Remember (Part 1)

A few times in the last several months I have felt prompted to share something I wrote as a senior in high school. I was never sure why, so I kept putting it off, but the other night, as I was driving, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man came on, and I again was struck with the thought that I should share.

Letting others read what you write is always hard. It makes me feel extremely vulnerable. A beta reader, supposed to be giving feedback on a novel I had written, once said that she wanted to stab herself in the foot with a fork my book was so bad. Obviously this statement did nothing to help and everything to make me feel completely worthless and want to give up writing altogether. But I’m someone who picks myself back up, and here I am, still writing.

The truth is that I’m a much, much better writer now than I was in high school, so it’s difficult to allow myself to be this vulnerable in sharing this with you. A lot of what I wrote back then was very ambiguous. But I didn’t write Remember for anyone else. As a matter of fact, it sort of wrote itself—for me, in a way, but I’ll explain that later.

I’m going to break this into three parts. First is the poem, then the story and finally the backstory and an explanation, I guess you could say.

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So, here’s the poem:

Remember

A tear torn loose from your saddened eye
joins those the October sky is crying
from thinning gray clouds that are nestled deep
into crevices and secrets of the eastern mountains
that loom above you in the near distance.

Autumn has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as golden leaves dot thinning green trees
that attempt to hold fast to their ground, but fail.
A bitter coldness has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as a lasting droplet, full in glistening shape,
falls to your cheek, hitting a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

You steal a penetrating stare from the full moon;
the darkness plays around your essence
as you hear the southern men1 sing
about being simple—someone you can love and understand.
And you wonder how you can ever have this
in a city full of lights and confusion.

But don’t you remember the glow of the moon
and the first time you danced under its pale luminescence?
An Irish voice2 sings of her hopes
of finding those memories she left behind—
and so should you plead.

There’s a black, serpentine road leading to your destination,
for there is still a painted rock3
waiting for you in the hot Nevada desert—
waiting for you to answer a call;
and you cry as the moon reminds you.

The stories flood back in a tidal way of memory,
hitting you with full force, without any suspicion,
but how can you accept them in all this light and confusion?
Oh, how you’ve desperately ached to accept them,
how desperately your fingers have itched
to paint them in a stream of penciled words,
but you are young and condemned accordingly—
and you see the last piece from your crystal ball shatter . . .

 

The autumn rain pauses for a moment and for a moment alone,
but one last droplet, full in glistening shape,
finds its way crawling down your cheek
with your tear . . . a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

1Lynyrd Skynyrd

2Enya. I used to listen to her a lot in high school, and would sometimes sing her songs as I would swing on the swingset or dance in the backyard at night under the moon.

3This refers to Painted Rock, Nevada, a little town I drove by on my way to Reno, NV on a family vacation to the Redwoods. The landscape surrounding the area inspired my imagination and the seeds of a story were sown because of that. I always wanted to go back and explore the area more, but never have.

Coming Back to Hope

There are so many thoughts racing through my brain right now. I hope I can get it all out in at least a semi-coherent way.

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I spent the evening looking for new cars. I came home to an empty house (my kids are with their dad), and I hate the feeling of being here all alone all evening and night, so I went to a movie. It was almost midnight by the time the movie got over, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go home. Instead, I drove around the streets of my home town with the windows down and the music cranked. Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden are some of the bands that came on the radio. Music from my youth. It was so nice just cruising around, belting out my tunes. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have someone there with me. I tried not to dwell on that, knowing the loneliness that would ensue could overtake me, and I didn’t want that. Dating/relationships are hard. I think it’s harder now than the last time I was doing it, before I got married. Add mental illness on top of that, and it adds even more stress to the equation. Maybe I’ll talk about that later. It’s one of the things I’ve been wanting to write about, but right now, before my tired mind unravels (like the sweater in that song by Weezer—yeah that came on, too!) I’d like to focus on the idea of hope—again.

