A good cry? HAH! I laugh in the face of a good cry. I don’t do ‘good cries’. I do forced-march-blind-with-pain purges.
A good cry? HAH! I laugh in the face of a good cry. I don’t do ‘good cries’. I do forced-march-blind-with-pain purges.
Did I really wish for a good cry? I’d like to say ‘be careful what you wish for’ in a sweet, smug sing-song voice but really, I can’t. I’d like to have gotten what I wished for but I didn’t. For a couple of days, I thought I’d gotten my wish. I cried. It was good. It included a picture of a tragically cute dog. I was fooled into complacency and then – wham. Why do I always forget that this is not how it works? Is it some kind of pain of childbirth memory block?
I am tired, stressed, and stick-a-fork-in-me done. It’s usually the end of a big project and regardless of the brilliance and beauty of the end result, I’m strung out. I need … something. In my romantic, wishful thinking lizard brain, I imagine that a ‘good cry’ will do it. Some sort of episode that generates cleansing tears of relief and transition. An event where I’m ensconced in pillows and heave deep, heart-felt tears into soft cloth hankies. I will emerge on the other side with a clear head, glowing skin, and resolve.
I am tired, stressed, and stick-a-fork-in-me done. It’s usually the end of a big project and regardless of the brilliance and beauty of the end result, I’m strung out. I need … something. I search and search and try to do the right thing and try to take care of myself and have patience and try not to become progressively more and more of a raving bitch. I fail. I fail more. I fail bigger. And bigger and bigger until my failure combined with exhaustion tips me over the edge. I hit full blown PTSD breakdown.
Day 1 is spent being utterly shattered and wracked in agonizing pain. If you’ve never suffered this, I’m not going to try to explain right now. If you have, I feel you blanching in horror with me.
Day 2 is spent being hypersensitive to light, sound, thought, breathing, and whatnot.
Day 3 is energized. Today is day 3.
I’d like another option, please. I grudgingly accept that good cry is a dumb wish for me. My extreme brain chemistry doesn’t get the cleanse. But, is this horrid mental purge the only option? Is this the way it’s always going to be? No figuring, reasoning, bargaining or trying something constructive has eliminated this process for me. Holy crap. On the bright side, it is shorter than it used to be. I’m kind of functional after one day.
I have no pithy conclusion other than the truth. Will it set me free? Perhaps, in a way. It doesn’t change this currently inevitable process but at least I’m not lying to myself about it. Oh, and perhaps I should calendar this cycle. Remove sharp objects. Lay in bottled water. Prep for fallout.
If a mental breakdown wants my attention, it should request an appointment.
Beware what you wish for.
I spent much of the weekend aware there was a straw ready to break my back and send me into hysterics. It was out there somewhere, lurking, ready to drag me under. To catch me unaware. Not actively seeking it but suspicious. Would it nail me at the photo shoot on Saturday? Or thrifting with my BFF? Or … what? Show yourself, coward!
The insidious straw (see my Blog from a couple days ago) pounced from the e-glow of the daily news. Lalala-lah. I’m curled up on the sofa reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on my iPad – we subscribe but don’t get the physical paper any more – which is it’s own story. The headline should have read: “Susan! Run! This is THE Straw”. But, no.
A war veteran bomb-sniffing dog needs emergency medical care and there are no vet (pun not intended) benefits for repatriated canines. Bonus: She’s also suffering from PTSD. I immediately teared up. My brain started spinning. Injustice. Hurt. Anger. A deep need to do something about this situation and an inability to do anything.
Heartwrenching sobs later. I’ve been rude to my husband. I’ve cried for myself and everything and everyone and all the things that have ever happened in my life and everyone elses. It lasted for about 4 1/2 minutes – including the time it took to indignantly drag my sorry butt upstairs and away from the world. (Unless you ask my husband, who will swear it lasted about 3 days)
A good cry used to lay me out. Not that I looked forward to it, but I could at least count on a familiar process.
Again, I feel gypped. Only, this time, I’m still wary as well. Will I craft a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will I worry myself into a mental and physical breakdown? This is so tiring.
I know, I know… what about the dog? She is living with a wonderful young man – the guy who brought her home with him from Iraq – and she’s getting the help she needs.
Me, I’m moving on. I have a full schedule of stuff. If a mental breakdown wants my attention, it should request an appointment.
Have a good one.
A good, cathartic cry might be just the wonderful storm that leaves the garden refreshed and ready for planting.
I’m mystified. I’ve assiduously accumulated plenty of worthy excuses to have a heart-wrenching sob. Not to brag, but I am an expert at tallying emotionally charged hoo-hah – storing it – nurturing it – and the moment that I can get away with it, having a total melt-down.
