Tuesday, November 17, 2009

so....

i think john summed it up best when he said "my heart is going up and down. I'm excited but concerned."

becka is pregnant.

for all the things going on in my heart and head, i can't manage to write a thing about it. yet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

1- futility

trying to put fringe on a scarf with a 6 week old kitten trying to help.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"I walk around in shame,"

a-frikkin-men.
he should.
http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Stein_Martin.html
as of february last year, it appears he'll never get his license back.
"Stein, who has been receiving psychiatric disability benefits, told the board he is being treated for bipolar disorder, which he said was largely to blame for his many problems. The panel met in closed session for two hours with Stein's psychiatrist and other doctors to hear details of his treatment.
The medical director of the Virginia Health Practitioners' Intervention Program, whose staff evaluated Stein, disagreed. Internist Patricia Pade, who argued against reinstatement, said his problems involve "characterological issues." Also known as personality disorders, such problems include narcissism and grandiosity. "

is it wrong of me to laugh at this?
at least 18 years of malpractice in his wake and he still thinks he should practice?
God help the war veterens he's volunteering with these days.

it's an indication of where i'm at that i made an impulsive search for current news on dr. charlie foxtrot... times like these the past comes up and bites me.

at least in this there is vindication and i can rest knowing that once in a while, justice is served. now, if i could just get back to that forgiveness thing...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Iriiiis!

okay, it's been 3 weeks and not a peep.
can't find your blog or your email and you apparently forgot you have a facebook.
so...
GET IN TOUCH!
your dad showed us the pic of the new gulf coast group. i'm glad you're working with one of the women that came to antioch. she's the one who made me laugh. it's a great picture!
sophie asks about poly and ax every time i see her. here's the update (which i didn't share with sophie)...
i've had to speak to both poly and ax about not nesting in my yarn while i'm knitting. poly is especially determined to eat the yarn as it travels from ball to needles.
charlie has had several conversations with ax about why it is not okay for her to crawl inside the leg of his boxers. she doesn't seem convinced.
i'm going to have to talk to charlie and the kids about the feeding arrangement as both girls are putting on weight already. this many people saying hello with a treat is having an effect.
both girls are ignorant to the fact that buddy and the cats are supposed to consider them prey. because they don't know this, they love to annoy any one who happens to be napping when they are out to play and the results have been hysterical. after 5 minutes of ax licking her paws and crawling on her head, patches finally decided she'd rather nap under the bed.
buddy thinks it highly unfair that they can get away with chasing him (to nibble on paw fur) but he's not allowed to chase back. when ax and poly team up on him he dances trying to get them away from his paws. MUST VIDEOTAPE IT! mostly he cowers at charlie's side until their playtime is over.

the youth have decided to take the name "truth seekers" but i think they want to mess with apostle b... because they're going to see if he'll go for "seekers of wicked awesome truth" or "S.W.A.T". if i thought i could get away with it, i'd tape the meeting just so you can see the look on his face.

you are missed and loved and had better hurry up and tell me how you are so i can have an answer next time i'm asked. :P

YOUR TURN.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

jell-o shots are of the devil

housewarming party with the gieghbors (or is it gaybours?)
i swear, i'm never drinking again.
oi.
oh, and computer has been down. charlie picked a great time to get it running again.
did i mention he electrocuted himself this week?
always check the batteries in the meter before working on grandma's air conditioner.
100 amps.
nothing quite so freaky as watching him thrown back in a shower of sparks then trying to catch him as he speed stumbled to the other side of the house mumbling "power... off... turn... off. "
amazing light show.
yeah, his angels are working overtime.
and he wonders why i was so willing to have a few (too many) drinks.
waiting for the room to stop spinning...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moving on... letting go

Last night, I had a brief Facebook exchange a member of my favorite morning radio program (http://brantsblogofawesomeness.typepad.com/). At the time I was being silly and going for the laugh. This afternoon, attacking the freakish disorder of the master bedroom while trying not to get lost in a comparable mess of thoughts, something Pablo said knocked over a certain pile of jumbled memory and stuck.

"Sometimes I think knowing too much makes you worry about stuff more. Ignorance truly is bliss."

D'oh.
I get it.
No, really... I get it.

In all my collective years of blogging, countless hours have been spent trying to convince myself to chronicle various periods of my life. Far more emotional energy than I care to admit spent trying to work up the courage to pick apart every detail of the years after diagnosis and before blogging.

Why?
no, really... why?

Lyn once asked me if the details mattered as much as the effect. At the time, I accepted the statement and applied it only to the topic at hand.

On one hand, I like the knowing. It's always preferred over the fog and haze that covers so many things. But life doesn't give us perfect clarity.

