I don’t know why.

IDK

I feel like I’ve been saying, “I don’t know.”, “I don’t know why.” or any and all variations of, “I don’t know…” a lot lately. And I really honestly don’t know. People constantly ask me what it is I want and what it is I need and why I feel X, why does Y bother me, why does Z hurt? I don’t know why. I wish I knew I why. Often, when I don’t know the answer to something, I can Google that shit and I’m content I’ve found the answer I’m looking for. But unfortunately, you can’t just Google the answers to some of your most difficult questions. This isn’t Jeopardy.

My therapy is going through some very significant changes right now and while I see the potential/goal, change is still scary. It’s making me even more scared, nervous and upset when I’m trying to talk to my therapist M and tell her as succinctly as possible what it is I want and need from her right now. And I just…don’t…know. There are, of course, some very easy and obvious things to rattle off but in my heart and mind, I know there’s something more and for the life of me, I cannot verbalize it; I cannot find the words I need to communicate. What happens when words fail? Music speaks. This song especially speaks to me because of my personal conviction that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t always know why. I don’t know how, when, why or even if I will come out of this on top. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be on top…I’d be content just coming out of it. M cannot promise me and guarantee that there will be a better place for me…that this won’t last forever…but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. So it’s sort of like being at an impasse. M: “J…I don’t know how, but I know you will come out of this swinging. This will not last forever. I don’t know why I know these things, but I do.” Me: “M, I don’t know why I’ve hung on for so long. I don’t know why I need you…I don’t know why I don’t know anything at all.” Thank God for music because if there were no music, then I would not get through.

“I Don’t Know Why”
by Shawn Colvin

I don’t know why
The sky is so blue
And I don’t know why
I’m so in love with you
But if there were no music
Then I would not get through
And I don’t know why
I know these things, but I do

And I don’t know why
But somewhere dreams come true, yeah
And I don’t know where
But there will be a place for you
And every time you look that way
I would lay down my life for you
I don’t know why
I know these things, but I do

I don’t know why
But some are going to make you cry
And I don’t know how
But I will get you by, I will try
‘Cause they’re not trying to cause you pain
They’re just afraid of loving you
And I don’t know why
I know these things, but I do

I don’t know why
The trees grow so tall
And I don’t know why
I don’t know anything at all
But if there were no music
Then I would not get through
And I don’t know why
I know these things, but I do
I don’t know why
I know these things, but I do

[youtube http://youtu.be/fPL_VW9LD-k]

Things My Father Taught Me

d-is-for-dad

I sigh heavily as I sit down to write this. I miss my dad…a lot. I’m sure, in this chaotic mess that is my blog, I have mentioned that my dad is no longer with me. I don’t know that I’ve ever said how or when…he died from stage four lymphoma in 2005…I was 21. He was never diagnosed as terminal (or if he was, he never told anyone) so his death was sudden and unexpected. That story (his death and what happened before and after) is a different story for a different day and it being Father’s Day, I don’t want to focus on all the bad feelings and the bitterness I have about that time in my life; it’s not pleasant. But suffice it to say that death does indeed bring out the worst in people.

Unlike the post Things My Mother Taught Me…daddy was a better teacher and taught me better life lessons. My dad was an introvert (like yours truly) and wasn’t overly affectionate or verbose as a general rule. He may not have said, “I love you” out loud or very often, but when he did say it, I knew he meant it and even if he didn’t say it, he showed it…or, at the very least, he tried to. My family is/was a “yours, mine and ours” kind of family. My dad was married once before he married my mom and he had two daughters from that marriage (that I did not grow up with or see often). My mom had my brother out of wedlock and then my mom and dad married and I came along three years later. There’s a huge age gap between me and my siblings…so much so that I grew up as pretty much an only child and I was treated as such. I grew up with my brother but he moved out the minute he turned eighteen and from then on, it was just me, mom and dad. It wasn’t a bad thing at all. Every birth order “type” (oldest, youngest, middle, only, etc.) has its own set of pro’s and con’s. I like to think I grew up pretty well rounded. I got a lot of attention, I never wanted for anything and I occasionally reaped the benefits of having siblings while also reaping the benefits of solitude. Best of all worlds, I think.

I could probably write forever about my dad. I try not to talk about him around my mom because she likes to focus on all the bad things he did or all of the reasons why she didn’t like him and ended up divorcing him just shy of their 25th wedding anniversary. I’m not here to bash anyone and I want this to be a “good” post…maybe not a “happy” one by definition as my mood is somewhat somber…but what I’m about to share means more to me than my Mother’s Day post did. My mom thinks I idolize my dad now that he’s gone…that I’ve put him on a pedestal and see him for someone he wasn’t. What actually happened is that I am actively choosing to remember the good parts about him and not the bad. My dad wasn’t perfect and I will never say he was…but he tried…and he was my dad…I am his little girl…and I always will be. Everyone that sees my mom and I together always says we look alike…that I am definitely her daughter. I personally don’t see that. I may have gotten my nose or my general body shape from her but color-wise and everything else, I look and act nothing like my mom. And that’s one thing we actually both agree on (shocking, huh?). We look at each other after someone comments on how much we look alike and we’re all, “WTF?” Neither of us sees it. What I see when I look at me is my dad. I have his hair color, his eye color, his skin color. I don’t mind looking like my mom but I think sometimes people forget about my dad (or they never met him) and don’t take him into consideration when trying to figure out which parent I resemble the most. It probably doesn’t help that I want to put as much space as possible between my mom and me and when people say we look alike, that’s not helping me do that. “I look like my dad!” I want to shout. But no one sees that…or they don’t remember. Now if people were to compare whose personality and habits I most emulate, I guarantee that most people would say I take after my dad. Dad and I share a lot of the same personality traits and here’s where you can insert the nature versus nurture debate. Obviously, my mom was the primary caregiver and probably the one I spent most of my time with…yet somehow I take after my dad more than her. In exasperation and frustration, my mom often, to this day, blurts out, “You are so much your father’s child!” She may have meant it in a negative way but I actually take it as a compliment and further push her grumpy button by saying, “Thank you.” If I had had any choice in the matter, I’d much rather take after my dad than my mom any day…even knowing what I know now…probably more so knowing what I know now. Being stubborn is probably one of the more obvious traits that my dad and I share. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the situation. It can be a good thing, for example, in trying to accomplish something and being so stubborn, you refuse to give up until you get it right or get the desired result. And it can be a bad thing, for example, when it comes to being stuck in your ways/habits and refusing to change them and/or refusing to try. Sometimes I wonder if I am being overly sentimental when it comes to my dad because it seems as if no one else remembers or talks about him anymore. And I know that just because they don’t say anything doesn’t mean they don’t remember…it’s just that no one talks about him anymore (unless it’s bad stuff, like my mom will point out/talk about…”Your father used to do that and I hated it.”). For me, I don’t want to forget. Do I like being reminded that he’s not here? No. But I like remembering that he used to be.

