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.

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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.

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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

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* 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.

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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.

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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.

D.E.A.R. Universe #2

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Original sketch by Ginger McGee

 

D.E.A.R. Universe,

Here I am again. I figured I should backtrack from my last letter and give credit where credit is due. Yeah, to you, of course, but to the one who introduced me to you, Mike Dooley.

Last week, Thanksgiving week to be exact, I was feeling anything but thankful. You see, there’s a lot going on in my little neck of the words lately. My oldest son has been battling some severe depression and anxiety issues. My youngest is kind of caught in between, and despises school to boot. The two love each other fiercely, but aren’t exactly getting along – eight years is a big age difference.

In addition, husband is perpetually overworked, and I’m perpetually menopausal. I’m sure you can see how this all might add up to a very non-thankful Thanksgiving for me.

Did I mention that I’m on blood pressure medicine that I ran out of and forgot to get refilled? Yep. 161/101. That was my BP the day before Thanksgiving.

Little did I know you were trying to get my attention!

So I grabbed my Kindle, and settled in for a rest. Sign 1: On the front page there was a book recommendation. The Top Ten Things Dead People Want You To Know by the aforementioned Mike Dooley. As a person who has lost someone significant, and loves the whole psychic thing, my interest was piqued.

I had never heard of Mike Dooley. I went to his website and found this about something he started in 1998 Notes From the Universe,

The Notes are brief emails written by “The Universe,” personalized with your name (and occasionally your goals and dreams), designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things. -Mike Dooley

 

Sign 2: Scrolling further down, I saw a section called “Praise for the Notes”, and there was a photo of Jason Mraz!

“Notes from the Universe remind me I’m a part of something much bigger and that my dreams are constantly being realized. I love them! Thanks Mike!” -Jason Mraz

I love that guy!! He’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters. His album Love is a Four Letter Word helped me through another particularly rough patch of my life. Needless to say, I bought the book and started reading it immediately.

In the introduction something he said resonated with me. Regarding truth, my mom has always told me that when something is true, it will feel true. The truth will carry with it emotions that are almost too big for your human self. Sign 3: So when I read this and got goosebumps, yes, I really did, I knew it to be the truth – my truth. Nothing extremely profound, but it gave me that feeling and made me turn the page.

And it doesn’t matter how you find it, just that you do, and the sooner you do, the greater your peace. The way you’ll know it’s the truth is that it’ll make sense: logically, intellectually, and emotionally which isn’t too often the case given the versions of it that’ve been tossed about in recent millennia. Finding it, you’ll feel liberated, empowered, clear, joyful, loving, your confusion banished. And then suddenly you’ll see its evidence everywhere, even right under your very nose, including your nose itself. -Mike Dooley

I couldn’t put the book down. You definitely had my attention. I highlighted and created notes, and the entire time I had a smile on my face because I knew in my heart that everything I was reading was true.

You see, you knew the way to get me to pay attention was with words – a book. Honestly, I think the book should be required reading. We all deserve to know the truth, although I don’t think we’re all ready. I’ve read similar books that didn’t have the same affect, because I wasn’t ready. But this time, with this book, you were showing me that it was time.

Thank you!!!!!

As I always do when someone, or something stirs a part of my soul, I found Mike on Facebook, and I reached out to him. I hoped that I might get a response, but that’s not why I wrote to him. I just feel it necessary to tell others when they have a profound affect on me. But guess what? Sign 4: He wrote me back!!!!

I could go on and on and on forever, but suffice it to say that, you, my delicious, enthusiastic, ambitious, remarkable Universe, you are incredible. I love the way you work, so mysteriously, through others.

So, go on, get outta here and get your magic on!

Love and kisses,

Ginger, the possibilitarian

D.E.A.R. Universe

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D.E.A.R. Universe,

You mysterious thing, you! Just when I begin to think things will never get better, you gently push me over the edge.

And while I’m free-falling, kicking and screaming, you whisper, “Open your eyes. Open your eyes and see.”

“What?” I scream. “I’m looking and all that’s there is a whole lot of empty space, which I happen to be currently falling through at warp speed. A little help please!!”

“You’re doing it wrong.”

“I’m doing it wr – wait, seriously? Now you’re critiquing my death plummet? Nice.”

“Stop looking.”

“God, I’m so confused. Confused and DYING! First, you want me to look. Now, you want me to stop looking?”

“YES!”

“Care to elaborate while I flail helplessly through space?”

“See.”

“No, I don’t see! Please just –”

“Stop looking. And see.”

“Looking. Seeing. Same. Freaking. Thing.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Ok, I’ll bite. Not much else to do as I fly dying.”

“You’ve always looked. All your life. Looking for love — ”

“In all the wrong places. Get it? Oh, never mind.”

“Looking for answers. Looking for God. But if you never see, then any looking you have done will be in vain.”

“I don’t get it.”

“And you never will until you stop looking. You look around you now and you see ’empty space’. Looking is a quick action, a surface scan, if you will. If I gave you a flower right now, like this -”

And just like that I’m holding a daisy, which is quite appropriate since I’ll be pushing them up soon.

“Hey, if you can manifest a daisy, you think maybe you might manage to conjure up a parachute, or at least a field of pillows?”

“Yes, you identify the flower as a daisy by looking. But –”

“I’m guessing that’s a no on the parachute.”

“But now I want you to see the flower. Go beyond the surface. What do you see?”

“It’s white. It’s soft. Looks like a star…oh, wow, I never noticed the center, it looks like smaller yellow flowers, more stars. And the pattern is so perfect.”

“You’re still falling, you know.”

“Oh crap! Yeah, there’s that.”

“But you forgot. That you were falling.”

“We aren’t really talking about daisies anymore are we?”

“No, we’re not. You’ve been on edge a bit lately –”

“Oh, you’re a witty one.”

“You worry and fret moment to moment and day to day. You look left and right for the right thing to do, the right way to be. What if I do it wrong? What if I make a bad decision? But you’re missing the small picture. The now. It’s time to see and be seen. You all have no idea that all the time you spend looking for this and that, could be spent on seeing what’s all around you. Close your eyes.”

“Again?”

“Close your eyes.”

“Ok.”

“Now open them and tell me what you see.”

I open my eyes slowly, and in that moment, I’m no longer falling. I’m flying. And it’s the most beautiful feeling I’ve ever felt.

“What do you see?”

“Possibility. So much possibility.”

 

Thank you for being patient with me, Universe.

Love,

Ginger, the possibilitarian