A Note

Ever since my mother died, I have had trouble singing. I can’t think of anything that is more loaded with emotion, mostly pain. I haven’t set foot in a church in nearly two years, also in my grief. I know damn well that this is temporary, that my love of church will return when my spirit calms. It is important to have a faith community that loves me through good times and bad, people that I can turn to in both extremes. Right now, though, when I walk into a church I don’t see comfort and joy. I see the ghost of my mother’s past. It is not peaceful for me. It is a white-knuckling, stomach churning experience of just trying to get through the service without a complete goose-honking cry of a meltdown. And the thing is, I know that would be okay, too.

It is my own fear of being that vulnerable in public that stops me. Perhaps fear is the wrong word, but anxiety. I am trying my best to keep my head above water, avoiding the things that will actively help me to stop functioning. Walking around in my mother’s inner landscape, even for a couple of hours, leads to me losing the rest of the day. I have to sleep it off in those depression and anxiety-fueled naps that last hours, even when I’m not sleepy. And even in my dreams, I’m thinking “I don’t have time for this.” The clinical term for this is “decompensating.”

According to dictionary.com, there is both a medical and psychological meaning.

Medical decompensation is “the inability of a diseased heart to compensate for its defect.”

Psychological decompensation is “a loss of ability to maintain normal or appropriate psychological defenses, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, or delusions.”

It is funny how incredibly close those definitions are, when you look at the heart metaphorically.

I feel that I should say for the record that I have never had a delusion, although I have come close by taking someone else’s crazy statement and believing it as fact, incorporating it into my reality to disastrous results… What turned their crazy into my crazy was not stopping for a moment to evaluate said statement for objective truth, because in a lot of ways, it was what I wanted to hear…………………

Objective reality slipped beyond my grasp, living in a reinforced bubble created by fantasy. I was living as high as one could possibly be on dopamine without taking a drug to raise it chemically.

Later, when the bubble burst, I came back down to earth. It was an amazing feeling to see life for what it was, instead of my own version. What was happening in the world around me no longer carried a malleable haze.

I present with depression and anxiety, though I’m Bipolar II, so I do get a few hypomanic days now and then. But the highs are not so high. They’re just enough to make me feel like I’m living without depression and can be extraordinarily productive, sometimes foregoing sleep to get things done. Part of this is chemical; the other part is not knowing when I’ll be hypomanic again, and trying to use that time wisely.

I am extremely lucky that my fluctuations in mood just go from not depressed to extremely depressed, and medication makes those swings even easier to manage. Whenever I feel sorry for myself, I simply think of the people who are much worse off, the people who have no trouble swinging between suicidal plans and megalomania…. or have poor impulse control akin to buying five cars in one day.

I have no doubt in my mind that I was hypomanic when I decided to audition for the Washington National Opera chorus, but again, it was just being productive. Had I been truly depressed when I learned that the auditions were in a month, self-doubt would have eaten me alive and I would have lacked the courage to sign up altogether.

Which brings me back around to church and my mom. I need to sing again. I need to be in a chorus with other great singers who will raise my own game. I’m not much of an actor, but I’ll learn. In a gargantuan way, this is all about finding a replacement for church choir while I work on my daily ups and downs during the devastation of grief. I know I will still feel it. How can I not since my sister was in the children’s chorus at Houston Grand Opera, and I have such fond memories of my mom and Lindsay “on set?”

I counter that with all the hair, costumes and makeup. If I audition and get in, I will have the chance to be someone else for a while. Lots of someone elses if I get a contract for the whole season. The operas happening after my audition are Eugene Onegin, Faust, and Tosca. The links are all to their respective Wikipedia pages, because opera is so much more accessible when you know the story before you buy the tickets.

As I was telling a friend the other day, I hope the writing that comes out of a successful audition is work that brings younger audiences to opera. It is not dead thanks to the old and the rich, but if that trend continues, opera will be less and less popular over time. Opera has such a rich history that I cannot imagine losing it. Lots of them are novels that come to life, and generally more accurate than the movies.