You tell me. Here’s my cherished, sharing-way-too-much information tally…
- A few days ago, I read the suicide letter of a friend.
- A few months ago, I suffered the worst and longest PTSD episode in years. The trigger is still dancing around the peripheries of my life.
- My Mom died last Thanksgiving and I couldn’t get out to the west coast in time to say goodbye.
- We closed Shakespeare in the Park about a week ago. We work all year to put on this show for a couple thousand people. It’s a massive undertaking fraught with success, failure, terror, financial ruin, and a stupendous show.
- My physical health is for crap and I’m having serious angst about taking care of myself. As if I don’t deserve it slash don’t see the point.
- And whatever is behind door number 3 where the grand prize waits just for me.
Yadda, yadda, blah, yadda, blah, etc… you get it.
Are my meds working? Is the mindfulness meditation working? What the heck?
Maybe I’ll get around to it later. Perhaps there will be some sort of straw on my camel-like back. The kind of non-event that makes it impossible to explain why one is sobbing uncontrollably. “They only had yellow widgets in stock!” Guaranteed to earn puzzled looks and a dawning suspicion that I do actually need an Ativan prescription and some serious attitude adjustment.
All kidding aside (right, let’s see if that happens) I do feel a suspicious lump in my throat. A good, cathartic cry might be just the wonderful storm that leaves the garden refreshed and ready for planting. But, for today, I’m dry-eyed and chugging along. There’s good stuff happening. I love and am loved. Oh well. Maybe next time.
I’m not so numb.
Why was numbing was necessary? Because it worked.
Why is it now not so necessary? I’m guessing, because it’s not.
About a week ago, I spontaneously started to shed the need to numb. I had a pleasant conversation with myself about this habit but I didn’t set out to change it. It just did. Or, is doing. Happening. Anyway, I’m assuming that the fall-out is detox.
Detox = that totally fucked state of being where you are stuck between destruction and less destruction. Where you kind of wish you could be destructive again but don’t know how to get back there. Where you start scouting around for substitute destruction but nothing quite fits the bill. Sigh.
It didn’t start out like this. My initial decrease in numbness played out as an increase in my desire to show up and participate in my own life. Okay, that’s cool. It escalated to irritability, hypersensitivity and being generally critical of everyone thus making me a joy to be around. Not so cool.
There is a lot of white noise and fidgeting involved in full-blown detox. If you put your ear next to mine, you can hear the ocean. There are people drowning in it, but it’s still the ocean. The shrieking is seagulls. And me.
Oh and the aforementioned fidgeting? Joy. Yeah. Fidgeting as in tapping my fingers so hard and fast on the desk that the tips start to get numb – which is when I notice that I’ve been tapping.
My greatest fear is that this state of detox is my new state of being. I can endure anything this horrid if it’s temporary. Luckily, I have a best friend who told me that it is temporary and I believed her. Because it’s better than not believing her.
I know! I’ll distract myself by getting in the car to drive around and do errands. Yes, that’s so smart, Susan. Get behind the wheel of a massive chunk of metal filled with gas (as soon as I go get gas) and aim it at things. And fidget. Brilliant.
Poking fun at myself works. A much better choice.
I mean, really. (I can hear my Mother’s voice right now. She had this way of saying “Oh reeeeaaally” and rolling her eyes when I would make some statement obviously designed to provoke. I do that myself now. It’s really irritating. Anyway…)
My mother was in the hospital the last few days. She’s in advanced stages of dementia and blanked out more severely and for a longer time than usual so the family thought she had had a stroke. After all the tests, it’s impossible to tell exactly what happened because her mind is so far gone but it wasn’t a stroke. She’s back home now.
This latest episode has brought up all sorts of questions. How do I want to die? When is it preferable to die? Why is her body so healthy when her brain isn’t? What kind of ‘quality of life’ does she / can she possibly have?
After a lot of tough pondering, I’m mostly on the ‘quality of life’ question. What does it mean? Being honest with myself, I don’t like the answer. Because I have to be honest with myself, I have to tell you. In my heart of hearts, I Desire, with a capital D, the American puritan work ethic of grueling labor with no rest. Extreme self sacrifice. Hyper responsibility and drive. One-ups-manship about how much more insomniac I am than you. All that stuff. That’s really who I am. None of those efforts happen here and now. They are all fear-based efforts to try to control the future. They are also great at numbing myself right now. Bonus.