Last night I was talking to a friend, who has also been divorced. I told him it had been a year now. I’ve been divorced/a single parent for a year. He told me the first year is always the hardest. “That’s good to know,” I said. “That means I can make it.”

I have hit some of the lowest points of my life this last year, but I have also had some incredible highs. Overall, I think I’ve grown more this last year than I ever have before in my whole life. I was thinking about a saying—the one where you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. I do believe in picking yourself up and continuing on. Sometimes I’ve had to lay in the mud and the muck for awhile before I could do it, and even when I did get up, I had to trudge through with pain, like dirt, still clinging to my clothes. I’ve dealt with some anxiety and OCD again recently, but for the most part I’m still doing really well. I don’t know what the future holds. Right now I can’t try to look too far into it or I’ll go mad. I’m having to live each day as it comes, but I’m doing my best to keep each of these days good.

I guess what I want everyone to know is that you can keep going. Even through the most bitter of trials, the most painful of experiences you can learn and grow and find peace. You can even find happiness. It’s never completely gone. It’s never completely out of reach. Despite my often-times love/hate relationship I have with hope, I always come back to it. I can never completely let go of it. And I’m glad of that right now.

A World of Contradictions

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Life is interesting. And full of contradiction. Society claims they hate the news because it reports so much bad in the world. “We want good stories, happy stories, inspirational stories,” we all say. On the flip side everyone talks about how much they hate social media because it gives a false perception of people’s lives. Everyone posts happy things, like life is never bad. “Show us reality,” we say. “Not your fake happy smiles.” So which one is it? Good or bad? Positive or negative? Depressing or inspirational?

With my blog I’ve found that I get way more views when I post a depressing piece than a happy one. And the happy ones aren’t fake. I’m open and honest all of the time. I’m always me and I always show that. But my posts about hitting low points and showing ugly crying pictures of myself always get more views and more responses than posts about how I’m doing well or how I’m happy and haven’t been dealing with my mental illness.

I’m certainly grateful I’ve gotten such a positive response from readers, friends and neighbors during my difficult times. I’m grateful they have been there for me, prayed for me, loved me and not been scared away. It shows me that people are learning, caring and seeing past the stigma of mental illness that has been around for so long. But people—everyone, with or without mental illness—still need love and support even in the good times.

So we want happy, but we don’t want fake, but we don’t want depressing, but we only care if it’s depressing. And around and around we go. I have no judgments about whether this is right or wrong or makes sense or not. I just find it interesting because it does seem like a pattern of contradictions. Do I keep writing even if I’m happy or should I only share when I’m struggling? What are your thoughts?

Pearls at Dusk

As I’ve mentioned before I used to write a lot of poetry when I was in high school and college. Then the inspiration just sort of died. But in the last year I’ve written four or five poems. I used to crank out that many in a week! Considering I went years without writing a single one I’d say four or five is pretty good. The inspiration has often come after going through something difficult or just when I’ve needed to be inspired. This one came the other night as I watched an almost full moon rising in the east as the sun sank in the west. I hope you enjoy it.

Pearls at Dusk

The yellow moon rises
against a violet sky at dusk,

like a pearl breaking free
of shell
and sea
and salt.

Free to shed soft, delicate light
on a land cast in shadows
and sorrow.

I clutch its glow to my heart,
drink it in to my soul,
treasure up the grace it has given me,
like a whole string of priceless pearls
strung around my neck.

violet moon

My OCD Triggered

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Life definitely isn’t consistent. It can be for awhile, but the bumps and potholes and twists and turns inevitably return. My OCD, which had been completely absent for quite some time, was triggered again, and I’m really struggling with it. The hard part is that it was triggered by someone I thought was a friend, someone I greatly valued. Turns out she was the fair-weather kind, or maybe never one at all. Maybe the facade was always there, and I chose not to see it because of how much the person I thought she was meant to me.