1. Cars: I’m a girl. I don’t know much about cars nor do I have an interest in learning more. But my dad pretty much taught me all I needed to know. He taught me how to check the oil level and told me that it was safe to touch anything under my hood that had a yellow cap on it. He taught me when and where to go to get my oil changed and stressed its importance to the life of my car. He taught me how to check the air pressure in my tires and also taught me how to correctly apply a license plate registration tab (it’s not as simple as just sticking it on there, people!). But one of the most valuable car lessons I learned was the lesson on gas. I was definitely not one of those ditsy teenagers that didn’t know how to put gas in my car when I started driving. One of the first rules my dad taught me about driving/my car was to always have at least 1/4 of a tank of gas in your car, especially during winter. To this day, when I get down to about 1/4 of a tank, that’s when I go fill up. And in 15+ years of driving, I have never once run out of gas. (Thanks, dad.)

2. Money: My dad was the one who helped me open my first checking and savings account. He taught me how to write checks and balance a checkbook and the importance of saving money and paying bills on time. I was always amazed that I could do this in high school and my friends could not (there are some people that still don’t know how to do this, especially in today’s electronic world). My dad was a tad on the anal side (like yours truly) and every single transaction was written down and accounted for in the checkbook and savings register…down to the penny. I followed suit. This was even before debit cards became popular…and once I was comfortable using a debit card, I accounted for every single debit card transaction as well. Naturally, I have an app for that now but it’s still something I do with every deposit and withdrawal I make. (Thanks, dad.)

3. Math: Given the age difference between myself and my parents and siblings, I didn’t get a lot of help with my homework because everything my parents knew was “old school” and was the long way to do things, especially math problems. Granted, I didn’t need much homework help but I wasn’t perfect and there were still some things I needed help with at times. I don’t know why this sticks out for me so much, but I remember learning my times tables in elementary school. For the life of me, I could not remember what 8 x 7 was. My dad taught me a mnemonic: eight times seven is fifty-six, my dog Fido can do tricks. I shit you not people, when I have to figure out what 8 x 7 is now, I say that little rhyme in my head every single time despite knowing the answer immediately. (Thanks, dad.)

4. The importance of being neat: I definitely got my OCD/anal gene from my dad…hands down, no doubt about it. Everything had a place in my house (at least everything my dad had control/say over). I will never forget going through the house after he passed and going through his desk and pulling out operating/owner’s manuals for shit we didn’t even own anymore…an old 80’s boombox (a Christmas gift for my brother), the original GameBoy (both mine and my brother’s), miscellaneous electronics manuals, and even the manual for my Cabbage Patch baby doll carrier/car seat that had been donated to Goodwill over a decade prior to his passing. My dad would often be accused of being a neat freak but I personally don’t (and never did) see anything wrong with it as it didn’t get in the way/hinder anything. He just always knew where everything was, everything had a place and there was literally a method to his madness. I double-dog dare my Teddy Ruxpin to go berserk on me now (yes, I still have him) because I still have the owner’s manual. (Thanks, dad.)

5. Reading: My daddy loved to read. Even if I had only gotten one dollar for every book I had to sell/give away after he passed, I probably would have gotten close to a thousand dollars. And no, I’m not exaggerating. I haven’t read as much in the last two years as I would like and I don’t know if that’s from me just having so much shit going on inside my head that I can’t concentrate or if I seriously did some legit damage to myself in the process of trying to end my life on multiple occasions. I miss reading and Lord knows I try. I’ve always loved to read…from my first Berenstain Bears book to the latest James Patterson novel. My dad stuck to mystery/crime novels and I sometimes wonder now if that’s where my fascination with crime came from. I love to read true crime (fiction too) and you can almost always find my TV on the Investigation Discovery channel. I don’t have any memories of anyone reading to me, but I have lots of memories of the three of us (or just me and dad) sitting in the same room with our noses all in a book. If we traveled or went on vacation, you could be sure that there was always extra room made for books. As an only child, I often had to find ways to entertain myself and this was never a problem for me because there was always a book for me to read, be it one of my own or one of my dad’s. (Thanks, dad.)

