Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Hello My Old Friend

August 7, 2017

So nice to get re-acquainted.

Not.

Fuck me man.

I got anxious today.

Now.

That should go without saying, having been diagnosed with clinical anxiety and clinical depression about a decade ago, that I would have anxiety now and then in my life.

But.

Shit.

I’d sort of forgotten.

Good grief.

It snuck up on me today.

Perhaps because I had suddenly some unexpected down time and that can make me a little tight in my chest, a little thread of something is wrong running down my spine, unscheduled down time, what the fuck will I do?

And I had plenty to do, I always have something going on.

I did loads of writing.

I did loads of laundry.

So happy the landlady replaced the washing machine, the gift of not having to go to the laundry mat next to the 7-11 on the corner of Judah and 46th is no joke.

I did yoga.

I had lots of lovely phone conversations today.

I went grocery shopping.

I cooked food for dinner.

I had a scrumptious salad for lunch on the back porch during the half hour of sun that came out in the Outer Sunset.

Man.

It has been foggy.

I’m about ready for that to be over weather wise.

I went and got right with God.

I did some meditation.

Life is great!

And.

I ordered books for school and looked over another syllabus that got published for my fall semester.

That’s when I noticed it, the corroding of my nerves, the odd feeling in my body, the small shivers of panic.

Oh.

Hello.

I had forgotten you.

And.

Oh.

Hello.

Fuck off.

I don’t need you around.

I mean.

I really don’t.

Anxiety pulls me out of the moment, catapults me into the future, where there is not god, there is nothing, there is only fear and terror and pain.

And it’s always a bad future.

It’s not a sweet, kind, gentle, loving future.

Nope.

It’s a.

YOU’RE GOING TO FUCKING FAIL SO YOU BETTER MOVE YOUR ASS NOW.

Kind of future.

And I still might fail.

And that’s ok.

I mean.

It is at least familiar.

I know this feeling, I have had it before, and I can live through it.

And I didn’t have a panic attack.

I had the scattering of one at the beginning of the last semester when I was super uptight about practicum and getting my internship nailed down.

Fortunately I was having a work day where the mom and baby were at her office and I was going to pick up the monkeys from school.

I had some down time at work to do cleaning and fold laundry and prep stuff for dinner and I got an e-mail regarding some financial aid thing and then another about registering for practicum and something in me just popped.

I got super wound up and it felt like a cement bucket of fear was riding on my chest and creeping up my throat.

Yay!

Anxiety.

For two and a half years I took antidepressants to deal with the depression and anxiety.

I stopped right around my five years of sobriety.

I came off them real easy.

I had been on the lowest dosage anyway.

But.

I felt like I didn’t need them anymore and I was riding my bicycle a lot and nannying some pretty energetic kids and I was doing ok.

I was also began eating a diet abstinent from processed flour and all sugars (except those occurring naturally in fruit, bring on the apples!) and that was a big thing too.

My diet got really clean, I got daily biking exercise, and I was out in the sun a lot pushing a stroller to and from multiple playgrounds.

The anxiety dissipated.

And.

The depression fell away.

I lost lots of weight.

I got happy.

Sure.

Shit happened.

Life happened.

When it was a dark and rainy winter the depression would slide back in a little, but for the most part.

Nothing.

Until.

I started grad school.

Anxiety nightmares.

Stress dreams.

Mild depression each winter semester.

Nothing that I couldn’t titrate with a touch more sleep or with a little more exercise and then I added some flax oil into my diet and rode it out.

The anxiety was easily the worst my first semester of school.

Now.

Today.

Not so much.

But.

It was there.

And truth be told.

It annoyed me.

It pissed me off.

I was like.

No.

NO.

I am not doing this again.

I know what this looks like and I know how to handle it and.

AND.

It never has been that bad.

It never has been the nightmare of not having enough time to do all the things and read all the things and write all the papers that my over active imagination likes to tell me it’s going to be.

Not once.

Not.

Never.

I never stopped blogging, which I told myself I would drop if it got bad.

I never stopped doing morning pages, ditto, I’ll stop if I can’t handle the writing load.

Oh.

Sure.

There were days here and there when I didn’t.

But I was pretty steady through it all.

I also know from experience, this for me is the most basic form of faith, that I always get things done.

And that there really is no need to be anxious about things.

I sent out a few messages, got some sweet responses.

Made a phone call to my person.

Wrote out a gratitude list.

