Faulty Wiring

I have the lucky characteristic of empathy. I don’t mean that in a pretentious, self-touting way, because it can be just as detrimental as it can be positive.

An empathetic tendency means that emotions wrap around you like ivy on a building. And sometimes Ivy can make a building more beautiful and other times it can overtake the entire structure, visually suffocating what lies beneath. You feel the energy of the rooms you’re in. It’s overwhelming, and exciting and energetic and cloying. Tension makes you try to calm it, yet creates your own personal stress that bear hugs you. You’re constantly struggling to be the positivity because of how much you just want peace and happiness. Seeing other people happy makes you swoon from inside out, that sensation in your sternum that feels like you’re bursting, yet containing it in a small space.

If someone seems angry; you wonder how you can fix it. Because it actually overwhelms your thoughts in concern for their well-being; but also makes you dissect your thoughts to determine if you had a role in creating it. Simply and ultimately seeking an end goal of fixing it.

Memories carry with them more than the picture in your head, the passing graze of your feelings during that time. They carry the whole experience; muted, of course. But your sorrow, glee, confusion, etc.; anything you felt, taps you on the shoulder until you turn to see it and decide how and when to send it away. Past experiences can give you a complete grasp on how you want to feel, what you need to be you, but also endless limits of tolerance.

But my tolerance has a stopping point; and it’s unfortunately extreme. It’s like a tire. You can drive on a tire for a long time; the treads will wear and tougher terrain will wear it even further. If you keep driving on it, though, the treads can become threadbare; thin. And if you drive it long enough like that, at some point you’re bound to end up with a flat. You metaphorically deflate. The air rushes out; the situation, relationship, atmosphere takes the last bit you had to keep driving.

When I end up in these moments; I’m reminded that I’ve been here before and struggle to determine what lesson I’m fated to glean if I allow it. What this will contribute to my life story and how I’ll look back and perceive my handling of it. I get a little lost. I potentially think that I should write, yet am so defeated, I can’t see the point.

I sometimes see myself as abnormal, that maybe I’m not being a good grown up. That life happens and my intensity of feelings through it aren’t an excuse to let it engulf my mind. That there has to be a balance. I wonder if I should observe others and how they cope. How they work through these types of frustrations, sad moments, heartbreaks, and any other human experience. If I’m doing it right and conversely if it’s fair that I should have to ask that.

And yes, life can always be worse than that moment. But how do we learn to deal with the especially worse situations that will inevitably be a reality if we can’t see the small and medium sized ones for the challenges they actually are. For their roles in how we evolve; use our individually varying emotional intensities to decide how we live through every step.

Per usual, this is a bit of a wandering train of thought, but what I present typically emphasizes how the situation feels. Smooth, thoughtful or erratic and grappling. I translate my human experiences in hope that not only will it shed some light for me but perhaps offer a different perspective for anyone who reads it. In my empathy, I reach out. I turn to people, not only when they need it, but when I need it. I try to avoid burdening others with my mind dump of thoughts; but if I feel as though they can handle me, I try to seek answers and respect their take on guiding my directions when I can’t read the map. I spread kindness with no expectation of return; but rather in hopes it forges a mutual appreciation for everyone. And because not doing it just seems wrong. This leads me to wonder if baring my thoughts is selfish. If sharing how I’m feeling is obnoxious; obtrusive almost.

As I process being in a darker point as opposed to living facing the sun as I try to do; I wonder when my path won’t have as many broken bricks to step around. Yet that’s negating the fact that it’s going to happen and I can’t expect to not have imperfections through life. I wonder what I’ll see on the other side of this one; if my reflections of this time will-be accurate or confusing funhouse mirrors. If I’ll simply think I was being a fool. We are our own worst critics, ultimately.

