Dear princess, you are a part of me and I will learn to accept you. Some days I hate you. You make me feel confused, vulnerable and out of control. But I can’t deny you. You are part of me and somehow you have to make sense to me. I thank you for keeping me hopeful, playful and excited by the possibility of fantasy. I thank you for giving me the strength to be vulnerable.
I am not here to entertain you
I am not here to fix you
I am not hear to rescue, heal or revive you
I am not here to be talked at
I am not here to give you all my energy
I am not here to make your story my own
I am not here to just listen
I am not here to make you whole
I am not here to make you happy
I am not here to make it all dissipate
I am not here to distract you from the tedious and mundane
I am not here to mask your sadness and feed your insecure heart
I am not here to hold your hand
I am not here to be a band aid
I am not here to give you all of me
I am here to love you strongly
I am here to love you equally
I am here to be an addition to the joy you already have
I am here to rest in, but not collapse into
I am here to support you, hear you, see you
I am here to make love to you
I am here to love you sweetly and gently and ferociously
I am here to make stories with you
I am here to challenge you
I am here to grow beside you
The thing that most annoys me in dealing with PTSD is the nightmares. It just doesnt seem fair to have you worst life experiences triggered while sleeping, all helpless and unsuspecting like.
Worst yet, is waking up to the realization that your worst life experiences are reoccuring, but in an alternate reality sort of way. You cannot even tell yourself it’s not really happening, because it is.
You’re having a nightmare about some of the worst abuse you endured in your first marriage, only to wake up and want to curl up in the safest place you know, the arms of the man you learned to shed every scar away for, but he’s not there. He’s not there like he vowed he would always be, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. He’s not there like he swore to you he would be, while tears streamed down your face and you begged to never feel this pain again. He said he would never put you or your kids through that again. That the only way out was death. The guy who talked about dancing with you on your daughter’s wedding day. He’s not there.
You’re awake but it’s a living nightmare.
You can’t wake up.
Another sleepless night as I sit here poking through the ashes of thoughts in my skull, wanting it to go out, but finding these ambers that kindle the thoughts burning again and again.This whole weekend was like that. I would just put one burning thought aside when another when burn.
It started with a comment. One that could conveniently be written off as a joke and drunkeness had it not been so painfully true. A comment from a “friend”. The friend who always has drunken things to say to me that they can write off as drunken. The problem was that this comment wasn’t of the usual drunken context. It left a horrible taste in my mouth.
It was about Jer and it was a betrayal. It hurt me for him. It made me angry to know that I would bear this laden truth forever, that it would haunt me and that it was delivered so carelessly that no accountability would ever be taken for it. Deniability. Cowardice. Whatever you want to call it, it made me sick.
This is the person Jer often emulates and here was the proof that it was never necessary, that Jer is better than every other man in his life has ever been and he never gives himself credit for it. He weighs himself down with the burden of not being good enough, not worthy, never realizing he always was … at least to me.
But now, armed with this truth, it suddenly became clear that it was never about him being enough for me, it was about me, the kids and I, us … not being enough for him. He always needed more and he always sought it from the likes of these people who would never love him the way we could, but this was his choice. That was the truth and there’s nothing to do with the truth but accept it. It hurts. There’s going to be a grieving process. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fall out of love with that guy, wherever he is.
Then as I sat amongst our mutual friends Friday evening at a birthday party with the kids, I looked over at one point and saw Gino’s Dad staring at Jedi. I was instantly horrified by my carelessness. Here, I am sitting with my son, alive and well, the same age his own son should be now had cancer not cast its long shadow into their lives and as he gripped his wife’s hand, I felt like a giant asshole because I taken this precious commodity, life, for granted. Yes, we have an obscene amount of issues presently, but we also have our children alive and available to us daily and if that in and of itself doesn’t make us feel profoundly blessed, well, we’re assholes.
(Note to Self: Stop being an asshole.)
I wanted to text Jer and tell him to stop being an sshole too, to wake up and take a look around at all the blessings he’s been given in his life that he’s taking a giant shit on, but having arrived at the aforementioned realization that Jer’s perspective is not something I can change and still being perplexed by his passing up this time, I just allowed myself to be present in the moment. I left my phone in my pocket, put my arm around my son, pulled his head towards my lips and kissed the top of his head. He’s a teenager and he let me … I count this another blessing.
We arrived home to the news out of Paris. I was instantly horrified by what I heard and saw and with my daughter within ear shot, I instantly thought about how scary this could be for her and how to handle it. I thought about Mr. Rogers advice to “look for the helpers” in these situations, the people that run in despite their fear, the humanity. It wasn’t long before I found the #PorteOuverte (translation: #OpenDoor) that Parisians were using to offer shelter those seeking such after the attacks. That’s what moved me to tears. That’s the story I told my daughter to take away from the situation.