After my last post this friend unfriended me on Facebook and messaged me telling me how much it hurt her, that she couldn’t be my friend and how she was really doing it for me, or for my benefit. Indeed, she was one of several people who prompted me to write what I did. I saw dozens of her own brazen posts, and each one felt like a punch to the gut. Whether she meant it or not, they all left me feeling like I was stupid, uncaring and pathetic. I did unfollow her because I knew it was best for me, just like I unfollowed several other people, some of which I share the same point of view with. Their posts left me feeling just as sick. I, however, didn’t stoop to unfriending her because, as I’ve stated, I cared about her and valued her friendship so much. I also, in part, understood where she was coming from because I was her once, many years ago. And the reason I changed was because I saw how it was driving away people who meant something to me.

I even have a recent example. Since getting back on Facebook about a year ago I have tried to stay away from controversial topics that will insight anger and hurt. But I recently reposted something of a friend’s that I thought was funny. It was political, and I posted it light-heartedly because it made me laugh, and I thought it was true. A good friend called me out on it, though. She read it as being mean and intolerant. Even though that was the furthest thing from my intention, and not what I meant or felt at all, I deleted the post because her friendship was more important to me than some stupid post on stupid Facebook.

Now, going back to my other friend, as soon as she saw one single post of mine that she didn’t like she told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore. (Sounds ridiculously Jr. Highish, right?!) Her cause was more important to her than a friendship that had lasted almost twenty years. And it hurt. It hurt so much to know that politics was more important to her than a person, than a friend who had been very loyal to her for almost twenty years.

I think the thing that really triggered my OCD, though, was her statement of saying she was doing it for me—like I’m some poor little girl who’s too incompetent to possibly know for myself what’s best for me. I’ve had other friends, family members and an ex-boyfriend who used those same words/tactics on me. It brought all of those past experiences rushing to the surface, and I can’t stop thinking about them. I can’t stop thinking about whether I replied to her the right way. I keep going over and over and over what I wish I could tell her, make her see. And then I keep wondering if maybe they’re all right. Am I stupid? Am I pathetic? Am I incompetent? Deep down, I know I’m not. I have been through so much the last year, and I have learned and grown and accomplished so much. I have had amazing support and help along the way from family, friends and neighbors who truly do care about me. But it’s also because I am strong, because I am capable, because I am smart and I do care. Because I am competent, and no one knows what’s best for me better than I do myself. Yet the thoughts circle. The hurt persists. I had made such strides, and now I feel like I’m back to step one again. Well, maybe not that far, but close.

Luckily, the difference between now and when I really was at step one is that I know I can move forward. My anxiety at driving a car again after my accident evaporated after that very first drive. Now I have no problem driving. Easy-peasy, as my kids would say! I think dealing with the OCD will take a little longer, but I’m not going to let someone who devalues others so much stamp out all of the progress I have made, and any of you out there dealing with the same thing shouldn’t either. I will rise up, and I will recover, even if it takes a little time. You can rise up and recover, even if it takes time.

A Vent

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I’ve recently been reminded of why I hate Facebook so much and why I got completely off of it (deleted my account) many years ago. People love using it to vomit their opinions in a passive-aggressive way that they claim is them doing what’s right, what their conscience demands of them, when really they just want everyone else to know that what they believe, whether politically, religiously, socially or personally is absolute truth and anyone who doesn’t believe the same is a pathetic low-life who deserves to be trampled under the refuse of guilt and shame. Now these people will act like they are all open-minded and they aren’t trying to be aggressive or make others feel bad, but I’m telling you—that’s bull*#@%! In my opinion. Insert smiling emoji now!

The truth is that you are making people feel bad, and you know it. You know you’re creating controversy, you know you’ll anger people, you know you’ll start a fight and you don’t care because YOU ARE RIGHT, and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is an idiot. My question is, why? Why do you care so much about what other people believe? Just because someone believes differently than you doesn’t mean they aren’t educated, it doesn’t mean they don’t care, it doesn’t mean they haven’t done any research themselves, and it certainly doesn’t mean they are wrong. Maybe they are actually more educated, care more and have done more research than you have. Maybe we’re just all different. And maybe that’s okay. So why start the conflict? Why not show love and compassion for EVERYONE instead?