I've always liked my puzzles. There's no doubt, chasing memory is like solving a puzzle.

Is it really necessary to cover every square inch of my life in detailed description? To what purpose?

Is it the desire to know more than to accept? Is it habit? Is it a masochistic need to revisit the painful? Is it a desire to pat myself on the back for the change since then or some guilty need to expose just how screwed up I was at the time?

At one time I could have easily convinced myself it was part of a desire to encourage others... if I could detail the walking clusterf@#& of my existence, I could offer hope to others they could get past their own struggles.

I'm not so certain of such altruism anymore. The reality is I'd rather get lost in details... hide in the details than look at the bigger picture. Every moment I spend untangling memories is a moment not spent in the present. It's just another way to hide.

I was a mess then. Now, not so much. Still learning, still struggling, still fighting.

Sure, there are things that will come up and should be written rather than worried... sure there are times to look to the past... but every quiet moment? It might be easier to move forward if I release the death grip on the past.

So I don't remember everything. Who does? If it comes, it comes.

But I'm done looking.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not their Girl Friday

You will learn to say NO.
You will learn that someone asking and you having the ability doesn't mean you should automatically say yes.
Learn to say "I'll let you know." "Let me check my schedule." or be honest and say "I have too much going on right now and can't do it."
Do it.
This week, you will say NO to someone who isn't family.
So they get pissed off.
So they get offended.
They'll get over it.
Or not.
Not.your.problem.
You let yourself become the go to girl.
They'll keep asking until you start saying no.
Visit your MIL and help her wipe bloody drool from her chin or go help self-absorbed people pull off a birthday party when they already have plenty of help?
Have any of them even bothered to go see her?
She matters in your life.
They don't even rank in the top 10.
Let them deal with it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Step 4 or "Couldn't you at least pretend to be surprised?"

Admit it, embrace it, move on.
It's not like you haven't known on some level the whole time.
It was too much like the goodbye on the railroad tracks.
"If we're gone, then maybe (fill in the blanks) will be less complicated."
There is so a giant, screaming hint there.

I let myself just write without thinking the other night... and the headache that sandwiched the writing is all too familiar. The same headache I've been fighting off and on the last 10 years... the same headache that when HSS lived here would take me out for days at a time... until I said enough and the girls and I came to an agreement.

"It's not like you need us right now. You can deal with this shit on your own."

The delusions we create for ourselves. Stephanie was right. I could deal with the shit. But the shit in question wasn't life in general and everything after that moment... it was the particular shit that was consuming our every moment at the time.

The full scale healing process wasn't done and couldn't be in the midst of such chaos.

I knew bringing myself to the point of daring to let go... of letting down my not-so-complicated-as-I-like-to-believe walls would bring with it tough stuff. What I didn't expect was the relief I felt after letting myself free write this afternoon.

I've decided on the Zoloft. The symptoms of major depression are there and if I'm going here again, I may as well do so with all available weapons.

Here's the problem...
What if we're not finished?
What if shutting down was needed at the time and opening up again means more than just me?
Does it mean I have somehow failed?
No
Does it mean I'm stepping backwards?
No
Does it mean I had to put things on hold for a time for the sake of my sanity and my family and we're now free to finish this the right way?
Does it mean that along the way my family can have the sense of closure of which they were deprived before... the chance to say goodbye?

The more I fight the desire to stay shut off... the more I sense I'm not alone... and the more I fight to stay shut off. The struggle is stealing every ounce of energy and sabotages every moment of so called rest or sleep.
How much more do I ignore before finally falling apart?
Doesn't it make more sense to face it and keep on trucking?

Am I running away in another form if I accept we aren't done and I need them to complete the work... that we need to do this together?

I'm not finished looking through the prism. I don't believe it means I'm stepping back... it means I've been in one place long enough and it's time again to move forward... to finish what we started and to do it the way it was meant to be done... for us.

I wrote this... read it... and asked Charlie if I could talk to him before I lost my nerve.
When I'd finished reading, he just looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked, "Am I supposed to be surprised? You know I had to wait until you realized this for yourself."

I didn't know whether to laugh, be offended, or to just punch his arm and call him an ass.
It's a familiar confusion and brought with it a sense of peace and hope.
Because now... now, we can really move on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For future reference

Marisa
what i wanted to ask was if you would tell me what you remember of stephanie and reese?

Jennifer
Reese I don't remember talking to much, but Stephanie I talked to some.

Marisa
how did you know her name was reese? did she tell you?

Jennifer
Stephanie liked to write but seemed very angry. She'd kick your ass in a NY minute. She's the one I talked to the most right after you got out of Dominion.
No, Stephanie did.

Marisa
really?
shit.
i still don't remember any of that

Jennifer
Why?