It’s also a great break from technology, as it is entirely immersive. You have to read the supertitles to understand the language translation, or in the case of operas in your native language, to be able to pick out the words from the music. Hard to look at your phone and comprehend at the same time…. plus, the ushers will get mad at you because of the light. If your phone actually rings, good luck. God bless. 😛

I’m not starting singing again with arias, though. Today I did some breath control exercises and sang along to Merry Christmas from the Family (the Dixie Chicks and Rosie O’Donnell version as opposed to Robert Earl Keen, because it’s in a higher key). It’s such a funny song that for the first time in years, as I was singing I felt……. merry. It reminded me of the funniest parts of being a Texan, because if you’ve ever lived there, especially in a small town, you know this family. They live two doors down. There’s a broken swing set and a rusted car on blocks in the front yard. Both have been there since you moved in, and will be long after you leave.

The backyard looks like a garage sale all year ’round. On a serious note, even though they have just short of nothing, they’ll give you the shirts off their backs and the shoes on their feet if you need them, because they know what it’s like to literally have nothing and they’ll do whatever they can to help. There is no better place to live than small town Texas, because even though you can’t take a step out of your house without all 2,000 people knowing where you’re going, that’s not a bad thing. They sniff out trouble like bloodhounds, and just rally around you until it passes.

However, if you are selfish in any way, you don’t belong there. Community comes with responsibility.

Which brings me to another important reason why I’ve dropped off the face of the earth in terms of church. I’m empty. I’m all tapped out. I have nothing to contribute because I am struggling to keep my own head above water.

And the thing is, it wouldn’t bother the church at all. They know that when I’m in a better place, I can do more for the people around me. It’s all my own “stuff” to work out, because I cannot abide showing up to a potluck without a casserole, capiche?

I have high hopes for this opera audition, even though I won’t be crushed if I don’t get in. I know for certain that I am a fourth as good as the people auditioning who’ve been singing arias for years on end (I’m not a pessimist, just a realist). The high hopes come from joining a community in a new context, without the baggage I carry when entering a church. I see the glory of God in classical music, which, to my mind, is running towards spirituality instead of away…. making my way slowly, but surely, back into the world communion.

I am surprised that this has been my reaction to grief, because for the first two or three weeks after my mother died, walking into the sanctuary made me feel as if she were right there, so close I could touch her again. Then a pointed sermon on grief made me absolutely lose my shit with anxiety, just crying and shaking as if exorcising a demon. I didn’t want to be comforted, I wanted to be invisible. I didn’t want anyone to see my grief laid that bare. On top of my anxiety, I am quite shy and introverted. If you think otherwise, it’s from years and years of practice at hiding it away. I can have entire conversations that end with you knowing nothing about me, because my go-to is deflection. I ask so many questions about your life that you don’t have a chance to get a word in edgewise to ask me about mine. In that scenario, I can be extroverted and gregarious, because I’m not revealing anything. It also cuts way down on me giving answers I think of as crazy or stupid so I don’t have anything to beat myself up with later.

Trust me, if I was weird to you 20 years ago, I still have the ability to obsess over it. It would be an absolute relief to be onstage as a character in a group, completely forgetting everything in terms of who I am and pouring everything into letting me go for a few hours a night. I am hoping it will give me enough clinical separation to see myself more objectively once the performance is over…. because then, I might be able to turn my anxiety about being vulnerable in public back into needing other people for support, and rising to the occasion of giving my own support to others.

My new copy of 24 Italian Songs and Arias is on its way. May it be the first step forward onto holy ground.

Four and a Half Brownies

I’ve been playing on my computer since I woke up, failing to realize that the clock was ticking on taking my next dose of medication. My head started to hurt in that old familiar way, and I thought, “I should write about this…. just a stream-of-consciousness entry as chemicals flood my bloodstream.”

