Part of That World

 

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Jake, before the world became too much

In the midst of my own personal revelations, I’m still struggling to deal with the pain of someone very close to me. My oldest son was diagnosed with Tourette’s at age six and OCD, anxiety, and depression at the age of eight. Over the years he has faced many challenges, all of which he has overcome. But when he is in the middle of a particularly bad one it seems that there is no light, only tunnel. And that’s where he is today.

My heart breaks for him because, although I know I can encourage him, I can’t “fix” his issues, only he can. As a parent, this is the worst feeling. I’ve always been able to fix the outside hurts, or find someone who can. It’s the inside hurts that prove to be the true problems.

Lately, it’s the social anxiety that is slowly killing his spirit. Warner and I were sitting on the deck talking the other day, amidst the wisdom of the whispering Georgia pines, and something he said stuck with me.

The night before, he and Jake had done some serious talking it out. Mostly Jake listening while Warner talked. I thank God that we are a close family, that at least Jake has that. So as they talked Warner told him he needed to “be where the people are”.

Of course, there is no way we could understand Jake’s social anxiety, but what we do know as adults who have been in the world a bit longer, is that most things are temporary. So we continue to encourage him, to suggest things that seem impossible to him right now. Things that he wants so badly.

So when Warner told me what he said, “be where the people are”, all I could hear was Ariel, The Little Mermaid, singing so sadly about her desire to, yep, you guessed it “be where the people are”, and I nearly lost it.

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see them dancin’
Walking around on those – what do you call ’em?
Oh – feet!
Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free – wish I could be
Part of that world
When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world
Because, for my Jake, he wants so much to be a part of a world that you and I live in every day without giving it much of a second thought. We go to the store, interact with the cashier, walk among a crowd, and we hardly even notice.
But it’s a struggle for Jake. He feels like he is being watched, and judged. Even going through a drive-thru is difficult because it requires interaction. Think about all of the little interactions you have experience on a daily basis. Now, imagine doing those things and feeling like you are being evaluated on each and every move you make, every word you say, all the while knowing you are inadequate – so really, what’s the point?
Imagine wanting to meet people, to have friends, to socialize, but being too afraid to talk because you don’t want to be criticized, so you remain alone…and miserable. It’s not a choice. It’s a prison.
And watching a person that you love, that you respect, and that you see so much awesomeness in go through this is heartbreaking.
All I can do is love him. All I can do is be there for him, and believe in him. The rest is in his hands. But I will be holding those hands, and helping him every step of the way no matter how long it takes. Even though he may feel lonely, I can promise him this, he will never be alone as long as I’m around.

Only Flying

Lately there have been several posts on suicide awareness. I found this post from last March and felt it appropriate to reshare.

Previously Posted on March 26, 2016

You know how you hear a song and it’s just the right song for that moment? The lyrics speak to you on a soul level as if the singer is in your head and giving life to your deepest thoughts. That happened to me today.

I’m a huge fan of Spotify and their weekly Discovery playlist. I was having a bad day and decided that I needed some new music, so I decided to listen to Spotify’s suggestions while I was driving. The first song to play was “that” song. I nearly pulled over to the side of the road just so I could let the lyrics wash over me completely. Instead, I grabbed the pen I keep handy and scribbled the name of the song and artist so I could explore them later. So far today I have listened to the song at least 20 times. Each time I get lost in the experience.

How is it that a song can reach a part of you that nothing, and no one  else can?  It’s the perfect healer – music and words. I have relied on songs to save me for much of my life. On any given day a song will rescue me from despair, or give wings to my joy. I feel weightless when the right song comes along. I close my eyes and fly, each note lifting me higher and higher to a place that is beyond whatever emotion I’m feeling. The song somehow takes me further into the feeling. And for that I am forever grateful. Music has always saved me.

Ever since I can remember I’ve chosen the music I listen to as a soundtrack to my life. Maybe we all do that subconsciously, but I do it very deliberately. Always have. I find a connection in the perfect pairing of words and music that transcends the limits of my own mind. I soar.

I’m not a religious person, although I was raised and schooled in Catholicism. I am, however, very spiritual and have very strong beliefs that are, no doubt, influenced by my upbringing in the church. In my opinion, religion is manmade and spirituality is innate. But that’s not to say that I do not have a connection with the tenets I was raised to believe. I’ve just chosen a different, less regimented, path – a path that is not tied to any one particular religion, or belief system.

That said, the song that touched me so deeply today happened on the day known as Good Friday. The song is “Flight” by Lifehouse, a band that is often considered a Christian band. For me, today, the words hit home in a very spiritual way.

I’ve been struggling with severe bouts of depression lately. On any given day I am nearly crippled by the waves of sadness that wash over me.

I’ve been under water/this storm has been raging/These nights are not sleeping/My dreams are now strangers to me/And I need you now/There’s too many miles on my bones/I can’t carry the weight of the world/No, not on my own.

So when I heard these words, and connected the dots, I felt like it meant something. Something big. And it does.

No matter if you’re religious, spiritual, or other this song is one you should hear. In this world today, we all have so much weight to carry, so much baggage. It’s a good reminder that, whatever your belief system, you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. It’s too much. Reach out to the Universe, to God, to someone or something. Just don’t be alone.

Find your place to be. No more falling. No more fear. No more hurt.

Only flying.

We Are Meant to Hurt

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Handle With Care – mixed media artwork by Ginger McGee

We are the ones whose hearts beat on the outside. The quiet ones who don’t like conflict because it hurts too much. We already feel enough pain.

We are the ones who apologize to every animal we see dead on the side of the road. We feel pain that was never intended for us, but affects us anyway.

