Friday, April 17, 2015

and speaking of birthdays ...

I Go Back To May 1937 - Poem by Sharon Olds

Play Poem Video I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips aglow in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.


My father would have turned 82 today.

The thing is, that poem up there?  the part that reads "you are going to bad things to children"?  That's only part of who he was.  Most days, right now, that's the loudest part of who he was, but the good stuff is still there, waiting it's turn.  I don't need to define him.  I need to define myself, who I am before God, and do you know what I really truly deeply hope for? I hope he reconciled things with God, sometime before that heart attack, so that some day, when we meet in heaven, all this earthly stuff will have fallen away, and the strongest thing between us is forgiveness.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Today is a great day.

And here's why today is a great day:

It's Brad's birthday, and he is still here to celebrate it.

Thank you, God.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Owning My Own Story

(this post discusses my particular brand of mental illness directly.  In the future I will identify posts of this nature with this:

** D.I.D. Post ** )

A few days ago, I sent J (the psychologist) an email entitled "Peace, hard-won and tenuous."  I've been thinking about the concept of peace on the inside a great deal since then. 

The "insider" headcount varies on an almost daily basis.  It's easiest for me to remember that there are layers of hurt to be healed, and that new insiders will bring similar needs.  It is, at this point in my own healinig process, sometimes easy to forget there are insiders at all.  The interesting thing is that it is actually more helpful to remember they're there.  If I wake up in the middle of the night terrified - it's tempting to beat myself up for revisiting that particular issue.  If I remember, however, that the terror is likely coming from an insider who is just now showing themselves - I can extend grace to that part much more easily. 

I have been surprised, in the past few weeks, at the quality of peace that's come with some very simple things.

One session with J, I sat on the floor, colouring, for the entire session.  I don't think the insider who was colouring had very much to say - I did almost all of the talking and processing that day.  I noticed after the session that I was calmer than I'd been in several days, and that there was very little insider agitation being broadcast as well.  (They hang out in a park, inside my head.  Imaginary and yet ... :)  I check in periodically to see how we're all doing, and when I checked in that day, everyone was calm and quiet.)

And then this weekend, looking for something to read before bed, I happened upon a free Kindle copy of Mrs. Mike.  I had completely forgotten about this book but I read it as a young teen and loved it, and so I downloaded and re-read it.  Again - the quality and depth of calm I experienced as a result was noteworthy, as was the quality and depth of calm in the park.

I think maybe it's related to places of safety.  I did not feel safe much, ever, growing up. How did I check out?  Reading, or absorbed in something creative.  Parts who come online now have a lot to process - the body is no longer the body they remember.  They feel like they're 10 or 6 or 8 or 15 but they're being asked to participate in the life of a 53 year old woman who isn't afraid of any of the things they are afraid of, and they're being asked to believe me (and other parts who are in the process of healing) that they're safe.

I think colouring, reading, being creative, is a way of bringing places of safety that they trust forward into the here and now, a way of easing these hurting memory keepers into this present day, this present life where they can feel what they need to feel, and heal.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The moon

I have some extremely dark memories, of a long-ago moonlit night.  The sight of a full moon behind bare branches can be, has meant, an instant panic attack for the past few years.

Discussing this in therapy one day, I told J "I just work hard to remind myself that that was then, this is now."

"It would be nice," J mused "if the moon could somehow come to mean something restorative."

And then she left it with me, as she does.

Several months later I came across a poem written by Barbara Kingsolver that I had copied into my journal during the first weeks of memory surfacing.  Here's a bit of it:

Remember the moon survives
    For Pamela

Remember the moon survives,
draws herself out crescent thin,
a curved woman. Untouchable,
she bends around the shadow
that pushes itself against her, and she


later on in the poem, these lines:

 You are the one who knows, behind
the rising, falling tide
of shadow, the moon is always


So I have been working with the knee-jerk terror, for several months now.  When I see the moon, the crescent moon, the waxing moon, the waning moon, the half-moon, I whisper "Remember the moon survives.  The moon is always whole."

Last night there was a lunar eclipse.  I set my alarm so I could wake up and watch it disappear, watch the bright face of the moon disappear into shadow.  I woke Brad up so he could hold me and I talked about Barbara's poem and I whispered "Courage." to the moon and when it finally disappeared, I fell asleep, deeply, peacefully, because I know it will be back tonight, because I know the moon survives the waves and cycles of dark.

And so I know it for myself, the light returns, and the full moon is testament, monument to the cyclical nature of healing and recovery and tonight?  Tonight when I see the full moon, she will whisper that word back to me.


Friday, April 03, 2015

The Almost-Lost Kindle and the New-to-Me Tires

A few things happened recently that delighted me, and made me thank God.  That can be a tricky road to start down, that seeing God in every little thing that happens, good or bad, and I'm not here to do that.  There's just been two events lately that made me thankful, and I want to share them.

1.  The Almost-Lost Kindle
     There are, in this universe, people who rarely lose things.  People who always know where their keys and their glasses and their good pens are, because after they use these things, they put them where they belong.
I am not one of those people.
I have a Kindle that I dearly love because a) it has made me read sequentially and I feel like I'm a more respectful reader if I read a book in the order it was written b) Kindle books cost less than paper books c) Kindle books take up less space than paper books and d) Kindle books weigh less than paper books.  I am an enthusiastic reader, and late last week I realized that my Kindle was not in any of the places I expected it to be.  When I was downstairs, I assumed it was upstairs, and vice versa.  I finally got tired of reading back issues of writing magazines to fall asleep to and looked both upstairs and downstairs, but did not find my Kindle.  It wasn't in my van, either, or any of the various bags that are "totally now my official school bag.".
When I got to work that evening, I started sort of half-heartedly looking through the stack of bins we at the post office use to shlep mail about, and found my Kindle, about 8 bins down, miraculously unscathed.
An hour and a half later, I watched in amazed thankfulness as the fellow who came to pick up the outgoing mail stopped at the stack of bins and said "Oh I need some of these" and took the top twelve or so bins.
It would have been lost forever.  There's no identifying information in or on it, and there's no way of knowing where that bin would have ended up before someone found a Kindle in one of them.

2. Tires
   The van needed new tires.  Badly.  Apparently something can happen to tires that I don't understand, and they become "separated" and the something and the something else aren't something, and then your vehicle wobbles at high speeds.  As the situation gets worse, the vehicle wobbles pretty much anytime you're in motion, and that means that the time to get new tires was Last Week.  And maybe you are waiting for pay day to get the tires, so on the very first day of the month, when your friend texts and asks you what you're doing that day, you say "I am going to find new tires for my van if it kills me" and you privately shudder because you don't know exactly how much new tires will cost but it's going to be in the Many Hundreds, and you don't really have that much money to spare.  (I have switched tenses and all sorts of bad things to switch here but I am not fixing it). And then what might happen is that your friend will say "hey how about we sell you the all-seasons that we can't use any more because the new vehicle is the wrong size and the old vehicle has been the victim of a car crash?". You might say "How much?" and "what size?" and then maybe you and your friend will embark on a "finding the right numbers on a tire" learning curve and EVENTUALLY - you will have new tires for one and a half hundreds of dollars, including mounting and balancing.
And I don't know if I can say God made that happen, but I absolutely can say Thank you God that it did.