Marisa
curious.
i'm remembering a lot more of times that have been a blank.

Jennifer
Do you remember Stephanie's diary? I always thought it was interesting that she was OLDER than you at one point.

Marisa
but have just been really curious about how much you remember of them because it's all still a blank to me.
i remember writing a story about a character named stephanie. don't remember when it changed to a diary... just know it did.
i remember her being older
she stopped at 17, said there was no point becoming an adult and having to be responsible.

Marisa
i've been doing some writing tonight. the kind i haven't done in years. can't stop shaking. dammit such a pain in the ass

Jennifer
Yep. I always remember her being 17. I honestly don't know who else I talked to. Once "you" called me from a gas station in another state and told me you were going to cut yourself but I'm not sure if it was you or one of the others. You didn't sound like yourself.

Marisa
that must have been the night in DC
i didn't know i called you.
that was after the first trip to dominion, right?

Jennifer
Yes.

Marisa
that was DC
i hate asking... could i call for a few? i think i need to hear you say it, if that makes sense.

Jennifer
Sure.

Marisa
k


DC... one of those experiences that cemented my belief in God (however much I hated Him at the time) and realized that while I couldn't understand why He wouldn't let me die, I couldn't deny He had my back.

It had to be DC because that was the only time I ever made it out of Virginia before getting caught.

After the first stay at Dominion... sometime in the summer of 1984. I walked out of the house with a few coins in my pocket and no plan beyond not going home again. I was dressed in my most stupid hitchhiking gear. a bandanna top, a ratty flannel button down tied at the waist and short cutoffs. It really is a wonder I survived those nights of wandering.
Along 234 I was picked up by a van load of guys reeking of pot. Hey, an opportunity. I was invited to party with them at one's house. After countless bong hits and the depletion of their stash, I asked if someone could drive me to DC.
The guy who agreed took me halfway there before asking what I was going to do in return for the drive. Um... nothing? He argued the cost of gas (what am I a $2 screw?) and the time he wasted giving me a ride. Stephanie managed to explain to him why he should not expect any sexual favors from me and why it was in his best interest to stop being a perv. She told him to drop me off at Union Station.
So he dropped me off... on 14th street. A section of DC then best known as a hang out for hookers and drug dealers.
From my conversation with Jen, I know the call much have occurred when I passed the first payphone. Razor blades and folded bandannas tied around my wrists, hiding the cuts, were my constant accessories. It's no surprise I was wanting to cut by then... but my only knowledge of the conversation is what she told me. I don't remember making the call. It had to have been Reese. What Jen said in our phone conversation tonight confirms that for me.

I'd never told Jen about that night. All she's ever known was the call.

I remember walking down 14th street, hands jammed in my pockets and trying to look tougher than I felt. After a few blocks, a red sports car pulled up beside me. The driver rolled down the passenger window, and keeping pace with my walking, offered me a ride. I refused but he persisted. A couple of blocks later I agreed to get in the car and asked him to take me to the nearest hospital. I was sick and needed a doctor. (Yeah, I had decided I was screwed and a psych ward probably the safest place for me to go)
He suggested going back to his place. I asked again if he'd take me to a hospital. Looking back, he probably assumed I was sick from withdrawal. Jen reminded me that at that time, the medications I was taking made me shake like someone with palsy. I'm sure I did look like I was hurting for drugs.
He offered me cocaine, I declined.
Yeah, I was screwed but not totally stupid. I knew I was in a dangerous situation and wasn't going to add more crap to my brain and make it worse.
I don't know why or how I allowed him to take me back to his apartment. By that time I'd given up and just hoped he'd turn out to be a decent guy who'd let me crash for the night.

ever the freaking optimist...

He lived in a gated apartment complex on the outskirts of DC. He showed me his place, a little one bedroom decorated with swords and daggers. He mixed me a drink and tried to chat with me. I felt like a caged animal and tried to feign a casual attitude and come up with a plausible story of why I was where he found me. Sometime after midnight, he made his apologies, said he had to work the next morning and I was welcome to sleep on the couch.
Instead, I spent most of that sleepless night watching the channel that displayed the building's security cameras and making regular trips to the bathroom to work on my wrists. It occurred to me I'd be in less danger if he found me bleeding in his bathroom and had no choice but to take me to a hospital.
I was too tired and scared to take it that far.

When he woke up the next morning, he fed me breakfast, gave me a $20 and told me I was welcome to hang out in the complex while he went to work. Said to get lunch at the cafe by the pool.

The first thing I did was explore the apartment. After finding a bag of cocaine and a pistol in his nightstand drawer, I went out.

