Mission 1.0

I found this meme on Instagram today that said something like: Mental wellness is not Fight Club. We can talk about it. (I don’t remember the precise words, and I couldn’t find it again because I’m still pretty lost on that platform. Signed, I’m 43)

It made me think of this album of selfies I took in 2010 when I impromptu dressed up as Marla Singer from Fight Club on Halloween and met my fresh-from-jail, married boyfriend at a frog pond in Kentucky to make Adderall-love on the dock next to a car I probably didn’t have permission to drive that night (I’m sorry, Nancy and Joan). I took the pictures first. In some of them, my daughter is smiling in the background.

So we can talk about it. Mental health, mental wellness, sadness, addiction, recovery, sexual assault and abuse. We can and should. If we talk about people we love who hurt us, awful things we’ve done to other humans, and all the ways we try to forget or heal it, we make a sound. We howl to our pack, call to our tribe. We stop being Alone.

Alone is when suicide comes like cancer. It’s a shadow that shows up, the dark spot that takes some people out. I wish those kinds of thoughts on no one, and I don’t fancy myself unique for having them.

We also need to laugh. One of my favorite lessons I learned while spectacularly failing out of a great undergrad creative writing program (I stopped wearing shoes for the most part at some point during my schooling) is: There are no sacred cows. None, fuckers. So if you don’t think a drug overdose can ever be funny (or if you’re related to me), maybe you don’t want to read my blog.

My mission is to hold cyber-hands and laugh whenever we need to.

In other news: therapy starts Monday, I still hate washing dishes, and I don’t really want to go to work today. But I’m going.

Over and out. See you—hopefully—on the sunny side.

 

 

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12/6/18

Grace is waking up as late as your dizzy, dizzy head needs to and knowing that a stream of angels will pass through today, that your bar manager is getting your day covered for tomorrow so you can move out of your apartment on time. It’s relocating your three customers on yesterday’s shift (favorites all–trusted–five years ago you lied and said you were a niece to one [you and another bartender who has resurfaced too] so you could visit him in the ER after he fell off his bar stool) to the far side of the bar so you could share the small space heater on the counter away from the doors. Love is when one sunbeam fought through the awful December sky and landed all over you and you caught one of them seeing you bask in it without any objectification fucking up the warmth.
 
This is what it looks like when your circle knows you’re tired. They carry you.
 
Your mother packed your boxes while you practiced the tease with Old Man _____ at the bar. Sometimes you held his hands on the counter. He’s a kind old man who hugs you and tells you to be careful when he leaves always. He’s the one who fell all those years ago. This, too, is love and grace.
 
You spent as much in the jukebox as you made in tips, but you made it through and home. That’s what counts on those days.
 
Today is different. Better and just starting. I could die this afternoon, but I probably won’t. The fact that I can even type that out means I’m wandering out into thinner trees. My Tribe will come like they said they would, and somehow this will get done.

This Is a Controlled Burn

Drive your children 400 miles away because they want to go back to their fathers. You understand and want it for them, too. Flames have licked through the plaster walls you’ve all been living between, and it’s time to go.

So you drive down Saturday morning. Leave late to avoid the rain, and because none of you can really get your shit together. You make it, though, and you still know this is right. But you sob when you leave the first daughter. Fucking bawl but not in front of her.

Number two is easier, because you’ve been slow-drip delivering a telephone soliloquy to that one’s other parent for months.

I’m not sure this is good for her. I want it to be, but it might not.

I’m trying. I think she hates me, and I get it.

You’re better at this with her than I am.

This one has complications, but there’s less fear in it. Because you’ve been to court for her, and you know the steps to How We Got Here This Time. This goodbye is like dancing. She hugs you and hangs on; you both smile and sway.

Sunday’s departure becomes Monday–you barely slept after you left your daughters. Drive straight to work and spend seven hours talking with your mother and customers at the bar you work at (again). She’s there (for an hour)  because she knows you’ve slept less than seven hours since you woke up on Saturday. You’ve driven 800 miles and are wearing a Ralph Lauren t-shirt from Goodwill that you picked up on the way in, because you didn’t bring enough clothes with you over the weekend (see Paragraph II above, RE: Shit Not Together).

After she leaves, your regulars treat you kindly (they usually do), but you really don’t feel like talking, so you find reasons to walk away. There are dishes to wipe, ketchup bottles to bring to the grill next door.

Go home and see more evidence of how surrounded you are by grace. Your mother has packed half of your kitchen and the bedrooms your daughters don’t live in anymore for you while you’ve been away. Somehow you’re going to move into a new apartment by Friday, and you know you will because you’ve finally started telling the people around you that you’re Not Okay At Present.