I generally need to eat before I take any meds, particularly Lamictal. I look in the fridge and the only thing I’ve got left is four and a half brownies. I get out a paper towel and take all of them upstairs, where I proceed to inhale them like an angry Dustbuster.

I open my blog post editor and get out my pill bottles, which brings us to the present. I have just taken Lamictal, Lexapro, and Klonopin. That means, at this very moment, I feel as if I am capable of tearing out my hair. I will not, and wouldn’t even if I hadn’t taken my meds. The feeling, though, echoes from a scene in one of my favorite movies:

Distraction isn’t always a bad thing. Works every time.

Well, actually….. there’s nothing that can distract me enough from this kind of pain to just let it go. A corner of my mind will be stuck there, wondering if I am about to cry or vomit, or better yet, cry and vomit. It seems physically impossible, but I have done it on multiple occasions. The best way I’ve found to explain the type of physical pain I feel during withdrawal from my psych meds comes from the eighties. Remember those tests of the emergency broadcast system that would come on your TV, and for what seemed like eight hours but was only in reality about 20 seconds the most annoying sound on earth blared loud enough to clear your sinuses? Now, imagine this sound coming from you internally so you can’t lower the volume:

The longer I go without medication, the louder the sound gets, and the louder the sound gets, the more violent my physical reaction. When the medication kicks in, everything becomes blessedly quiet. I am grateful that it is not just a dimmer switch and I don’t have to live like this all the time. Withdrawal creates the worst physical symptoms of my mental illness, because when I remember to take everything on time, I am generally very happy and healthy. All the highs and lows are gone, so I can get on with my day and not think about being sick anymore.

But that’s not where we are right now. I haven’t even begun to feel a twinge of relief. The good news is that I don’t have to take any additional medication. My brain chemicals will sort themselves out, I don’t need a painkiller or an anti-inflammatory on top of it. Sometimes I do think of Tylenol and ibuprofen as my “dessert,” you know, just to put a cherry on top of the sundae, but it doesn’t matter. My psych meds aren’t going to kick in any faster because I took something for the headache, and because the headache is psychiatric in nature, the painkiller won’t do much. I know this because when I’ve been truly up shit creek because I’ve left the house without medication and taken painkillers and anti-inflammatories on their own, I would have had equal luck getting rid of the pain by throwing five dollars against a wall.

I swallowed the pills this time before I started shaking, so I got that goin’ for me. It’s involuntary when I’m in this much pain. My brain feels like it’s trying to pull itself apart, and my body reacts by trying to “get away from the noise.” Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

Q: Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
A: To get away from the noise.

or…

A. Moving targets are harder to hit.

I can tell that I’m not depressed because wit can still make an appearance. It’s just withdrawal, and that’s a relief. Managing Bipolar II is hard enough without having to deal with mood swings…. and by that, I mean it’s hard enough staving them off. I don’t have to be in depression or hypomania for Bipolar II to be a total pain in the ass.

It’s not unlike a physical disease, though. Diabetics have complicated lives without symptoms, just maintenance alone is enough. I know myself well enough that I would much rather deal with the inconvenience of maintenance than the full-blown effects of going untreated.

The way my college psychiatrist figured out I was on the bipolar rather than unipolar spectrum was that I was getting way, way, way too much sleep, and then for about three or four days a month, not able to sleep at all. My productivity level was through the floor, and on the days I couldn’t sleep, would shoot through the roof, where I would try to fit in as much activity as I could before the next wave of depression hit.

Before my Bipolar II diagnosis, I couldn’t understand why I was taking depression medication and never getting any better. My behavior changed dramatically when a mood stabilizer was added to what I was already taking. I was able to sleep normally, and the world looked quite different. It was in color all the time, instead of when the color channel decided to flip on after a series of black and white shows… but never fun ones, like I Love Lucy. Every day was akin to the worst Perry Mason rerun on repeat.

