on suffering.

I've known depression, intimately. it's been “clinical.” I've suffered from anxiety, and panic attacks. I tried acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and church. lots of church. you know - the sunday, wednesday varietals with a bible class thrown in. I joined 12 step programs. i've been vegan, vegetarian, (twice), fruitarian, done juice fasts, and cleanses. i've had unhealthy relationships and blamed food, or my job, or my drinking habits, or whatever I weighed at the moment, as the reason for my misery.

it all had little or nothing to do with anything. 

I simply didn't know who I was, or what mattered, or what I liked, or what my favorite color was.

I never knew if I was fat or thin or pretty or smart.

I didn't know what was important to me, or if I should vote democrat or republican - or even vote.

this went on for a very long time.

I kept suffering, even though I didn't want to suffer, and kept trying to fix it. 

I was hospitalized, institutionalized, and pretty much beaten.

I blamed god or my childhood or my internal belief I was not a good person, that I didn't deserve any better. really.

I thought Sylvia Plath was romantic.  

How much pain do we have to be in before someone takes notice?

No one noticed.

I got drugs, legally and illegally. I smoked. I wore black. I got fat. I got severely thin. My hair fell out. I wrote poetry and had affairs.

Then I had children, and the world changed. My narcissistic view of myself disintegrated. Joyfully. Painlessly. Seamlessly. 

There they were. Beautiful, unadulterated, flawless. Mine. For a season. To love and nurture and take care of.

Obviously, not everyone who suffers finds bearing children and raising them the solution for a lifetime of pain. For me, this was the answer. They loved me. I loved them. Totally and completely. I had a job. I was a mother. 

They saved my life.

cancer

i hate chemo, and how it makes us bald people. i hate when we're bald from chemo it's hard to pretend we're not bald from chemo.  

why is cancer winning?  

my friend’s father had brain cancer. she gave him this marijuana tincture. he's alive today- and cancer free. have you heard of this? it's not mainstream. it's the science your doc can't talk about. it’s not their fault. they're just burned out, like everyone else.

we're a culture of followers, plugged into fear. how can we learn new things when the kardashian drama is so intriguing and twitter wars dominate the universe? 

i was told i had cancer once. I wasn't scared of cancer. i was scared of the treatment.

i'd been trained to never trust myself, or my body. but something changed. it was that last mammo - the mammo i'd been putting off because i knew they'd find something! how did i know? that's their job. who else makes a living slicing and dicing and radiating? besides sushi bars? 

the panic started with a catch in my breath, followed by a tsunami of cortisol. if i didn’t have cancer before, this could seal the deal. 

there we were, a revolving door of stoic women, frozen in faded, cotton gowns, surrounded by worn, glossy magazines, waiting for one more set of hands sheathed in plastic, to marinate and pull our tender breast tissue, till they're mashed into vises.

at this point, cortisol pitched a tent and is scurrying around my body like a rabbit, bounding into every cell it can find. mr. radiologist, who hasn't slept in a week, and is young enough to be my child, walks in and says, “well, it looks like cancer,” I'm stunned into silence.

how about starting with:  “howdy mam, how’s the fam? i see you're juicing and meditating and doing yoga. the kids? good! the boyfriend? what? an asshat?! interesting, it seems a lot of you ladies here are with asshats. 

hmmm. he says, scratching his stubbly cheek. I wonder. do you think that may have anything to do with why you're all getting breast cancer?”

 

ghosts

my mother's trying to get hold of me. she's dead, you know. that's important. i was afraid of her, my whole life. I thought she'd kill me. she tried to kill my father once. that's when it began. my personal concentration camp, locked up, deep inside myself.

I'm older now, and she's dead. i hadn't seen her in years. the last time - i was still afraid. the conversation was stiff and sterile. she was alcoholic, and lived to 95. just kept going. like that energizer bunny, she outlived everyone. I secretly wished she'd died fifty years before. funny how you can hate someone, and not even know it.

last week, i kept getting this nagging feeling she was trying to contact me - you know, from "the other side." the lights kept going on - when I wasn't home. then they'd wake me at night. who turned on the lights? they say it's hard for dead people to communicate, but electricity works well for them. the energy or whatever - they can do the light thing. on and off.

i had no desire to communicate with my dead mother. if she wanted to help me out on this side, i wasn't interested. but I couldn't get rid of the feeling she was trying to get a hold of me. so i said, ok, fine, test time. if that's you- show me a white feather. then i get the box. with my new shoes in it. with the white feather.

