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.

This is water.

water

This post started out as a homework assignment my therapist gave me last week. And if you follow me on any sort of regular basis, you know that M (said therapist) possesses voodoo magic. DAMN HER AND HER METAPHORS AND FOR MAKING SO MUCH DAMN SENSE AT THE RIGHT DAMN TIME! GAWD! SRSLY. What follows is what I was asked to do for M this week. She didn’t TELL me to blog about it but it became so powerful and such a huge epiphany to me that I HAD to blog about it. And I will be giving her this as my “homework” and I expect a fucking A with a + AND a gold star next to it.

What I was asked to do by M was to just mindfully listen to this speech (the irony of her asking me to do this will come in a moment) called “This Is Water” by David Foster Wallace once. Then I was to listen to it AGAIN and “respond” to it/discuss it when M and I meet next. What follows is my response. I will attach the YouTube video I listened to at the end of this post but the transcript of the speech will be right here in italics with my personal thoughts/epiphanies in bold.

2005 Kenyon Commencement Address ~ May 21, 2005
Written and Delivered by: David Foster Wallace

Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. [Srsly. Think about it. What is right in front of you right now? What are you thinking about right in this moment? What are you feeling right now? For me personally, I’m going to say life in general…it is such a simple “topic” yet my thoughts and ideas regarding it cannot be neatly put into words or a box and given or said to someone. It’s a hard thing to notice and talk about even though it’s, quite literally, right in front of my face all the time.] Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance [Seriously. You may think this is figurative but by the end, you will realize it’s literal. Keep reading.], or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think”. If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think [DAMN STRAIGHT!], since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. [Right?] But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. [Your light bulb should be coming on right about here. The key word is “choice”.] If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious. [Do NOT roll your eyes at me…or Mr. Wallace. Keep. Reading.]

Here’s another didactic little story: There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says, “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.'” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.” [If you’re anything like me, able to “put yourself in another person’s shoes”, your next light bulb should have gone off here. Mr. Wallace will explain this more in a minute but this is my homework and my blog so I’m going to “spill the beans.” Perspective. The religious man (and even I myself, retaining some knowledge from my “Jesus Years”) could easily turn this around and say that God put those Eskimos in that man’s way and answered his prayer. The atheist, being “close-minded”, clearly will not see the situation that way. This is called a dialectic, people…there are TWO sides of the coin…two sides to every story. Neither side is completely right and neither side is completely wrong. Each side is its own truth for whichever person that side “belongs to”. AND YES I AM GOING ALL MARSHA LINEHAN ON YOU. Let’s take God and religion out of this. M says to me often, in all sincerity because she believes it, that “It will get better.” My first reaction is to scoff at her and say, “Bullshit.” because I don’t believe that things will ever get better. But is M wrong? Is she right? Is her statement possible? Am I right? Am I wrong? Is my statement possible? None of the above. Each statement is each person’s truth and belief. I can choose (keyword there) to do one of two things: A) I can continue to be close-minded and not give M’s statement any credence at all and continue to be miserable while I choose to be self-centered and believe my own statement as truth. Or B), I can choose to be open-minded and acknowledge that M’s statement is just as valid as my own (which, knowing M, is probably the whole fucking reason she’s having me do this damn assignment). Neither statement is true or right and neither statement is wrong or impossible. But the acceptance of THAT truth (that neither statement is the ultimate truth) is where true knowledge and freedom comes from. And I would probably make M’s job a lot easier if I would do this more often and quit being so stubborn.]

It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. [See, I told you he would tell you.] Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up. [Read that last sentence again. Blind certainty. Close-mindedness.]

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. [DING DING DING! BINGO!] Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. [Here is where I’m going to caution you if you are an over-thinker like myself: this does not mean that you are wrong for thinking this way. Re-read what he said: it is our default setting. It’s “natural”.] Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted” which, I suggest to you, is not an accidental term. [Insert another light bulb here. What he’s getting at and, correct me if I’m wrong, what a lot of therapy is trying to get at is to get you to “adjust” your thinking in a way that allows you to see what is beyond your eyes and your mind…stepping into other people’s shoes and seeing the world from a different point of view. Again, a very simple concept it seems…but it’s actually quite hard to do. You may be able to do it for an hour here or there or during a conversation with a struggling friend, able to empathize with them. But can you do it all the time? I didn’t think so. It takes practice and a lot of hard work.]

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. [Another light bulb. This concept has absolutely NOTHING to do with how good your grades are/were. You could be Einstein and it would not matter in executing this “skill” or concept. You have to find and learn it yourself in your own way.] This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education – least in my own case – is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me. [GUILTY! And to put this into DBT/therapy terms: this is the whole point of DBT mindfulness…to just be in the moment, pay attention, participate. The goal is not to change what is going on, it is simply just to notice what is going on be it good, bad or indifferent. After two years, I still personally struggle with this immensely. I want to over-analyze and think about everything instead of just letting it be. I made the mistake of doing the first part of my homework, listening to this once “mindfully”, at 5 AM. I should have known, coming from M, that whatever she was going to have me listen to was going to make a million light bulbs go off in my head. Remember, the first time I listened to this, I was not to respond in any way and it took immense self-restraint (and a few Benadryl) to make myself STFU and NOT say/write anything. Again, my bad for choosing to do part one at 5 AM.]

