Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Door Girl, Continued...

The crickets chirped from inside the bushes. I stood there, five-years old, hiding with the car keys. My mother's boyfriend at the time was banging her head up against the wall. They had both been drinking and somewhere in the frenzy, my mother gasped out to grab the keys and hide outside until she came out.

It was dark and the needles on the shrubs scraped my skin. I could see the streetlights glowing on the building where I went to kindergarten. I listened to the sound of my breath and I knew that I was still breathing...I was okay.

I wasn't new to this. Mommy gets drunk. Mommy fights. Junie hides in the bushes with the keys. I knew this game well.

When she finally ran out of the house, she was clutching a white garbage bag full of clothing, I presume. We got in to the car and drove two and a half hours to my grandfather's house.

The next day I started a new school. New classmates. New lunch ladies that didn't know my name. I didn't mind these escapades much. They usually only lasted a few days and I got to swim in the pool at my grandfather's trailer park. There was Vernor's to drink which you can't get in Indiana where we were living.

I was oblivious and full of wonder, like any child. I had no idea of the weight being thrust upon my bony little shoulders. Hiding in bushes, starting new schools, making new friends only to leave them behind. Watching my mother be beaten. Driving down dark roads and back alleys in the middle of the night. It was all a part of the games that my mother played.

On those days, mom was fairly peaceful and semi-present, which was better than usual. She wasn't drinking as much. She sat on the couch and talked to my grandfather a lot. I was just happy to be a place where there were no blackouts and no glass breaking.

Within a few days, we were back in Indiana--and we continued to play the game again and again, like Candyland on a rainy day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I Will Rise...

Many people have reached out to me since my last post to see how I'm faring.  More people have reached out to say, "You're not alone." Thank you to all of you.

I wish that depression was linear. It's not, unfortunately. It's more like a graph of Michigan weather--unpredictable and all over the place. One day I'll feel "good." 

Let me define good for me right now: good is staying out of bed, making dinner, feeling quasi-normal. It's getting out of my comfort zone and making a phone call. Good is making sure I'm taking all of my meds and spending time in prayer. It's writing in my journal with a hot cup of coffee. Good is getting shit done and not obsessing about what doesn't get done. It's looking my beautiful children in the eye when they are telling me a story because I want them to know they are more important than anything else in the world. It's being vulnerable with my husband. It's going to my therapy appointments and working really hard to heal old wounds.

I will have a good day or even two and then the bad days come in like someone sneaking in my back door while I'm asleep. Sometimes there are triggers, and sometimes there are none. 

The bad days are embarrassing to talk about. All I think of is sleep and how I can escape these feelings that just took up residence in my heart. I can't seem to find the energy to read a recipe to make dinner. I hear my kids, but I'll admit that sometimes I don't really see them. I don't make a concerted effort to cuddle with them because I am so focused on just breathing in and out. I set my timer for 15 minutes at a time and think, "I can make it through the next 15 minutes." And then I set it again and again. I feel all of the walls inside of me rising up and cutting off any measure of affection or joy. Those days are dark.

And so I fight. Because it's all I can do. I don't know why I have this cross to bear and it sucks. But my choices are to succumb to it or continue working as hard as I can to get better--even though the days aren't linear and I never know what I'm going to get.

Some people may read this and think, "My God, she shares her shit with everybody." And I do--and I'll tell you why. Because I want to live an authentic life. I want other people who are suffering to know they don't have to be ashamed of it or embarrassed by it. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On Depression

To write is to be vulnerable. You bleed your soul out on paper for others to point and laugh. But maybe you find that one person who gets it-who gets you.

"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle." (Alice in Wonderland)

I fell down the rabbit hole without knowing how I got there. One day, I found myself in bed and didn't get up until six months later. The storm had been raging for about two years before that, and then the rabbit hole just grew deeper and deeper.

Depression is a mean bastard. It creates noise in your head that you just can't shut out and a deadening silence all at once.

I thought about all the things I should be doing as I laid in my bed, but my legs wouldn't work. My mind wouldn't work, or it would be screaming at me to just do something and that was really overwhelming, so I just went back to sleep.

I begged for death. I didn't care how. I prayed for a car accident so my family wouldn't have to deal with the awful burden of my depression. I had suicidal ideations.

"Who in the world am I?" I was a shell. Broken and feeling as though I would never be anything more.

By the grace of God, I have a loving family and amazing friends who supported me and got me the help I needed.