It’s been 10-15 minutes, so any time now, I will be back to my regularly scheduled program. I’m not feeling as much better by now as I thought I would, so perhaps it’s time for a hot shower.

I have brownie crumbs in my lap.

Black Coffee with Splenda

Because yesterday’s post got so many likes, I feel that talking about depression, anxiety, and ADHD are fairly universal. So, I want to speak to a little more to connect with “my tribe” (I accidentally typed “trible” before tribe,  reminding me of one of the only Star Trek references I actually get. I’m the only nerd I know who’s maybe seen three episodes….. and The Trouble with Tribbles is one of them.).

It is amazing how much I will give up out of anxiety. For instance, I need to go to the grocery store in the worst way, because I’m out of milk and coffee creamer. I haven’t because I couldn’t people. I like sweet black coffee, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still. If I’d been a little more brave, I’d have fat in my coffee right now. I need it, because when I’m this down, I won’t eat. I don’t have a block on drinking, so I try to add calories to my day in coffee or Instant Breakfast. I think it’s because I feel out of control, so not eating is the one thing in which I do have domain. It’s not an eating disorder, I don’t think, because I’m mindful of the fact that I still need intake. It’s just the delivery method with which I have issues. Sometimes I will order pizza as not to leave the house. I’m making it to all my appointments and such. It’s the voluntary socialization that goes by the wayside, unless Dan calls or Pri Diddy is in town. They are the two people I will let see me even when I feel the worst.

It’s funny that Pri and I have been friends since, like, 2002 over the Internet, and met in person when she and her friend Nina came to Portland years later. I thought moving to DC would be a way for us both to be a part of each other’s daily lives, and not long after, she left. I don’t begrudge her wanderlust, though, because she’s gotten to see some amazing places and is now relatively parked in Rome. So, part of the reason that I will drop everything for her is that we have friend intimacy (into me see- Harville Hendrix), and part of it is that we don’t see each other that often and I have to make time with her where I can get it.

With Dan, she helped me get through my mother’s death by sharing her own experiences. Therefore, I will drop everything to support her, because she supported me first. I actually met her online as well, but after a few days of writing back and forth, we met up at Ted’s Bulletin and it’s been on like Donkey Kong  ever since.

So, to Pri and Dan, thanks for being the two people I can stand all the time.

As a depressed introvert INFJ, my personality type dictates that I will only have one or two close friends at a time. It is very true. I would much rather have an inner circle than a ton of acquaintances. Small talk drives me up the wall, so I don’t hate people. Rather, I hate people in groups (I accidentally sent a voice dictated e-mail to a friend saying I hit people in groups and had to apologize for my phone not understanding my accent. I think the last time I was proficient at typing on a phone, it was the Palm Treo.).

Having bipolar depression is a little different, because when I’m on a hypohigh, or Diet High as I’ve coined, impulse control goes out the window. The only time this has really bitten me in the ass is not realizing I was flirting with straight girls too hard and didn’t mean to offend them, but I absolutely did. The memory is so cringeworthy I wish I could delete it.

Other cringeworthy hypohigh moments include off the charts rage, and couldn’t help transference to someone who didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at life. She just happened to “walk by,” and I stepped in it up to my ass. I pissed off the one person in my life that would destroy me if I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and then it did.

Yes, it was Argo. Yes, that ship sailed (I see what I did there). Even though Argo is actually named after the ship, I can’t even watch the movie without feeling pain, a damn shame because it used to be my favorite (it’s like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets). I forgot in those moments that this was the same person about which I wrote I sleep deeply in the belly of the ship, for I know my passage is safe and one of the reasons I spill so much to you is that I feel like I go into my God space. I can’t know that God is listening, but I know you are. Those are my true feelings about her, but “being high” turned me into a loose cannon jackass, and I said some truly hurtful things for which I will never be able to apologize enough to make things right.

