This afternoon, my incredible God Daughter Alyssa participated in Oakland's Open Studios. She's a photographer, and my GOD she is talented. She is just incredibly talented. She creates these extraordinarily sensuous photos, that somehow remain innocent, becaus she knows just where to place an errant puzzle piece or penny. I"m so proud of her.
Afterwards we had dinner at her mom's house, my best friend Jenna. Jenna is recovering from a lumpectomy and is getting ready to begin radiation treatments. It's invasive Breast Cancer but it doesn't look like any of those nasty cells got into her lymph nodes, so we are all holding our breath and breathing at the same time. Isn't it funny how life is like that?
I doodled away while I hung out at her house. Here's my silly little girls:
I think I was preoccupied with women and strength. What do you think? :D
I'm writing again. I have a memoir that I am working on, but the writing got jumbled up in the midst of my breakdowns, so I am moving a bit slower on that one, but still, I have it and I am having fun with it.
I don't how exactly this fiction piece cam to me - but, as can be the case with writing, a story kept developing in my head and it knocked around in there begging to be told. The first draft title is All of Me. Some of it I wrote at home, some at the hospital.
It's ready for readers. If you are interested, let me know. Here's a preview and a little graphic cover I made to go with it, for now. It seemed to fit - again, if you are interested in reading it or reading more as it is uploaded, let me know and I'll send you more info or put you on a mailing list to be alerted when a new chapter has been uploaded:
~ ~ ~
All of Me
Shauna Sover is a loner, but not by choice.She believes that everyone she has ever loved has left
her.Her sole comfort is a confusion
about whether she ever really loved any of them anyway.She holds closely to herself in a world that
calls out for recklessness, and when she gives in, she pays the ultimate price.
In All of Me, Shauna
learns that every price has its reward, and every reward has its price.Purgatory is the space-in-between, the place
where you can finally determine the true value of your choices and mishaps.
The space in-between is where Shauna finds herself, never
even having realized she was lost.Knowing small pieces of who are you are, is rare.Finding your way to the land of All of Me is the point of the journey.
You flew off with the wings of my heart and left me flightless. ~Stelle Atwater
I have a broken heart. I have a lot of broken parts of me, all trying to fuse back together, but each needs the assistance of my heart, and alas, it is so so broken right now.
I lost a friendship. When we were still friends, I knew I was lucky beyond belief. I'd found a brother, a confidante, an uncle for my children (they loved him too) and there were times, so many times, when my grief over my childhood, my parents, seemed to be answered by a benevolent universe that gifted me this man, to be my friend.
We did not have a fight. If I had to guess, he might say: "We grew apart." But he forgot to tell me, and I hadn't noticed.
I have a best friend, Jenna. She is a universe of stars shining brightly in my life, keeping the dark out - it can never be completely dark, when Jenna is my friend.
About a month ago, Jenna had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her breast, on a Monday. My heart was beating at the top of my throat all day long. There was molassses in the air, I was so sick with worry.
Tuesday afternoon, we got word that the surgery went well. The molasses thinned a bit. Like warm honey. But there was still that worry, that helplessness.
An hour or two later, my other best friend, the male one, called me to explain that his new girlfriend, who is Christian, sent him some literature that explained that it would be a sin if he continued friendships with other woment. He was allowed to see me if we happened to meet in a crowd, but under no circumstances could we go to the movies, or out to lunch, or to have our long rambling phone calls.
In other words, the context of our relationship was gutted.
I can't tell you in words how this upended my tenuous stance on the world. According to what he was saying, our entire friendship had been a sin.
I hate defending myself. I hate even having to say this. I love my husband. I never would have spent time with someone of the opposite sex if there was even a hint of attraction. I DID NOT feel that way about my friend. I felt, most completely honestly - like he was a brother.
We joked about it, my friend and I. That we were long lost siblings who had finally found eachother. People came up to us on the street and asked if we were siblings. It was eerie. It was wonderful.
When he began to have heart palpitations several years ago, I left work early and rushed to the hospital and sat in the emergency room holding his hand as he was hooked up to a heart monitor. I pleaded with God. "No God, not this heart. I love this heart. I love this man. Don't take it away."
When his own heart was broken over some woman or another, I listened, I hurt for him. I believed in him. I beleived that one day he would find the woman who was lucky enough to capture his heart and heal his lonely soul.
When my own heart was broken, I'd sleep on the pull out couch in his apartment, and he would sit with me for hours, watching tv, movies, anything to keep my mind off my lost love. He'd sit there, until I fell asleep.