And went about my day.

There are things I am going to have to do and my fall semester this year will look different from my last two as I am in practicum and I am seeing clients and I’m basically a practicing psychotherapist.

Not a psycho.

Haha.

Sorry.

Gallows humor is probably not the most attractive thing in a therapist.

Or is it?

Anyway.

I reached out to my supervisor about my schedule and I saw some openings and some things that I may have to adjust to and change-up.

But.

Overall.

I got this.

I got my books ordered.

I am still waiting for the release of one more syllabus though, I may still have to purchase a few books, but that’s fine.

I got my first text-book in the mail and I started reading it yesterday and yes, it will start traveling with me as I go about my week.

I worked through the anxiety.

I had a nice quiet talk with myself, assuaged my worries, gave myself the you can do it pep talk and basically really breathed into it.

All in all.

I can handle this and I was told that this would be a challenging year.

Haven’t they all been?

But.

That I have seen others walk through it and I know if they can do it so can I.

Plus.

I have a pretty amazing support system, fellowship and community.

I’m going to be just fine.

Because.

I already am.

Today.

Right now.

In this beautiful moment.

There is nothing wrong, and my life.

Well.

Let me just say.

It’s fucking fabulous.

Amazing really.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Seriously.

A Good Cry

July 12, 2017

And then back to living.

I saw my therapist today.

Yes.

A psychotherapist has a therapist.

Especially since I am a therapist in training, although, let me tell you, I felt like a therapist today, seeing clients, filing paperwork, checking all the boxes, circling all the things that needed to be circled and doing the work.

I can get super caught up in how much longer this road is and how the hell am I ever, I mean, ever, going to get 3,000 hours, but I can’t, I just can’t focus on that.

One hour at a time.

Fortunately I have some practice living a day at a time and when I reflect on how those days add up and all my accomplishments have come in small increments, but come they have, then I don’t have to get too caught up in the numbers.

It’s just a numbers game and I’m doing it the best I can as fast as I can without killing myself in the process.

I mean.

I still have to process all my own stuff, plus carrying around my clients in my head.

I do that now.

I have them in my head and sometimes I will think about them and once in a while I have a momentary flash, a connection, a thought or feeling and a little aha moment, that feels pretty special.

But.

Yes.

I do have to process my own stuff too, I have to look at my own emotional life sift through the chafe and dander and see what is needing to seen and what is needing to be let go.

I knew.

For instance.

I needed to titrate my social media intake today.

I woke up a bit emotionally hung over.

I cried a lot yesterday.

On and off all day, with one really big cry in the evening when I was talking with my person on the phone and going over the shock of what had happened and how the death of my friend had not just hit me, but many others, the numbers of people who showed up to be present for each other and for the family of the deceased was extraordinary.

Not to mention all the people in so many other places he had affected, who’s lives he had touched–Portland, Seattle, Memphis, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Oakland.

Gah.

I can hear him saying “West Oakland” in my head and such joy at his goofiness suffuses me.

For he was joyful.

Oh sure, sad and fucked up and scared and young and insecure, who hasn’t been those things, but also bright and kind and funny and so there for you and warm and sweet and musically talented.

Oh the music the world has lost.

So.

Seeing all the pictures, all the photographs, all the expressions of heartbreak, my social media feed was just awash in tears and sadness.

I really had to not look after a while.

And I knew when I woke up having felt puffy eyed and sluggish and a bit off kilter that I wasn’t going to allow myself to wallow in the emotionalism of social media.

I needed coffee, some ibuprofen, and a good breakfast.

Sounds like a hangover, right?

Except instead of booze or blow it was emotion.

And as I expressed to my therapist today after plopping down on her couch and telling her I was going to cry and then immediately doing so, I also realized that some, a lot of the emotion I had in my body, on my heart, in my head, was not mine.

It was the communities.

And I’m grateful.

Really grateful.

I got to feel it and touch into it.

But.

I could not continue swimming in it any longer.

So I talked it out, processed it, linked it to other things, made traverses, expressed emotions, cried a lot in the beginning, but by the middle of my session I was going other places.

Oh.

It was all interconnected.

I am good at making connections.

And it was honest and insightful.

I am pretty good at those things too.

Not always.

I am a work in progress, people, don’t expect perfection, I am far, far, far from perfect.

But.

I am loving and kind and sweet, I would hazard.

I am compassionate and more importantly, I am empathetic.