While it’s unavoidable to not partially shut down, yet also feel raw, due to understanding that I have receptors that don’t quite work right, it is possible to work through the situation in the best way possible. I have mental oppression that’s not my fault and is just a bit of my own wiring that is faulty, and that’s okay. I aim to get through a dark hallway with just a match to see in front of me, than to simply give up and not work to get through to find a light switch. Plenty of times I’d like to say screw it, and just not continue to be me. To give up on myself (figuratively). But there’s plenty of beauty in life to offset the broken parts.

If you’ve treated others the way you want to be treated, you’ll never be alone. You might be disappointed, but you’ll always have someone when you’re not enough for you. Life is hard, but not really living it is much harder on your experience.  Make the most of what you have even if it feels like it’s not much. Sometimes I think those last statements are bullshit, I’m just trying to remember that figuring out why they’re not is how I realize I’ve made it through the struggle. Found some electrical tape to slap on those faulty wires.

Circus Fires

I had sent my blog into hibernation for professional reasons. I’m too raw to be taken seriously if any of my words might be misinterpreted. Glossed over. I could be seen as weak, when in reality, I know the strength I tenaciously hang on to every day. My blog was serving a therapeutic service and I had reached a point where some parts of my life had taken an upturn. Where I was getting back on level playing ground. But as someone who openly struggles with depression and other illnesses; but fights in a healthy way. Making it simply a character trait that I don’t let become a character flaw; I’m never done maintaining a balance of trying to stay okay.

I have a tendency to fight on the surface. Still practicing coping behaviors long set-in that have never truly been conducive to actual healing. Never created true acceptance of myself and the emotions my sensitive mind experiences on a daily basis. The ebbs and flows of self-doubt mixed with pride in continuing positively. Never letting my pain or my difficulties be apparent to others. Because I aim to serve as that positivity to others. To bring them happiness; brighten their day, even if clouds hang over my head. My intention is that it simply appears that I’m basking in the sun on a clear day. I carry an empathetic nature that means that I’m genuine in any support I offer to loved ones; friends and even strangers; but in turn it also means that I feel all of their emotions. It’s why I can be there, because I’m not just offering encouragement, I’m understanding their sadness, pain, anger, etc. and wading through it with them. Offering my help in ways that I’ve used to navigate the monstrous hurdles I tackle on a regular basis.

I simply love other people. I think everyone can be amazing in their own way. I see the good in anyone who might have even a sliver of good in them. My personal faith in appreciating others and knowing that I can bring them positivity is what allows me to accept a part of me when I don’t always embrace the whole package. When I doubt many aspects of who I am. Choices I’ve made. How I’ve ended up here. I find failure in feeling as though I’m not liked. And if we want to go all psycho-babble on it, I know that ties back to early school days when I wasn’t as welcomed into the fold of small town life. Kids who knew each other because their parents knew each other. I was always different. Always a beacon of complexity. I know it relates to being an only child. I’m as strong as I am because of the loneliness of never having a sibling. But it’s also made me struggle to accept being alone. Being okay with just me.
I get through my days sometimes feeling okay. But knowing I’m more than likely going to try to escape from my brain at day’s end, when in reality I should be feeling the brunt of it so I know how to get up the next day. I’m going to divert my feelings to other thoughts, other behaviors that allow me to not really feel any of what I should be taking on. I have my shit together, yet somehow I’m regularly falling apart. Some days I want that crystal ball that shows me that I’m going to have long-term peace eventually. Life will be simple. There won’t be mountains to climb; but rather hills to walk over without getting out of breath. I want to momentarily jump ahead to my kids being adults so I can flat out ask them if I was a good parent. If they knew I loved them every day and I was always so sorry that some days I just didn’t know how to parent like other people. I want to survey everyone who’s ever been in my life and find out what they really thought of me. If all the time I thought I was being kind. Being supportive and understanding. Self-sacrificing. If I really was actually just cloying. Too sensitive. If I shared too much, if I wasn’t enough. And before anyone says that’s not what I should be doing to base my worth, I know. But it’s who I am. I find my worth in being a value to others.