I can't describe the confusion, hopelessness and desperation I felt all that day. I stick around until he got home and had the guts to ask about the gun. He said he dealt a little on the side and it was for protection.

He then offered me a job. He knew girls like me who needed a place to stay and he'd take care of me if I wanted to work.

The voice that had been telling me since the night before to GET OUT NOW finally broke through. I told him he didn't want me. I was nuts and that I'd spent my night in his bathroom carving up my wrists. I suggested his best bet was to take me back to Manassas and let my parents deal with my insanity.

He dropped me off at Manassas Mall that evening, pressed his card in my hand, said to call if I ever needed anything and left.

I spent the next night with a friend and the next couple of weeks living with my sister Michele.

There's more to the story... I did contact him during my next stay at Dominion. He sent me a negligee from Fredrick's of Hollywood.

The next time I called him it was with a friend who could listen in on the conversation and confirm for me that the proposition he had was what I thought. After that, I tore up his number.

Yeah, so that was DC. fun times...

I asked Jen tonight about when she talked to Stephanie. Apparently they talked a lot after that first trip to Dominion. It was during that stay Stephanie went from a character in a story to my protector. I can even remember the night it happened.

Later, I asked when Stephanie told her about Reese. It was the year I turned 21, when I was again losing my mind and, just for extra fun, finding out about my birth mother.

Jen said we were talking to each other just about every day then (I do remember that much) and that every time she called, it was like talking to a different person. So one day, teasing, she asked who she was talking to today?
"Stephanie."
"Oh? Then who did I talk to yesterday?"
"Reese."

I remember none if this. But give Jen credit for taking it in stride. She just accepted it.

So that's how she knew... it still amazes me. But she's helping me fill in the blanks. I thank God I had her in my life then... and now.


random quotes from our conversation because they made me laugh...
"I always loved talking to you because you were such an interesting person."
"I always admired Stephanie because she was mean. Not mean but she could get shit done. I'd even go so far as to say I was jealous. there are times I could have used that."

Thanks for tonight Jen. I think I can sleep now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Step 3

Having trouble with the writing part... obviously. It is still so much easier to hide. The other things are getting better... working hard at it.
The writing might take a bit more discipline and courage.
Vulnerability sucks.
So does trying to look at things I still find ugly and embarrassing.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. It's as if some of the fog over portions of my life is lifting. Specifically the period between September 1998 and the beginning of blogging in 2002.
Not sure yet how much of this I want to detail... but I've tried and run away many times over the years. At some point, it would make sense to suck it up and deal.
My paper journal is full of scribbled bits... the first time I've been able to put much of that time and others in chronological order.
May as well put it to print, even if it won't make sense to anyone but me for now.

It's hard to think about switching as a toddler but I can remember times as young as 3 when I heard others and even talked to them.
I can truly remember, for the first time, the moments when I split at 5, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 21 years old.
I put up a wall between myself and the others at 21 and it stayed strong for most of 7 years. There were periods of the blackest depressions when the voices would break through and I'd do and say things beyond my control... but I always fought it back.
Looking back, Charlie and I both agree I dealt with post-partum depression... the worst being after Daniel and John. Before John was a year old, the remaining defenses I held were crumbling.
Moments of hearing voices... the kinds of voices usually reserved for the truly delusional, had me terrified. These weren't the internal voices I'd heard for most of my life.. but the ones that seemed to come from next to me or from other rooms. I was certain I was finally losing my sanity.
I've written before about what brought me to meeting with some people at church and won't do that tonight. It's been posted and reposted... I don't have the energy to do it again.