When I married, and would argue with my husband and storm out of the house, I'd call my friend and he knew just how to take my husband's side without making me even more enraged. He was my hostage negotiator when I had taken my own heart for hostage.
Over the years he has shown extraordinary generosity to me and my family. There is not a room in my house that does not have something of him in it. Funny pictures, silly gifts, and larger ones too.
Sometimes we would talk on the phone for hours, and even if I started out crying, by the end I would be laughing. He was the funniest man I had ever met.
~ ~ ~
Oh, my heart is so so broken. Our entire friendship, as it turns out, in his mind, was a sin.
~ ~ ~
This is such a huge loss, and I don't know how I will get through it. That is the absolute truth. Did I ever get over the loss of my mother, my father, my firt divorce? And now there is this.
~ ~ ~
My illness sneaks in here, and wants to tell the rest of the story. It turns out that my friendship was not important to this person. I had imagined it. I took too much and didn't have enough of anything to give back. I am broken. I am lacking. I can't expect anyone to stick around, ever.
I can not believe in or hold fast to love, because I am not worth being loved, and sooner or later, everyone will figure this out - and leave.
~ ~ ~
I never in a million years, NEVER would have predicted that I would pick up the phone on that day, and hear him explain that our friendship had been a sin. NEVER.
~ ~ ~
If you are thinking that maybe he was attracted to me, and that is why he felt he had to end our friendship, well that's not it. He didn't seem particularly picky about the women who came and went (no pun intended) in his life, except that they had to be very slim. Very slim. Mary kate and Ashley style. And me? I'm as pudgy as the pillsbury dough boy. I am definitely not his type.
~ ~ ~
His phone call knocked me to my knees. My mother had shot herself again. My father was gone, endlessly gone, still, again, gone.
I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. Nothing was solid. My family was a hologram.
It was too much and too painful.
My family and I decided I had to go back into the hospital, there was talk about locking knife drawers.
My husband's touch made me claustrophobic. What if I needed my husband? What if I started to believe that he loved me? How would it feel when he too dissapeared? I didn't want my husband anywhere near me.
~ ~ ~
And now it is a month later. I am home. I have figured out how to hug my children again (by remembering how incredibly beautiful they are) and I am trying trying to let my husband back into my heart, because all this crap, this pain, so does not belong to him.
Iam trying, because I want to continue living despite who comes and goes.
I am trying because I have two beautiful children.
I am trying because Jenna, who loves me still, is in the fight of her life.
I am trying because despite the fact that I feel fractured and frightened and flightless, my husband keeps saying he loves me anyway. No, as in, "I'll take you as you are" - but as in - he'll love me in ANY possible way that I let him.
I am trying because I don't need to fly right now. One step in front of the other seems good enough, for now.
~ ~ ~
And, as for the friend who is no longer a friend - I hope for him that he has found that woman finally, who can capture his heart, his huge loving heart, and treasure it in the way that he so deserves. I hope that she can see what an amazing and wonderful man he is.
If this is the case, if he has found the love of his life, then the sacrifice of our friendship means nothing. If he can be happy, and I can find my way back from this broken heart, then this is worth it.
After all, this is sort how the world goes around, eh? It just keeps on spinning.
The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy. - John Rohn
My kids are in their last week of school. My step-daughter, who still blushes if she hears a swear word, will be going off to high school. How can this be?
My son will go on the 7th grade, which for him is the second year of middle school, but for me, was the first year of Junior High.
Junior High was my year of rescue. Up until that point, I was the poor girl, the dirty girl, the girl in dirty clothes with crooked hair cuts.
In 4th grade, our teacher told the class to sit in a circle and then announced that we were going to have a discussion about why everyone was so "cruel to Chelise."
I am pretty sure I had an out body experience the minute she made the announcement. My class mates couldn't wait to get in on the conversation. "She smells funny." "I think she might be sorta retarded." "She doesn't know how to brush her hair right." "Her clohes are wrinkled and dirty."
I was 8 years old. It went on and on. It was 5 years worth of excuses for why I was emotionally pummelled every day at school. I think the teacher tried to deflect or argue some of their points, but for every disparaging remark that was made, another came tumbling after.
I floated up there, waiting for the sounds of laughter and agreement to end. I can't remember it ending. I do remember the teasing was worse, the next day, and the day after that.
I think my teacher was trying to get the kids to stop being so cruel.
I think my teacher had absolutely no idea what she was doing
In fifth grade, the other girls in my class started calling me Shaggy Dog. All year long. My throat still closes up at the thought of it. "Shaggy Dog, will you pass the crayons?" "Shaggy Dog, what's in your lunch today - Alpo?"