6. Pool: My daddy loved to play pool. Loved loved loved. He didn’t have many passions in life or things that brought him great joy…but playing pool was one of them. And imagine the delight on his face when his daughter asked him to teach her how to play. After I moved out, I would meet dad about once a week at Wendy’s for dinner (he would always have a baked potato, chili and milk) and then we’d go to a bar or pool hall of our choice depending on the night. I don’t watch many sports on TV and neither did my dad, but you could find us watching pool together (especially the trick shot tournaments). Sometimes now, for pure sentimental reasons, I will watch a pool tournament just for fun. The only thing that makes me sad here (well, there’s two things) is that he never finished teaching me how to play. I’m not sure he would have ever been done teaching me but I was only just beginning to get good at it before he died. The second thing that makes me sad is…remember when I said earlier that death brings out the worst in people? My dad’s oldest daughter stole his and my pool cue’s and cases out of his truck the day after he died and I never got them back. I haven’t touched a pool cue in almost eight years but if I ever do, I hope that he would help me line up my shot and kick ass. (Thanks, dad.)

7. Being on time: My dad did not like to be late for anything and you could set your watch based on his morning routine. I’m the same way. I hate being late. I am always early or on time for any appointment/meeting/what have you. I don’t even like being late to movies. I’m flexible if it’s not a crowded movie and I’ve only missed the previews but if I miss just one minute of the actual movie, I won’t watch it because I want to watch it from beginning to end…literally. This can be debilitating (or at the very least, frustrating) at times (for me and/or the people that deal with/put up with me) because if I’m late, I’d rather ax the whole appointment or whatever it is I’m late for than show up late. This doesn’t go for everything…like if I agree to meet you 5 PM for a casual dinner and I get there at 5:05…okay whatever…I can deal with that, it’s dinner. But it goes both ways. People make appointments to see me/schedule time to be with me/carve out time to see me at specific times and I make the effort to be there on time (early, more often than not) and I feel that others should make the same effort. I understand things happen but don’t ever use the traffic excuse on me. I’m rarely, if ever, late because of traffic. Why? Because I allow for it. This isn’t absolute of course and there are always exceptions. But I feel that it’s a sign of respect to be on time (especially to appointments), knowing someone has carved out time specifically for me…be you a doctor, friend, potential employer…and I expect the same respect in return. It’s a courtesy thing. And contrary to popular belief, I like being courteous. A little respect and courtesy goes a long way. (Thanks, dad.)

8. Penmanship: Oh daddy…you were one of those rare men that had legible, albeit, beautiful handwriting. People always made comments on my dad’s penmanship. It’s rare to see nice handwriting and it’s even more rare to see it coming from a man. I have a few things left that have my dad’s handwriting on them and one of them is a cassette tape. Do you remember those, kids? It was one you could record on…side A and side B. And in my dad’s very identifiable script, the tape reads “The Jazz Singer soundtrack – Neil Diamond”. I remember working on my handwriting a lot growing up but it wasn’t ever something I had to force myself to do…writing neatly came naturally to me and is, quite possibly, something I picked up from my father. (To be fair, my mother has nice handwriting also.) I get many comments/compliments on my handwriting. (Thanks, dad.)

9. Work ethic: My dad was the type of person who never missed a day of work, even if he was legitimately sick. He took work so seriously that he rarely even took vacation time and ended up losing a lot of it. I understood his reasons (nothing got done if he was gone; he was a one-man show) but it was still hard to see your dad go into work with a chemo port in his chest. He worked as much and as best he could right up until the day he died. He taught me the importance of doing a good job and doing it right the first time. He also taught me about customer service. When he died, he had customers that didn’t know what to do with themselves or their companies because they had been loyal customers of my dad’s for over 20 years. I definitely don’t let my vacation time go to waste, but you will find yourself telling me to go home after I’ve already come to work sick more often than you will find yourself on the other end of the phone listening to me call in sick. I may not like customer service, but I know how to do it and I know how to do it well. (Thanks, dad.)

10. Humor: One of the things I miss most about my dad is his silly sense of humor and his laugh. You knew you were getting a genuine smile and laugh when you got one from my dad. He was definitely not a faker. He had a silly sense of humor too…the type that makes you roll your eyes as a teenager…the type that you laugh at when you become an adult…the type you miss when you can no longer hear it. He was sometimes corny and could also sometimes hit you with a real zinger that you would laugh at for days. He knew how to laugh…and he taught me. (Thanks, dad.)

11. SpaghettiO’s: My mom and dad separated for a brief period of time when I was about seven years old. My mom continued to live in the family home with me and my brother while my dad moved into an apartment a couple cities away. I saw him every weekend and I thought it was the greatest thing EVER…because my dad made me SpaghettiO’s for dinner and his apartment complex had a pool (have I mentioned that I’m an Aquarius?). I still love me some SpaghettiO’s and you will always find a can of it in the pantry. (Thanks, dad.)

12. Music: My daddy LOVED his music. Queen, BeeGee’s, Pink Floyd, Neil Diamond…those are just some of his favorites. And because he loved it and played it all the time, I learned to love it too. For anyone that follows me on any sort of regular basis, you know I’m a music whore but what a lot of people don’t know is that my collection and likes are vast and varying. I’ve had people say, “Dafuq do you know about The Gap Band?” “Were you even cooking in your momma’s belly when Saturday Night Fever Came out?” I love it all with some exceptions and if I can get into it, it goes in my library…I don’t care who sang it or what “genre” it’s in. One song that always makes me smile is “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen because that was my dad’s favorite song, hands down. (I later learned that he requested this to be played at his and my mom’s wedding reception…and played it was…insert appropriate giggles here.) I cannot hear that song without thinking about my dad and his bad ass Saturday Night Fever dance moves. I had an appointment to get my hair done two days after my dad died. I made it months before he passed and when I wanted to cancel, I was encouraged to keep it. So I did. The gal that does my hair has done my hair for over 20 years and she also used to cut my dad’s hair. Two days after my dad passed, I was sitting in her salon getting my hair done and that song came on. I smiled and lost it. (Thanks, dad.)