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). [GUILTY!] Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. [JOHNNY! Tell him what he’s won!] It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. [I don’t even think I can add anything to that sentence…he nailed it…on the head. All the shit I put myself through, all the worrying and over-thinking I do is a CHOICE. It’s a hard to NOT do that stuff because it’s a habit…it’s natural…it’s how I roll. The choice comes in when I become aware of what I’m doing to myself (and possibly those around me), what I’m CHOOSING to pay attention to and being conscious of what I’m doing/thinking enough to CHOOSE to change either HOW I’m thinking or WHAT I’m thinking or doing.] Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”. [AMEN!]

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. [TOTALLY off-topic, but when I read “great and terrible”…I read “terrible…yes…but great” and heard it in the voice of the actor who plays Mr. Olivander in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Just me? Okay. Moving on…] It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. [Again…he nailed it…on the head. I never thought of a gun suicide that way but if I ever choose that route…I would totally go for the head…to make my brain STFU…forever.]

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head [A SLAVE!] and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. [THAT VOICE. You wanna get under my skin? Tell me to have a nice day in the most cheerful way possible when I’m having the worst fucking day EVER! A death stare, you will get.] Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of your graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year. [I don’t think I count because I’ve graduated and I TOTALLY get what he’s saying…boring…mundane…routine.]

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. [Lord Jesus issa fire…] Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. [OH…MY…GOD. RIGHT?! If I don’t shift my thinking and I stay “stuck” and focused on how miserable I am standing in this fucking long ass line, I’m GOING to be miserable…but if I think about, perhaps, a really cute cat who is anxiously awaiting my return home…maybe I can NOT be so miserable standing in that fucking long ass line.] Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. [I prefer to think of this as “auto-pilot”.]

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways [TAKE NOTES HERE!] to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. [Empathy. The dialectic…the other side of the coin.] Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way. [Would you like “The Other Side Of The Coin” for $800?]

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do. [Very possible.]

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. [Yes it is.] It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to. [Amen.]

But most days, if you’re aware enough [“Mindfulness” for $200?] to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. [There are so many options/possibilities, you can’t even begin to count them.] It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down. [Pretty deep stuff, huh?]

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it. [Boom.]

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship. [And guess what else? You don’t need a degree to be able to do it.]

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. [Whether you are aware of that fact or not, you DO know all this already.] It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. [I get it, M. I. GET. IT. Working on it… And chances are, I will ALWAYS be working on it. I don’t think it will ever be automatic.]

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. [Ever heard that phrase about people only seeing what they want to see?]

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving… The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. [I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.]

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. [Captial-T True.] But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. [A. M. E. N.]

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge [Yes!], and everything to do with simple awareness [Mindfulness.]; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

[It is neither hot nor cold…there is neither a lot nor a little…it is just there. It…is…just…water.]

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. [True knowledge comes from being aware…mindful…not from knowing that 1+1=2. Anyone can be taught that 1+1=2…not everyone can be taught how to just observe and describe and be aware of themselves, others, thoughts and surroundings…to just be in the moment. And even then, you CAN be taught HOW to be mindful, but to actually be able to do it and become a master of it is the true test…the dissertation of a lifetime. When you figure out how to do it ALL the time without fail, please e-mail me.] And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

Link

What it feels like to be depressed for those who don’t/can’t understand:

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

I love this blog: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

Sometimes when I don’t have my OWN words to express how I feel/what my hell is like, someone else has words for me. I’m grateful for that.

It smells like teen spirit…

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I haven’t been keeping you all “abreast” of what’s going in my life but this blog wasn’t created to keep you all up-to-date on everything…it’s a dumping ground for all the things I can’t say and for things that are on my heart…this post being one of them.

To catch you up to speed, I have been continuing one-on-one therapy with M and will continue to do so and I’ve just been…here. Not doing a whole lot or making a lot of “progress.” M would probably beg to differ as I’ve started working again. DON’T get excited because it’s nothing like what you might be thinking. I’ve started babysitting again. Just one to three times per month for two to three hours at a time for a four-month-old baby boy. Some of y’all might be going, “WTF?! A CRAZY SUICIDAL DEPRESSED OVERLY ANXIOUS NEUROTIC IN CHARGE OF A BABY?!” Cool your jets, kids…because I love kids, especially babies and while I may be crazy, anyone who truly knows me and my heart knows I wouldn’t do anything stupid in front of/with a baby. It’s not even a thought that ever crosses my mind. My own therapist, knowing all the shit she does, has said she would trust me with her child. If that’s not a good endorsement, I don’t know what is. I’ve had 15+ years of childcare experience and I don’t need to nor do I want to list it all here…but suffice it to say, “That bitch is gooooood.” I have mad skillz.