Sometimes too much and I get overextended and I give too much, I have been trained well in that way of life, being my mom’s caretaker, taking care of my sister, my oldest niece, an ex-boyfriend of five years who might as well have been my mother for all the caretaking he required, but I have grown a lot.

Oh, so fucking much.

And I know when I need to caretake and when the other person needs to do the job their own damn self.

And there’s no irony that I am in the care taking profession.

A. I am a nanny, I care take all day long.

B. I am a psychotherapist.

But it’s not my job to care take as a therapist and that’s a really intriguing thing for me.

I am also not there to make my client feel better, to sugar coat, or to shoo away uncomfortable feelings.

Uncomfortable feelings need to happen.

There’s nothing wrong with them.

I like to look at them as signposts, directions, “hey this thing you do, it doesn’t work for you.”

For instance.

There’s nothing wrong with anxiety or depression.

They are signs that the way things are going, the tools being used for living, well they might not be working so well.

I mean.

Booze was one hell of an amazing solution for me.

Until.

It was not.

So was cocaine.

My God.

I remember the first time I did a line of good blow.

It was like I had all the answers.

ALL of them.

And I was fine with the way those answers were conveyed and I rather scoffed at a friends warning that perhaps I like that drug a little more than was perhaps healthy.

Um.

Yeah.

But when those solutions failed I had to find a better way, a different way and there was depression there and there was anxiety and all sorts of other juicy psychological terms and conditions.

And slowly.

One step at a time.

I got to change what I did.

What I ingested.

What I thought and felt.

For something else.

I was given a significant solution to my problem.

Of course.

I won’t tell that to a client, they have to find their own way, I think that I am a mirror, an attachment figure, a person who can and will have to withstand the disappointments and anger and discomfort of others so that they can learn how to use that information and devise their own solution.

Therapy is not for symptom relief.

Just like alcohol, ultimately, and every other drug I took, weren’t for symptom relief.

I had to find a different way.

And I did.

And today when I walked out of my therapist office I felt a lightness and a joy.

I am alive.

I am not guilty for being alive

I have so much joy and passion in my life, such happiness, I felt light and though there is still sadness for the loss of this beautiful person, I have also a deeper connection to how alive I want to be and how alive I am allowed to be.

To be alive, in this moment, sober, and free.

It is amazing.

Happy.

Joyous.

Moved beyond words for my experiences and this amazing place I have been lead to.

Grateful.

So very grateful.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

May it bless you too.

Soothing Sounds

October 3, 2016

For this Sunday.

I have felt off kilter all weekend.

Could be that it was my first weekend “off” in some time and the need to get out there and do something was in fierce competition with the need to get the fuck caught up on my reading for class.

I did actually get out of the house today but it was not a success.

And.

It was a total success.

I met friends in Cole Valley and we went to Free Gold Watch and played Street Fighter and Addams Family pinball.

It was fantastic.

Then we walked to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Which I shall now proceed to call Hardly Strictly douchebag.

I just can’t handle the crowds.

I want to.

But.

I can’t deal with the jostling, the open containers, the copious pot smoking.

I didn’t even make it into one of the proper stages having started to get freaked out by the closeness of the people and the fact that we didn’t really go at the festival with a strategic entry point and I had left my scooter parked at 7th and Irving.

By the time we had crossed Crossover Drive and were still a way to go I thought I was going to start hyperventilating.

It didn’t help that I had not navigated my timing with meeting up with my friends and lunch and there was a tiny bit of miscommunication and the next thing I know I’m miles away from my scooter, in a big crowd of people, hungry and anxious.

Yuck.

I got my friends to the festival and turned around and started walking back to my scooter.

I tried.

I really did.

I also tried to now beat myself up too much as I got on the phone and called my person and sobbed a little about being overwhelmed.

I have just been tender and I know a lot of it has to do with further changes with my job and negotiating that and feeling unbalanced.

I like structure and my job has become, well, weird.

I’m now helping out the other family twice a week and interviewing this week with a referral from the mom of my original family and it feels a little enmeshed and strange and I am frankly over it.

I just want a clear-cut job.

I also know that my boundaries around job stuff are pretty rigid, I think it gives me some sense of self-control and control over the situation and lends to a false feeling of security.

The change that is happening.

Is.

Well.

Happening.

I can’t actually change that, I can roll with it or get rolled over by it.

I can also get out of it.