13. Sighing: My dad was the king of the heavy “imirritatedohmygodgoawaywillyoujustshutthehellupalready” sigh. My mom hated it then and God help us if I or her boyfriend does it now. My dad didn’t even have to say a single word…that sigh said it all whether or not you wanted to hear it. And I’m daddy’s little girl, right? I have that sigh DOWN. (Thanks, dad.)

14. Solitude: I said earlier that my dad was an introvert and I am too. My dad taught me that being quiet and alone was not a bad thing. He taught me to embrace it, to enjoy it (especially when it was rare), and what to do during that time…like reading. I grew up being chastised for being an introvert and having no problem whatsoever with having to entertain myself and find things to do and it’s only been recently that I’ve been told (and have accepted) that it’s not a bad thing and the world would do well to learn and appreciate that. Without introverts, there are many books, ideas, theories, math and science formulas, etc. that we would not know today because a lot of those came from people who were introverts and/or their ideas were the result of periods of solitude, reflection and time to think. I embrace and enjoy solitude and quiet. (Thanks, dad.)

15. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone: The last thing my dad taught me is something he taught me after he died. He taught me that you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I don’t want to think I ever took my dad for granted, even knowing that he was sick. But had I known he was going to leave this world and leave me, there are things I think I would have done differently, more time I would have spent with him, and definitely more things I would have said. Nowadays, I don’t like leaving things unsaid. Even if I leave my therapist’s office and I forgot to say something or thank her for something, I will call her on my way home and tell her, even if I have to leave a voicemail…at least I said it. I have a million things to say to my dad and a million questions to ask that I never got the chance to…or never took the opportunity to. To be fair, some of these came after he passed…but I think often…hope often…that he knew/knows I loved him and that I said and showed it enough. I don’t follow a religion and I have no clear idea or belief in what, if anything, happens when we die. I don’t know if my dad still pokes his head in on me. There are “weird” things that happen that naturally make me think twice and say, “Is that you, Daddy?” Moments where I’m sure that no one is with me but him or moments where he makes his presence known. But with no beliefs, it’s only speculation on my part…and probably a lot of wishful thinking. Even though I didn’t get to say everything I wanted, I at least know now to never take someone for granted and to never leave anything unsaid.

Thanks, dad. For everything.

Love Always,
Your Brown Eyed Girl

This has always been my song for as long as I can remember. It’s the one my dad always played and dedicated to me and the one that makes me stop, listen and think of my dad every time I hear it.

It matters.

20130610-020956.jpg I think I’ve mentioned starfish at least once or twice in this chaotic mess that is my blog…but I don’t think I’ve ever said why. As for why I chose this particular moment in time to share why, it’s been on my mind. A lot. I’ve done a lot of talking to a particular friend lately and the subject of “little things matter” has come up. A lot.

The Starfish Story has been told and retold, but the original story (“The Star Thrower”) was written by a man named Loren Eisley. I adopted this story/message about eight-ish years ago. I don’t even remember how it came to cross my path, how I found it, or where/when I heard it. But when I did, it took root within my soul and still continues to do so to this day. I consider the Starfish Story to be…my mantra?…my “rule book”?…the driving force behind all that I do? Regardless of what you want to call it, the story has great meaning to me and its message is one I not only want to exude, it’s one I want to share/spread. I often use the story to illustrate/explain why the little things matter and/or how one simple action/decision can make a difference. Yes, sometimes it’s a bad/hurtful difference, but the way I share/talk/use it focuses on a good/positive difference. I also use the story to thank people who have “thrown me back into the ocean”…explaining to them how/why whatever they did or said mattered…if only to this one…if only to me.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring…all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo F. Bascalgia

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

I’ve written many times about the impact of words and how a simple act of caring could mean the world to someone, even if you never knew it…even if you didn’t think what you did/said mattered. If you take anything away from this, take with you the knowledge that you not only have the ability to make a difference, big or small…you have probably already made a difference for someone whether you know it or not.

So…without further ado…the Starfish Story:

A young girl was walking along a beach after the tide had gone out, leaving thousands of starfish strewn up and down the shoreline. When she came to each starfish, she picked it up and threw it back into the ocean.

She had been doing this for some time when an old man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this?” The girl answered, “If I don’t throw them back into the water, they’ll die.” “Look at this beach!” the man said. “There are miles and miles of beach. You can’t possibly save all these starfish!”

The girl smiled politely at the man, then bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “I made a difference for that one.”

 

No post of mine is ever complete without a song: “Starfish” by Sara Groves

June 7, 2011

hospitalbracelet

Where do I even begin? I guess the best place to start would be to explain the significance of the date: June 7, 2011 was the day I tried to take my life for the first time. I’m not going to rehash all the not-so-pleasant details or any of what led up to this day two years ago…I talk about most of that in my “Pensieve Dump” post (about three quarters of the way down, the paragraph where I start talking about February 2011).