I’ve been watching a four-month-old baby boy, D, for just about a month now…just a few times so far. I usually watch him in three-hour chunks so I usually get a feeding, some play time and a nap, which suits me just fine because snuggling a sleeping baby feels better than popping a Xanax. Baby D has a 13-year-old sister, LL. D’s mom is NOT LL’s mom…but they have the same dad. So D’s mom is technically a first-time mom and that couldn’t be any more evident…she’s not a bad mom at all, it’s just very obvious that she hasn’t been around kids much and lacks experience with babies.

I watched D earlier this week and it was a later shift than I usually do. I usually watch him in the late afternoon but this shift was a dinner to bedtime shift, which was fine with me. Both mom and dad went out, so it was just me, baby, and big sister LL. LL had gotten in trouble for something earlier in the day and was in her room when I got there but she came out after mom and dad left. D had just finished eating so I was burping him, and LL sat down and just started talking to me. A 13-year-old…talking to a 29-year-old. Not a bad thing but definitely something I hadn’t done in a very long time, if ever. She sat down on a stool near where I was sitting with the baby and she stayed there…just talking to me…for three hours. She even mentioned at one point that she had never done that with her dad or step-mom (who, even after five-ish years, can’t even say the child’s name right). When she said that to me, it made me really sad. I may be almost 30, but I remember what being a teenager was like…it’s a time in my life that, unfortunately, was very hard for me and probably won’t ever be forgotten. I hope I am able to stay with this family for a while because I would love to be a…a “positive role model” doesn’t sound like a really good thing to say given my history but…maybe I could at least be someone she can talk to, confide in, feel comfortable with…because I’d rather have her talk to me, someone older, someone who’s been around the block, someone that’s not a part of her family, than have her keep all her feelings inside. Speaking from experience, bottling up all that shit doesn’t benefit anyone.

I’ve become a cranky old fart over the last ten years or so, despising today’s teenagers. They piss me off. They are disrespectful and don’t even know street names anymore because their heads are always down, texting or playing games. I stumbled upon a Facebook post a few months ago of a teenage girl that was SO heartbroken because her parents bought her the wrong color iPhone for Christmas. I would have taken that damn phone back to the store and told her to stuff it. Pissed me off, that post did.

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But while talking to LL…I didn’t feel like I was talking an ungrateful, ditsy 13-year-old who has no idea what the “real world” is like. After last Tuesday night, I think she taught me a lesson…to not write off all teenagers so quickly. (However, I will continue to write you off immediately if your pants are around your knees instead of your waist.)

She started out the evening just asking me about my piercings and tattoos, if they hurt….expressing her desire just to get her ears pierced. She asked me a few questions about how I grew up and what it was like “back in the day”. (Man I felt old saying stuff like, “Back in my day, we got actual report cards sent in the mail…you know…pieces of paper a real person puts in that thing called a mailbox? My parents could not just log on a computer…we had just started using computers back then!…to check my grades and check on any missing assignments the minute first period was over.) She talked to me about makeup and boys, asked me what I was allowed to do at what ages…what I think about certain things. We talked about our love for scary movies and loud music. Nothing sticks out as “major” or a big deal…just girlfriend chit-chat. And, much to my surprise, conversation flowed easily and naturally because the next thing I knew, her parents had returned home three hours later and I was all, “Whhhaaatttt?” It was very evident to me, by the end of the night, that LL did not have anyone to share/talk about this kind of stuff with. I’m sure she has her little school friends but they are probably just like her…curious and need/want someone older who is not family to just talk to without the fear of being judged or “tattled” on. It didn’t take her long to start opening up to me, it seemed…which I took as a compliment because it’s hard to engage any teenager in a conversation that doesn’t involve talking via computer or cell phone and in any conversation involving real feelings that does not involve gossip about what the most popular girl in school is doing. It was obvious she just wanted…even needed…to talk. I came away thinking that she’s probably a lot like me…shut down a lot at home, not encouraged to talk and/or invalidated when she does talk/share her feelings. For three hours, I just empathized with her, shared a little bit about myself and my living situation…how even at almost 30, I completely “get it”…because even at almost 30, I sometimes feel like/am treated like I’m 15. Life, no matter what age you are, isn’t butterflies and rainbows all the time; there are still bullies and I wouldn’t even say that it gets easier (but I didn’t tell her that…she’ll figure it out soon enough).

In a nutshell, LL’s biological mom is around (as in she lives locally and wants to be involved) and from what LL has told me, she’s quite sane and functioning, doing just fine. I didn’t know her father had full custody of her until last week because custody is usually given to a mother…and even then, there’s usually a joint custody agreement. LL’s father (who is also baby’s father) forbids LL to have any contact with her biological mom whatsoever. For the life of me, I still don’t know why. LL says her mom has a great job, she has other children and is not a “dead-beat mom” with drug or alcohol issues or anything that would normally prevent her from having custody or at least be in LL’s life. LL doesn’t even get to see her every other weekend…in fact, her father has forbidden contact between LL and her biological mother until LL is 18. I felt absolutely horrible (and astonished!) at this because at 13, a girl needs a mom and/or a positive female figure in her life and baby’s mom, LL’s step-mom, doesn’t seem to fulfill that role. This poor 13-year-old…being the psych major I am, I can just see all the mommy issues that may come up later in life for this girl…and it makes me sick…and only strengthens my resolve to attempt to be something for her, hoping her family situation doesn’t fuck her up more than it already has/will.