And I’m aware that I need to broaden my perspective and see that what is happening, this change-up, is not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s in fact.

A good thing.

But it is change and I’m not always, like never, comfortable with that.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this line of thought, just got lost in the cello music I’ve got on –Yo Yo Ma playing Bach sonatas.

Soothing Sunday sounds.

Other soothing things today.

I made chicken soup.

I made a fresh bed with clean sheets.

Two loads of laundry washed, dried, folded, put away.

And despite my consternation in regards to going to the park for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, I did get a nice walk in the park, the sky was blue-the brief rain fell early in the afternoon and passed quickly–the sun was out, I saw two red tail hawks and loads of flowers.

When I got home I took my Family Therapy reading and sat on the back porch in the late afternoon sunlight and read for an hour until my friend called to let me know they were at Java Beach.

I went down and sat outside in the last waning minutes of golden sunset and talked about Paris with them and going to Decompression next Sunday.

Decompression is a lot of people too, but not 100s of thousands, more like 10-15,000 and the venue is comfortable to me and I know people there and I know where I can go to chill out and the space is also smaller.

Anyway.

I shouldn’t get overwhelmed with the crowds and I will see folks that I haven’t seen since the event.

It will be a nice way to wrap up the summer for me.

This week will be lots of work, work interview for more work, and a meeting with my school advisor that I was supposed to have this past Friday but had to reschedule after I dropped my phone in the toilet and had to get a new one Friday before work.

I will, fingers crossed, do a lot of reading.

I have a paper to write on Saturday.

Then Decompression with my friends.

I think that’s how it’s going to be, show up, work my ass off, meet up with friends at least once a week and do something, even if it’s small.

I don’t have to go see a huge festival to feel a part of, if anything I usually feel more isolated in a crowd than I do out of one.

I have felt unaccountably sad in spots this weekend and I’m not sure what to attribute that too, but I’m grateful as well for those feelings, ah feelings.

The good news is I get to have them.

The bad news is I get to have them.

At least I’m alive to feel.

And there is so much goodness in the small, sweet, simple acts of self-care that I have done that I’m ok with the sads, they happen, then the happy will happen and all the others in between too.

The sound of the cello soothes me and I soften towards this place, this being, this quietness of self that is fine just exactly how it is.

I don’t need to fix me.

Just accept me.

That’s all.

That’s it.

Pretty fucking simple when I look at it like that.

And.

Easy.

If I let it be.

Easy like Sunday morning.

 

Side Bar

July 11, 2016

Do your spending plan, Martines!

Aha.

I realized today that while I was worrying, needlessly, there is no need to worry, because it all works out in the end and I have the ticket, I’ll be buying it this week and I have the time off from work, that I don’t also need to worry about money.

It’s stupid.

When I think about how I went to Burning Man my first time, well, yeesh, I have so much more for me than I did then.

First, I’m employed.

I was on disability at the time.

Nothing says good times like getting diagnosed with PTSD, clinical anxiety and clinical depression and then being told I was classic ACA and here’s some meds and whew boy howdy, you should be in therapy, and yeah, we think, maybe take some time off from work and like practice not wanting to kill yourself.

That was a shock.

I mean.

I was so overwhelmed at that point in my recovery, I had no idea that I had so much going on, but once I had been sober about a year and a half, or there about, it all sort of floated up to the surface.

I’m forever grateful it did.

I have done so much work.

So much.

And I have no regrets, not about my past or my present or my future for that matter.

So to worry now seems like a waste of my time.

As I told a woman I’m working with, hey if you got to obsess, obsess about Burning Man.

I mean.

I got over the anxiety really quick when I realized that it always comes together, it always falls into place, I never quite know how, I just keep taking some actions and things happen.

I also bought a parasol today.

So at least that’s out of the way.

Ha.

I also spent a lot of time looking at tents on line and thinking, you know, maybe this is the year I actually dial in a good tent for myself.

I have borrowed tents, I have stayed in trailers for work, I have had crappy used tents that I bought at side walk sale on Valencia street before it was the Valencia Street it is now.

What would it be like if I got something decent?

And buy my own air mattress.

Actually, I had an air mattress but loaned it to a friend one of the years I was working and staying in a trailer and she killed it out on the playa.

That’s what the playa does.

It destroys your stuff.

Which is why I also am loathe to ask for a loaner tent from friends.

I have plenty of friends who camp, but there is just no way to get the dust off your stuff once the dust has hit.