She asked me “Why?” and I didn’t know. We heard some theoritical chatter regarding radical Islam when she turned and asked me why any religion would believe that their God would have them kill other human beings, mothers, fathers, children, siblings. I talked to her about rhetoric and how it can be taken out of context when it suddently occured to me, that even our military falls into Christian rhetoric during acts of war. Praying in the fighting bunkers? Have they never shouted to God during a battle? Could Muslims exposure to this be their entire view of Westerners? These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night.
Saturday and Sunday were filled with goodbyes. Not “see ya later” types, but last words you ever get to say to someone type goodbyes. Saturday, I received word that my Uncle was in the final stages of dying. As I grappled with the idea of getting in my car and making a pilgrimage to his side, I stopped and closed my eyes and thought of our last conversation. It was Labor Day weekend. The night before my world blew up. But, we had laughed together and smiled, talked and hugged. His last words with me were: “I love you very much”. I decided I was ok with that. That’s how I want to remember him.
Sunday, I found out that a woman who shares a scleroderma diagnosis with me and whom I have come to greatly admire, was also in her final stages of life. She asked for my mailing address and told me that she wanted to send something, that it would be a goodbye but it wouldn’t arrive until after she’s “flown away”. I got to tell her that I loved her and that she had reminded me of my worth as a human, whether I was sick or not and that I would always be grateful for that. I promised to stay involved in her precious granddaughter’s life. It was bittersweet in that Im glad I got to say those things to her, but it was goodbye.
With all of this sentiment about the preciousness of life and gratefulness abundant in my heart, I told Jer that this weekend’s events had brought about a realization of the ridiculousness of our situation. I told him how blessed we had been to be given this life, together, with the kids and just how much it grieved me that we had taken it all for granted, but worse still, that there was absolutely nothing more I could do to change his perspective, to make him love me, us, the way only he can and it was time that I stop beating my head against the wall and tearing my heart out of my chest offering it up to him with vulnerability, trying to bring about an absolution that may never come. It was time for acceptance of all the things he had said and done proving who he is now and to grieve the loss of the love of my life.
My love asked me if this meant I was done, but there’s nothing for me to be done with. It was never my choice. I gave everything, was his best lover, his greatest friend and biggest fan. I helped all his dreams come true, stood by his side through it all and the first time I faltered, he could not bear the weight on his own. It was not enough.
The truth is, I wish that he could materialize from my dreams and live them out with me for the rest of our days. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop dreaming of him making it right or taking up the fight for our marriage and family. It is my heart’s greatest desire, but I regress and accept, as I must.
The time will comewhen, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life
~Poet, Derek Walcott
“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ M. Scott Peck
Yesterday. 3:47pm. I made the following note on my iPhone:
Checking out at desk from son’s doctor appointment and I suddenly feel breathless. Im certain some sort of virus, likely the plague because I saw a woman who look like she had the plague, has just invaded my body.
Sure as shit, I woke up sick today.
Actually before I even went to bed I started feeling as if my cat had been toying with my tonsils and started this lame half cough. Then I woke up with the plague.
Now, Im lying here in a pseudo-benadryl like reality toying with the idea of creating a huge alliance of single mothers that will perform functions of the luxuries we provide to others during their illness but never have extended to us. Like making chicken noodle soup or a tuck in service. Single moms are a tough bunch so we dont need this pansy ass shit on the regular but we definitely could use some TLC when we’re sick. Being sick as a single Mom is the pits. Nobody cares that you’re dying of the plague. Theyre just like, “Where’s dinner?” or realize its the perfect time to neglect their chores because Mom is too sick to be taken seriously because you sound like a troll and cant hold your eyes open. (Thanks, Nyquil) Then, its double suckage because when you start feeling better you have to deal with all the extra bullshit nobody bothered to do because you were sick. It’s just not fair.
So Ive decided that when the cat finally actualizes her world domination plans and makes me the supreme leader of humans who provide food and defacation dispoal services, a branch of my power will be devoted to creating an alliance. We will boss kids around, dispense Lysol and chicken and dumpling soup and the world will be a better place because of it.
“I can tell you that “Just cheer up” is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to “just walk it off.” Some people don’t understand that for a lot of us, mental illness is a severe chemical imbalance rather just having “a case of the Mondays.” Those same well-meaning people will tell me that I’m keeping myself from recovering because I really “just need to cheer up and smile.” That’s when I consider chopping off their arms and then blaming them for not picking up their severed arms so they can take them to the hospital to get reattached.”
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Lawson, Jenny