I came across a scripture tonight while reading with my kids that I feel applies. In my religion as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a book of scripture called The Book of Mormon. In it we learn that, after Christ was resurrected, He visited people who lived in what is now the American continent. One of the very first things Christ taught the people was that contention is of the devil. In 3 Nephi chapter 11 verse 29 He says Satan is the one who, “stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” In verse 30 Jesus continues, “Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” Facebook, lately, has been full of people who want to “stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another.”

Now I completely understand being passionate about what you believe in and wanting to share that, but this contentious way is not the right way. I know because that’s the way I went about it when I was a young, arrogant girl at college. Thank goodness I grew up! And thank goodness I learned that using your passion in the wrong way doesn’t change minds, it doesn’t build up, it doesn’t include. It does the opposite. It hardens people, it cements their own opinions, it tears down, it excludes and it causes anger, which is not Christ’s way.

Facebook has been a great tool in getting the word out about my blog here. In fact that’s the only reason I even got back on it last summer. But lately I’ve been seriously considering deleting my account again because of all the people who use it in Satan’s way—as a tool to hurt and tear down others.

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I feel as though I’ve tried and done a reasonably good job of teaching my children that it’s okay when other people believe differently than we do. As a result, my kids have a pretty wide variety of friends religiously, politically, socially, personally. And the great example my kids give to me is that those differences don’t really matter. Kids don’t care about changing someone’s opinion. They talk about their differing opinions in a very brief and civil (sometimes funny) way, then they move on. They don’t fight about it, they just move on. Their passion is about friendship, not politics, not opinions. Friendship and love.

Conquering My Anxiety

As stated in a recent post, I’m doing really well. I haven’t noticed any of my OCD tendencies in 5-6 months, and my depression has been completely gone since the weather got warmer/nicer a few months ago. My anxiety has been very minimal since then as well. It has been absolutely amazing!

Yesterday, my kids and I were in a car accident. I was sitting at a red light fairly close to my house when I noticed a truck in my rear-view mirror barreling toward me. A second later he tried to swerve, but slammed into the corner of my car anyway.

It wasn’t super bad. All three of us had seat belts on and my kids were sitting in the back where they were supposed to be. I did feel some pain in my neck and back. My daughter got the brunt of it because it was her side that was hit into. Her head and neck hurt as well as her knee which hit into the seat in front of her. It wasn’t too bad, though—just a tiny scrape. However, as the hours wore on the pain intensified until I decided to go to the Urgent Care. They took x-rays which came out looking fine, but the doctor prescribed some ibuprofen and muscle relaxers and said I should get some physical therapy. I definitely feel blessed that it wasn’t worse.

I knew I needed to take my car into a repair shop to get an estimate on the damage. All day I put it off, anxiety beating its way back into my life. Even though the accident wasn’t that bad, every time I thought about getting in my car, driving my car, the anxiety would hit, making me sick to my stomach, making it harder and harder to breathe.

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Last night I talked to a friend about how I was grateful, in a way, to be going through this as a single person because it’s teaching me to be independent, to learn and do things I never had to do before. She told me that it was nice because it was empowering. So, despite my anxiety, I got in my car and drove. I again felt incredibly sick and nauseous, breathing was laborious, but I put on some music I like from Audiomachine and Two Steps From Hell, and it got slightly easier. I became less anxious as I continued to drive. And you know what? I did it. I made it. I conquered my anxiety and my fear.

I don’t know if that means it’s over. It has been so nice not dealing with any mental illness the last few months. It was definitely easier driving home, but even as I write this, I feel the anxiety simmering on the surface of my emotions. Of course that could have something to do with waiting for the insurance adjuster to call me back—after having left 3-4 messages and a couple of emails. It’s just a stressful situation, but I know I can do it. I know I can fight through and make it to the other side. I’m strong, and I can do hard things.