It doesn’t come off.

I looked at bell tents.

I looked at teepees.

I glanced briefly at a yurt.

Briefly.

No yurt for me.

So.

After too much time and nattering around I realized that what I really needed to do was look at what I had in terms of cash money coming in and going out.

I won’t get paid time off for the week and I won’t get paid to be there.

I am buying the ticket.

I am going to have to help out someone with gas.

I have to do all my food and water.

These are typical things that most folks need to get.

I just haven’t done it in a while.

I sat down, after a fairly lovely day, truly, yoga in the morning, coffee with a friend, a nice breakfast, some writing, getting to see another friend, being gifted some lovely over bought produce.

You got to love a friend who over buys at the farmer’s market then tells you to come over because he got you plums.

Hello.

Yes please.

I paid a visit and left laden with much loveliness.

I made the best little salad for lunch: fresh baby mozzarella, the tiniest sweetest plum tomatoes, fresh basil, and a warm soft boiled egg, some sea salt, olive oil, splash apple cider vinegar, ooh, it was good.

Then plums and strawberries for desert.

Such a spoiled princess.

I told that to my friend’s husband last night at the party, that as much as San Francisco has changed and as much as I grieve the loss of art and creativity and edginess, I do so love the food here.

Fresh, organic, local, every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine.

I am so wildly grateful for that, it’s such a good place to live for food.

I also did food prep for the week, a little run up to Other Avenues, the co-op I’m a member at in my neighborhood, picked up brown rice, eggs, oatmeal, an onion and some other odds and ends, ooh, yes, a parasol.

I saw it, knew it was the one and bought it.

Came home and whipped up an Italian stew with brown rice–sauteed an onion with some ground turkey, added lots of fresh basil, a large zucchini chopped up with some brown mushrooms, a bit of white corn and sun dried tomato and then some more crushed tomato and garlic on top of that.

Delicious.

And then I went back to online stalking of tents.

Then, finally did my spending plan.

Which I had put off doing until the last minute because I also wanted a distraction from my date that I had for dinner tonight.

Said date going quite well, thank you very much.

Wink.

Wink.

Nudge.

Nudge.

So it was good to have a distraction and also to see that I could probably spend the money to get a decent tent set up and maybe not hound my friends for gear.

Maybe.

I’m going to see what happens with the ticket, my expenses and such and if I can offset the cost of the ticket I think I shall.

But it’s late, and tomorrow’s Monday.

And yeah.

Like that.

Bye bye weekend.

It was fun.

See you soon.

 

Get Used To It

October 4, 2015

Yeah.

I know.

Get used to the busy.

Get used to the overwhelmed.

Get used to it, kid.

You’re in graduate school.

And.

You have seven hours of T-Group tomorrow.

Ugh.

But.

Yippee!

I mean.

REALLY?

T-group is great, it’s just a lot of work, constant emotional work, I am working, let me tell you.

Working.

And hella grateful that this morning I reminded myself to not wear eyeliner and to make sure I was wearing waterproof mascara.

Done and done.

Because, this lady cried a lot today–T-Group brings it out.

The tears.

They flowed.

And.

The catharsis happened and I got insight and I felt better.

Had the catharsis happened without the insight, I think I might not have felt the way I did by the end of the group, but I got a load of insight and a lot of self-awareness around how I put up walls and where I need to work on being vulnerable.

And also how to process emotions that clients are going to bring up in me that are not pertinent to the client experience.

In other words, I am learning to deal with conflict in a calm manner.

I still am emotional and I cry easily, but I am coming to terms with that and also seeing that I consistently show up for the work and I do a lot of it.

I carry my weight in the group.

Perhaps a little more.

But then I am a greedy girl, I want to get every last drop out of it, I want to wring out the learning, I am paying an arm and a leg, yes I am, for the experience–I want to get every dollar out of it that I can, I am after all borrowing a lot of money to be there.

In that spirit I am grateful too for my Psychodynamic course and how the professor is teaching it and how she wants us to learn.

I was expressing to a fellow in my cohort at lunch what it was like, the experience of learning Freudian analytics, with this professor and how she reminded me of a professor I had in undergrad who taught graduate level TS Eliot.

I learned more than I could ever have believed.

Whenever I wrote a paper or took an exam I found that I had absorbed and rearranged the material in my head in a way that was new and interesting and I did not even know it until I was challenged to react to the work and respond.

