Write the feelings down on a piece of paper, fold it into an airplane and make it fly. Play music and dance. Trace the outline of your hand on the wall and color it in. Tell someone you love them. Sing. Pray. Be visible. Be alive.
… depression is a disconnection of one’s emotions from the real world. It isn’t just melancholy or feeling down, it’s your emotional telephone dangling off the cradle while your hands are too weak and useless to put it back where it should be.
Attempting either to give pep talks or use “tough love” to people who suffer from depression rarely if ever works. If it was that easy to get people out of it, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem.
Anxiety is taking the panic button in one’s head, that impulse that tells you that you’re about to die, and holding it down. You have no idea why it’s being pressed, you feel incredibly weak and stupid and foolish that it’s being pressed, to the point where you feel useless and worthless — and it still won’t go away.
A prolonged anxiety attack is the closest thing to a living hell that I know. They’re a scream that doesn’t stop which drowns out all sounds except the panic and the accompanying feelings of worthlessness, and it’s nearly impossible to get any message through that noise until the trigger stops being pressed.
~ Scott Bennie
What I believe today is that the answers to my most puzzling questions are found through interaction with others.
I have a new teacher. The reason I know this is that I talk to him a lot, in my head and in real life. And i think about stuff he has said and whether or not i believe it.
So today there are lots of people crossing in and out of my headspace, and there’s a lot of staccato on the wires. If you sit very still you can hear them whispering.
It occurred to me today that I was thinking about my interactions in terms of survival. It appears that most of the people I meet are behaving either as if they are predator or prey, or both. And while it may not look like it, I’m trying to be an observer.
I’ve been watching “Fringe,” and if you’ve watched it, you know all about the Observers. There’s one of them, September, who feels compassion, and doesn’t know what it is, because those around him see it as a handicap. And it truly is; he’s ostracized because of it.
So I think my new teacher and I are looking at our predatory nature, both together and separately. And he says things like, “I don’t want to hurt you,” and that both makes me laugh and pisses me off, because I think, what an arrogant statement.
But in his defense, that’s a line that seems popular these days. And is it because we are all such predators/victims? Is there space for Observers here? And must the consequences of that choice be loneliness and incomprehension?
I think not. I think there are other non-Observers who wish to evolve, who are just winging it on a daily (or hourly) basis, and who have lost so much that they have nothing left to lose by just putting it out there.
It takes tremendous courage, I think. The risks seem huge and the reward iffy at best. But maybe it’s just about the ride. As my teacher said, “You are welcome on my rocket ship. Just understand that we may crash.”
And I said, “It’s like Apollo 13. You wonder if you’ll survive reentry. But look at that moon in the window.”
I feel like I am finally getting back to the little spot of now, the quiet sweet spot that constantly changes but never moves. When panic erupts it shatters me into fragments that land all across the spectrum of time, and through love and grace, I am reassembled, a little weary, but hopeful.
I am coming to know myself as a living example of God’s mercy.
I just walked into the house after a morning drive. More on that later.
I’m having sort of a freefall of the senses; something in it very reminiscent of the one and only time I jumped out of an airplane. Gravity and direction seem sort of vague, and I feel something that whispers both of euphoria and of panic.
I’m current on my meds and my blood pressure is probably just fine. I am short of breath and my heart rate is rapid. I noticed on the drive home how wretched my distance vision has become — it was kind of alarming to notice that I couldn’t read the street signs until I got right up on them.
I came across a small journal recently and found several pages outlining the symptoms of a bad fibro relapse. It was interesting to read it while I’m essentially in a remissive phase. There were days when I would get up and run an errand, go back to bed; get up, complete a short assignment, go back to bed. I would sleep up to 14 hours a day and still feel tired.
People suggested I was sleeping too much. Hell, I knew that. I also know my body. I know the difference between the malaise that comes from sitting around too much, which exercise will remedy. I also know the bone-crushing exhaustion of fibromyalgia when it surfaces as chronic fatigue.
These weather precursors that I experience occur 1 to 2 hours before a front moves in. The more dramatic the symptoms, the quicker and more violent the weather becomes. When I was very ill I would pass out, as if from an attack of narcolepsy.
Now the precursors are less possessive, and are similar to the sensation I have when I’m approaching a channeling state. It’s hard to describe, but it’s sort of a feeling of vertigo, a gentle pleasant humming in my head. My sense is that I can almost touch the spirit guide that is present.
Sometimes I can channel the guide through writing or typing, but the session is always best when I’m channeling on behalf of someone else. When they are receptive, they contribute their energy and their bandwidth, so to speak, to the communication. And sometimes remarkable things happen.
My mission today was to pick blueberries. The weather has been lenient of late and I practically missed the strawberry season, and blueberries just started. So I sped off to Nesbit, only to find that there’s no picking on Sunday and Monday. But I had a nice chat with George, stopped at the Dairy Bar for a vanilla shake and made my way home slowly up Highway 51.
The sights and sounds of the country nearly almost always sprout hope in my heart. I see little rundown shacks and I think, I could live there. The Capricorn in me points out that I couldn’t live there without Internet access and a lawnmower, but surely that’s manageable.
But there was something about seeing the clusters of blueberries on the bushes, thick as grapes, still green, that feels like money in my pocket. They’re just waiting for me, just like the angels. I just need to reach out a little.
I wonder where my fascination with ivy began? It’s one of the lesser totems of my life.
When I moved into the house on Marcia, the kitchen pantry was lined with ivy wallpaper. (My dad painted over it one day while I was gone. “You were going to paint over it, weren’t you?” as if any alternative was unthinkable.)
