answer to this question. This year saw a loss, change, battles, and hope.We lost a special member of the family in the loss of our youngest cat, Donny. He will always be remembered as he plays a role in my upcoming book.He was and is a member of The Cat’s Eye Gang.I still find myself seeking him out while I am writing. He inspired me every day with his perseverance against a life long illness.
I saw a change in many parts of my life. I saw the change in my mother’s health as she struggled to remain independent and living on her own. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards, and she is now living in a skilled nursing facility. As I watched my mom’s struggle, I also struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was nice to finally have a name to what had been affecting my life for so long. I am still trying to discover what other health issues I have. My next battle is to find a way to lose weight, by doing that I hope to alleviate some of my pain.
I have learned to wake up each morning prepared to go into battle. I battle against my health, my financial situation, and life in general. I have adopted the motto that I will keep fighting until I am in the grave, and hell, I will keep fighting from the grave if I must. I am tired of letting circumstance rule my life. I am taking my life back and going to win.
In the last year, I have been fortunate to meet some incredible people. Writers like me as well as artists, actors, and friends.My blogs have been nominated for awards, not once but twice in the last year. To the ones who nominated me, I offer huge thanks. I strive with each new post to improve, to grow stronger as a writer and blogger. Every day I learn something new and try to incorporate it into my writing.
You can’t look at the past without thinking towards the future. With this in mind, I want to let you know what my future plans are for this blog as well as my writing life. As I stated above, I am nearing completion of my first book. Once the first draft is written, that is when the real work begins. I will begin the editing phase, where I take my manuscript and go through it with a fine toothed comb. I will be looking to refine and polish it before sending it out to those lucky enough to be chosen as my beta readers. As I get the input from them I will begin the revision phase. I know it sounds daunting but I am looking forward to the challenge.
This is also the year I start looking for an artist to bring my main characters to life. If you have been following my Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang Blog, then you see each week a picture of what I think of while writing. I want to bring a visual for each of the gang members that will help my readers as they enter the world of Cameria. I will also be looking for my cover artist and professional editor. With each step, my readers are invited to join me in my journey.
I also will be working on improving my health and finding answers to my concerns about my health. I also want to work on finding where I want to be living. I currently live with my brother, but have dreams of owning my own home. This year I am striving to reach that goal. So as you see I am ready for this next chapter of my life to begin. I hope that you, my reader will take the journey with me as I offer you Glimpses of My World.
Remember to love fully and laugh often.