This professor is like that, I like how she teaches, she uses everything, she is dramatic and smart and amiable, and quick-witted and a character and she makes learning exciting.

I find myself answering her rhetorical questions out loud in the class and interacting with her and the lecture and having a dialogue about the material.

It’s fucking fascinating.

That doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting.

My brain could use a little break from Freud.

I mean I spent three hours tonight, 5p.m.-8p.m., going over theories on hysteria, mourning, and melancholia.

It was a lot to take on after having a really raucous start to the day with some poorly handled treatment of a touchy subject in my Human Development class and then three hours previous in an emotionally charged T-Group.

By the time I was in the Freud class I was pretty kaput.

Then.

We wrap up the case of the infamous Dora and her notorious relationship with Freud and hysteria and move into Melancholia and Mourning.

Grief and depression.

Two things I have had plenty of experience in.

And yet.

I learned more.

The learning.

It just keeps happening.

I’m not caught up on all the reading either, but I am so much further ahead with it that I am able to keep up with my classes, and in the Freud class I am entirely caught up (in fact, I got into one of the vignettes in the reader and realized that I was actually reading ahead of the assigned class work.  It was so fascinating that I contemplated continuing to read it, but realized that I needed to focus on my T-Group reading and get my butt going on the Therapeutics of Group Dynamics–say that ten times fast).

The class I am least caught up with is my Human Development class and I just don’t care.

The professor is not a bad person, but she is a poor teacher and in the over reliance upon the work assignments and regurgitation of ideas, really with little to compel me towards further learning, I am loath to spend any extra time or resources on her class.

Of course.

Her class is the one with the highest work load and amount of reading.

Five response and reaction papers, one group project, on solo final project, a reader–a gigantic reader (bigger than any of my other classes, additional videos online, extra handouts (outside of the enormous reader) and the biggest text-book I have ever carted around in my entire academic career.

It’s not that I can’t do the work or won’t do the work, it’s just that when the work is so uninspiring and there is so much material to parrot back that I feel lost in the muck of it.  Overwhelmed by the sheer volume and what feels like frankly, the most boring of my classes.

C’est la vie.

There will be classes like this.

There have always been classes like this.

I am going to show up and do the work and let go of the results and not care too much about the content, that feels the worst somehow, as a writer, to be writing so much volume but to not have an emotional or even intellectual resonance with the work.

That is the work.

That is the exhaustion.

That is the rub.

But.

I know it and though it is a slog, it is a slog I can do.

And tomorrow I won’t have to slog through her class.

I will have to work on her paper over next weekend, there is no getting around it.

I have done one response paper and my chapter outline project, the group project, for the class.

Which leaves four more papers to write and one final project–I’m going to write about using sign language with babies and toddlers and language development and emotional response to communication thereof.

Scintillating.

I promise.

Ah.

It’s been a day.

I am in school.

I had no clue it was Saturday or where the day went.

It just went.

I am grateful to keep showing up and that I feel better and more prepared for the work then I did the last weekend of classes.

Here’s to showing up one more day, amongst many, tomorrow.

And.

Getting used to it.

It Was A Walk of Shame

August 12, 2014

But not that kind of walk of shame.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

But it definitely reminded me of one.

Underpants in my messenger bag, condoms falling out of my pen bag and knocking about in my messenger bag, what were you doing last night lady?

Thank God the family had left when all this underpants and condom hilarity ensued.

I was reminded of a story, in the briefest barest flash of embarrassment, my mom loves to tell this story, it’s in the top three (top two standing in front of the three-way mirror at Macy’s in my lace anklets at age three admiring myself–snuck out of the changing room when mom went to find a dress that fit better, imagine her surprise, empty changing room, no baby, but suddenly hearing a gaggle of old ladies around the corner cooing over how cute I was cued her off.  Top one–standing on top of my desk and yelling at my class to sit down and be quiet because teacher was having a bad day, teacher promptly burst into tears, said thank you Carmen and everybody sat down and was quiet.  Turns out she had just been served with divorce papers at recess) of the mom pantheon of stories to tell on me.

I was six, maybe seven, first grade (older kid, missed the cut off for kindergarten by a month, so always one of the oldest in my class) and I stood up to use the bathroom and my underpants fell out the bottom of my pants.

I was not only mortified, but I was mystified too.

How the hell did they come off?

Turns out my underwear were on, but I had an extra in the leg, probably from the laundry or they hadn’t pulled out of my jeans when I pulled them off the night before.

