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Bracing for impact

March 11th, 2011

Right now the amount of pain that is sitting on my chest is more than I can carry.  I have no outlet for it, I have no release, and I’m tired.

It’s big, it’s heavy, and it hurts.

I keep waiting for a break, a lift; a moment when it’s not there when I don’t have to focus or operate under it’s influence.

Sometimes if I’m lucky I’m able to cry; most times I’m not lucky.  I know the tears will help ease the burden but they stay deep down tucked away.

My head keeps asking me when it will be time to stop all of this hurting nonsense, when will I get out from under this rock of despair, will there be a happy ahead, where the fuck is the carrot?

Perhaps the happy is just an illusion, something that we’ve bought and sell our souls for on a daily basis.  Happy is an overstatement, I’m just looking to feel balanced and relatively happy for longer than one day, a week even.

I’ve been emotionally running from the final impact that I know is my due.  I doubt anyone could blame me for this after the last 10 years of the up and down, heart being ripped from my chest; beat up and ripped and hung on the outside of my body to dry.

Resisted writing this, not looking for condolences, I know it’s a part of the process (I’ve come to despise those three words).  I’ve been holding it in hoping it would pass, that I would be released magically.

I know better, I do.  Yet, I never stop bracing myself for impact.  It’s a primal reaction built in to humans.  Some are lucky enough to keep it under the rug and hidden.  That’s never a choice I’ve had, or even been successful with my attempts.

Back to where I always land, writing about it and posting it here releasing it into the safe place where others understand and will sigh as they read; nodding their heads in solidarity.

This too shall pass.  I just wish it would hurry the fuck up because my heart, mind, and body are weary.

Slip Slidin’ Away

August 25th, 2010

The thing about slipping away, slipping under, the light getting smaller and smaller, is that you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late.

You’re going along, not thinking about how things are getting incrementally harder because you’ve always had days that are harder. And then get better. And then harder again and then better again ad nauseum until you are pretty much used to the ride. You don’t consider it remarkable anymore because it’s your “normal” life.

But the black hole is sneakier. The days get harder and harder. You’re waiting it out. You know if you just get through another day, things will get better again. So another day passes where you’re holding on with both hands. Then one hand. Then a few fingers. Then you notice your fingernails are torn and bloody stumps and finally, FINALLY, you realize you’re not going to be able to get back up. You are losing your grip completely and it’s too late to take precautionary measures. Way to late for that.

It becomes a life of lying under the water, looking at the world through goggles and trying not to think about all the ways you could die. Accidentally, of course.

And then it becomes a life of trying not to think of how to die on purpose. And you can’t even see out of the water anymore. Someone turned out the lights. You can’t hear or see or feel anything but extreme sad and bad and guilt.

“I’m trapped!” I yelled at the psychiatrist yesterday, “I can’t stay here and worry everyone while my mother-in-law has stage4 cancer and I should be taking care of her! I can’t go see family because they would worry the whole time I’m there! I can’t stay alive because this is how things will be the rest of my life – up, down, up, down – I can’t do it anymore! And I can’t kill myself because my kids would never get over it!”

It feels like I’m trapped in hell.

A med change is underway. I don’t feel better, I feel weird. Even more distant from my surroundings and I care even less.

I can write this because I’m a writer and this is what I do. I can’t change anything in my brain because this is how I am. I haven’t stopped crying for over 2 weeks and I shake all the time. I don’t want food. I only want to drink and fall asleep. But I don’t. I just think about it. Because maybe I won’t wake up. That would be nice.

My husband says, “There are lots of people who want you around, and alive. I love you Leah. You are valuable and precious.” I hear it but I can’t hear it because it feels like a lie. I didn’t think I would get married again after my divorce in 2002. I figured no one should be married to the mess that is me. But, I did marry. And he’s wonderful. And I fill his life with stress and drama and worry. In loving him I’ve ruined his life. If I really loved him, I would leave him.