When cortisol is racing through my brain, I sometimes feel as if I leave my body and lose sight of important things, like some words not being able to be forgiven. “Sticks and stones” is a crock of shit. Sometimes, I’m not fighting with the person in front of me, they’re just the unlucky target and the person who deserves it isn’t even in the room. I had that realization from one of the comments on my marriage post, because it cut into my heart with Truth.™ Reflecting years later, it has only carried more weight.

I let my “dark passenger” rule me because I couldn’t stop long enough to realize what was happening. In the years since, I have learned how to control brain race with cognitive behavioral therapy so that I don’t “go there” with anyone else. Changed behavior is probably the best apology I’ll ever be able to offer.

CBT helps remind me that I am kind, lovable, and easygoing. Rage is just my illness talking, and not who I really am. For the record, though, over the top rage comes with a long fuse. I will sit there and think for a long time before I explode, just a Mento™ suddenly dropping into a Diet Coke™ because I’ve been stuffing so many emotions down. So, CBT says let’s not do that.

When you know better, you do better…. or at least, that is what is supposed to happen.

On my very best days, I feel six feet tall and bulletproof. On my worst, I have to take Klonopin just to make a phone call.

It’s all about balance.

Crater

Every so often, I can hear the earth thud when my words drop, and I just stare at the crater that they’ve left. This was confirmed for me when Argo wrote to me (a relatively long time ago) that she could hear the sonic boom from my last post. Those are the entries that frighten me the most, the ones where even my better angels fear to tread. There are days when I battle nausea just to get the words out, because I know I have to put them on paper, damn the consequences… because if I don’t, I will continue to be the same person I always was, not remembering how I felt in the moment because there is no record of it.

I have said many times, Fanagans, that this blog is not for you. It is for me, and you are invited.

You see my imperfections as extremely loud and incredibly close as I do, but there is something else I must explain. My writing life lags behind my actual life. I have trouble describing an experience as it is happening. I need clarity from the passage of time to even bring words to emotions. Falling in love with Argo’s words while I was still married to Dana is absolutely the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. I accept that I was the cause, and saying “happened to me” is a misnomer. I am only talking about the consequences here, and not the pawns I moved. Dana was my best friend. How could I betray her like that? And yet, I did. I own it. It was a mistake. A big one, the fallout is massive as I pick up the pieces and try to arrange them into a different mosaic.

Moving to Silver Spring is the best thing I could have done, because my friends live in either DC or on the Virginia side. I am an hour away from any one of them, forced to sit in my silence as I recover from the mess I’ve made.

Every day looks the same now. I send out resumes for big jobs and little ones, because even working at Safeway requires an online application. Usually, if the job is for a store, I will go and meet the manager before I submit the application so that he/she will remember my name when the online app comes across. However, I have not gotten many bites. I am extraordinarily overqualified on paper to bag groceries, but how do you explain to the manager that’s exactly what you want? To be lost in repetition, because that’s really all you can handle right now, and you’ll be good at it, because muscle memory will take over rather than having to get lost in my head.

I would do anything not to get lost in my head for eight full hours a day.

I take my Kindle everywhere I go, because public transportation takes a long time, no matter where you’re going. Right now, I am lost in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Voyager novel specifically. I wish I could say that I get lost in the story, but there are too many parallels for me to ignore my own life as I read. I do not want to spoil anything for people who are just now getting into the series thanks to the TV show (Starz), but my take on it is that once I got past the betrayal of one love for another in Outlander, there’s another one later on in the series that smacks of home, too.

Home.

What a foreign concept now.

In my head, home is still with Dana on some days, because it was so stable. We had a passionate relationship for many years, right up until it wasn’t. We broke up the minute we got to Houston, because she betrayed me. Flat out. I won’t say why, but I will say that the fissure it caused was enough that when we got back together, I forgave her, but I didn’t forget. Our relationship limped along under its own weight because I wanted to heal and move on from the damage that was done, but I couldn’t. It was too much, too fast… and I would like to believe that she knew it. I would like to believe that betrayal was her way of saying “I want out,” but not telling me directly. I was angry… so angry that I told her to leave- go back to Virginia if she wanted. She had enough of her own resources to do whatever she wanted, and I do not know how or why we worked it out, because it happened so fast. It will take years to untangle that knot in my head.