I lived alone with a recluse of a mentally ill mother in an apartment that had no washing machine, and I was on my own. God, I did my best, but I was on my own.
The teasing started in kindergarten, and continued until Jr. High. What was different? at 11, I figured out how to carry my own clothes to the Laundrymat in town, and clean them. at 11, I learned how to iron. At 11 I flirted with adolescence, and suddenly - I was pretty.
Oh, to send my children off to these wonder stations of growth and education - it makes my heart so heavy. "Don't fall in the viper pits!" I want to warn them. Oh my.
When I was in kindergarten I was so afraid of the other children and my teacher, I was afraid to ask for a bathroom pass, and i wet my pants in class. Just a tiny bit. Just enough so that everyone, all day, told me I stunk like pee. And I knew it was true.
When we had our photos taken that year, the photographer became agitated with me because I wouldn't smile properly. I became frightened of him. I thought he was going to tell my parents that I had been bad, and that they would be angry. Maybe I'd get spanked.
So I smiled the biggest hardest smile I could. I smiled so that my cheeks hurt afterward. I smiled so that I wouldn't get hurt. But there was no joy there. There was no joy.
When our pictures came back, I stared at mine - trying to see anything other than what I saw and felt when I looked at that little girl.
That afternoon when I got home school, I asked my mom - "why am I so ugly?"
(This part makes me cry. I was 5 years old!)
My mother told me that sometimes you couldn't see beauty on the outside, but you could find it on the inside.
I had no idea what she was talking about, and I still didn't understand what I had done to become such an ugly little girl.
* * *
I think about these things as we end another shool year (My kids have it MUCH better than I did, thank goodness).
And yet - I am exhausted. It is as if I constructed that wall so many years ago to keep the sadness out, and it was made of steel and stone.
Some days, I climb endlessly, falling often, but still trying to get past it.
* * *
I look at that picture of myself now, and I don't see such an ugly little girl. I see a tiny piece of who I would become, me - a part of her, and she, a part of me.
My husband and I have been fighting. (Money. Sex. Rock and Roll. nbsp; You know. Marriage things.) My son came in yesterday, crying, asking us to stop fighting. My husband tried to tell him we weren't fighting - just talking loud (which was bullsh*t and made me mad, because I felt he wasn't respecting my son's feelings or intelligence.)
It doesn't matter does it? It doesn't matter if you have cancer or heart disease or diabetes, or mental illness.
It doesn't matter, your entire family and many of your friends get caught in the middle and its as if all the fears and frustrations of your illness are like shards of glass, being shot from the bow of some anti-cupid who lives inside of you. Shards of glass, headed right for the hearts of those you love so much.
It's so scary. I'm so scared to lose anyone. I am so scared to keep hurting people. I wept at the doctor's office yesterday. He said this was good news.
Sometimes I hate my psychiatrist.
He said I was feeling this grief, because I was coming back to myself.
He didn't have a magic pill.
Sometimes I have dreams that I can skate so far and so fast, it is as if I am flying.
Sometimes, I wish I had a river I could skate away on.
Now Im cryin - isnt that what you want
Im tryin to live my life on my own
But I wont
At times - I do believe I am strong
So someone tell me why, why, why
Do i, i, I feel stupid
And I came undone
And I came undone
I need you now
Do you think you can cope
You figured me out - Im lost and Im hopeless
Bleeding and broken - though Ive never spoken
I need you now
Do you think you can cope
You figured me out - Im a child and Im hopeless
Bleeding and broken - though Ive never spoken
I come undone - in this mad season (Mad Season ~ Matchbox Twenty)
I swear, I think matchbox twenty has followed me around and written songs that are just spot on, when it comes to my life.
I've written about this before, but one of the most painful things about my depressive episodes, are the number of people places and things that get neglected and then have to be tended to.
I'm full of apologies. I'm full of remorse. I'm full of frustration.
And, not helping matters at all - I am "fragile."
I've always liked that term. I'm not nuts. I'm not a whacko. I'm not cruel, selfish, narcissitic, I'm just fragile.
I am me, whole and complete, but please don't make any sudden moves, because I could shatter at any minute. I don't live in your world of Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. I am living in my Mad Season. Sigh. Between the meds and moods, it is as if there is no solid ground under my feet. Worse than that. I am trying to get my bearings, and i have no feet, no legs to stand on.