Perhaps that’s been my mistake all along. Maybe I’ve never asked myself those questions. Really and truly listened to the answers. Truly been there for myself first in order to be the best personal support I can be. I seek an escape on a regular basis. When it’s just me, I escape from myself. I escape from that person we’re all supposed to be with during out most private and raw times. Being alone with our thoughts and letting them wash over so we learn how to swim through them to shore is what makes us grow. I think ultimately, I’m just terrified. That everything I need to sort out is going to hit me like some of the pain I’ve felt. The grief I’ve worked through. The poor choices that have created utter rock bottom feelings. I feel so much, I’m kind of tired of it. But I’ve ultimately created my own self-fulfilling prophecy. I know that I’ve tucked so much away for later; that eventually, I’m going to stop my temporary coping behaviors; being positive instead of letting some negativity happen quietly and it’s going to be difficult. Self-accepting. As intense as a circus fire.

If you’ve read this, rad. If you’ve read this far; let me state I’m not a shrinking violet. I’m the softest thick-skinned person you might find. My surface is jaded and scarred, but the important parts of me are there. The kindness and compassion are purely genuine. I strive for self-improvement and can take criticisms with grace and acceptance. Anything I reference about the storm that’s in the distance for me; will simply be isolated showers. I’m not going to implode or go off the rails. I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m personally responsible in any ways I tackle chaos, particularly internal. I’m simply stating that sometimes I’m sadder than I let on. Completely unsure if I’m succeeding. I am okay with being this open, but I do fear judgement. That I’ll be seen as a mess if my words aren’t treated carefully. If people haven’t taken the time to accept pure and utter humanity. That we’re all fragile beings. I simply choose to bare it because it’s how I improve. It’s how I present the best person I can to everyone whose life I get the honor of being a part of. Because I value you all, it’s just that I accept that I don’t necessarily value myself. Which I probably should by now. I probably should have years ago. And if I demonstrate anything to my kids, I hope it’s that. If I create an impression in anyone’s life, I hope it’s positive.

You all matter.

 

Fight or Fight

This was originally an essay I wrote for an online community for moms with depression. It hasn’t been published yet, so I wanted to put it here, with a new intro. As like my other writing, it’s unapologetically raw and honest.

A dear friend said something to me very recently that rang very true and was the most understanding and accepting I think anyone’s been in a long time.

“Honestly, I don’t know how you keep going every day. You just keep getting hit with one fucktastic things after another. It’s unreal and and I totally get why you’d be suicidal. Are the boys the only thing keeping you alive?”

Here’s an old answer for a common question.

My kids have saved my life. I’m a single mom who has faced a hellacious year; hell, tumultuous lifetime. Sometimes due to circumstances, other times due to poor choices. All while grappling with an ongoing 20 year battle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictive behavior. I can’t truly pinpoint the moment I knew I could crack from the inside out. There are memories of my downfall, and rise back up. On repeat. I know the crippling internal paralysis of a panic attack while attempting to present the right image of a professional, mother, friend; whoever is required in that situation. Drawing hash marks on a note pad to diffuse my brain or counting backwards from 10, so my kids can’t see the monster on my shoulder.
The moments of darkness inhibiting my vision of how to act properly while feeling the crushing weight of depression on my chest. Being embarrassed for what is merely an acknowledgement of the faults in a non-perfect being. Not knowing how to explain whether this suicide note was real this time or merely an outlet of feelings to prevent getting that dark.
Outwardly and most of the time I am a chipper, happy and friendly person. I can find positives in the situations of anyone in my life, guide them through to a more peaceful state of mind. Locate the reflection that will lead them to their silver lining. I often wonder if I’m so good at that, because that’s the only way I know how. I certainly don’t always do the same for myself; I at times am merely living to accomplish the present without thinking of why or how. Just doing.