Which is what happened to me today.

At the age of 41, I was not paying enough attention to notice that my jeans had a little extra padding in the back side this morning when I went to work.

I mean I am utterly mystified how that happened, I was awake, I swear, when I got dressed, but apparently I was not fully present.

ALL MORNING.

I sat where I am sitting now, had breakfast, wrote four pages long hand, I had extra time this morning, I rode the MUNI to work–sat there too–how I did not feel an extra pair of panties back there I don’t know.

I discovered them when I was getting the boys ready to go outside to the park.

I pulled up my jeans and was like, what is that, and reached back and fished out the underwear.

This is what happens when you are so ready and packed to go that you are recycling your pants to get through the week so you don’t have to worry about laundry before leaving for playa.

I re-wore my jeans from yesterday.

The condoms were from my consolidating of stuffs when I went through the underwear drawer and I stuffed them in my pen and pencil bag in my messenger bag.

I don’t know that I need them, I don’t foresee getting lucky before I hit playa–Mister I’ll Bring You Some Frozen Peas never got back at me the last time I sent him a query.

Oh well.

His loss.

Moving on.

Hopefully with only one pair of panties on my person at a time.

It made me laugh and really it was a day full of life and gratitude for what I have.

My friends, my work, the little boys in my life, my recovery, knowing I have a solution to my disease and taking my medicine.

My heart broke when my good friend text me that Robin Williams had committed suicide today in Tiburon.

I met the great man once, he was amazing, heartbreaking, sad, funny, depressed, overwhelmed, sweet, honest, loving, kind.

I got to sit and be five feet away from him for an hour and it was a pretty incredible experience.  And a hug after that hour and an immense gratitude for what I have.

Money doesn’t make you happy.

Fame doesn’t make you happy.

Sometimes there’s just a deep, deep well of pain and it cannot be addressed or dealt with and thank fully I found a way out of it, but the echo in my soul, that unbearable knowledge of what he must have been going through, I can taste it like mercury blood in my mouth, a bitter sucked orange sadness.

I know he’s not in pain any longer and I am glad for that, though for completely selfish reasons I wish he were still here.

I don’t cry at celebrity deaths.

Two to date.

When I heard the news that Jeff Buckley had died.

And today when I got the text from my friend.

I immediately teared up and my heart just hurt, it felt like I had gotten stabbed, perhaps because I share that disease and know that pain, partially because I am so grateful it is not a solution I have chosen.

Although there were times, two years into my sobriety, when it got really, really bad.

REAL BAD.

I was always crying.

And I can cry a lot.

But I was always crying.

I did not know what would set it off and I did not know when it would stop and I wanted to die so bad.

It was when I was in the shower contemplating being alone for the rest of my life and never having a family of my own (I don’t know why that thought, I don’t know what had brought it about, but I had a sudden realization that I was never going to have children and I was brought low in devestation), I sank down on the floor of the tub, the shower beating on my head and thought, all I have to do is fill the tub up with water and let go.

There were razors there.

It would be warm.

It would be ok.

It would not hurt for long.

Let go.

I gripped the sides of the bathtub, forced my way to standing, turned off the shower, grabbed the towel from the back hook of the door and screamed into it, broke down crying, wrapped myself up in the towel, went and made a phone call and somehow walked through it until I got professional help.

I don’t know Robin’s pain.

I can’t.

But I know thinking about that very permanent solution to a temporary problem allure.

I hope he is in a better place and at peace.

I hope to not journey there yet for many a day.

I hope you know how much I love you.

I love you.

I do.

 

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:

where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.


― Pablo Neruda

 

How Fast I Forget

May 20, 2013

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I was thrilled to have any work, let alone the promise, literally the promise, that full-time work would soon follow?

I think it was.

In fact, when I think back a few more weeks I can recall the thought that I would be beyond the moon over the rainbow grateful for any work.

Cue this afternoon, early, pushing my bicycle up Noe towards 19th.

“This is fucking bullshit, this is too much work.”

Thanks brain.

Chill out.

It’s just one hill.

Two blocks long, there’s a wee little road in between 19th and 18th on Noe, just to let you know you’re at the half-way point, and then you’re there.

At another house in the Castro doing the nanny.

It was the culmination of an uncomfortable morning as I felt a little emotionally hung over and not ready to face the day, the putting on a bright smiling face, and the nanny pants.

