Rabbit Trails

Every time I start thinking about writing, I start with one subject and hop to another, and merge to something off the wall, and so on. You’ve all read my rambling. This post was intended to start out as my proclamation to finally follow through with a lifelong dream of writing a book. Or two. Or more. Then I started thinking about why I was writing. Someone whom I’ve lost used to joke that my head was full of rabbit trails. I was constantly following different ones. And that’s precisely how I work.

Which led me to thinking of writing this post about this year. This cock monkey of a year. I’d apologize for offending there, but this year has done it’s fair share of disrespect. I’m allowed something. 2014. Seriously. I’m a free thinker, open to all possibilities and genuinely believe in energies, visions, etc. But this year has made me question everything I’ve ever done. Anything I’ll ever do going forward. Loss, pain, heartache, confusion, complete and utter depression. Along with happiness, friends who should have given up and didn’t, meeting new people who bring more to my life. It’s just all been mixed with emotions I’ve never experienced, in all my 30 or so years. Well, that’s a lie. Emotions I’ve previously avoided. They’ve been there from time to time. I’ve done all I can to avoid them. But they were in fact mixed with ones I’d like to avoid feeling again.

With a realization, that through one set of wise words; that no one is responsible for keeping me in check, but myself. My choices, my reactions and my coping are all innate to my ways of thinking. I do dumb things. I do smart things. I’m a genuinely nice person with an incredible lack of willpower at times who simply wants to enjoy life. Hedonism isn’t necessarily conducive to all aspects of adulthood, though. So you have to face that grown up bullshit that some people choose to embrace, and some choose to disregard, misunderstand or handle flippantly.

But how do yo find that balance between being who you are and who you think you should be. Not to mention that added pressure of realizing that regardless of what anyone wants to think, they’re going to base that decision heavily on the perspective of everyone but themselves.

There have been times this year where I’ve been so completely downtrodden, so tackled by life, and I should have just sat down and gave up. But I couldn’t. All I could do at that point was put on a smile, and as Winston Churchill proclaimed, if you’re going through hell, keep going. There’s got to be an end point somewhere, right? And if not, hey, maybe you run into the devil and he turns out to be a pretty cool guy who is just misunderstood.

What is my first book going to be about? Without an official outline, I can say it’ll be about a girl. A girl and her life. The choices she’s made, the situation she finds herself in. The seriously preposterous stuff she’s gotten herself into. And where reality, wishes and perspective’s lines start to blur.

I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons in order to stay in a good place. I have children who need a sane mother, who can maintain stability for their advancement and proper growth. All the while I’m trying to grow up as well. Life can kind of force that you on you, even if you think you’re there, sometimes reminders come from left field, that nope, not quite. And the question is, faced with forks in the road and detours on the trip, which path do you take.

The key is whether your gut, your heart or your head took you there. Because those three very rarely work together without ongoing disagreement.

Until next time…..

Give Thanks

You’ve either wondered what I could possibly come up with to say on Thanksgiving, or you’ve got more to do than read Facebook today, and I’m sure some of you have just hidden my feed given my lengthy musings I share.

I’m writing this grumpily, while trying to define positivity. I sometimes hate complaining about this year. It’s not even over yet. There are others dealing with far more pain and anguish and fear. I suppose as long as I recognize that, I can convince myself that it’s okay to acknowledge my own experiences.

I tried to come up with an accurate description of this year so far. Like walking on ice and not sure what spots would break through. Those devices on movies or video games, where a character has to run through swinging pendulums in hopes of not getting hit by them. But ultimately, this year has no accurate description.

And I’m wading through to identify what I’m going to appreciate not only today, but new understanding of the past and going forwards. Friends. I love my friends. I have best friends, meaningful friends, casual friends, spiritually connected friends, fair weather friends (hey, we all have them!). Some of those I consider part of my family. Family doesn’t have to be blood related or have some other definitive marker. It’s knowing that they have a special place in your life and your heart. And I’m appreciative for each one of those friends. Some will stay, some will go and that’s as it’s meant to be. And I’ll appreciate the emotions that accompany those changes.