The first time we met at the church in early November 1998, I went into great detail about my past history... my years in and out of hospitals, the various spiritual battles we'd gone through, the depths of the current depression. I told them of the eating disorders, my current inability to eat and my decent again into self-injury. I had a plum sized burn on my arm I'd been concealing for days but couldn't bring myself to tell them about it.
(I've deleted my vox account and can't remember if what I'd posted there included an account of this first meeting)
We talked for an hour and decided to pray. I can remember feeling every muscle in my body tense and quivering by this time. I felt like an explosion waiting to happen and tried curling into myself to prevent it. In the end, all it took was Pastor R reaching out his hand to mine.
I can remember now flying out of the chair and bolting to a corner of the sanctuary, curling up in a ball on the floor... arms wrapped around my knees. The sound coming from my own lips was almost animalistic and the terror I felt beyond words.
Pastor R came over and tried to reassure me of the safety of the place. In my head, all I could hear was the moaning of someone terrified and cornered. I see it all now without the same detachment I've felt before when trying to bring this day to memory. For the first time I feel the same things she felt. (I'm still not sure who it was... though I think it was Petra.) Not with the same intensity... I can still sit here and type despite the urge to close this window and go to bed. I can still pause to have a conversation with one of the kids, though not with the enthusiasm I'd prefer. I can still breathe. That's always a good thing.
It took a few minutes of convincing, but I somehow managed to reach out my hand to Pastor. R and allow him to help me to stand. It still wasn't me but by that time Reese, Stephanie and at least one other were fighting past the wall to awareness.
We walked the perimeter of the sanctuary, while Pastor R spoke gentle words of assurance and promises of safety.
I think safety is what set it off. I remember the sharp pain in my arm as I slammed it into the corner of a support beam as many times as I could before being pulled away. The rage was unbelievable and I think I wanted to kill him for daring to suggest something as laughable and unrealistic as safety. How could anyone keep me safe when the very danger was a part of me?
I know I fought him. I know he tried to restrain me and I tried to get my hands around his throat.
He did the only thing he knew to do. He prayed against the demon he thought was at work... and came face to face with Stephanie.
I have to admit, all these years later, I still consider this one of her finest moments.
Stephanie was always the bad girl... the miscreant... delinquent... anarchist and had been on several prior occasions a very convincing portrayal of the demonic. I now know she chose this moment to challenge that belief because "it was time to stop playing fucking games" and dare someone to care enough to see what and who was before them.
She pulled away from him, and remaining in a crouch, growled at Pastor R..."Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried and on the third day rose again. He lives at the right hand of God and if you call me a demon one more time I will rip your fucking head off and shove it down your fucking neck!"
She was always good at inspiring speechlessness in others...
What followed was a tirade of "you don't know, you don't understand, you can't promise to care, you're just another liar and why don't you just back the fuck off before you hurt her."
When she'd yelled herself out and grown tired of the continued looks of shock and confusion she let go and allowed me to claw my way back out in a torrent of "I'msorryI'mSorryI'msorry."

heh.

I meant to list, not detail. This was just the top of the list.

I finally found my way back to my chair and didn't object when Pastor R, Pat and M (who had sat helplessly by all this time) scooted a little closer to me. I think "you see why I say I'm hopelessly screwed up?" was part of the conversation. I know I did finally tell them about the burn (Pulling up my sleeve to show them was another challenge to their willingness to get involved) and asked them to help me admit it to Charlie.

By the time we'd finished that first meeting, 3 hours had passed and I left to make one of my frequent blind drives home and crawled into bed.

I talked often with each of the three people there that day but we didn't meet again as a group until January... when Pastor R could schedule back-up in the event the shit hit the fan again.

It did... but will have to be shared later.
This is enough for one night.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First kiss

Shoot me.

Shoot me now.

Daniel kissed his girlfriend.

Her dad wants to talk to Charlie.

Okay, that part is hysterical.

But he's only 14!

His sisters are out for blood and have discussed tying him to a chair in his room for a few more years.

He called the house from her house the other day and I thought it was Charlie.

I DID NOT GIVE HIM PERMISSION TO GROW UP THIS FAST.

*sighs*

Monday, May 25, 2009

Where there is love...

Hell in a skin suit.
It's a harsh description of a person.
Looking in the mirror is all the reminder needed to know she's not the only person alive to fit such a name.
It might be kinder to detail the particular reasons why Charlie and I laughed, looked at each other and nodded the first time we heard the phrase... but that would take more than 15 minutes.
She's not a bad person... and despite any writing that might suggest otherwise, she is loved.
Love you choose.
Emotion you don't.
Love isn't a feeling but a choice.
In time, the feelings of affection will return. Of that I am certain.
For now, I just take a deep breath and remind myself that feelings are temporary... how we choose to act will have the greater impact all around.
We choose to act as we would with any nearly 30-year old woman. We expect the words and deeds of an adult. Anything less is not allowed.
Yup, allowed.
Part of being a parent is choosing what you will and will not allow in your life and home, including from your children.

We made a promise before God... and later before the court that we would love and accept her as a daughter. That hasn't changed.

What has changed is the method of showing love.
We love John, Daniel, Rachel, Becka and Krys with the same fierce intensity we loved them before they were born... but we don't show that love in the same way we did when they were infants, toddlers and elementary school kids. Their needs change as they grow and we've learned, often painfully, that if you love an older child as if they are younger, their growth is slowed or even stunted.

I've seen too many homes where the toddler rules to roost... and more than enough homes where the child behaving as a toddler still rules.

So it was in our home. For a time, the behavior of an adult lost in the emotions of a child ruled the family. The rules have changed.

Having finally stepped up to the role of parents to a mentally ill adult child, we're learning to say no, expect responsible choices and allowing ourselves room to heal.