I have, thus far, skirted around telling LL the real reason(s) I’m at home and not working, choosing to watch her brother instead of getting a “real job”. 1) I’m still learning to trust her and her family as I’m sure they are doing with me. 2) I don’t know if those kind of topics (depression, suicide, etc.) should even be discussed with a 13-year-old, especially when I’m not family/her parent. I don’t want to give her a subliminal message of, “If she can do it [suicide], I can too.” (This would be totally different if it went in the direction of, “If she can overcome suicide and adversity and come out on top, I can too.” but I haven’t made it that far in my journey yet, so that message isn’t there to share.) I’ll have to ask M what she thinks regarding these topics and how one would go about discussing them with a teenager who is not family…if it’s even appropriate at all. LL’s parents seem to heavily supervise anything she has access to…like the internet and such, which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t want her parents to look down upon me for “opening the door” on certain topics, of which their daughter may have been ignorant of before I came along. [Annotation: I have not and don’t plan on ever talking to LL like I talk to my therapist, divulging my feelings and thoughts. But LL is curious so if it gets to a point where she asks me what’s going on in my life and why I am where I am and why I am who I am, I don’t know what’s okay to tell her and what topics I should refrain from mentioning given her age. I’m sure there’s a fine line and I plan to find and identify it before saying anything to LL. I am just trying to say that I’m here FOR LL, for her to talk to and trust…not for me to talk to her as if she were an adult/friend. I can skirt around things and “dull” the intensity of my feelings but I refuse to lie, to her or anyone.]

I know I’m still new to this family but it astounds me how people will act one way in front of others (me) and then you find out that they are so not that way behind closed doors. My heart broke for LL. Not only can her step-mom not pronounce her name correctly (it’s not hard…I was able to do it just fine the moment I met LL), she is quick to correct anyone that says LL is her daughter. “No no no, step-daughter.” I get that that’s the truth, but how demeaning and unloving does it feel for LL to see and hear that on a regular basis…having her step-mom, someone who is going to be in her life for a long time and already has been up to this point, take no “ownership” of LL. Sure, there is no blood connection, but she is, for all intents and purposes, the mother figure, especially since she forbids LL to have any contact with her biological mother (which I don’t understand, but she’s not my child…not hers either, apparently). LL is at a crucial point in her life and if there is not a strong female figure in her life, shit’s gone get real pretty damn fast. And if she doesn’t trust her parents or talk to them, she’s either going to do a lot of bad shit behind their back and/or she’s going to bottle up all of her feelings because she doesn’t feel like she can trust/talk to them and that, in and of itself, will lead to a lot of bad shit. I can’t imagine being 13, in a split household, no contact with her seemingly sane biological mother, a brand new baby brother and a massive attention shift. It doesn’t sound like LL was ever the focal point in her father and step-mother’s life even before the baby came along, and she’s definitely not now. She’s expected to help out with the baby…during my second time watching D, her father said she could not go over to a friend’s house because he said she had to stay home and help me with the baby. I’m like, “Dude [I didn’t actually say this!], I got this…srsly. I’m cool. It’s a gorgeous day…let her go play.” If I didn’t have 15+ years of experience and know what the fuck I’m doing, y’all probably shouldn’t have hired me in the first place. Jus’ sayin’. There also seems to be a lot of double standards in the home. LL is not allowed to watch TV at all on school days…fair…but her friggin’ 4-month-old baby brother gets to watch TV all damn day and I shit you not people, he does. I have never seen a baby that young able to stare at a television screen with any semblance of attention. And I am, at my age, going DUMB watching the shit that’s supposed to make him SMART. Trust me, when he gets older and can play a little more, that shit’s not gonna happen on my watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a TV whore myself…but I’m also an adult who can make my own decisions and granted, I have no kids and therefore have nothing to offer/say to someone who does, but I don’t agree with using TV as a babysitter, especially when you go out of your way to hire a motherfucking babysitter. Jus’ sayin’. LL is expected to live up to very high standards…standards that, even at my age, I’m not expected to meet. And there is no positive reinforcement for all that she does…which I can TOTALLY relate to. Example: I will empty the dishwasher without being asked. No problem…something I should do anyway. But instead of a thank you or acknowledgement of some sort, I get chastised for putting the cups away still wet and not taking the time to dry them off more before putting them away. Okay…let’s ignore the fact that I just emptied the dishwasher and tidied up the kitchen for you without being asked…let’s focus on how wet the cups are (that will be dry by morning due to a little thing called “evaporation”). LL gets treated the same way. This child is expected, without being asked, to perform many feats…but instead of thanking her or rewarding her, everything she did WRONG is pointed out to her. I can just see the therapy sessions now. My heart seriously aches for this girl and I want to shake her parents and tell them, “Look at what you are doing to her! You are going to fuck her up in ways that will be irreparable if you don’t rectify your parenting methods. Trust me.”