Truth be told, we were exhausted. Both of us in our own way. I’d been through a tempest in the realization that I’d been emotionally abused as a teenager and still wasn’t over it. It slayed me. I talked about it over and over and over while ignoring that it was isolating her. I was folding into myself, and the only one I would let in was Argo. I told her straight out that I was writing to her because I thought Dana had already been given her fair share, and a fresh set of eyes/ears on the problem was necessary. I was leaning on Argo because Dana was beginning to tell me with her actions that I was too much to handle, and later said those words out loud.

I reeled at those words, because in terms of “too much to handle,” I have not cornered the market. Dana and I are equal in terms of the emotional problems we have, but I will talk about them. Dana will not, even to me, and in a relationship, that is everything. Everything. She wanted to break up because she was happy in her bubble, and I was exploding mine.

And please keep in mind two things- I am not writing about Dana’s reality. I am writing about my reaction to her. Her story is not mine to tell, I can only tell you what I was feeling. She told me a couple of weeks ago to stop writing lies about her on my blog. I told her that if she thought I was writing lies to get her own blog. This is not her place to vent.

It is mine.

Her perceptions are never going to line up with mine. Never. That’s why we broke up. We weren’t seeing eye to eye on anything, and instead of opening up to each other, we destroyed the relationship instead. I look at the way Jaime and Claire interact in Outlander, and know that I am ready to have someone that will bare their soul to me without reservation. I am not interested in a relationship with someone who cannot reflect on themselves. I am also not interested in being in relationship with someone who views me as scary, which was Dana’s excuse for all the reasons she kept things from me.

The reality is that yes, I am scary sometimes, because I can almost guarantee that in letters and conversations I can go deeper than you. I have a dark passenger, Dexter-like in its intensity and execution. Not many people can handle it, and I am tired of interacting with those people.

It’s not that I won’t. I am just tired. Exhausted, even.

People who are not in touch with themselves force me to hide a lot of who I am, because I know that they aren’t ready or willing to hear me where I am… to love me for all my drive and passion and not make me force it down.

In terms of deep friendship and romance, Dana and Argo were both the wrong choice at the wrong time. I say it was the wrong time, because perhaps later in life this will not be so; they both walk with thick armor, intense but not emotionally so. Their upbringing was the classic WASP stuff and deny. To talk about issues rather than pretend they don’t exist is as foreign to them as language immersion in Klingon.

The difference between Dana and Argo is that when I began writing, I struck a chord with Argo. I do not know what went through Dana’s head, because she didn’t really talk about it until we were leaving each other behind. I cannot speak to it. With Argo, she latched on to my words and told me so. That they gave her strength because I could be open in a way that she could not. It was an enormous compliment, just enormous. Those compliments carried me through the darkest time in my life so far, because it wasn’t just that one.

I have said before that she is not a God person. When I told her I was starting a church, she said she thought it was awesome and that she didn’t believe in God, but she did believe in me.

When she hurt, I prayed, and she said she thought of me as her “pinch hitter.”

My self-esteem grew, and so did the fissure with Dana… not because of my feelings for Argo as much as not knowing how to relate to the person I was becoming. In retrospect, I think I knew Dana was pulling away, and even though it wasn’t right, I leaned toward Argo to heal from it.

Because even though Argo wasn’t a lesbian and wasn’t in love with me, she loved my words… and I loved her for it. At that time in my life, it wasn’t so much needing external validation. I wasn’t looking to her for that. She was the one that kept up the attaboys when I was willing to throw down on this web site. As I led, she followed. As I told her, “your words are balm.” Lip balm. She was the Dr Pepper Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker of Stories That Are All True.