These days the intensity of emotions make it hard to hold to the love that exists. As we heal, that will change. The hope we have for her is real... The capacity to grow exists... but we're realistic enough to accept we can only control our choices.

We're learning.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We're still laughing after all these years

I've found a seemingly endless amount of fascination in talking with a childhood friend about the years she knew the Crew before we even knew there was a Crew. I guess I've had plenty of time to talk to Charlie about the weirdness of the years we knew something was up but couldn't really talk about it. It's incredible talking to someone who knew them so long before I did.

Jen knew Stephanie, Reese and probably Amelia (nee Roo) by the time she and I were 13 or 14 years old. Jen is the person I called the night I first tied one on. The person who ratted me out the first time I planned suicide. Hers was the kitchen where I had my first bagel, the house where I had the best sleep overs and the sanctuary to which I ran to when I couldn't take it anymore.

She's the person who, ten years ago, when told about the diagnosis responded with "Tell Reese I said Hi."

I still can't come up with words to describe the total shock of hearing those words. WHAT THE HELL? "I only found out her name a few weeks ago! How did you know?"
"Oh come on, you knew... didn't you? It was obvious."

Nice to know, even after, that someone at least did see.

She's also the person who chose Stephanie as the first of five people she'd want on her side in a bar fight. Gotta love Facebook and Living Social. I saw her top five and laughed until I cried. I forget, she's one of the few people online who ever had the opportunity to see Stephanie on the warpath and in the flesh.

As odd as I find it that she was privy to so much in a time of my life I still struggle to remember, it's equally as odd to her that I didn't have an inkling of a clue about the others. Well, there was an inkling. I think about all those years when I did try to explain the world in my head and the voices I heard... but was already so confused and convinced of the label of 'liar' that I didn't believe even myself.

I still have so much to ask about those years.

How strange that it's taken so long to find the strength to voice the questions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Step 2 cont...

Laughing, "Man, I have missed you SO much"

It's mindboggling how much has changed since I saw him last June... yet his office was largely unchanged. I remember how Lyn used to warn me if she was going to rearrange her office and how silly it seemed to me that people might freak over such things... but I have to admit there was comfort in the sameness of the office. He might have to replace the sofa pillow Reese used to pick at. Seems we aren't the only ones who played hell on those fringes. Beyond the condition of the pillow, even the lack of visible wood on the surface of his desk was the same.

I handed him a copy of this morning's entry and told him it put in a nutshell my reason for calling.

He liked the goals and agreed I've gotten better about making reasonable goals for myself. I've come a long way from the person who honestly thought she could be 'cured' in a year.

His eyes widened but he remained quiet when I told him about the latest adventure in falling off the face of the earth. He betrayed a slight look of surprise when I told him I'd quit writing entirely and had, for at least 9 months, stopped talking to everyone about anything that could even consider breathing near the walls I'd erected to everyone... family included.

He was patient while I detailed the various triggers for the systematic shut down that has lead me to this current place. Most of which are nothing more than allowing myself to return to a line of thinking that came from childhood. Finally, he asked about one in particular, "and you allowed yourself to believe this line of bullshit why?"

That was the gist of most of his questions... "Why?" Not in a way I'd have once taken as accusatory... but with genuine interest in what would compel me to return to life lived in a box. Some of the time I could answer with honesty and the understanding that even then, I knew my reasoning was stupid, delusional and a step backward. Other times, I threw up my hands. I just didn't know. Or at least, couldn't put it into words.

It's amazing how easily one can fall back into a pattern of survival over living... even if the quality of survival sucks.

I put so much energy into keeping the peace for so long that even when my bullshit meter was pegged in the red, I somehow ignored the screaming. It didn't take long to become accustomed to it and learn, again, to pretend away the chaos and convince myself that as no one (who could help put a stop to it) would listen, it would make more sense to stop talking.

Well, the only other one who could have put a stop to it was in the same position I was... keep the peace for the sake of everyone else... it was easier than admitting that we had allowed hell in a skin suit to take over our home.

I didn't have to talk about hell in a skin suit to talk about the effects. That meant so much. 15 minutes a day is my limit. It's all the time she will get, whether it's phone or the crap that's begun spinning around in my head again. 15 minutes is enough to sort out the shit... my stuff from hers... and to keep the limit that she will never again be allowed in even the smallest way to control our time, family or emotions.

That's a start.

In the meantime, it was like going home and talking to an old friend. It was needed. It was good. And in 4 weeks when he asks me "So how are you going on those goals?" I'll be able to tell him, pretty darned good.

Step 2

Seeing Crane today for the first time in a year or so...