I brought this day up during my last session with M and it wasn’t because I wanted to talk about it, but because I couldn’t remember the actual date…I got confused somewhere. In talking to some people lately, helping them try to understand their friends who are going through some of the same things I have/am, I was telling them that attempt one was June 6th. And then I re-read something I wrote some time ago and I had written there that it was June 7th. So I was like fuck…you would think this would be a date I would never forget. I think I got confused while filling out forms asking about the date I had last worked, THAT was June 6th, the day before the attempt…and I’ve spent so much time writing down June 6th that my stupid brain got confused. I brought it up to M because I knew she could access my medical record and tell me the actual date of my admission to the ER. She was rather excited that I had gotten confused and had technically forgotten the date. “Isn’t that a good thing?” she asked. And I said, “NO!” And she asked me why, bewildered. And I said that, at least to me, that date is just as significant as a birthday or the date of the passing of a loved one. No, it’s not pleasant and something one would normally “celebrate” and as much as I would like to forget it, you don’t often forget such traumatic events. If we could, I’m sure we would put therapists out of business. Another part of why I wanted to make sure I had the right date was my OCD. For my own peace of mind, I wanted to know/remember what the actual date was even if I wasn’t going to write about it. People ask me all the time, if we talk about this subject, when I did it. I would like to give them the real answer and be sure of myself. I don’t even know if this is making sense…the OCD and just wanting to have my shit in order and know for sure rather than second guess myself/wonder if that really is the right date. But…the picture above is my actual hospital bracelet so June 7th is the “winner”…the actual date.

Why I even wanted to blog about this is lost on me now. Maybe I just wanted to pay homage to the date, acknowledge it and reflect on the two years since it happened. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” That pretty much sums it up. End post. Adios.

 

 

 

But seriously though…that’s what it feels like. I don’t feel any different than I did two years ago. I don’t feel healthier, “better”, stronger. I still feel like I’m in the same place. But when I pick myself and my brain apart, I can see some notable changes. I wonder what this blog would be like…what you and I would be able to see had I started this the day after I got discharged from the hospital… Since the last six-ish years have been preserved on my personal Facebook page, I can definitely see MAJOR changes there. (Word to the wise: don’t Facebook-stalk yourself at 2 AM.)

I suppose we can start with my “progress” in therapy. I’ve been with M for a majority of the last two years. She wasn’t the first therapist I saw when I was discharged but she was THE ONE when I met her a month or so later. (I had a different therapist at the time but it really wasn’t working out and I had no interest in continuing to see her.) Naturally, it took me some time to get to know M and trust her. Once I did, it was no holds bar. Anything and everything came out…tears, snot, laughter and all. I think M knows the real me more than anyone else, even better than my mom (though my mom would beg to differ and would scoff if I dared to suggest anyone knew me better than the woman who gave birth to me). M has seen it all…the good, the bad, the ugly and the REALLY ugly. We’ve had fights…not knock-down drag-out fights…but fights where I stopped seeing her for a period of time or refused to make a follow-up appointment. But we are (now) so honest with each other that we can talk about whatever upset me or her, dissect it if we have to and move on…and do it in such a way that it’s not something either of us has to bring up again or throw back in the other person’s face when upset in the future. That’s pretty awesome because I don’t know anyone in my life that can do that…not bring the past up when disagreeing/fighting. M, much to my chagrin, gets EXCITED when I’m pissed off at her. Her grin and the twinkle in her eyes pisses me off when I’m already pissed off! “Feelings are good!” “Let me have it!” And I’m like, “For the love…” I’ve probably been the most real and the most open and honest with M in terms of showing genuine laughter and genuine pain…genuine emotions period. Not many people can make me cry (not many people have even seen me cry). She can. Not many people can make me laugh without saying a single word. She can. And not many people can make me laugh and cry at the same time. She can. (And sometimes I hate that she can do that! I’m trying to be serious and she’s not helping!) And knowing myself and how I let people “get to me” and my heart, I think the fact that she can do all those things is a testament to the depth of our relationship and the trust and respect I have for her. I know of no one else in my life that can do the above things to me or bring out the above things in me…and I don’t care that only my therapist can…I’m just grateful someone can. With M’s prodding, she has gotten me to do things I would have never done if left to my own devices. The first major thing she got me to do was go to group therapy. THAT was a fight and I have to give M props for being persistent. I fought her for over two months about going and finally, I was just like, “If I go, will you stop nagging me?!” M said yes and off I went, dragging my feet, feeling defeated. M even said I only had to go once or twice and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to continue. And so there I sat in group, stubborn as hell, arms crossed, not saying a single word for about a good ten months (don’t ask my why I stayed because I still don’t know the answer). Mix K in there somewhere and refer to the “Boots of Awesome” post for how that adorable slice of heaven got to me. As stubborn as I was during my time in group, I still soaked up what I was being taught like a sponge…so much so that I actually had to be kicked out of group. M and K called it “graduating” but it didn’t feel so pomp and circumstance to me. M told me (and the group) on my last day (and continues to tell her fellow DBT cohorts) that if she ever calls in sick, call me because I can teach the group. (Knowing the material and being able to execute it are two totally different things but that’s a different post for a different day.) I learned a lot in that group and I continue to learn and practice the skills I was taught even though I’m no longer in the group. Graduation or not, using DBT skills will always be a work in progress and something I don’t feel anyone can master, without effort, all the time. That was huge…the group journey. Even other therapists, who facilitated with K before M even became a part of the group, who knew me in my early days of group and later filled in when M or K was sick or out of the office, have made comments to M that essentially said, “Holy shit…that girl is on fiyah!” I won’t poo-poo the change or “compliment”…I own it. My group journey was significant, especially when you compare the beginning me to the end me. I don’t give myself kudos often but I think I will when it comes to group.

