Scars

Memories.

We all have them. Some are good. Some are bad. Some we wish we could forget. Others we’d give just about anything to remember.

389673_4107827654718_549502421_n
Daddy, me, Momma and Davey

In my case, the memories that seem to have been cemented in my mind, are those that I wouldn’t necessarily want to forget, because they have formed parts of me. But I’d trade them in a heartbeat if I could get my childhood ones back. My memories begin the night my dad had a massive heart attack when I was 10 years old.

The only thing I can figure is that because that was such a traumatic night – followed by 10 years of daddy being sick – I have somehow developed reverse post-traumatic stress disorder, and blocked the good stuff. I always have been one to do things my own way.

Is it that when something ends badly, that negates, in our minds, all the good that happened prior to the bad event?

Bad memories are like scar tissue in the mind. If you leave them alone long enough, they will heal. Given the right medicine – patience, time, forgiveness – they will, not go away, but will sink down. The perfect storm might cause a small flare up, a dull ache. But, for the most part, they remain buried.

But if you pick at them, fuss over them, the healing process never happens. And you’re left with a nasty scar, that is subject to infection. Every time you pick at it, the resulting scar is thicker and thicker – layer after layer of scar tissue building up until the memory is almost unrecognizable from how it began.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know my mother’s childhood through stories. And because we are so close, those stories are burned into my heart. Feelings of abandonment and anger. Broken trust and broken hearts. I’ve heard these stories time and time again, and they have never gotten easier to accept. This beautiful soul opening up to me over a cup of instant coffee, pouring out all that has brewed inside of her for so long. Releasing the stories to me was never cathartic for her, and watching her talk was just like watching that little girl inside of her fighting to be heard by someone. So I listen. And listen again.

I’ve always told her – and it’s easy for me to say because they aren’t my memories – to let it go. To move forward. But her scars are way too deep, and thickened by a lifetime of picking.

Many of these memories have removed her from her family for years. Not wanting to face her past, she pushed it away time and time again. Her stories settled into me and removed me her family as well. I have an entire family on her side that I have never really known. I never gave that much thought, until today.

My mom’s sister, my Aunt Colleen, came into town for a visit today. It’s been ten years since my mother has seen her, and thirty years since I have seen her. Recently, they rekindled their bond as sisters. Stories were shared, memories revisited, truths revealed.

17457431_10212336866717479_4182176879830059694_n
Momma and her sister

Some of the memories, thickened by time, were not a perfect representation of actual events. Many memories were simply those based on the perspective of a little girl lost in the shuffle – moved from one family member to another, for reasons that, in her mind, always came from a place of rejection and lack of love.

It’s hard to imagine that there are several perspectives on a story, when that story happened to you. What you saw, what you felt, what you heard, oftentimes isn’t what the other person saw, felt and heard. Sometimes motives become misunderstood, and, often skewed based on past feelings and experiences.

All memories deserve a place in our minds because they are the glue that holds us together and connects us to our tribes – those we love and those we have issues with. But we have to know when to file them away and lock the drawer. Otherwise we become estranged from our tribe – even the ones that we love. And when that happens, although we think it’s helping us to feel in control and put together, it does nothing but tear us apart inside and out.

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Spill

img_6184

 

* I am writing this so that others can see one of the many faces of depression. I am not seeking pity or attention.

One thing I have always been in my writing is honest. So this is me being honest, unfiltered and raw.  I am not editing this at all, so please forgive the James Joycian run-ons and stream of consciousness, it’s the most accurate representation of how my mind is working (or not working) right now.

Tonight, I feel broken. I feel like I can’t move. I can’t breathe. There is something inside of me that won’t work no matter how much I tinker with it. And, believe me, there is much tinkering going on.

I don’t like this. I don’t want this. But this is me. I have clinical depression. At any given moment it visits me. It doesn’t care if I have everything I need, everything I want. It comes without warning and stays for as long as it wants. The sun may be shining. The clouds cleared, but inside of me the storm rages despite the current forecast. I try to fight it, but it’s like fighting the undertow. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

But think of all the good things you have. You have so much to be thankful for. No shit. I know that. But my depression doesn’t care. Those of you who say this, I don’t fault you. I don’t hate you for thinking it’s as simple as that. In fact, I think you know it isn’t, you just don’t really know what else to say. It’s okay. I don’t know what to say either.

It’s like someone asking you how you are. They are being polite. It’s what you do. It’s not like I’m going to answer by saying, you know what, I’m not good. In fact, I feel like I’m disintegrating. You just don’t say that. It makes people uncomfortable. I get it. It makes me uncomfortable too. 24 hour kind of uncomfortable. Unless there is wine. And then it’s only mildly annoying. Until there’s a sad song. And there’s always a sad song, isn’t there?