After three hours talking to LL, it seemed to me that she just really needs someone to talk to. Anyone. But preferably someone she can trust, someone that won’t rat her out. (Don’t take this to mean I wouldn’t tell her parents if I thought she was in danger and/or engaging in dangerous behavior. I’d give it some serious thought first, not wanting to break LL’s trust but depending on the situation, if telling her parents saves LL’s life…fair gamble/trade in my opinion.) After three hours, I saw a beautiful, intelligent girl who is SO awesome, but her parents don’t know/see that because they don’t let her show it. If she were given an opportunity to just be herself (not “no holds bar”/no rules…but just if her parents would lighten up a little and see what a beautiful young lady they have growing up in their home), she would truly astound her father and step-mother. I’d put money on it. Because she IS awesome and beautiful and she made me rethink my disdain for teenagers…because she is proving me wrong. I just want to scoop her up and hug her and tell her how beautiful and awesome she is (she is on the boy’s wrestling and football team, kicking ass!) and how she has the potential and “balls” to be and do anything she wants. I want to tell her that the world needs more girls like her and how grateful and humbled I am that she chose to open up to me, a perfect stranger, so quickly. But doing that showed me how much she desperately needs a strong female in her life. And if I can do/be that female, I would love to. I may be fucked up and crazy but by golly, if I can save ONE teenage girl from the insecurities and doubts so many teenagers experience today…or at least help make it bearable, I’m all for it…give me the job, sign me up.

This will require some thought and probably a lengthy discussion with M and possibly LL’s parents, but I want to be able to be here for LL whenever she wants/needs, not just when I am over watching her brother. It appears that the child has no e-mail or cell phone, so I’m not sure how she would prefer to go about communicating. I prefer writing over talking on the phone (I can’t hear to save my life and writing gives me more time to edit myself and turn the profanity filter on), so I’m hoping to possibly be able to communicate by e-mail. It doesn’t have to be deep discussions of the heart…it can be that, but it can be as simple as, “Hey LL! How are you? How is school?” Basics, girly chit-chat…the things she’s not talking about with anyone now. I’ll be damned if I let one more teenage girl grow up thinking she’s not worth the gum stuck to someone else’s shoe. How she is being treated and listened to (or not) now will impact (probably even predict) what she will be/act like as an adult. Look at me…living proof of what it will do. And I am F to the U-C-K-E-D UP. If I can have any part in preventing someone else from ending up like me, I would love and relish the opportunity. She is a like a sponge at 13 and the smallest and most trivial things matter, even though they seem petty to us as adults. They matter at that age whether you want to acknowledge it or not. And whether or not you listen matters. If you don’t want to hear about how the most popular girl is being a mean snob, she’s not going to want to tell you about the new boy she met who is pressuring her to have sex.

My original intention for this post was to be an open letter to LL but clearly that didn’t happen. Some more thought and discussion will have to be given as to how I will be able/allowed to communicate with LL because I don’t want to go behind her parents’ back. If nothing else, I hope she knows that when I come over to watch her brother, I’m there for her too…not to watch and babysit her, just to talk and listen.

I feel it in my bones…

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This is what borderline personality disorder feels like…to me…

It’s confusing. You never know exactly what you are supposed to feel.

fear

paranoia

doubt

insecurity

panic

The more I try to stop all the negative feelings, the more intense they get for me.

Everything is either black…or white; there is no gray.

I don’t know what to feel right now.

I may call you a lot just to make sure you’re still here, to make sure that you still like me. If we don’t talk, I fear that you are mad at me.

It feels like separation anxiety.

I’m always looking for the slightest sign that you will abandon me.

I know that you love me, but I don’t feel it.

I do whatever I can to feel your love when you are not here with me.

I read old messages.

I look through old cards.

I look through old pictures.

I can’t keep friends because paranoia and false assumptions chase everyone I love away.

I love you one minute and hate you the next and most of the time, it’s because of something petty.

alone

Most days, I just feel really empty.

I’m sick of not fitting in…anywhere…ever.

I hate the rollercoaster of emotions I feel just as much as the people around me do, if not more.

Sometimes I’m broken and I don’t know why.

Sometimes I am so angry at you and I don’t know why. I say things I don’t mean and I do things I shouldn’t.

I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough…but I tried to be.

I say that I’m sorry…A LOT.

But by then, it’s too late and I have hurt you. And now I hate myself even more than before.

regret

suspicious

needy

misunderstood

unlovable

BPD feels like shame…it feels lonely.

I need a break from the loneliness that is totally consuming me. The loneliness of being misunderstood, the loneliness that comes from not being able to express how I feel and from being unable to make people understand…not the loneliness of having no one around.

One moment, I feel completely happy, loving life, inspirational, creative…seeing beauty in everything…that the world is so beautiful…that nothing could ever go wrong again.

But then…

…I can feel it coming again and I just can’t stop it no matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run.

What would be a bad feeling for you, a ripple in the water…to me, feels like a crippling wave.

You want me to just be and act normal. For me…this is normal…my normal…and it’s all I know.

If someone doesn’t like me, I must be a complete failure and I am flawed.

You point out my flaws, like I don’t already see them. We all have flaws.

People have scars. In all sorts of unexpected places. Like secret road maps of their personal histories. Diagrams of all their old wounds. Most of our wounds heal, leaving nothing behind but a scar. But some of them don’t. Some wounds we carry with us everywhere and though the cut’s long gone, the pain still lingers.