M has recently started referring to me as her therapy baby because she’s learning right along with me, like a new mom. (For clarification purposes, M is only a couple years older than I am and is still a relatively new therapist. Lucky for her, she got the one patient early in her career that will test her patience, skills and everything she knows/thought she knew.) I have severely tested M and her fellow therapists and I’m not exaggerating. They have never had anyone that has been in such intensive therapy for as long as I have (and who was committed/persistent enough to never miss or cancel a single appointment), been in a therapy group so long I had to be kicked out, and stuck around long enough after “graduating” from said group. So now everyone is all, “Well now what the fuck do we do with/teach her?” I’m an experiment y’all. M has told me on countless occasions that I have taught her a lot…how to be a better therapist, what cues to pay attention to and how to get people to continue to see/talk to their therapist after said therapist pissed them off. I am, apparently, the exception rather than the rule when it comes to being a patient. I have never missed or canceled an appointment or group session and I have never been late. Most people give up and do not finish group therapy which is through no fault of the therapists…it’s the patient who said fuck it, gave up and stopped coming. It is not a therapist’s job to chase you if you run out the door and don’t come back. Also, I had no idea that such a big chunk of therapy patients only go to therapy and group when it fits into their schedule and/or when they feel like it. To me, therapy is (and always will be) a commitment…and if I don’t make the effort, how can I expect my therapist to make the effort? You get out what you put in. M has told me, and I’ve witnessed first hand, that a lot of people who start group end up quitting (often within the first month or two) before giving it (and themselves) a chance. It’s not instant gratification and it takes some effort if you want to get something beneficial out of it. I may have fought M about going to group and I may have wanted to give up and stop going more than once…but I didn’t. I kept going. It wasn’t a cure all and it didn’t fix anything, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything out of it…and that goes for more than just better coping skills. If I hadn’t gone to group, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to meet K and let her join me in my journey and some days, just going to group and having it take up a good chunk of my afternoon was my therapy and was what got me through the day despite what was taught or said that day. I stuck it out and I followed through with it until I was told I had to be done. So to have someone so stubborn refuse to go to group, then cave and go, and then stay to the point where she had to be kicked out really threw M and the DBT team for a loop. They are now in the process of devising an “after treatment” treatment: what do you do/where do you go in therapy after a patient graduates? It’s never happened/gotten this far before. I’m a lab rat. They’re still trying to figure out what to do with me because by some fucking miracle, I haven’t given up yet and they’re apparently not about to give up on me, even if they’re not entirely sure what to do. We’re making it up as we go. I’m breaking new ground y’all! To future patients: you’re welcome.

Another big change I see, that maybe a lot of people don’t see or can’t see, is my attitude and my thinking. I’m sure someone reading this will call me out and say that of course people are going to be able to notice your attitude, especially if it’s changed. And for clarification purposes, I guess it’s more my attitude towards/about certain things and not necessarily my attitude as it relates to my outward behavior (though I’m sure to the people who are looking for it will see some change in that area too). I’ve always been a thinker. I prefer to think before I act or speak (though I don’t always do it) and I will over-analyze a situation/conversation/problem/person until there is nothing left to analyze. That hasn’t changed, much to my dismay. While I’ve always thought of myself as a thoughtful person (no pun intended), I think I’ve become even more so over the past two years and probably over the past year especially. I LOVE giving…and I don’t have much to give but people severely underestimate the power of a kind word or a simple, “Hi. I’m thinking about you.” in the form of a text message or card in the mail. (For more on this, please read my “Warm Fuzzies” post.) No matter what mood I’m in, you can be sure that I’ve tried to do something nice for someone at least once a day. I often do it anonymously, but not always…and I think it’s pretty huge that I can pull my head out of my ass long enough to shoot some love over to someone every now and then. It makes their day, makes them smile and in return, gives me warm fuzzies…and I like that…a lot. Win/win. I’ve also become much more careful with my words. I’m not perfect, so I do fuck up here and there but for the most part, I ask myself, before I speak, “How would this sound/feel if it were said to me?” Words are SO powerful…that sticks and stones ditty is a load of crap. I’m the type of person who can forget an entire conversation we had, yet hang on to one single thing you said and repeat it to myself over and over in my head. This goes for good things and bad things. For example, K called me one week when M was out and I was a sobbing hot mess and I remember bits and pieces of the conversation but what I took from it and repeated over and over in my head (and still do, to this day) is what she said to me at the end of that phone call: “You rock my world, J.” And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that K doesn’t even remember saying that. She might remember it if I brought it up, but without prompting, she may not ever give it a second thought. K isn’t nearly as forthcoming with her feelings as M is and that’s just how therapists are (K is also not my personal therapist and now that I’m out of group, I don’t see or interact with her very often)…they choose how much they want to share and say regarding their personal lives and feelings for their patients. So knowing that about K and knowing that she doesn’t say things like that often meant the world to me (obviously, if I still remember it like it was yesterday). And on the flip side, during a conversation (a rather one-sided conversation as M was doing all the talking and I was crying) M and I had, she said, “I don’t know what more I can teach you. I don’t know what more to do with you.” Forget the rest of the 49 fucking minutes I was with her and what she said, that is what stuck with me and that is what kept replaying over and over in my head. (For clarification purposes, M was not saying this in exasperation and giving up on me though that’s what I thought, heard and felt at the time.) I have a new appreciation for the little things people say and do and I’ve realized that people usually don’t give a second thought about them, but the person you did said action to or said whatever you did to may remember and think about it for a lifetime. That person you flipped off while on the interstate this morning? You probably didn’t give a second thought about it all day and won’t ever think about it again, but perhaps the person you did that to…maybe your action ruined their entire day and/or made them start their day off on the wrong foot. Don’t get all philosophical on me and say that that person you flipped off had a choice to let your behavior affect them or not (and even had the choice of not engaging in the behavior that led you to flip them off in the first place)…my point is that sometimes it’s not always easy to brush something so “innocent” off your shoulders and forget it happened or forget it was said…and the things you don’t give a second thought about are some of the same things others can’t STOP thinking about. In summation: if you can’t say/do something nice, don’t say/do nothin’ at all. (Thank you Bambi, Thumper and Walt Disney for teaching me that lesson, even if I learned it a little late in life.)