When I lived in Austin, while browsing the local Goodwill store, I spotted a plate, sage green with white ivy leaves.
It was just one plate, tho, and I had no use for a single plate. But it was there the next time I went back, and for $1.50, it was a must purchase.
Turns out it was Harkerware. Thus began a long love affair with all things pottery, especially tableware, but also bowls. I angered my friend Ann one time because I had found a huge bowl somewhere shopping, and she thought I should let her buy it. But I had been looking for a bowl like it for big recipes, like oatmeal cookies, where the flour goes everywhere when you start up the mixer. At the time I did not understand why somehow I seemed like the bad guy in this deal, because she had numerous similar bowls and I had none.
In retrospect, I understand it a little better today. Crockery can be a kind of addiction.
Anyway, back to Austin: I began searching for pieces of the Harkerware on eBay and I ended up buying, selling, collecting, learning everything I could. I inherited a large cache of Fiesta from Mom, who included boxes and boxes bequeathed to her by the former Anne Roney, who’d gotten tons of china and figurines and JUNK for her wedding gifts.
I began collecting a huge set of Azura by Taylor Smith Taylor. It seemed the perfect fine china companion to my everyday Ivy Wreath.
It’s all in boxes now. I gave the Azura to Rachel when I moved back to Memphis. She’s used it once, last Thanksgiving. It set a very nice table.
Three of my salad plates are downstairs in the kitchen. I should probably rescue them. I had the sugar bowl in the hallway, to keep dog biscuits handy. Hannah discovered these, and the sugar bowl is no more . It’s not like I used the sugar bowl, anyway, and I’m certainly not using it now. I still have the lid, and I might find a replacement for it. But not for a while.
One of my favorite photos is of a sprig of ivy in a bud vase, sitting on the windowsill of the bathroom upstairs on Carnes. It’s flanked by some of my seashells. Not sure if I even have those shells anymore or the vase, but I have that photo. I look at it frequently, tried to make it part of my Facebook timeline but it’s the wrong crop.
Near the garage, there’s ivy sprouting in a place where hostas had been and died. It’s tenacious and hardy. It holds the ground together and can form a carpet across a lawn in no time, or up an exterior wall. It is the bane of masons and carpenters, and it can be tiresomely mundane. But there’s something about it that reminds me of sweeter times, of disappointments and flawed relationships, and hope.
I am not a boy.
I have straight, dark hair.
I am four. My best friend is beautiful. And I am not.
She makes me sit in a chair.
She pulls my hair and twists it around tiny plastic things.
I like to play with the little sheets of tissue paper.
Sit still, she says.
Here, you can hand these to me, one at a time.
I feel important. I am helping her.
I don’t like the cold dripping down my neck.
I don’t like the smell.
It’s hard for me to breathe.
But she looks determined and certain. This will make you beautiful, she says.
The plastic things are sticking into my head.
I want to scratch but she says no.
Just a little longer and you will be beautiful.
I want to be beautiful. Then she will love me.
She pulls a chair to the sink and pushes my head under the faucet.
The water is warm and feels so good I want to stay there forever.
But I have to be neutralized first.
I am wet and cold and the skin of my head feels like a blister.
But she squirts the neutralizer onto my head.
We’re almost done, she says.
The sun is shining. I can see the lawn through the glass door.
My friend comes to the door. She is beautiful.
But I cannot go outside.
I am not beautiful yet.
Ecclesiastes 2:12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.
I was writing to a good friend on Facebook, and this just sort of spilled out of me. It seemed like a good thing to repost here, because I need these sorts of revelatory experiences to remind me of where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.
I don’t recommend it for everyone, and I wouldn’t have recommended it for me five years ago, but I have settled into a nice little life without making The Group the center of it.
I have a well-rounded set of friends and acquaintances and we rarely lapse into tirades of personal drama. But I have stopped soliciting that, too, and so my communication with my peeps is more about what we’re doing and where we’re going.
My recovery from alcohol is not the neon sign over my head any more. It’s a fact of my life like my adoration of God and my love of good poetry and my obsession with art direction.
The best thing is I don’t feel like I have to compete with people just to be who I am.
I look back on all the angst I felt around the women at The Group, and especially the women in certain cliques, and it seems so strange to me now.
I feel like I have spent great chunks of my life trying to shoehorn myself into places where I wasn’t welcome or even that I didn’t care about, as if that would somehow complete me.
I see it in my romance, trying to get men to accept me who weren’t even worthy of me. I see it in my family, as if they could provide the solace I needed when they were so overwhelmed by their own pain that they forgot I existed.
I went to The Lake with David last week and, for the first time since I’ve been going there, it felt just right.
Something is different with me, and I chalk it up to God changing me when I wasn’t looking. That, and all that TRUE drama in my life has sort of brought me around to a clearer perspective.
It’s really a struggle for me to muster much sympathy for the strident shrew who screeches because she hasn’t accrued an appropriate level of sympathy for her latest self-styled crisis.
Friends are putting their furniture up on cinder blocks at Harbor Town. Hopefully they stacked the blocks five or six high, because the water is thigh-deep there now.
I am happy because I am strong enough to push the lawnmower up the hill. Even though it takes me three days, cutting the front yard is great for my waistline, and I revel in the personal glee I experience when I think, this body belongs to a 57-year-old woman, and it still works.
My life doesn’t really look that different from the outside. From behind my eyes, it’s a whole new world.