This is the black hole talking. In this flash of sanity, I know it. But, sometimes the black hole just takes over everything and reason and sanity are nowhere.

Originally posted on Leahpeah


July 11th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I found out that my dad has Congestive Heart Failure.  I know it doesn’t have to be a death sentence, but it’s still a harsh reminder of his mortality.  I heard the news and wondered:  how will I react?

Things never affect me right away.  I can pretend nothing has changed for a couple of days, and then I’ll catch myself doing something abnormal.

This time, part of me has regressed to age 15, when I was desperate for male attention and approval.  I bought myself a couple of really short miniskirts, and I’ve been furtively but compulsively checking to see how many men are noticing.  It’s not a good thing, especially when they catch me looking at them looking.  It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable.

It’s embarrassing.  I have this habit of watching men’s faces too closely when I’m insecure; looking into their eyes with too much intensity and holding the stare for a few beats too long.  Then I look down, away, anywhere else, because I may as well be wearing a sticker on my forehead that says “DESPERATE”.

It’s especially bad because I’m not 15 anymore.  The 17-year-old at the grocery store checkout counter is young enough to be my son.  I don’t look my age, but I do look too old to be checking out high school boys.

I’ve been seeing my hair stylist for over a year now.  We’ve always been cool.  Last month, sitting in his chair I was aware of his hands on my head, and suddenly got all shy, wondering if he thinks I’m pretty.  Honestly!  I hate this.  Where has my confidence gone?

I have got to get a grip.

It’s time to go

April 9th, 2010

The thought comes, then the pit of the stomach feeling as if I’ve lost the biggest prize at the fair.  I’m the girl that doesn’t win, the one that doesn’t get the guy, the one that lets you treat me like shit and pretend that I just need to adjust my thinking.

Pretending time is over, I’ve seen the truth and once that bitch comes out she doesn’t leave.

Truth has saved my life many times.

Always painful, always harrowing, always sad.  It’s the other side that I aim for, getting to the other side of IT.  It’s like finding that doll house you always wanted under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

This time, I’m not blaming myself for taking so fucking long to finally SEE IT.  This time, I’m not doing that.  I am one hundred percent positive that it took every fucking thing it took to bring me here.

Many years were involved.  Many bad things, many hard things, and a whole lot of me trying to figure out what the motherfucking hell I was doing wrong and trying to correct it.

I can honestly say that I’ve done everything I can think of to resolve, to see it differently.  I’ve looked at it from your point of view, from her point of view, their point of view and the one that really fucking matters is my own point of view.

Today I realized that I deserve so much more than I’ve allowed myself to be given.  I don’t blame you, or her, or them.  My part is that I, you, and them teach others how to treat us.  We do.  If I do not see myself as worthy I’m not going to command that from anyone else.

Another level, another layer of the same insect that moved into my head as a child and colored my life choices to date.

By opening myself up to this level of intimacy, vulnerability and love I can see this whole deal in a new light.

A light of love maybe.

Just maybe, a light of love and acceptance for myself that I wasn’t sure I was capable of.

I am.

I’m ready.

Let’s go.

It’s Back. A little bit. Maybe. Damn.

August 22nd, 2009

By guest writer Laurie

So. I’ve been in a good mood for months. Months. Happy shiny months of months.

I went to BlogHer. I came home. I started writing again. I went to the beach, for a fabulous week. I came home. People like me in a good mood. I like me in a good mood.

And then I crashed. It kind of started at the end of vacation, the weird way I get when things are just a little off, the frequency starts humming just a little too loud and nothing helps. I’m owning it here because I don’t know what else to do with it anymore, honestly, but also because I figure if I can go back to making this a daily practice when nothing else is happening with any consistency, at least that’s something.

And what I do when this happens is I isolate. I go back to my literal and figurative basement. I do not want to talk about it. I want to sit and not talk. I don’t want to tell anyone what really goes on in here, because really? It’s not interesting and it’s not engaging and time is limited for even interesting and engaging things.