One of the questions I get asked most when talking about suicide with other people is, “Are you glad you were found/saved?” My answer two years ago and my answer now has not changed: “No.” A friend recently countered my answer with, “But J, you said you believe all things happen for a reason. You were found/saved not once, but three times…don’t you think there’s a reason for that?” Here is where I’m probably going to totally contradict myself and not make sense…forgive me in advance. Yes, I believe all things happen for a reason. I think I can say that yes, being saved three times means that someone thinks this bitch ain’t done here yet as much as she wants to be done. Do I know the reason I’m still alive? No…’cause Lord knows I shouldn’t be here right now. None of my attempts were half-assed. I should seriously NOT be alive right now. And then, of course, I sound like an ass when I say that no, I’m not grateful I was saved. I do think there’s a reason for it, but it’s never been revealed to me and to be honest, I’m kind of tired of waiting to be shown and whatever the reason may be, I really don’t want to go through all this shit just to find out what it is. Everyone can make the argument that you never know what you will do in life or the impact you may have. I could win a Nobel Peace Prize, I could find a cure for cancer…there are a million and one things I could be or do. I don’t have a degree in statistics, but they don’t look too favorable considering I’m nearly at the halfway point in life and have accomplished jack shit. And if you’re going to ask me what would make my life worth living, save yourself the e-mail and breath because I don’t know nor can I think of something that would make life worth living right now. I made a choice two years ago, an informed decision. Some people think you have to be off your fucking rocker to make such an insane decision like ending your life and do it while knowing all the pro’s and con’s…I’m here to tell you that it’s possible. It doesn’t happen with everyone nor does it happen all the time or with all suicide attempts but in a nutshell, I’m telling you that I did my research and I weighed the pro’s and con’s and made a rational informed decision. Whether or not I’m here for a reason, I’m mad that a decision was taken away from me (e.g. my life was saved). I was gone in attempt one…literally. I was found blue and unconscious and I was even told that had I been found a minute later, I would not be here writing this right now. That choice was taken away from me and I can’t tell you if that’s what upsets me about the whole thing or if it’s because, two years later, I’m still miserable and wish I had just succeeded (or been left to succeed because technically I DID succeed, I was just…not left to finish succeeding). Perhaps a bit of both? I am not pro-anything. I am pro-choice when it comes to pretty much everything. I may not like or agree with your choice, but I support your right to choose what you think is best for you, however wrong, sinful, immoral or bad others view your choice. I will not condemn you for the choices you make whether or not I agree with them. It’s not me that has to live with your choice; it’s you. No one but me has to live with three failed suicide attempts and no one but me has to live with all the other bad choices I’ve made over the last two years (and over the course of my whole life, if you want to go that far)…I have to live with it. I own everything I do, be it good or bad. I don’t blame my feelings, my problems or anything else on anyone but myself whether or not the blame should be rightly placed on someone else (this leads to many long nitty-gritty therapy sessions because I will own shit that isn’t even mine to own…but again, different post for different day). My mom thinks I am on some hell-bent mission to make her life miserable and everything I do and have done over the past two years has been some life mission on my part to make her life a living a hell. This boggles my mind when, in the next breath, she will call me selfish. Soooo…I’m being SELFISH by doing all this to get back at YOU for wronging me somehow? I don’t have a math degree either but 1 + 1 is not adding up to 2 here. She refuses to understand/validate that I keep trying to end my life to actually SPARE her the heartache and headache of dealing me with me for the rest of my/her life. Think of all the money you will no longer have to give me to pay my bills, think of all the worry that will be lifted from your shoulders when you won’t have to wonder why I’m awake at 3 AM or why I won’t talk to you or how the hell I landed in a psych ward AGAIN. I could go on but that mess is also a different post for a different day. I’m not here to convince you that suicide is right or wrong. I’m just saying that it’s a choice and it will always be a choice. Per M and K, it doesn’t have to be a choice…I know that but I choose to let it be a choice for me…that card is always on the table and has been for two years. I’ve been accused of not letting the choice of suicide go as if it were a security blanket and if you want to psychoanalyze me, that’s probably right…it is a security blanket…I always have an out if I keep the suicide card in my hand. And while that may be true, that’s not how I see it. The suicide card is one I want to play, but no one will let me…letting their choices and morals get in the way of and prevent any choices I want to make. Perhaps a better metaphor is that I want to play the suicide card, but per the “rules of the game”, I cannot. It’s not a joker card or a “draw 4” wild card in UNO that I can lay down and play whenever I want to…I have to wait to play it and/or it’s not a playable card at all (in terms of the “rules of the game/life”). Maybe it’s like the Old Maid card…it’s not a playable card and it’s not a card anyone wants to end up with. Am I making any sense at all? God I hope so… In summation, I don’t keep suicide floating around in my brain or in my hand of cards “just in case”. I want to play that card but things and people and “rules” prevent me from doing so. It’s never a last-ditch thing for me…it never has been. It’s never been a “fuckitallimdone” decision. I don’t hold on to it for when things get bad just so I have somewhere to run…so I have an “easy” out. In my opinion, things are already bad and I want out but y’all won’t let me. Yes, I know I can discard it and choose to not let it be a choice for me but I am actively choosing to let it be a choice for me because I want it to be a choice…no one is forcing me to keep that card in my hand. I’m sure we could throw this around and dissect it all day but ain’t nobody got time for that and I don’t feel like I’m making any sense…so let’s move on, shall we?

Something I roll my eyes at and blame voodoo magic on is the timing of this “anniversary” and how I feel right now. I don’t want to get into details, but suffice it to say that June 7th almost became an anniversary twice over…2011 and 2013. For clarification purposes, I have never actively chosen the dates I’ve attempted to take my life…the dates have no significance to me whatsoever unless I survive and they become a date like June 7, 2011. And also, don’t assume that just because I am still here and able to write this post commemorating the first June 7th to mean I’m no longer feeling that way. It just didn’t happen like it almost happened. Capisce?