But I’m a mom. I can’t “self-medicate” like my mind tells me I want to. I can’t keep a travel mug full of “peace” with me at all times. And, honestly, I don’t want to. It scares me that the wine helps as much as it does. I don’t want to be that person. But a part of me is that person whether I like it or not.

Then there’s the most awesome part of all. My oldest son also has anxiety and depression. And every time I look at my youngest I wonder if I have passed the curse on to him as well. Do I think I shouldn’t have had kids? Absolutely not! This world needs my kids because they are incredible. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty, which fuels my depression…vicious circle.

Did I mention I’m tired, but I can’t sleep?  I feel like I’m losing it most nights as I try to drift off with all of the what ifs shooting off like firecrackers in my mind. Problems that aren’t even my problems. Sadness that doesn’t even belong to me. I am too connected. So connected that I disconnect in order to survive.

I just want to rest. I just want to feel like everything will be okay. I want to trust the words I feed my children every day. It will get better. You just have to believe.  There are plenty of days where I feel like I’m just setting them up for the firing squad.

I’ll find my way out. I always have. But every time I surface, I can’t help but wonder when the next wave will hit.

 

 

 

Just Keep Moving

*This post is honest. It is painful to write, but I feel that it needs to be said for those who can’t say it.

photo-1
Jake on a very bad day

My son bears the weight of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) daily, but this post is not for him. This post is for the parents and loved ones who must learn how to live with OCD as well. I do not wish to take away from the burden he carries; believe me, I have seen him crippled by this intrusive, invisible bully and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

photo-3
Half a day’s worth of gloves

But I am here to acknowledge the others who are involved in this journey alongside them. I am here to remind you that we, too, face a bully. However, our bully is easily recognizable every time we pass a mirror.

How often have you retreated behind the safety of a closed, locked door and screamed into a pillow? How many times have you been blinded by the hot tears of frustration as you drive anywhere just to get away? And how familiar is the feeling of guilt that gnaws at you for all the times that you lost it, yelling at your son out of anger? The emotional turmoil is unrelenting.

I have slammed doors and punched pillows.

I have felt so much pent up rage that I’ve resorted to hitting my thighs with fists clenched so tightly that my nails have drawn blood, just so the bruises on my legs hurt more than the ache in my heart.

I have escaped the tension with a few too many glasses of wine. And then slept through my sadness.

I have sat outside my son’s door listening to the quiet of him sleeping, pretending that he’s just like everyone else. Enjoying the silence maybe a bit too much.

 I have driven to an abandoned lot, turned the music up as loud as I can and screamed until my throat was raw and I was out of breath.

And each time I’ve berated myself with ugly, angry words.

The same kind of sharp words I have heard my son use on himself on his worst days as he curls up in his chair, the chair that is off limits to the rest of the family because we aren’t clean enough, and cries until he has nothing but shadows left inside him.

The same words I save for the days when I hate myself most. You are worthless. You are a burden. You can’t even help him. Loser. I can’t do this anymore.

 There are times that I think if only I had done this instead of that. Said these words instead of those. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad for him. Maybe he would be better. Maybe I’ve made it worse.

I make myself physically ill worrying over the things that I think I did wrong. But the truth is that on any given day, I’m doing the best I can. My best may not be perfect, but I. Am. Trying.

There is a song in the Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George that really resonated with me one day when I was out trying to walk off the voices in my head that were telling me how wrong I was.

Stop worrying where you’re going – Move on.

If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone.

Just keep on moving.

 I chose and my world was shaken- So what?

The choice may have been mistaken,

The choosing was not.

You have to move on.

 As parents and caregivers of kids with special needs, it’s easy for us to forget that the best thing we can do is to keep moving.

Some days we will move backwards, tripping over yesterday’s mistakes. Other days we will move forward full of a hope we can barely see. But the only thing that matters is that we are moving. We may not know where we are going, or how we are going to get there, but we will get there.

Yes, we are exhausted. We are overwhelmed. We are heartbroken. We are afraid. We are angry.

But we are here. We are here and we are moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simplicity 8009

How do I keep the

threads of you from –

knotting my mind

your own ways they say.

And you’ve sewn the

edges of my thoughts with-

out of my mind I try

to make patterns,

make cuts, and folds,

make sense

of layouts that aren’t my own,

and tangling edges

from scraps that don’t match.

This measurement’s off –

sizing too big

for my figure

it out they say.

Too short,

too long,

too much.

Before you cut,

before you stitch,

before you sew

many directions

that lead to the perfect

fit that feels

wrong for my frame of reference.

I tug and adjust

only to find that

my fabric is out of style.