My kids are a given. Even if they thrown five minute tantrums because they suddenly forgot how to put their pants on or say they’re not my friend because I won’t buy them a specific kind of juice. I have one who gives out compliments left and right because he wants people happy and another who has grown into a little boy who can actually help me more and hold his brother’s hand when he needs it. Both who already express care and concern about others emotions. And I love that I’m raising children who have already learned how important feelings are.

Even in loss this year, one I had a chance to handle slowly and say my proper goodbyes. And I’m appreciative of that. And the other, while there will never be a true peace there, I know that I made someone else’s life good. I brought happiness to a sad place. I gave someone peace when they most needed it. Doesn’t make it any easier, but if that soul had to go, it needed my presence. And I was gifted with the ability through this realization that my strength is far better than I thought. That my motivation to do good can shine through and is a good thing when handled correctly. I’ve felt new emotions that I didn’t know existed and while they suck sometimes, they’ve given me perspective. I appreciate that perspective.

And you. Everyone. Whether you like me or you don’t. Whether you know me well or barely at all. We all still exist together. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say co-exist in some situations. But you’re there. Trying to make the same sense of different things. My appreciation of life is tainted, but also increased.

Hope you all have at least one thing to appreciate today, and if you aren’t sure, you’re looking too hard. It should be right there.

My New Year’s post is going to be epic……

In the hearts of men.

I don’t know anyone in Newtown. I’d never heard the town name before Friday. But I know moms and dads and how our hearts feel about our children. I know that I’m struggling to understand the tragedy that has happened. Again. Too often. And while every shooting, every death is heartbreaking and senseless, there’s something about losing classrooms full of first graders that is making me not be able to think about this without completely crumbling inside. My son is only three years younger than some of the victims. I unfortunately imagine him, in a classroom, terrified and I fight the urge to build a panic room and live in it forever. I read the victim’s names and recounts of the day and the tears well up again and again.

I won’t talk gun control. I don’t feel I’m educated enough on either side to offer valid opinions. But I want to talk about something I feel will be mentioned but not addressed. Because as I think of those victims, I also think of the family of Adam Lanza. They’ll live forever knowing what he did and wondering why. Wondering if they, as his blood relatives, should have been able to see this coming and if they somehow failed him. Mental illness continues to remain a stigma, a parodied, misunderstood condition that affects so many and yet never seems a reality to those not suffering. When I see pictures of the shooter, I don’t even see a man, I see a boy. A haunted, possibly ill boy who looks emaciated and as the mother of boys, his face and his actions haunt me nearly as much as the suffering of his victims. I am in no way defending what he did. His decisions were heinous and deplorable. I know how (guns), but I want to know why. We’ll never get the answers, but if we continue to ignore mental illness, questionable behavior and the severity of emotions any one person can be experiencing, this can only be the worst of all trends we could ever see.

Some shooters have been bullied and I feel that schools, adults and parents have made steps (albeit, minimal in my opinion) to rectify the torture school children endure at the hands of their classmates. But mental illness, whether it’s depression or bipolar, autism or anxiety, are widely laughed off. They’re not tangible. You can’t see the suffering, so they’re not real. Maybe the person is making it up. But they’re very much fact.

Through my teen years and into adulthood, I’ve personally dealt with merciless bullying, severe depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, self harm and most recently, postpartum depression following the birth of both of my sons. I’ve fought through; I’ve fallen down and gotten back up. Sometimes with my own strength and sometimes with the support of others.  While I could never imagine turning on anyone with any form of violence, I still to this day wince inside when I think about the bullying and hate that part of them that turned their insecurities and their cruelty on me. I know when I’m feeling emotions that may cause an eating disorder relapse and I stop them. I know my depression signs and can let others know it’s coming. While in the past, I would consider and did harm myself, I’m far too much of a bleeding heart to think of hurting another person. It’s unfathomable to me to consider the act of it. But I know the pain and the hurt and the confusion that you deal with when your brain just isn’t working the way society is telling you it should. It’s like being in a maze that has a dead end at every turn. You just turn in circles and go left and right and every time you run into a wall. It’s maddening. You scream silently for help, but in most cases you don’t feel you deserve the actual attention you’d receive if you spoke loudly enough for someone to take heed.