I never put myself in a pessimist or optimist category and one of my major faults is that I tend to look at how much further I have to go instead of looking at how far I’ve come. If you ask me if I’ve changed, gotten better or healthier over the last two years, I will tell you no. If you ask M, K or a select few friends, they will tell you yes, I have changed/made progress. I concede that things are different…as in how I think and my attitude towards certain things (i.e. I’ve become VERY uncensored, especially over the past six to eight months, not caring much about what other people think about me and just being me and adopting a “like it or leave it” attitude)…but I don’t think things are better nor do I think that I am healthier. When I look at just the surface:

– Me two years ago: suicidal and done.
– Me now: suicidal and done.*

I see no difference. Do you? I will cave and give myself some gold stars in some areas but NO ONE can look at the last two years of my life and say I didn’t try. Some people think (and tell me) I didn’t/I’m not trying hard enough. I’m just at a point where a lot of people are saying, “I don’t know what more I can do with/for you.” And I am wholeheartedly agreeing with them…I don’t know either. I have exhausted the entire pharmacy, being on every kind of medication combination possible. I have been in intensive one-on-one and group therapy for two years. I have done (almost) everything M has ever asked me to do, even if I fought her before surrendering. I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to go above and beyond…that’s just how I do. My suicide attempts are no exception. Sometimes I think, “I can do this! I can win and live and be happy!” and other times I’m like, “You are so stupid for thinking you can win.” I feel like I am trying to win a win-less fight.

And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could win this win-less fight
But maybe it isn’t all that funny
That I’ve been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it’s funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it’s funniest of all
To think I’ll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be

Oh this roller-coaster of life…it’s what drives us to keep going and it’s what drives us to give up. Some people can handle it and some people can’t. Some people can endure and some people can’t. I probably can endure…if I chose to…but do I want to? Is it worth it? What makes it worth it? Only time will tell, I suppose. I’ve been through a lot…others have been through more. There’s a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough. I can handle, tolerate and put up with a lot of shit…and not only can I, but I do…on a daily basis. But just because I am strong enough to handle the pain doesn’t mean I deserve it. Granted, I probably create a lot of it myself….but remember: I own all my shit. I don’t feel that the world is out to get me nor do I think that my hell hole is any worse or more miserable than someone else’s. I’m not here writing this to make you feel sorry for me. PLEASE, for the love of God, do not feel sorry for me. I just know my limits. If I’ve learned anything over the last two years, I’ve learned more about myself, who I am, why I do what I do and why I think what I think. I don’t necessarily believe that “that which does not kill you only makes you stronger” but I concede that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for…stronger than I thought I was, even if I’ve whimped out a few times and tried to end my life. I’ve told people my story time and again and I’ve gotten a lot of “holy shit”‘s and “I would have never been able to live through that.” and “Oh my god, that’s a lot for someone your age.” I’ve gained more insight into what makes me tick, what I can and cannot handle, what I can and cannot do, what I want and do not want. The last two years have not been all bad. Just like a heart monitor in the hospital…each blip on the screen represents a heartbeat and each blip in my life is a moment of happiness or joy. I’ve had to let some people go and I’ve welcomed new people into my life. I’ve even welcomed some people back who left or that I lost touch with. I’ve experienced some amazing things…amazing good, amazing bad and amazing I-can’t-believe-I-lived-through-that. I don’t have any regrets. I love the people who are in my life and I love them even more when I turn around after falling and they’re still standing there. What hurts and what makes me push them away is that I don’t want to cause chaos for them. I don’t want to hurt anyone or affect anyone’s life while I ride my roller-coaster of ups and downs. I say shit I don’t mean, I shut people out, I get angry and I get hurt…and in doing that, I inadvertently hurt others…and I don’t want to do that…it crushes me. I realize that had I left this world two years ago, and even if I choose to leave it now, I will hurt people. But pro’s and con’s: do I hurt you now by leaving, knowing that that pain will lessen over time…or do I let you hurt/cause chaos for you as long as you choose to have me in your life? I don’t want to hurt you…I don’t want to hurt anyone…yet I know that I affect everyone who comes into contact with me…be you the person I flipped off on the interstate this morning or be you my therapist or best friend, who knows everything…knows my heart…and will do anything and everything to help me keep going.

I thought I had a point in writing this and as I get ready to wrap it up, I realize that I have no point. It’s been two years. A lot of shit has gone down and I don’t expect anything less in the next two years to come…and the two years after that…and so on and so on and scooby-dooby-doo-yeah.

6_7_2011

A MILLION

A million different realities
A million different me’s
A million different “A”s
A million different “Z”s

A million steps forward
A million steps back
A million steps up
A million steps down

A million miles away
A million miles to go
A million miles walked
A million miles flown

A million things I want
A million things I yearn
A million things I know
A million things I learn

A million loves lost
A million loves gained
A million loves healed
A million loves pained

A million ways to live
A million ways to die
A million ways to laugh
A million ways to cry

A million ways to hop
A million ways to prance
A million ways to sing
A million ways to dance

A million things written
A million things read
A million things forgotten
A million things unsaid

* This is not a suicide note or me saying, “Goodbye cruel world.” I’m done leaving notes and even if I did leave a note, I wouldn’t post it publicly for a bunch of strangers to read. This is just a lot of nonsensical rambling, trying to put words to my thoughts/feelings and failing. This post didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to and I blame that on my current emotional state, which is probably very obvious if you read in between the lines. But I chose to post this anyway. It is what it is. This is water.