I don’t remember what’s saved me before my kids. But I know now, that even in my darkest moments, I can’t leave them with that legacy. I can’t resist fighting. Clawing my way from the bottom; even if only to get knocked back down to starting position. Again, and again. I do fight for myself as well, but ultimately, fighting for them is fighting for me. They are a part of me. Blood to me. I brought them into this world knowing what they might face. Knowing what I face. If I lose all other parts of who I am for a moment, I’m still their guide. I’m have to see them through and be here until it’s my time. Not by my choice, but the way it’s meant to happen.

I’ve cut, starved, binged, purged, drank, overspent, had emotionless flings with ease. I’ve been there most times without anyone even knowing. Hiding. Keeping my place behind the wall seen; living in the alley behind. I’ll never hide my life from my kids when they’re old enough. Those parts of my life aren’t badges of honor, but I don’t regret where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Those hash marks on the paper, the literal scars fading over time built me. They’re my story. It’s merely been my responsibility to get to the next chapter. That’s how I move forward, keep climbing back up; smiling the entire way. I’ll always be a fighter. I want my kids to know judgment should never easily be passed. Every person’s story is theirs to keep close to their chest or share with whoever likes a good story. And just because you don’t like that book doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand that others do.

I fear for their emotional health. What they will end up with genetically and environmentally. There’s still so much to understand about our brains and our bodies; even on the surface. Grasping an in-depth and thorough understanding is not something I’ll see in my lifetime. On the flip side, I don’t want them to fear the world. To worry that what they’re feeling is wrong and also realize that how others feel can affect them and shape their outcomes.

And the darkest thoughts; what if I have to save my child’s life someday. If my recognition of very familiar signs puts me into fight mode; tooth and nail to get them help either saving them or never being able to do enough. That’s a situation of failure I can’t handle envisioning; but I have to if I’m logical about life and cognizant of how difficult simply feeling in control of ourselves can be. I like to hope that by being open to the possibility of anything can put me in a position to be there completely. If I see my child fall down to the bottom, I’ll do more than throw them rope. I’ll jump down there and show them how to climb back to the top. Doing my damndest to show them the way far from that edge.

I’ll Be Back

I wrote this piece this morning, almost posted and then hesitated. Second guessed my openness. It’s evident that I’m a writer who isn’t afraid to share what others fear. But my concern with this one, is simply and sadly, judgment. I’m exposing a flaw; a weakness here. And my overall point that, while I face these, I always know there is no choice but to move forward and plow through the harder days. Practice what I’ve learned works best for me in facing what I feel and getting through it. But simply put, the fact that I’m opening up about depression could threaten my job search.

Yeah, I know, discrimination like that is against the law. When law is created and carried out by a being that has innate complexities to it, they will be prone to injecting personal opinion and viewpoints that can subconsciously affect behavior and reaction. So, I can understand there might be some employers who see this and fear the instability of the person who has written it. Ironically, part of my emotions below stem from not having work. My brain needs a challenge and when it’s not getting that, it can crash to what I felt this morning and documented below. If I were getting paid for writing, that’s one thing. But I’m not. I write because I enjoy it and a few people enjoy reading it. I don’t want my overall point here to be unheard by even the one person it could help or make feel less alone.

My depiction and recovery below is only shared as a story of me and me alone.  I would never speak for another’s emotions, moments of personal weakness and fear of what feelings they’re experiencing. Nor can I speak for how any other person gets through it. Keep in mind, if you had come across me in person, you’d never have guessed what was below the surface at the moments I wrote this. I know how to put out a front of who I really am while struggling to bring that person fully to the surface again. So I’m going on an edge here, exposing what could be perceived as a chink in the armor, when in fact, it’s why my armor is typically impenetrable.

So here you go. The blog that almost wasn’t.


terminator-arm

I have crumbs in my bed.

In the movie Terminator 2 there’s a scene where Arnold’s character is going to slice open his arm to make visible the machinery underneath to show the owner of Skynet what has happened in the future. Now as the viewer, we all know he’s a machine who just looks human. Even still, watching that scene, knowing it should hurt, but it doesn’t, makes you cringe a bit as he slices open the arm. And what’s beneath is fascinating and bizarre and intriguing. You just have to look past the mild gore of the scene. If you haven’t seen the movie, just keep reading, it’ll make sense all the same.