And as I wore this lip balm, my words got stronger. I revealed a lot about myself that I couldn’t talk about out loud, but somehow had no problem releasing quietly over the Internet and letting people react on their own. I learned that this was how I needed to get through life. I needed to work on my own shit and let people have their reactions away from me, because their reactions were not mine to own.

My actions were mine to own.

I have learned so much about who I am by reading this web site in retrospect, giving myself time to heal from the “sonic boom” and reading with compassion for the person that I was… because then I have enough separation from the damage that I’ve caused to read as if these stories happened to someone else. As a perfectionist, I would never berate someone else the way I thrash myself in my own mind.

There are no words that would adequately express my sorrow over the way I’ve treated my family and my friends, but I hope these words will help. Behind my enormous ego, I am just a fourteen year old girl, development arrested and trying to cover for it. So if you’ve ever thought my actions were childish, you’re right. I am just now learning how to adult.

If you have been abused in your life, sexually or otherwise, that statement may resonate with you. In the hundreds of abuse survivors I’ve physically met and talked to over the Internet, it seems as if we are all arrested at the age we were when the abuse occurred, and if we’re older than that, we’re all covering for it. We’re all learning how to adult far past the age when it should have occurred naturally… not because we are malicious, but because we are unprepared.

There have been times in my life that I have lied pathologically to escape punishment to avoid further emotional abuse… not to hurt anyone, but to put up a shield between me and the rest of the world… emotionally holding my arm over my face and saying “please don’t hurt me anymore.” Nothing should ever be able to penetrate my cave, because it is not safe out there… or at least, that has been my reaction to everything until now. It took lowering the boom on myself to really see what was wrong.

Because if you can’t see it, it’s not there.

It’s in the crater, the one you can choose to explore if you are brave enough to hike downward, not knowing where the strength lies in pulling yourself back up. The thing is, though, as you work through your own issues, you discover your own worth, and that is the earth that fills in the hole under you so all of the sudden, you are back on level ground.

Amen.

Thanks for Coming Over- Have Some Tea

Today I’m dressed to the nines, just because I can. I like the way I feel about myself when I’m the male equivalent of “all dolled up.” It’s not that I’m not female, it’s just that I don’t really look it in black Dockers, a grey t-shirt (complete with blue TARDIS), a Nautica blue and white striped button-down, neon green and TARDIS blue striped socks, and black leather shoes. Samantha saw me and I said, “do I look cute today?” She said, “yes, why? Do you have a date?” I said, “no, but I might want one.” Seems legit. Dress for success, baby. Dress. For. Success.

Then I asked Samantha, “will you take me to a store? Like, right now?” We took off for Giant (grocery store) because I needed three things. The first was an industrial size can of CoffeeMate, because it tastes much better in black tea than it does in coffee (go figure). Running low because of the sheer amount of tea I drink every day would scare most physicians. The second thing was Zyrtec, and the third thing was a Diet Coke so I could take it in the store, immediately, Do Not Pass Go. OMG the allergies. Hayat and Mike love plants, all kinds, and I am *dying.* I cannot go for more than a couple of minutes without having a sneezing attack, and my eyes itch like a mofo. It was on sale- a month’s worth for $10, so I got two. It will take me almost that long to rebuild it in my system. Zyrtec is not like pseudoephedrine, you don’t take it as a spot treatment. In order to really stop the sneezing, itching, etc. you have to take it for about six weeks. Just sayin,’ because a lot of people don’t know that. It will work, sort of, but “histamine blockers” take a while to get up and running. They aren’t built in a day. I only put “histamine blockers” in quotes because my dad and I both thought it was hilarious when that ad campaign came out… not sure if it was Claritin or Benadryl, but we both convulsed in laughter. “You mean, ANTIHISTAMINES?” Ah, buzz words.