Today’s eyes look less like bruises than yesterday’s. You haven’t taken your medicine yet because it’s in the car, and it’s so cold outside. You don’t feel ready for that yet. You’ll get it soon, though, and swallow it. Then you’ll start doing the Things You Need To Do Today.

Journal 11/20/18

I can’t slow it down. What if I just start typing it all? The whole river that’s coming through my head. Word after word after word–there’s no way to do it. The moment I start making sentences, organization begins. All those words, all those feelings I’ve learned to associate with sound conventions designed to transmit meaning to others and create a sense of communion–that’s why I write. It helps me.

Sometimes I talk about Writer Brain. If I never see another word of mine published, I still have it. The way I’m wired, I need it all to connect on paper, because I spend most of my time feeling out of order. Whatever diamond thread stitches 1995 to 2018, right now to last week, I struggle to find it on my own. I grasp at it running through stories, the narrative I construct in order to keep going in “the right” direction.

I’ve learned to live by the cardinal points. Am I going north or south? Up or down, and which way do I want to go? The devil is forever in the details, so sometimes I keep it vague. Other times I lay out an intricate plan so Satan and I can rendezvous and have a snog (I would like to steal this slang from the Brits–sometimes it’s just the word). And then I set things on fire.

I’ve junior high-daydreamed several versions of a Why I Write (that thing, that personal essay requested by an editor, that I learned as an undergrad to associate with Making It As A Writer), and I even have one pretentious stab at it on a story that a flash fiction site published (it was my way of trying to explain why I’d stayed with my daughter’s father after I realized his transgender thing wasn’t a thing, she was she and that was that–I should have gone immediately out of kindness to us all, but I stayed and let falseness mark our lives. I contorted myself and swung from one flaming treetop to another and pretended it was all right. I went nose-to-nose with strangers in stores who harassed my partner, then I hate-fucked them at parties weeks later). It’s not necessarily false, what I wrote, but I tried to make it slick and palatable.

Today the words are a stream in my head, but they’re slowing down. I’m technically on vacation; all of my children are with their fathers. I’m using this time to study the map. I’m using it to reconnect. Right now, everything feels shattered.

 

 

It Always Gets Better

Meds swallowed and half a cup of coffee down by 9:38 in the morning. Plans to visit a Friend at 11 moved to 11:30 so I can take a shower, scrub my face, and fix my hair before I leave the house (yesterday’s attempt was bizarre, and I know it). Right now I’m barefoot with the remnants of Halloween hair–a tangled crimp job that I rinsed out but didn’t wash yet–at my kitchen table.

My apartment is clean–mostly. My bedroom remains an utter shit-show of thrift store clothes and unnerving tchotchkes, but my living room floor is open and the couches have the right pillows on them. Last night I lit candles in my kitchen and felt peace.

Earlier this week, Sister washed my dishes. The same pile had been sitting for two weeks. It filled one side of the sink, covered the small counter and trailed out like a caravan on the floor. Every dish dirty. We’ve been washing-to-use. Life has been suspended on this little string, this one thread that has kept most of the plates scraped for the duration, but bacterial film grows fast–I’m humbled and indebted to her for stepping in to help me rally.

So today I’ll leave. Go see my Friend who I don’t have to fake it around but who will let me practice.

(And in the midst of this writing, my teenage daughters have accidentally locked themselves in a bedroom. The 1960s gold-tone doorknob finally stopped budging. I pulled it off, but the lock mechanism is still snug in its hole, and I can’t get it out without breaking the door. Help is on the way. Happy Saturday, Tribe. Be kind to you if you are able.)

 

Crazy Love

Boyfriend says it’s important to get up and shower every day.

He says, Leave the house for something. You have to or you’ll go crazy. 

I tell him, No major life decisions when you’re manic, and he agrees.

We talk for nearly an hour, his manic chatter recognized and named, my seizure-like anxiety (it’s sudden and physical, every molecule screaming to my central nervous system Something terrible is about to happen to you) tamed.

Thank the stars that he and I rarely sync up on symptoms. He’s Italian with a temper, and we’re both good with words.

The risk isn’t yelling, I said. We were gliding south on Lake Shore, one of our first car rides together. It’s sadness. We’ll drown if we’re not careful.

So we are.

Some mornings I wake up to a message that says, Love, I’m not okay today. On a good day, I ask him what I can do and he tells me, Nothing, you’re doing it. It’ll get better. It’s just bad right now. And it always does.

But self-awareness binds us; we disintegrate without it. We make nooses of guilt and stare at one another across gallows on the bad ones. We hallucinate fingers of blame, carve black holes in the sky around us. Climb inside.

When we come back out to breathe, we confess and offer absolution.

It’s okay to fall off the edge sometimes. Just try not to. Unless you need it, love. Then I want you to float.