Every step, every action is a victory. Yesterday, I ran outside in the sunshine and cleaned my house. The medicine I take causes me to shake, but I journaled in my kindergarten handwriting. And I was thankful. I still lay on the couch and tell myself that in fifteen minutes, I am going to get up and do something productive, but I do it. Another victory. I haven't cooked in months. Friends brought us food (God bless them!) and my dear husband cooked almost every night. But I cooked yesterday which still feels like a giant task, but I did it. I picked up my kids from soccer instead of my husband taking off work because I couldn't get out of bed to drive there. I'm getting stronger everyday.

You might wonder why I've chosen to write something so personal, and it's because I believe people suffer in silence. I have never felt so isolated or ashamed of the way I was feeling and I was too scared to reach out.  Reach out. To someone. Anyone.

"The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die." -Juliette Lewis

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Door Girl, Part 41

Did I miss her? God, yes. She could’ve slain millions of people with her bare hands and I would have loved her still. But she never came back to me to love. And that was her choice.
As an adult, I had to learn to accept that. Everyone has many doors they can walk through. And sometimes the darkest doors overgrown with weeds are exactly the door we need to walk through to gain our humanity.
We are human. We want things to be pretty.  But life is dirty and messy. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we become what we were created to be, and that is authentic, powerful warriors.
I will tell you a little story, however, that I keep in my back pocket when I am feeling low on my love supply.
I was 9-years old and we were living with Tommy the child molester. I walked through the back alley to the corner store where they sold chick-o-sticks in giant plastic containers for only five cents a piece. I bought two and a coke. Back in those days, coke came in glass bottles. As I was walking out of the door, I tripped over the brick holding it open. My mouth was bleeding. Oh my God, my teeth were covered in blood. The store owner ran out and carried me in his arms to my mother.
Tommy ran to take me and I kicked him as hard as I could. I can remember it like it happened yesterday. She said something to the effect of, “No. She only wants me.”
And that summed it up. I only wanted her. In that moment, she showed me love and I have kept it with me all of my life.
That door I tripped through, the threshold, the brick…in a back alley of Detroit. It was ugly. But it was my beautiful. Because in that moment, I knew I was loved.
And so, I guess if I had anything to say to you, dear reader, it would be, “Don’t be afraid of the ugly doors and the broken places. Don’t be afraid to die in order to be brought back to life.” Life is there on the other side of that door.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Door Girl, Part 40

As a child, I had to act in survival mode, and I recognize that I often still operate out of this place of fear. It’s a place of mistrust because it is the belief that the Universe/God won’t provide and she always does.
I felt abandoned. Alone. And I was alone.
Am I asking you to feel sorry for me? Hell no.
Because my dis-ease is what makes me glow.
This madness, these demons, they make me restless until my hands shake and I know I have to wring the words  from them.
It’s time. The craze will make you insane or make you raw and genuine.
Am I looking for a shoulder to cry on?
No. I have worked hard to wear my big girl pants.
So, is it wanting you to feel sorry for me I tell you my own story? No.
And there’s a single reason why.  Because I am a survivor. I’m an overcomer.
So don't pity me. Because if you asked me to trade my ugly for your pretty present tied with a bow, I would politely say, “No thank you, “ with a story of power to tell.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Door Girl, Part 39

I would always let her back in, my mother. No matter what she did or who she did it with, she was my mother.

It was late one night and we were living in Detroit. On Florida street, if my memory serves me well. It was dark and all I could see was the streetlights glowing on the incline of the alleys. I sat in the backseat like a pet. I was my mother’s pet. I tried not to touch her to much because I had seen the ways that cats got under their master’s feet and then began to annoy them. They wished they’d never shown the cat any damn attention in the first place. I would not make that mistake. I was well-educated on the behaviors that suited my mother. Stay out of her fucking way. And if she touched you, stay as still as possible because a miracle is currently taking place and you don’t want to screw it up. I never wanted to surprise her when she stroked my hair, so I sat like her toy and let her do whatever she wanted to me. I didn’t care if I was like a bag she threw in the backseat as she drove down the back alley. I just cared that I was her toy.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Door Girl, Part 38

I can remember that day vividly. We had been at the neighbor’s house who had a big inflatable pool in her backyard. We spent a lot of time there.
                  She was high as a kite. I watched her climb in to the pool with all of her clothes on. She was wearing a flimsy navy blue top with a full length skirt. She was stunning and elegant.
I watched her lower herself slowly in to the pool. The sun was an endless fire that day. I watched the look on her face and you would’ve sworn she had died and gone to Honolulu. With a drink in her hand and her body saturated with pool water, she became someone else. I don’t think my mother was ever happier than when she was not herself.
Again, from her journal:

Because that’s the thing. I’m happiest when I’m not myself. When I escape and hide behind whatever I can…I guess I never learned that lesson—to be a big girl and face my problems.