I am in so much pain that I self-injure just to feel something…or to feel nothing at all. Dying is always in the back of my mind.

One minute, I can be happy.

The next minute, for no reason at all, I’m suicidal.

The dreams in which I’m dying are the best dreams I’ve ever had.

I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. You hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.

pissed off

I spend way too much time over-analyzing and over-thinking everything. What you said and how you said it.

What are you doing?

Why are you doing it?

Is it a good thing?

What is its impact?

What’s next?

People tell you just to be yourself and then they judge you.

Trust me when I say that I’m doing my best.

You don’t know what this is like…what a day in the life of me looks like.

You’d never say, “It’s just cancer, get over it.”

I can’t just turn this off.

I didn’t choose to be like this.

“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
~ Marsha Linehan

Words

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I am a quote whore-der. I love them…I can find one to give someone no matter the situation or topic…and sometimes, quotes articulate a thought, feeling or message better than I can with my own words. Words are powerful things…that sticks and stones ditty is a load of crap because words can hurt you. I was too lazy to go through my quote collection and put the following quotes in my post from the other day (God, love, honesty and cussing.) and I was going to go back and edit that post and add these as they are related to that post…but I decided to put them in their own post instead.

“Beam me up…make me lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter.” ~ P!nk, Beam Me Up

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” ~ Unknown

“You’ll never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

“Some nights I wish that this all would end ’cause I could use some friends for a change.” ~ fun., Some Nights

“It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen, but it’s even harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want.”

“The edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

“Don’t fuck with people’s feelings just because you can’t figure out what’s going on in your own messed up head.”

“The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest…all because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.” ~ Unknown

“The people who laugh the most have experienced the most pain.”

“I’m so tired but I can’t sleep…standin’ on the edge of something much too deep. It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word.” ~ Sarah McLachlan, I Will Remember You

“It’s easier to say you’re mad than to admit you’re hurt.”

“No you don’t know what it’s like, when nothing feels alright…you don’t know what it’s like to be like me.” ~ Simple Plan, Welcome To My Life

“I’ve found that the saddest people in life are also the funniest…and only those who understand complexity can communicate simplicity.”

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.” ~ Mark Twain

“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.”

“Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It’s always there, though.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides

“Sometimes tears are a sign of unspoken happiness and a smile is a sign of silent pain.”

“Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance and my kindness for weakness.”

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensiivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“No matter how strong a person is, they have a weak point and sometimes all they need is a hug.”

“There’s always a little truth behind every ‘just kidding’…a little knowledge behind every ‘I don’t know’…a little emotion behind every ‘I don’t care’…and a little pain behind every ‘it’s okay’.”

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them.”

“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. Buscaglia

“Do not ask me the price I paid. I must live with my quiet rage…tame the ghosts in my head that run wild and wish me dead.” ~ Mumford & Songs, Lover’s Eyes

“There’s a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough.”

“If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you, no humility, no compassion.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Don’t ignore someone you care about because lack of concern hurts more than angry words.” ~ Unknown

“What is depression like?” he whispered. “It’s like drowning. Except you can see everyone around you breathing.”

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of others but who win battles we know nothing about.”

“The person who cares a lot for others is the one who needs more care than others. The person who makes others laugh and smile often is the one who holds a lot of pain in their heart. The person who tries to be a good friend to everyone is the one who needs a best friend of their own. The person who always smiles and says, ‘I’m fine.’ is the one who is broken-hearted…but still strong enough to believe that in the end, everything will be okay.”

“It was hard to be honest, to open up and reveal something that sounded crazy. Because once you told someone the truth, that person had a piece of you – and they could belittle it, destroy it. They could turn your confession into a wound that never healed.” ~ Sarah Cross

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.”

“She did not need much. Wanted very little. A kind word. Sincerity. Fresh air. Clean water. A garden. Kisses. Books to read. Sheltering arms. A cozy bed. And to love and be loved in return.” ~ Starra Neely Blade

“Behind my smile is everything you will never understand.”

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“The worst part about being strong is that no one ever asks if you’re okay.”

“I used to think the worst thing in life was being alone; it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” ~ Robin Williams

“People who are not depressed see the world as they want to see it. People who are depresseed see the world the way it actually is.”

“Mosters are real. Ghosts are real too. They live inside us…and sometimes they win.” ~ Stephen King

“It’s the loneliest feeling in the world – to find yourself standing up when everyone else is sitting down. To have everybody look at you and say, ‘What’s the matter with her?’ I know what it feels like. Walking down an empty street, listening to the sound of your footsteps. Shutters closed, blinds drawn, doors locked against you. And you aren’t sure whether you’re walking towards something or if you’re just walking away.”

“The biggest disease this day and age is that of people feeling unloved.” ~ Princess Diana

“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love. But in reality, love is the only thing in this world that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again.”

“I just want to hold you, take you by the hand and tell you that you are enough.” ~ Kings of Leon, The End

“It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgements about them, their present and their past, but you’d be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often than not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.” ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon

“Loneliness does not come from having no people around one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.” ~ Carl Jung

God, love, honesty and cussing.