Part of the reason is medical. It's been 9 months since I've taken anti-depressants and while I love the lack of annoying side-effects, I often wonder if it's a worthy trade. My gut says yes and I'm inclined to follow my gut. Crane knows me better than any other doctor and can help me sort through the pros and cons of continuing without an SSRI.

With or without an SSRI, I'd very much like an anti-anxiety medication. I've proven myself in the last 7 years not to abuse those things. One of the results of all the running of recent years is I'm scared to death of nearly everything. I'm in a constant state of some degree of panic and no longer have the energy to keep fighting it alone. I'm simply not confident I can get through this without chemical back-up.

I need the accountability Crane has always provided. It's more than wanting someone to talk to. I have that in the friendships I've come to trust as true. It's knowing he knows me well enough to be blunt and to gently steer me into looking at the crap I've developed the habit of avoiding.

I'm taking 4 weeks to decide about the anti-depressants. In those 4 weeks I need to:
create some degree of routine for myself that includes, house, garden, regular meals and exercise.
develop a strategy for dealing with panic that doesn't include hiding in my room.
call and talk to Mum and at least 1 sibling.
write something in this blog at least once every 48 hours.
see Crane again at the end of the 4 weeks.

It's doable... and it will happen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

unChristian

The unChristian series of posts will relate, not to the book of the same title, but to my personal struggle to live as a follower of Jesus in a flock that often forgets what that truly means.

A few months ago, I was invited to a round table discussion between the church pastors, elders, their spouses and the three students attending the first year of Global Missions Training Institute; Charlie, Rachel and Craig.

To start, I was a bit taken aback to find I was the only person given this special invitation and also that the invitation came from three of the four members of leadership. I was strongly urged to attend with the pitch that the subject was of vital importance to our church's ability to effectively minister.

I now realize the invitation came from each source for a specific reason. Charlie and I are the only people Pastors Mac (new senior pastor) and Floyd Jr. have ever seen disagree strongly with Apostle B (longest tenured pastor in the church's 21 years) and not only remain close but stay with the church.

Pastor Mac has been an elder since the church was founded. Stepping from the role of assistant herder to shepherd is a huge change for him. It's the first time he's carried the staff and full weight of responsibility for a flock.

Floyd Jr. is Apostle B's son... so yeah... he's had 50 years of hearing "this is how it is done." so no matter what his position on anything, he knows his dad and the futility of convincing him anyone has greater wisdom or experience this side of Heaven.

Apostle Earl was the other leader at the meeting that night. He's only been a part of the church and leadership for a year and is still learning to navigate our particular pasture's minefield of sheep dip.

Pastor Floyd Jr. knows from our own conversations that Charlie and I are fully aware of Apostle B's tendency to spout his resume (one of the founders of what became the 700 Club) and his 50 years in ministry whenever he runs out of rational or truly biblical arguments.

Pastor Mac saw me challenge the way homosexuality is addressed from the pulpit the night last winter when he and Apostle B came to speak to the youth about the upcoming leadership change. Maybe it would have been wiser on my part to address it privately but I know these kids and their issues... and the timing... well, I still say that was God. When Apostle B opened the door, I strode right through it.

Where Apostle B appeared personally offended at what he considered a public rebuke and abruptly ended the discourse, I saw the tears in Pastor Mac's face when I told them point blank that the choice of words from the pulpit had not only wounded already hurting people but the youth and I all knew people who would never return, nor likely listen to another christian because of what they had heard come from our own pulpit.

Side note: "Love the sinner- hate the sin"and the word "abomination" no longer have a place in Christianity. They have been used and abused until the Body as a whole should no longer be trusted with them until we can truly grasp the Spirit over the letter.
Also, if I hear the words "homosexual" and "agenda" used together again, I'll probably start throwing things.

Anyway...

I say this without malice, bitterness or even gloating... but I think Pastors Mac and Floyd Jr were secretly hoping for the discussion that occurred the night of the round table. I'm sure they were hoping for a less volatile version... but they knew the conversation needed to happen and called on us to make it happen.

Poor Apostle B... I'm fairly certain he and Mrs. Leona thought it would be a forum where they would receive unconditional leadership support when The Feathers ended up needing "correction" in our beliefs about how we are meant to live the example of Jesus.

I know it was never intended to be an "Us & Them" situation but come on. You put the entire leadership of a church on one side of a long, rectangular "round table" and four congregants on the other side, that will happen. Especially if the four congregants are made up of three incredibly strong-willed people and one young man with a heart for real ministry.

Long story short... things went very well despite almost total differences of opinion between the three generations represented. It was understood and accepted by all that the Church as a worldwide Body... and our little part of that need to change in a huge way, or lose yet another generation.

Things went well until Charlie and I brought up the subject we knew in our hearts we were there to address... the attitude that homosexuality is somehow the greatest sin that has ever or will ever exist and that the GLBT community should be treated with a different, less accepting version of the Gospel.