Maybe not writing about things keeps them buried. Maybe that was the purpose of keeping myself on lockdown for a year. Or it’s like a conference hangover, you know, you’re surrounded by all of this positive reinforcement and “you can do it”, it’s all Amway and Mary Kay but it’s not, it’s the epically cooler versions of those. And you start to think – I’m doing it again, writing in the “you” speak when really I mean me, I hate when I do that – I start to think of all the things I want and need and maybe should do to bring some order to these proceedings.

I knew things were building up. Old patterns started repeating (Addicts to any kind of behavior or substance will likely recognize this statement.) When I start listening to August and Everything After on repeat and the “I should never have left Ohio” mental tape starts playing I know I’m screwed, which, as true as it may be, and lord knows I have so much love in my heart for Dayton, it’s not useful thinking because it didn’t happen, and I needed to get out of that place when I did because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have left and I’d be divorced with 2.5 children and driving around Centerville drinking wine out of a sippy cup, no question. (But property values? Could totally own my own house to be drunk in.) August 9 was my tenth anniversary back in Maryland. Maybe I can blame it on that.

Everything started triggering tears again, and I hadn’t been doing that shit for MONTHS. It’s not like I set out to do it on purpose, it just happens and I get so ANGRY when I feel it happening again, because it just doesn’t seem fair that it happens when I’m just cruising along minding my own business and trying to do good things and really when I’m in that place I am super. Even I can cop to that at this point. In any event I’m the opposite of sitting there going, “Oh, thanks, this has been great, could I please have a MOTHERFUCKING MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL END OF SUMMER SALE???? THANKS DUDE! GOT IT COVERED THANKS.”And as always happens, something stupid triggered it.

Saturday I went to see Julie and Julia, which I didn’t really hate although I thought I would, and it plunged me into a ridiculous horrible pit of depression because I don’t have my own kitchen (I’m not kidding. This is huge right now for some reason. It’s like I want to make pot roast every night or start a cupcake of the week club. I. Am. Insane.) This is also no one’s fault but mine. These are life choices writ large. And also my blog sucks and no one loves me as much as that little man loved Julia Child even though she talked like that all damn day and I didn’t come up with the idea to cook 365 days of recipes that I stole from someone in order to get a book and then a movie deal and everything just sucks it sucks it sucks, are you going to eat that meatball? No? Thanks. And perhaps more wine?

I had an embarrassing episode immediately following the movie based on the confluence of these factors and my entire weekend tanked, miserably. See how fast that happens? I am a phenom with the overanalysis and the crazy.

Speaking of wine and meatballs, I’ve also been off the regular exercise routine that had been going so well and really went down the drain between BlogHer and the beach, because you know what? I was TIRED. I did a few crazy long walks on the beach which probably helped keep me stable for the amount of beer I drank while I was there and I think I may have needed a break from the almost daily literal beating I was taking at the gym. It’s just so easy to spiral out of control if I let it go even for a little while. Even a week is too long. It also turns out that workouts are essential to my mental wellbeing, and without them, I end up here again, where I do not want to be. And it’s really easy to go down in a hole about this particular issue, especially when once I’ve broken the workout cycle it’s SO hard to get back in the groove. All the head games start again and these games are complex and difficult to win.

ISSUES, I have issues. I’m trying honesty around here. It may or may not be working.

And yet. And yet. I am trying. I’m thinking of the lists of things to be thankful for, which makes me stabby more than it helps sometimes, because I kind of like my gratitude to be natural and not forced, but maybe I need to get over myself where that’s concerned too. I am trying to be forgiving and understand why people intrude upon your personal physical and psychic space with weird comments and invasive behavior, why they won’t pick up on social cues to behave just a little bit differently, please stay behind the yellow line until your number is called, that sort of thing. I am trying not to say mean things to my students. I am trying not to purposefully seek out things that will upset me.