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God, love, honesty and cussing…sort of a take off of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”…I thought it was catchy.

I don’t feel like I can pull an amazing post out of my butt right now but I’m gonna try because if I don’t at least try, I’m gonna explode.

There are times in my life where I’m just plain fucking tired. It doesn’t matter if things are going awesome for me and the puzzle pieces finally start to fit…it’s exhausting trying to find the pieces and then make those pieces fit and I just need to scream, “FUCK!!!”

I love Sandra Bullock and some time ago, she was in a movie called “28 Days”…and it’s about AA/rehab. One of THE BEST quotes from that movie is where Gwen (played by Bullock) is in a group therapy session and people are bitching at her for fucking up and saying how she shouldn’t be allowed to stay in rehab due to her shenanigans and how the whole group thought they were better than her because they didn’t break any rules. And Gwen hits her breaking point and says, “HEY! I’m having a bad day! I’m having the worst damn day of my whole damn life so if it is NOT too much to ask of you people…will you just BACK. THE. FUCK. OFF?!”


Ya know…as I re-watch that clip, I could probably just post that and be done here because that pretty much sums up how I feel right now, sans the clapping. We covered honesty and cussing…but where do God and love fit in?! Alas, I must continue…

God fits in because…well…just because. I’ve mentioned my “Jesus Years” a few times in this “public diary” and I think I’ve made it pretty clear that that is not a path I follow anymore. I don’t judge those who do and I don’t care what you believe in or who you pray to as long as you’re not an asshole. I’m pretty easy-going and I’d like to say I’m non-judgmental. Love fits in because, by some miracle, I have managed to hold on to a few people I met during my Jesus Years and one woman continues to bless me as much today as she did 8’ish years ago. She loves Jesus, don’t get me wrong, but she doesn’t ever shove Him down my throat, try to convince me to go back to church and she’s always honest with me. I damn near lost my marbles as we were talking tonight because I was trying to explain to her how I’m feeling right now and how I just want to scream something like that quote from “28 Days”…f-bomb included. And I damn near fell off the bed when she said that sometimes, she prays to God and says, “Fuck you! Are you there? I really need you right now.” In the 8’ish years I’ve known her, I have never seen her type or say that word and…I’ll be honest…I thought it was pretty fucking funny and I laughed audibly to myself. (It’s also pretty cool because we were talking about serious stuff and to just drop that bomb and LOL in the midst of it all was quite amusing…to both of us.) But bless that woman’s heart because that is exactly why I love her to pieces. SO. HONEST. And she turns right around and tells me that she loves me, I bless her and that I teach her so much and she values almost anything I have to say. And naturally, I’m really shitty at taking compliments so I over-analyze that and try to figure out how the hell can I, someone not quite half her age, teach and bless her? I’m done questioning it and have just accepted that compliment for what it is. After all, that’s what this blog is all about and ultimately, if I do nothing with my life except bless people and educate them on depression and suicide…my work here is done. Mission accomplished. I don’t ever consider myself an optimist but I do sometimes see the good amidst the bad.

I’m pretty tired right now. And I don’t mean tired as in I just need a really good night’s sleep (though that would probably help immensely). I’m tired because I’ve been strong for so long and I’m at my breaking point. I can’t tell you how many times people ask how I’m doing, if they ask at all, and I say, “Fine.” or “I’m okay.” FOR ONCE, I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me tight, and say, “I know you’re not.” I absolutely REFUSE to appear vulnerable on Facebook or in my daily life. I save my vulnerability for when I’m alone and no one can watch me crumble and fall…for when I don’t have to slap a fake smile on my face and I can be me without worrying what other people are thinking or get upset that I’m being invalidated or ignored. I am almost always honest and if I trust you and you ask me, in a sincere way, how I’m doing, I WILL tell you…but chances are, I won’t ever volunteer the information. I don’t force/want people to drag it out of me either. Facebook can be such an amusing and crazy place and I have such a love/hate relationship with it. You (or at least I) scroll through the News Feed every day going “LOL”…”don’t care”…”needs therapy”…”song lyrics”…”DRAMA WHORE!”…”srsly?”…”go fuck yourself”…”SO TRUE!”…”wants attention”…”HOW CUTE!”…”sucks to be her”… I do have people in my life that throw up the occasional attention-seeking Facebook status update, the one that FORCES people to ask them what’s wrong and/or the one that forces you to read in between the lines…you know…the status update that isn’t directed at you but is TOTALLY directed at you. Recently, a friend from high school has posted nothing but comments about how fed up she is with being sick…between her husband, herself and her kids, someone has been sick since January. Legitimate complaint and I don’t mind that she vents because that truly does suck. The day after a particularly “active” day on FB for her, she “checked-in” at her local police station. DID NOT SAY A WORD. Just a check-in. I watched, throughout the day, as many of her friends commented, “WTF?!” “Whaaaattt?” “Are you okay?” “What’s going on?” Thinking back now, I should have responded with, “Do you need bail money?” because I’m snarky like that but I didn’t comment because I don’t play that game…but curiosity killed the cat, so I kept that post in my mind all day and even texted another friend asking if I was justified in being slightly irritated by this check-in and asking her if I’m the only one who thinks this person often posts attention-seeking/pity party updates and I said to my friend, “Watch…it’ll just be a field trip for the kids or something.” I SHIT YOU NOT PEOPLE…at the end of the day, this “friend” responded to her police check-in with, “LOL! Sorry guys…it was just a field trip for the kids hahahaha!” I coulda slapped the bitch. F’reals. You took enough time to check-in…you could have slapped a quick annotation of “field trip” on there. Common sense and common courtesy, surprisingly, are not common. If you see someone “check-in” at a police station, your immediate thought is not going to be that it’s just a field trip…especially if you see ME check-in at a police station. If you ever do, expect a phone call soon asking for bail money and an alibi. Anyway, back on track…I post a lot of smack and LOLs on my personal Facebook page and unless you’re pretty close to me, you will have no fucking clue how I’m really feeling or what’s going on in my life, my head or my heart. And that’s okay because I don’t need nor do I want everyone to know…I don’t like appearing vulnerable and weak even if I really am. I’d rather you scroll past me going, “That’s funny! LOL!” than go, “Ohmygod…EMO!” and ignore me as you keep scrolling. Call me old-fashioned but I don’t like telling the world everything that’s going on in my life and how I’m really feeling. I don’t want to be that one friend everyone hates and ignores because I’m “emo” all the time.