The crumbs in my bed are bittersweet.

They’re there because the kids and I had a picnic in my bed last night. We hung out, ate dinner and ring pops, read and watched shows. My mind was distracted, running through thoughts. But I tried to enjoy those couple hours, because they did.

The crumbs are still there because I just don’t have it in me to clean them.

I’m always incredibly flattered and humbled when others remind me of my strength. Because maintaining that strength can be incredibly difficult on those days where I feel anything but. I’ve had depression since I was 15 or so, probably earlier, really. Already being someone who feels emotions to my core, even those of others, it’s incredibly trying at times. The difficulty of fighting certain emotions fluctuates depending on circumstances, atmosphere, my fucked up receptors, etc. Sadly it’s something many battle quietly. I’m going to face it today. I’m going to give you a look at the machinery below.

Depression is stifling. Everything that happens is extreme, seemingly all a snowball effect. There are crumbs in my bed, I just look at them and feel messy. Out of control. I drag myself out of bed to take the kids to school. Come home, and face what’s ahead of me. Uncertainty, fear, loneliness. On most days, I can balance those with positivity. I have possibilities open to me, a chance to make a difference and do something new and awesome. I have two amazing kids who love me. I have a beautifully varied support system, all f whom fit like puzzle pieces in my life as a whole. I have somewhere to live, something to drive and something to eat.

Some days, though, it just feels like everything that’s happened as well as present and future difficulties are dodgeballs. And I’m stuck in the gym with them and a bunch of bullies. I can’t go anywhere, all I can do is run and hope I only get hit by a few. It’s easier to just stand there and let them hit you. You can face them, and feel them. It’s difficult and it’s painful, but you run out of options and breath eventually.

Even kindness can create a type of pain during this self-doubt. It creates a feeling similar to when you inhale a gust of cold air. It surprises you, shocks you, sends a chill through you with a touch of a sting. But in this case it feels as though your heart has taken in that breath. The sting and the cold are there, specifically and concentrated. Kindness means acceptance. It means that others see something I don’t right now. The fear of losing that kindness is there though, because that means failure. I’ve done something wrong to drive it away. Scare others into slight head nods in passing as opposed to hugs filled with warmth.
Even the disjointed nature of this piece of writing is indicative of what the difficult days can be like. My mind races everywhere, focuses and then loses focus. Gets excited and immediately crushed. Over and over again. I intend to get out of bed. I just don’t know why. Or how. I set plans and miss them all simply because I’m so weighted down by feeling as though I’ve lost the way. I shame myself for feeling this way and not being able to pull right out of it, even facing it with as much logic and rational thought you can muster. I know I’d be silently judged right now, people wouldn’t understand, nor try to. They’d simply see me as being lazy, throwing a pity party like a child. Not knowing that as I face them my sad eyes and inability to present the full image I’m expected to; I’m underneath there. Beating the nameless wall of emotion to get out. I want to feel like myself just as much as they think I should be easily doing so.

At least the above is how I feel on one of those difficult days. I don’t want my readers to worry about me, I’m sharing this because it’s one of the ways I move through these moments. Sharing them, putting them out there helps me sort through them. I can’t stay stuck here. I’ve worked hard for a long time to come out on top of this on a regular basis. I allow these moments because if I let them happen, I face what’s beneath them. Once I’ve gone there, determine how I’m going to handle how they make me feel, I can make plan of conquering and winning the fight. I’m simplifying far too much, but the point is, I’ll pull through it. There are many out there who won’t right away and possibly never will. Ultimately, I recognize that the machinery is bound to break down for everyone at some point or another. Given the right resources, it can be fixed, if you can find the manual.

I’ll find mine soon enough and hopefully not sleep in crumbs tonight.