I haven’t been very much fun to be around for the past two weeks, and I don’t like it either. Knowing that action cures anxiety, I have assignments for myself, the life management shit I hate, and I’m trying very hard to take an action every day. I know what to do, the ass-kicking I need to give myself to avoid the bad places. The long-term goal list needs to be revisited. And as for the short-term, I’m going to try to go back to kickboxing, because if there’s anything I need right now it’s aggressive physical activity. Listening to a lot of pissed off screamy music is helping too. And I need to communicate even when I don’t feel like it with people I know are good influences, because at times like this I’m editing myself before I open my mouth or type a word and that’s part of the problem.

And it turns out that due to the muscle deterioration that quickly occurs when one stops working out in a concentrated fashion for almost a month, I’ve lost two more pounds. So you know, there’s that.

Previously posted here.


April 22nd, 2009

My leg is touching the door and I can feel the vibrations of the music through my knee cap. I’m not thinking. I’m just feeling the bass line and mouthing the words. My mouth opens and closes with the words but no sound comes out. I don’t think I know this song. If I was the passenger in the car to the left, I would think I was singing. But if I was the passenger in the car to the left, I wouldn’t be me. I would be him. I think about this for awhile, forgetting to mouth along to the song, my jaw slightly slack.

What if I was him? That guy to the left? I wouldn’t be me. Or I would be both. I would have his feelings. Or they would be the same as the ones I have now, just his. Or they would be different. And I would look over and see me and wonder about the lady driving in the big black van and hope she had at least one other person in the car to make that beast worth while. And I would know that she wasn’t really singing because I didn’t really sing, either. Orange would be slightly different, but how, I couldn’t say. I would like the air slightly warmer in the cab of the car while driving, but my wife would want it cooler and I’d wear gloves to keep my hands warm, even in the summer. I’d hate the birds that shit on the car under the palm tree. I’d love orange suckers and I’d do ceramics on the weekend as a hobby to calm my nerves. Or are they my nerves. Or mine. I don’t know.

My shoe is near the speaker and I can feel the vibrations of the music climbing up my leg. I turn the bass up and look up to notice the sign that says the name of street I know, but isn’t on my route home. I’m confused for a moment and then I realize I passed my exit about twenty minutes back.

I wonder where I’m going.

I’m driving as if I don’t care that I’m not headed in the right direction. I just passed an exit where I could have turned around. And another one. And another. I’m not changing lanes to get to the right. I’m just going forward at a steady 73 miles per hour. Maybe I don’t care. But I don’t know where I’m going.

I’m out of water. My mouth is dry. I have a headache. I get off the freeway and get back on, heading west.

My hands are on the steering wheel and the vibrations are coursing through my fingers and into my wrists. The music is too loud and I turn it down. Then off. The car on my right is driving right in my blind spot. When I speed up, he speeds up. When I slow down, He slows down. I punch the gas and hit over 80, moving away from the irritation. The road is bumpy on this stretch and the van bobs up and down violently for a few seconds. The Santa Annas are blowing hard against the windshield and I can hear the whistle it makes as it leaks through the seams around the doors. It’s high pitched and screaming. All it would take is my not handling the wind very well. Just a tiny mistake going around the right bend of the hills. The tire would hit a pothole and explode. The van would flip over and over, jumping over the guardrail and into the middle of oncoming traffic. I could even take off my seat belt first. I look at myself in the rear view mirror. And then I look away. My foot comes off the gas pedal a little and I slow down to 68 and hit cruise control.

The wind whistling through the doors grows deeper and less insistent. It sounds more like a hum and less like a shriek. I take a few slow breaths and turn the music back on, but softly. I click forward through the songs until I find something mellow.

I’m close to home now. And I think I’m glad. The thoughts and feelings I’ve been avoiding come rushing at me. I’m a horrible person. I’m so unworthy of love. The world would be a better place without me. My kids deserve a better mom. Joe would have a better life without me. I imagine saying that out loud to Joe and I can hear his voice in my head. I would say, ‘I’m too broken. It’s never going to get better. How many times can I say I’m sorry before I get on your nerves? Once a day? Twice? I should just leave.’ and he would say, ‘Only say sorry if you commit a sin of commission or omission against me. You haven’t. You don’t need to be sorry. Your existence is not a sin. I love you. I hope you don’t leave. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ And then I’m crying but I don’t know if it’s happening now or yesterday when he said it for real.