But every now and then…I get tired of doing that…of always “faking it” and being funny when all I really want to do is cry. That’s when I go silent.

For most people, when a lot of bad things happen in rapid succession and we don’t get time to process each event, it builds up and we end up breaking…some of us shatter but that’s besides the point. It occurred to me yesterday that this also, at least for me, happens when a lot of good things happen in rapid succession. I have such low lows that when good and positive things happen, they take a lot of emotion and energy out of me, however great and awesome those things are. Going from rock bottom to over-the-moon elated in a literal nanosecond is exhausting (and no, I’m not bipolar). It’s like being sick with the flu for a while and the first day you get out of bed and go somewhere or go to work, you’re freakin’ exhausted because you’ve been down for so long and you don’t have the energy to keep up with what used to be your normal daily life/activity level…you need time to recuperate and time to adjust…time to heal. Baby steps is better/easier than giant leaps…for a good reason. Going from one extreme to the other in such a short period of time is like a slap upside the head…it comes from nowhere and you’re all, “WTF?!”…and I just got slapped…and I’m about to break. A lot of great and awesome things have happened over the past week or two, but I’m telling (or trying to anyways) my therapist and a few select people that I still have daily suicidal ideations. My problem lies in the fact that I don’t think people are taking me seriously anymore. I have marked high numbers on the questionnaires my therapist makes me fill out and those numbers haven’t fluctuated much over the past two years so part of me wonders if she even believes me/takes me seriously anymore. And not only do I need her to know that those thoughts are still very much present, I need the other important people in my life to know too. Don’t pamper me, baby me or pity me, just know that those thoughts are not far from my mind…that’s all. A hug and/or an “I love you” wouldn’t hurt, either. But I don’t feel like I should have to beg for those things…so to tell you that I’m feeling this way JUST to get a hug is not how I roll…I don’t think it’s how you should roll either.

I think it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the fact that a person can still want to die even when things are going well. I’m here to tell you that it is possible and it does happen. I would still, right now, despite all the good, not give a flying fuck if I didn’t wake up tomorrow. I don’t mean to imply that I’m threatening to do something, but if fate stepped in and just helped me out, I wouldn’t complain…and I’m just being totally 100% honest. As far as what stops ME from doing anything myself right now?…probably just laziness. I don’t have the mental capacity to make a plan and act on it right now. A quote that I’ve referred to often in trying to explain this concept to people is from the book “Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen: “Suicide is a form of murder – premeditated murder. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes getting used to. And you need the means, the opportunity, the motive. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind.” *heavy sigh* So very true. I would never make a suicidal gesture just to get attention and get people to notice me…but I wonder if that’s truly what it will take for people to realize, “Bitch is f’reals.” I’m not crying wolf here…but what the fuck is it going to take to make you people understand and let you know that I’m feeling this way? I’ve told you, quite bluntly…I’m doing all I can to make sure the right people know (e.g. my therapist) but I still seem to be failing somewhere in the communication department. What more can I do or say? I’m just fucking tired and I’m tired of putting on the fake smile and just barely making it through each day. Don’t ask me what I need right now because I don’t know. Don’t ask me what I want right now because I don’t know. I don’t really even know what I’m feeling…I can’t find the words for all of the emotions nor can I pinpoint them all. I DO know that I just…want…you…to know. Please notice me and don’t dismiss my feelings or assume that I’m okay just because of all the awesome things that are happening to and around me. You being, of course, the people that aren’t reading this but maybe by Monday, I’ll have enough of my shit together to be able to express these feelings to the people that should hear/know about them. And/or people will stop talking about baby poop, their husbands and how the IRS fucked them over long enough to notice me and say, “Hey J…are you okay? I know you’re not…”