We feel like a raw nerve most days. Like every thing we read or see is ladened with a sadness we can hardly bear. And yet, we must.

And this is just who we are on a good day. Who we are often leads to depression and anxiety because we have no idea how to manage ourselves.

We long to shut out the world, if only for a moment, because we feel that we might implode if we see one more homeless person, one more abused animal, one more child in need.

And we help. And we care for. We go out of our way to give…for others, more often than not forgetting ourselves in the process.

So today as I was faced with a BP reading of 161/101, I was reminded of all of this. I let myself run out of my blood pressure medicine. I’ve been so busy worrying about other things in my life, other people in my life that I placed myself in the back of the line.

I talked with my mother tonight about these things – these emotions that are too heavy to carry around day after day, pretending that I’m ok. Why can’t I just forget things, or turn my head and look the other way? Why is it that every sad story finds a home in my head?

Tonight my mother answered that question. She told me that she believes I am meant to be this way. I am meant to be this way because the hurt I feel, leads me to act. I am meant to keep that ache within me as a constant reminder that I am here to help whenever and however I can. And I will. I always will.

However, I am trying very hard to practice the art of self-preservation by being selective about what I read, what shows I watch and who I spend time with. I know I’m not very good at this. But I also know that if I don’t get a handle on it then I won’t be able to help those who need it. As cliche as it is, I’ve got to help myself first so that I’ll be able to help the others who need it.

Methinks I’ve got a lot of work to do.

 

 

Memoir excerpt

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, He’s Not Broken: A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance. My son Jacob was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of six, and OCD at the age of eight.

Just when we thought we had seen the worst of Jacob’s urges, a new one emerged that completely changed our passive course of action.  We had a wake-up call that brought us to our knees. Our child was sick and we couldn’t help him on our own.

Lately, Jacob had been struggling with a compulsion to put small objects in his mouth, and to touch electrical cords to his tongue. It was as if I had a toddler again. At first he was able to find ways to “trick” the urge by touching the object to his lips.

Although we knew it was something he couldn’t help, we were lost and scared about what could happen, so we reverted to threatening him which only made things worse.  With each threat, Jacob’s stress level would rise, which would, in turn, make his tics and urges rise as well.

I walked into his room one night, and was floored by the measures he had taken to protect himself from this thing that controlled him.  Sitting on the floor playing with his beloved Legos Jacob looked up at me with his mouth covered in Scotch tape.  It took a minute for me to realize why he had done this.  I had to walk out of the room so that he couldn’t see me crying.

I went into Warner’s studio where he was working on an illustration of Pablo from the Backyardigans.

“Jacob has his mouth taped shut,”  I managed to say.

“What?  Why?” he asked.

“So that he can play with his Legos and not worry about putting one in his mouth.  He can’t even play like a regular kid, Warner.”  I fell apart.

 

 

Intention

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Previous post from July 6, 2016

*I’m reposting this because I find that I have come full circle, once again, back to this place of intention where I question who I am and what I have to offer. This place I know so well because it accompanies an longtime acquaintance of mine, depression. When I am here, I recognize things – unsettledness, unquietness, an uneasiness that permeates me to the core. And in this discord, I find my mind wandering erratically from one thought to another and back again. And as I sat here tonight working on my new blog – an attempt at answering that question what do I have to offer? – I was reminded of this post and found it to be relevant. So perhaps it is that my depression comes calling when I have need to allow myself to wander again. 

Intention: the thing that you plan to do or achieve; an aim or purpose. The opposite of which is aimlessness, avoidance, thoughtlessness.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about intention.. What things do I do with intention, and why? For example, in yoga class, prior to beginning practice, it is encouraged to set an intention – a reason to be, a reason to do. Intention gives meaning and purpose to tasks that might otherwise have none.

But I’ve been wondering if maybe things are too intent-driven these days. In our society it seems that everything circles a target, a place to get, a place to be, a purpose. So what happens when we set our intentions aside and simply let ourselves be?

If intention is aim or purpose, then the opposite would be allowing ourselves, and our minds to wander. What happens when we allow ourselves to wander without intent? I believe that we become open to so much more.

Intention focuses our gaze, directs our path, leads us. Without it we wander and explore openly all that is around us. We neither lead, nor are we led. We follow that which calls to us, no matter what the that might be. In doing so we become open and wide-eyed, child-like and curious.

When you were a child and you went exploring whether it was in the woods, or in your backyard, chances are you didn’t have a “to find” list. Most likely you set out just because you were bored, or curious. I used to come home after a day of exploring my neighborhood, or yard with pebbles in the shape of hearts, rocks that had stars embedded in them, locust shells, or a crown made from clover. All things I would have missed had I been on a mission and not allowed myself simply to wander. I still do this today.

The same concept applies to our minds. We should allow ourselves time to daydream, to wander freely around the corners of our minds because it is there, behind the lists and lists of intentions that the real magic is waiting to be dusted off.

Intention promotes reasoning. Wandering promotes wondering. And I believe that it is in wandering that some of our greatest problems are solved, some of the best ideas conceived.

Consider this: You are much more likely to hit a target if you are aiming at it, right? But what about all of the other possibilities outside of that target? Say the bullseye is intention. There is only one. But radiating from that one single intention are so many other possibilities waiting to be discovered. And if we are focussed on that ONE intention, look how much we might miss. Is it worth it? The bullseye still remains, but we allow all other possibilities a chance to exist as well.

Is the world attempting to communicate with us in ways we aren’t even aware of? Does intention hinder our deeper senses? How much of the world is blind to us?

Which way will you go?