I hate my passport photo

it's the worst. why'd i send it in? sigh. i needed a passport. i'd been putting it off. because of the photo. i'm shy. i hate having my picture taken. i get nervous. i get stiff. the lighting is bad. i look older and less attractive than i already feel. multiply this by the power of 10. but i needed one. so i forced myself to do a test run. now - I don't dress up much, and rarely wash my hair. before you freak out on that little tidbit - it's because it's so cold and dry where I live, my skin and hair are losing the battle with the elements. i try to be gentle so the amount of hair that lines up across my kitchen counter, bathroom floor and every sink in the house have a moment of silence before their final departure. this ongoing traffic jam of lost and fallen hair particles is too much for one tiny house to manage. my kids were used to it. oh! hair in the food? never a question. it was as normal as - pass the salt. i tried to make light of it, like - oh, that's cute, or - it's all protein or a little extra fiber. but it's exasperating, and slightly humiliating. when i went to tea recently with a friend and delivered her cup to the table, i looked and there, on the rim of her cup were one of my lost strands. i'm sure it's some mineral deficiency or other but let’s get real - i do not have good hair! and my nerves are shot. a lot. which burns up every good thing to keep the hair on my head. which takes us back to the passport photo. the guy at cvs came out from behind the counter & pointed me to the mug shot station. he tried, uselessly i may add, to steady the camera, which he was barely holding still, shaking from a hangover or his own nerves. probably from taking peoples pictures he knew they'd hate. it made me more nervous, to see him nervous. so I didn't smile. my eyes had that deer in the headlight look. the cvs  “instant” photo promise was not met. it took him 15 minutes just to find the printer. omg. I just hate hanging around fluorescent lights and pharmacy smells waiting for my picture! which i knew was going to be a horror. I paid first, hoping i could race out as soon as he handed it to me, and peek at it stealthily from the recesses of my car. sure enough. just as I expected, I was fuzzy, with shaking, death grip eyes, and a mimic of what may be my lips. 13 dollars of pure horror. as i ran out he said i could come back and do it again! no thank you. not today. 

drunk

one night, when i was seven, my mother decided to kill my father. i don’t know if she put any thought in it- or if it was just a combustion of years of unhappiness, alcoholic binges, his marital infidelity, or maybe the worrisome dna she'd inherited from her mother. it was completely and totally awful. she charged into the room i shared with him, brandishing a butcher knife, her gown flung open, exposing voluminous breasts, and as the air was sucked out of my small body i heard someone screaming -  it was me.

shocked, I watched the butcher knife come crashing down, headed directly toward my father's heart. waking, his arm instinctively blocked death. that time.

when it was over. i guided her back to her room and settled her down. my father left -never to return.

I knew the woman he left me with, the woman who tried to kill him, the woman who kept me for child support, would one day put a knife in me. 

it took a long time to realize, she already had. 

sorrow

it’s from a million things.

stress. cortisol. hormones. 

not saying no - ever. 

not knowing you deserve  - better.

yeah - there’s sugar and carbs and too much of everything, and secret eating and drinking and crying. 

and a lot of toxic spills on your heart.

but things change - they can and they will. the messes get cleaned up one by one till everything shifts and feels different. inside, outside, all around. 

when you're in love, the world is shiny and bright and food seems unnecessary. 

life is full and satisfying and complete. 

but when love gets broken, the cracks go wide and the empty places go deep, and seem impossible to fill.

you can get fat over it -  if you try to stop the pain. 

start where you are. 

hold on. tight. to something. your cat or your journal or the view out the window. find a place that's quiet and still and remember.

you will remember. you're worth it. worth believing in. worth taking care of.

even if the only one taking care of you, is you.

and the lies you've been telling yourself? talk to them. they were there for a reason.

in some weird, wonderful way they were trying to keep you safe - from the big, scary world you landed in. 

everyone has 15 gangsters living in their head. 

the world isn't a bad place. it’s just not perfect. it’s messy.

it’s hot and dry and freezing and warm and blizzardy and tempestuous. it’s true and honest and mostly chock full of pros, and a few cons.

it's black and white and red and green. and so are you.

and when the grass grows, i hear it smile.