I was in tears this morning as I wrote and felt all discombobulated and, well, out of my fucking head, is what i felt.

Insane.

It was like the dirty dregs of terror were left rinsed out in my brain and I, despite having written what I thought was a decent blog, I had not addressed my brain.

Sometimes that monkey needs a little extra action before bed and I had not taken the corrective measures to assure a calm morning.

Pretty calm.

You could have looked at me sitting at the dining room table eating my oatmeal with apple and drinking my big mug of coffee spiked with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, pen scratching across the page, and thought, there’s Carmen, happy in her morning routine.

But my brain was eating me alive.

It was having me for breakfast.

By the time I had made it half way through my pages my brain was satiated and burping fear.

I tried to stifle it.

It’s not becoming to cry in your morning oatmeal.

But that’s about what I did.

The shine of tears shimmered in my eyes, then drifted down my cheeks.

I heard my room-mate stir from his bedroom and I briskly wiped off my face.

I was sitting in a puddle of financial insecurity.

It comes back it does.

What I recognize though, is that it passes faster and faster and as I get closer and closer to having more full-time hours, I know it will dissipate and go away.

I was having fear about not being able to pay the rent.

Which is such an old fear I wonder why I bother with it anymore.

I suppose because I still get fuel for the fear train from it.

The longer I do this, this living, this way of being, in this kind of awareness, the more I see that I am climbing up the steps with a yo-yo in my hand.

It may feel like I am descending at times, which it did this morning, but the reality is that I am steady and slow, sure-footed and gracefully (well I like to tell myself that) rising up.

Once I catch my breath, literally, I pause and look out over the hills and see this beautiful vista that I get to be a part of again. The climb might feel exhausting, but that feeling fades, and the sun shines and the air lifts the hair off the nape of my neck and I am split asunder again by the beauty of my life.

I have had this thought, it is not a nice thought and it has some diseased thinking in it, that what was the point, went to Paris to write, and came back broke and oh, look, I am a nanny again.

But that is just the silly biting voice of all that wants me to not be happy.

Safe, breathless, and still, I propped my bike across my leg, got out my water bottle, took a huge swig of water, and calmed down.

Even with people I know, even with situations I have some familiarity with, I have anxiety.

I forget this all the time.

I have clinical anxiety and clinical depression and I am not currently medicated.

I have worked really hard to stay off the meds, but I forget my naturally tendency is to live in a state of anxiety.

First day at a new job is anxiety inducing.

Duh.

“You can always go back on a small dosage if you need to,” my psychiatrist said, her face, demeanor, all of it relaxed and at ease.

“Well, I have to say I do have some anxiety about feeling anxious,” I laughed and tried to not wring my hands.

This is a sure-fire tip-off, when I wring my hands.

When I am calm and can sit still and hold my hands lightly in my lap it is a sign to myself that I am fine, and a reminder that I used to incessantly, without pause, especially in early sobriety, wring the fuck out of my hands.

“That is a legitimate anxiety disorder as well,” she said.

Oh stop.

Which I had, I have stopped being on meds for almost two and a half years.

This is amazing.

Yet, I will forget.

I will forget the work I have done, the therapy, the medications, the anxiety, the debilitating depression, oh all the fucking work I have done to just get “normal”.

Not to say that I am special.

Nope.

I know loads of people who have had it far worse than I.

What it is though, is a soft, gentle reminder to myself that I need to cut myself some slack.

This has been a tumultuous time for me.

Moving back, time changes and jet lag, getting into a new place to live, acknowledging the East Bay as my home now, re-acquainting myself with friends and family, shit, I still haven’t managed to see everybody and I get overwhelmed with figuring out my own schedule let alone this person there or that person here that wants to hang out.

Hell, grocery shopping is hard.

I realized that today as I was walking through Rainbow at 8:45pm on a Sunday.

I had forgotten where things are and what I needed.

I had gone shopping with Joanie last night but forgotten to pick up coffee.  I had gotten overwhelmed in Whole Foods.

This is better than having panic attacks at SafeWay or Costco.

I have only managed Costco twice and once I literally bounced and left the cart in the line, I had to get out that bad.

So, sure, there are going to be moments of fear or struggle, but there are also these bright clear moments when I run into a friend at Herbivore, FROG! And get to see another friend, RONNIE! And then I am having a wonderful meal with a darling and I am alright, the world is alright and there is nothing to be afraid of.

Not even the fear itself.

 


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