I would love it if I never had to meditate, exercise or delegate again. I meditated every day for a whole week and I hated it. It was hard. I preferred wallowing in chaos to suffering that kind of discomfort every morning regardless of the benefits.
I trained 6 months each for 2 marathons. I should never have to exercise again my whole life. I’ve done my time.
Okay, we’re approaching full circle so bear with me. If I truly believe that living in the moment, that the path is the journey, that connection with something greater than myself is real, then my Mother may actually still have some quality to her life. If I don’t, then I must believe that she is better off dead.
Go ahead and hate me for a moment.
There’s a prickly feeling in my reptilian brain that rejects all of this as wrong. It’s not just wrong that we shouldn’t ever wish someone were truly dead. Oddly, that’s less of a consideration here. I’m saying that my intuition is telling me that that is incorrect. That it’s warped.
My intuition being prickled like this is a call to action for me. In a weird way, that feeling kicks in my desire to work hard at fixing something. Perhaps – no commitments here – a recognition that it’s time to evolve.
Much of my life has been lived in pursuit. Safety. Hope. Boundaries. Esteem of self. Esteem of others. Esteem of life. My place in and a part of the universe. In this pursuit, I’ve gravitated to concepts that struck me as true. Taoist concepts that I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with.
I’d like to release the hate part. Of course, my instinct is to do that by fighting and striving (read: American puritan work ethic above). Yeah, yeah. I know.
Am I ready? I don’t know. I do know that I’m readier. I also know that I’m tenacious – in all ways. I will hang onto the self-destruction and strive for peace in the same breath. Phoo.
I know that there isn’t some threshold to cross into living a gleefully blissful existence. I do know that every day is an opportunity and a choice. Quite often, I choose poorly. Sometimes, I choose well. Some days, I choose well more often. I guess that’s that evolution I was writing about.
Just like Mom did.
More accidental lessons my Mother taught me. Damn her to hell.
Except, you know, not really.
On the “Welcome” page that promotes a man’s audio books, the first sentence I read today was: “I had wanted to issue a CD with this book, to illustrate what Shakespeare’s Globe called ‘original pronunciation’ (OP), but the production costs went against it.”
I was taken aback and had to look past this first ‘wah, wah, wah, poor, abused, misunderstood, unsupported, put-upon me’ sentiment to click on the links to his audio recordings – which I think are quite good.
Wow. Who offers a welcome like that? Uh-oh. I think I may have done it once… or twice… Yes. Reading his intro bugged me but perhaps primarily because I saw something of myself in it. Sigh. Sorry.
It’s funny (not funny-ha-ha) but when I would begin a conversation that way, it was often about something that I thought was really cool, neato and groovy. I am guilty of taking a person’s conversational “How are you” opening as an invitation to dump. I assumed they really wanted to know what I was dealing with my life, how I was coping and how I was applying all those lessons to the cool, neato and groovy thing I was doing.
Wait, I blame my mother.
No, wait! Really, it’s what I was taught. My mother had no clue how to open a pleasant conversation. She was consumed with so much ick and desperation to be cared for that her state of being (always horrid unless she had already been drinking that day) was the first thing out of her mouth. To be fair, she was an unmedicated schizophrenic, so she was doing her best but that’s what I learned.
Oh, no. TMI, right?
So, here’s where I am now – because you really want to know, right? The coolness, neato-ness and groovy-ness of the things I’m working on are the driving forces in my day. These things are great first, lots of work second and I generally feel happy and blessed to be doing this work. Sometimes, I’m frustrated, tired and overloaded, but those are the ebbs and flows of life. They aren’t my daily state of being. My inexplicable flip-flop in perspective is probably the reason that I noticed the sideways bitchiness of this man’s first impression.
Here’s also where I am – as aptly illustrated by my Mother’s to Blame explanation above. Mental illness and the uglier actions of people were an every day part of life for me as a kid. My mother talked about them all the time. It never occurred to me that most people don’t divulge their darkest, hardest and most harrowing experiences and challenges in the average course of conversation. My mother used to do that. So, now, I’m at peace with all that stuff but it still creeps into conversation. When it does, I’ve started to see the horrified looks on people’s faces and quickly try to explain that it’s all okay now. I’m fine, we’re all fine, everyone’s fine, I’m happy, doing great, blather, blather, gulp, try to recover and change the subject to flowers and sunshine.
Oh, Susan. I love you, girl and you’re such a klutz. Well meaning, delightful, funny, bold and (sometimes) a little intimidating, but a dear. You mean well.
This is a sheepish morning for me. Imagine that I’m looking up at you with a sideways smile and my chin tucked down just a bit.
Oh! Hey! How you doin?!