Here, I'll put a picture of my feet up there (sorry Chyrsti). That's proof, right? There they are. Polka dots and painted toes. Yep, those hoofers have got to be mine..
Here is what my life is like right now, as I try to walk on this imaginary earth where a rug has been pulled out from under me, as I try to right wrongs, and assimilate the fact that I can make mistakes but that I am still worthwhile. That LIFE remains worthwhile:
Seven years ago, I discovered surfing. As in, on a surfboard - not the computer. This was just after my mother had died. I mean literally weeks or maybe a month or so. I had a friend at work who had been surfing for years, and somehow - in the way that this universe hands down Grace in great big handfuls, this friend of mine looked at me and recognized that what I needed was a heavy dose of the sea all around me. The sea whose tides had pulled me out of a suicide attempt so many years ago. The sea where my mother's ashes were scattered.
And I loved it. I loved paddling out, I loved ducking under the incredible strength and purpose of each incoming wave. I loved sitting or lying on my board, out behind the break, waiting for the right wave to come in.
And I loved the waves that carried me, faster than I could believe possible, smooth and hard both at the same time. Both at the same time, over and over, every metaphor for living and its Grace filled me with what I needed then. I will never regret that time in my life. Waking up at 4 a.m. so that I could go surf in the mornings before work. Falling, tumbling, and finally, standing on all that wild water. I'll never forget.
SO, at the end of that particular summer, my friend and I decided to take a surf vacation to Honolulu. We packed nothing by bathing suits, tshirts, and surf shorts. We stayed at a hotel a few blocks off the beach, and we woke early every morning to get out on the water before the sloppy tourists or grumpy expert Hawaiian surfers began to crowd the water.
But one day, we decided to set our boards aside and take a side trip to snorkle. Now, I had never snorkled before. But I didn't even have even one moment of hesitation. We would go to a beach that was reputed to have incredible tide pools and an extraordinary underwater variety of life forms.
At this point, I love the ocean, I loved the tides, I loved life.
Look at me there. I look like someone who is brave and purposeful, don't I?
I look like I am experiencing something fun, something adventurous. I love my right (left to you) hand in the picture, it is reaching and pushing at the same time.
But here's the thing. I'm paddling, as quickly as possible, back toward the shore.
Not because there was a menacing eel or hungry shark in sight.
Not because I had stomach cramps or had cut my leg on some of that insidious Hawaiian coral.
No. I was paddling backward, desperate for the shore, because, as it turns out - snorkling made me terribly claustrophobic.
It started immediately. As soon as I put my face down into the water, I began to feel tight and afraid and worst of all, scared to breath.
My friend didn't really believe me at first when I pulled my head up and out of the water and explained that I HAD to get back to shore, that this just wasn't really for me.
"Oh but we haven't even seen anything yet!"
It didn't matter. I was embarrassed and felt that I was letting her down, but I had to get back to shore.
Ok, that's a strange place to end that story, and maybe you can't see the connection, well - because you aren't in my shoes (my red polka dot flip flops. Ha!)
But what I see, is that I am right back where I was, in that water, nice and snug with the right equipment (meds, doctors, supportive family and friends), but I am so very afraid to breathe.
The Universe would have me know that I should keep moving forward, because I haven't seen anything yet.
But, why am I expected to take such huge leaps of faith, when I am - remember - fragile.
One should never take a huge leap anywhere, when they are carrying something fragile, much less if that fragile thing is their heart.
But, I am so far out now. I am claustrophic, afraid to breathe, feel like a coward, and I can see neither what lies ahead, or the shore.
Sigh. And that is what I am contemplating on this fine Sunday morning.
Here is to hoping that your shore is firmly below your feet, or that the arms of your soul are swimming swiftly in the right direction.
When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
This morning felt like it might be another lost day. My son, luckily, is spending the weekend at a friend's house. For some reason I am watching a movie (Passengers) that is about living people, realizing that they are dead. (Sorry for the giveaway). It makes my heart ache. Sometimes I feel that i am exactly the opposite. Dead/dying inside, just waiting for the truth to reveal itself, that in fact - I am alive.
But, I am getting things accomplished, mailing out invoices and amounts due, shipping things out, and about moving forward with improving the benefits of being a part of ZNE - I can feel hat tiny leap. My heart beat. My proof.
My garden of hope starts here:
I am alive.
Many, many thanks go out to Cindy DeLuz who unexpectedly sent the wonderful piece of artwork above, a a gift to me. I know exactly where will it will go, on the wall in our living room. And whenever I see it, I will remember that I too, am tending a precious garden.
May you all tend to your precious gardens today, as well.