Our brains are so very confusing and there’s much we don’t know about them. There’s science upon science about our behaviors but there’s never any true way to know why one neuron may fire and another may not or who this might happen to. And there’s enough evil in the world to cause our fragile minds to process life in such different ways. PTSD from sexual abuse that may lead to eating disorders, mania and anxiety. Bipolar disorder purely from the genetic card dealt.  I recently read an article that detailed scientific evidence regarding our digestive system and its direct tie to our mental state. Our enteric nervous system, which is what lines our gut is so complex and influential that scientists refer to it as a second brain. The serotonin being produced there can directly affect our reactions and our stomachs. If our digestive system can be so complicated, I can’t even imagine what is going on in our brains.

My experience and knowledge of mental hurdles makes me afraid for my kids. Not only in sending them to school not knowing how safe they are, but also in what they may come up against emotionally. Will they be too ashamed to tell me if they’re feeling emotions that scare them or make them act irrationally? I tell myself I would notice if their behavior is amiss, but I fear in the fast-paced world, I might overlook a warning sign as just “being a kid thing” or that they’re just having a bad day. If they’re being bullied and don’t know how to tell me or their dad, I hope they reach out. I hope they tell someone, but I know fear of payback may scare them into painful complacency and mounting, confusing feelings. And if I’ve somehow failed them and they bully someone else, I hope someone tells me. When it comes to bullying and mental illness, we can educate our children, hang posters in schools and count on teachers, with their limited resources, to try and address any concerning behavior. But despite the video series, It Gets Better, I want to keep the secret from my kids that sometimes it doesn’t  Even as adults, we come up against bullies and confusion and mental anguish, it just happens. It hurts now, just as it did then. As parents we need to be the strong ones who power through and while we show weakness, also show our children how we deal with those weaknesses and come out on the other side. This means trying to understand each other, addressing the issues that are hitting our children, like mental illness. Not starting internet fights about gun control or whose fault this is. We owe it to our future to stop sweeping some issues under the rug because we’re not comfortable with them or we don’t understand them.

I want to stress again that my heart hurts for the families of the victims and I wish there was a way to step in and change time so that this never happened. The shooter’s mother may hold some responsibility in exposing an obviously fragile, potentially calculating (possibly even sociopathic, I’m not discounting that) to a stockpile of weapons. Weapons no person needs in their home. (Off that soapbox, quickly).  I question how so many of these people get to the point that we lose innocent lives at their hands. Are they shrinking violets, wallflowers who isolate as they calculate? It’s unfortunate I don’t know more details and am obviously making grand speculations, but I’m struggling to cope with this and the fear in my heart of this world.

There’s a story making the internet rounds about a popular high school boy who saw another boy struggling with a large pile of school books and instead of ignoring him, he helps him. This forms a strong friendship that grows over their years together in high school and the boy with the books goes from being alone and sometimes made fun of to having a wide circle of friends. As they graduate together, this boy, as the valedictorian talks in his speech about the day he was heading home to kill himself. Suffering from depression and feeling alone, he wanted to end it, and had chosen to clean out his locker and take everything home so his mom wouldn’t have to do it. And then a stranger had taken time out to go to him and see that he needed help and reached out. He saved his life.  I’m sure I could internet search or debunk this story with Snopes, but I’m not going to. Because this is how I hope and wish for society to be. Instead of laughing and pointing at the boy with the pile of books, help him.