Tempers flared.

In the midst of doctrinal debate, Rachel very bravely shared her struggles and that had Charlie or I given her a choice about attendance when we started back two years ago, she'd have never attended long enough to get past the rhetoric to the Message. Apostle B asked her if he'd ever personally treated her as if he didn't love her. When she didn't answer but sat quietly with tears pouring in rivulets from her chin, he sat back with a self-satisfied "humph".

That was the moment the pile of sheep shit exploded.

At one point in the tornado of words that followed, I pointed out that "in my 50 years of ministry" was no longer a valid or rational preamble to any statement nor an acceptable excuse to malign people you claim to love. After that, I focused primarily on prayer and not allowing the words "arrogant fuck" to escape my lips. Mama Bear had awoken and it was all I could do to keep her from verbally gutting the one who had wounded her cub.

Apostle Earl and Craig did probably the wisest thing possible. They prayed every moment they weren't actually speaking aloud. Apostle Earl, with his hulking frame in one corner of the table and Craig's gentle giantness at the other, next to Rachel, holding her hand, prayed for the entire situation.

When Charlie pushed back his chair and stood up, the so-called debate ended and the long needed frontal attack of the Pharisee mindset began.

I'd love to say the evening ended with lots of hugs, tied up all nice and neat in a comfortable bow for everyone... but in reality... there was a lot of fleece and chunks of ram's horn all over the place. Apostle B was distant for a few weeks and one of his last messages as Pastor addressed the need to respect leadership... but it's gotten better.

It did mark the end of a long, cold, wilderness winter and the dawn of a tentative spring.

I know I have to be patient but the seeds of change we've been hearing so much about have finally begun to sprout. In fits and starts... light, warmth and new growth are appearing all over and for the first time in years, I look to the horizon with hope and expectation.

This might just become a pasture we can live in.

Step 1

Paper journal entry

"Are we happy plastic people under shiny plastic steeples, with walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain..."

Sometimes it just hits like this.
Charlie heard the catch in my breath and asked what was wrong. I said, "It just hit me."
Enough said. He gets it.

For once, I'm trying to allow it. I could find a taped program to watch or plug in my ear buds and get lost in music... even writing by hand on paper could be an escape as the pain it causes provides an easy direction to shift focus.
I can't rip off this band aid quickly or easily, letting my fingers fly over a keyboard... so slow and laborious it is.
write
stop
breathe
rinse
later
repeat
And in between, fight the walls instinct throws up to stop the tears.
I
will
let
them
fall.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Imprimatur

"and I've held out as long as I can. Now I'm letting go and holding out my hand."

It's frustrating to realize in some things, I simply have to start over. There had been the hope that I was past the "I/me/my" stage of blogging... but choices were made and so here I am again. It's not 2 years wasted... the lessons learned in running away may have been a lot more painful than if I had faced the problems... but they're valuable and will serve as a reminder of where I've been.

Nothing to do but accept it and keep moving forward.

Reese once wrote a contract with herself. I can't access it at the moment as it's all on a harddrive Charlie has not had the chance to retrieve. It's probably best... This needs to be mine.

So, today I make these promises to myself:

- I will take responsibility for my choices, emotions and thoughts... and mine alone.
- I will write with freedom... what, when and how I choose. I will do so publicly.
- I will not wall off my heart.
- I will recognize that boundaries and walls are not the same thing. I can love a destructive person without allowing that person to negatively impact my life.
- I will continue to respect the Crew and to seek out the lessons and echoes of each of them in my life.
- I will not be afraid to talk about the Crew. Without them, I'd have never made it this far.
- I will remember that forgiveness is not an emotion.
- I will allow myself to feel anger but will not use it as a weapon or excuse.
- I will be responsible for knowing where to draw the line between reasonable anger and bitterness.
- I will recognize that my choices brought me here and my choices will bring me out.
- I will be true to my God, my Savior, my ethics and myself and will not compromise them for anyone or thing.
- I'll listen to those alarm bells and that wonderful bullshit-o-meter. Ignoring them to 'keep the peace' only delays the inevitable.
- I will speak up.
- I will not be afraid to admit to pain.
- I will allow myself to be vulnerable without expecting an impossible degree of trust.
- I will love... even those it's hard to like.
- I will say no when it needs to be said and believe I have the strength to face the conseqences.
- I will respect my body, listen to what it says and provide for its needs... no matter the momentary wants.
- I will respect that being 'one' and being healed are two entirely different things. There is still a journey to finish and I will do so with honesty and integrity.
- I will not run away again.

Imprimatur

Yeah, I like that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009