Then, once Samantha and I had some time alone, she told me how her doctor’s appointment went yesterday, and it’s not good. She’s not going to die or anything, but she will have to go through treatment and it is weighing on me, tender heart bear that I am. The best piece of advice she’s gotten so far, and I love it, is “you just do your everyday stuff and let other people worry for you. They’re going to do it anyway, so just let them.” I wish I’d gotten the same advice when I was going through all my mental hell. It might have kept me from isolating quite so much.

Actually, it was my old, old friend Jonathan who got me through the worst of my hospitalization, with one simple Facebook comment. I was so overwhelmed with all the love notes that poured in that I said something to the effect of “thank you so much- I will absolutely jump in for you when the time comes.” He said, “right now, just jump in for yourself.” Those words literally carried me for days. Jonathan, if you’re reading this, I need you to know that and take it in. Your words helped me focus on myself rather than all of the other patients who seemed “so much worse than me.” My dad has this saying that rang true with Jonathan’s words: “definition of major surgery? Yours.” I wasn’t recovering from surgery, but it seemed like it, in a way. I didn’t get better overnight. I went to the hospital, but it was several weeks before I truly felt better. I felt so much guilt over spending time at the hospital at all, especially when Dana said, “it must be nice to be able to just check out like that.” Well, it was better than staying with her and continuing to beat myself up, that’s for damn sure. I dismissed her take as ignorance, but I’m still furious about it. The best thing about getting a divorce is not having to listen to her bitch and moan about my mental health while she continues not to take care of hers.

I just got to this place of survival mode, like I said earlier. Jonathan said “jump,” and I fucking did. Once I got out of “I am going to die if I don’t take care of this” mode, of course I wanted to work it out with Dana. However, I couldn’t get her to see that I needed to be strong before I could be a partner to her, because by then she’d taken it all as selfishness. It was way too late for us to rebuild, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it constantly for a while.

In our last conversation, she also beat me up emotionally for not helping her more with the move to Portland. That I just sat on the driveway close to Diane’s house and mourned. The problem with that is she didn’t do jack or shit while I was sitting there. We BOTH left everything until the last minute. It was not my fault or hers. It just was. So to blame me for both of our ADHD attitudes is just putting more on me than is rightfully mine. I needed that time to mourn. That relationship predated her by almost 15 years. My parents were married for less time than I was “friends” with her. One of my real friends likened it to “battered women’s syndrome” because of all the emotional weight I’d carried for so many years in silence. To say that I would let go easily was an understatement. Besides, I had an eternal hope that Diane would jump in for herself, that she would agree with me that it was time to pack it up and go the fuck home.

She didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there. All of it was wasted energy. On that, I agree with Dana. I just couldn’t bring myself to that place on my own. I had to have help, lots of it, mostly from her. I have called her my Rock and my Redeemer, and at that time, she was. I’ll never forget it, regardless of whether we reconnect or not. She took care of me better than anyone else, because she knew me inside out, upside down, and backwards. She was the Jordy Nelson to my Aaron Rogers, using a football metaphor because it will please her.

I wish I could bring all that back, so that I could be the Jordy as we continue to stumble through life, like everyone does. I couldn’t at that time in my life, so I’m prepared to be that for someone else if they ever ask me. I can’t go backward, but I can pay it forward. I have so many regrets in the way I’ve behaved over the last two years, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything that shouldn’t have happened. I am a better person for it, having had to sit in that much pain.

Because as is my continual anthem, after the flood comes the rainbow. Apt, because I am a Houstonian at heart. I will never move back there unless there are extenuating circumstances, but you can’t erase where you’re from. It just don’t happen. 😛 DC is my lifeblood because of my writing. Nothing will ever change that. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t need a Drank once in a while. That doesn’t mean that just because I live here, Mike Jones is any less burned into my brain. Also doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t beat for Annise Parker, whom I’ve admired since I was a kid. I am so proud of her that I could burst with pride.

I know I’m a bit all over the place today, but I just want this entry to feel like we’re sitting on the front porch, having a conversation………. because that’s exactly what we’re doing.