The car is stopped and parked in front of the house. I’m home. Home. The thrumming I feel isn’t music. It’s my thoughts and I’m trying to get them under control before I walk in the house. I’m numbing out my mind, creating a buffer around my body and settling in the center where it’s calm and one tiny bit of what I hope is reality comforts me as I gather my things and head up the walkway.

Your existence is not a sin. I love you.

Originally published here.

Not my best side-*updated at the bottom.

August 27th, 2008

Motherfucking hell I thought in my head when I left my Doctor’s office. My thyroid levels are worse, not better.

He doubles the dosage, then I come back in two months to repeat the process of getting blood work, followed up a week later with another appointment with him to check the levels again. When I left his office, I was feeling very low, maybe even depressed.

There are so many disturbing eruptions happening in my life that I can barely piece myself together to be present for my son. Can I just tell you that these issues are not of my own making?

See, I have my shit together. I have scraped and clawed my way into life, I overcame and rose above. Then I fucking got married. Do I sound resentful? You bet, I am very fucking resentful.

The side effects of dealing with grown ups that have no idea how to be a mature and independent adult. A person with a grandchild, still being spoon fed by her mommy and her third husband, a person with such severe mental illness I fear she can never recover from all the damage she’s created. A person that has severely damaged her very own child with her undiagnosed mental illness.

The effexor, armour thyroid, hormone creams, and the supplements that stare at me each morning as I go from bottle to bottle taking the amount prescribed and wonder if this is any kind of life for a person to live. It really isn’t any kind of life for me to live, or you for that matter.

I often wonder how long I will be able to function like this, knowing that things are not improving and the burdens becoming much too heavy to bare. I suited up for my life and showed up, I can support myself, I am a survivor that doesn’t need bleed other people dry like a fucking vampire.

I struggle with reaching out to others based on the severity of my personal conditions. No one really wants to hear it after five or eight years of hearing it. In fact, I’m beyond hearing about it, or living it.

Similar to when a person dies, people are very helpful for the first few months, but soon after they stop calling as much and god forbid if you shed a tear. They want to just get over it, stop wallowing in the past. I too, want to just get over it.

They don’t know what else to say, they cannot be shouted at or cursed.

Something inside of me is screaming very loudly, it’s like a trapped animal in a cage suffering innumerable pain and discomforts. Part of me would like to try and figure out what is being said, so that I can respond in kind to the violent screaming. Eventually, trying to figure it out becomes much too hard and I try and distract myself with activities that I know I must perform in order to put that whole one foot in front of the other.

This is what I keep doing, one foot in front of the other. Just like the big snow monster in that old Christmas movie.

**After re-reading this, I very much wanted to delete the post, to pretend like it never happened.  I struggled with removing it, lest you think bad of me.  Embarrassed with my immature ramblings in the middle of an attack of my ego.  (Or, as my therapist would say, “lack of ego”.)

Instead, I’ll leave it here and tell you what bothers me most, “See, I have my shit together.” Not that I expected anyone to believe me, but this is the crap that I try to tell myself when in the middle of an attack.

Then I remembered one of the reasons that Real Mental exists, to allow me a safe writing place.  My hope is that I do not offend, nor to have a person take this personally.  I struggle with how much to reveal sometimes, I question myself, I do the whole second guessing game, and generally make myself sick over it when that isn’t why I wanted to be a part of this to begin with.

Don’t let my anger, (or is it passion?) scare you, we all have the right to say and write “ugly” things, if only to use it as a tool to get to what is really underneath it all.  It’s just another layer.  Not one I am proud of but one that must be acknowledged in order to move on.