Paranoid? I Think Not! Um, Okay, Maybe Just a Little

A few days ago I was inside the house, alone. Not that this is anything new, in fact, I’ve grown rather fond of my loneliness. ANYWAY, my husband had just stepped out to go tinker in his man cave when I heard a bit of static coming from behind the television. My first thought was, “What the hell?” And then I realized that hubby probably set up a two way radio and was trying to freak me out. I giggled, “Lame,” I thought and went on with my business.

The next day he and I were sitting in the living room, we were actually having a conversation, with neither of us eyeball deep into our computers, tablets, or phones. Suddenly the static sound happened again. I told hubby to quit trying to freak me out.

He held up both hands as if I couldn’t already see that his hands were void of anything that might cause the sound. And then he went hunting for the culprit, coming up empty handed we sat in hushed conversation:

“Do you think the house is bugged?” I asked with secret hopes that it would be the answer, because that would make one hell of an awesome book.

“I don’t know,” he whispered back.

“It’s kind of freaky,” I admitted with a grin upon my face.

“I found the two ways, they are both off,” he commented.

“No, we have another set, they are on the charger behind the printer.”

“Nope, we took those up to the farm,” hubby noted.

“Oh yeah, well, what the hell could it be then?”

It happened again, the electronic buzzing and static, hubby leaped up from his chair and discovered a third set of two-ways that we had both forgotten about; the battery was low and it was alerting us to this fact.

Damn it, I was hoping for some amazing writing material about the who that thought we were all that, so they bugged our house. Uh, well, I guess it’s time to look elsewhere for material.

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Muddy Waters … THEN and NOW

When I was young my brother and I would often venture into the woods, to a little creek (or “crick” as we called it); there we would remove our shoes and socks and venture into the muddy water. We were on a hunt, for tadpoles that we could take home, so that we could watch them grow and become … dead, because they never survived our shoddy attempts at nurturing them into frogs.

The best joy of all of this was on warm summer days, feeling the cool mud sink between our toes. It was like some sort of poor man’s mud bath, the rich paid big bucks to get a mud bath like this, but we didn’t know that, we were just kids, enjoying nature.

As I got older I ventured further from home, to Neshaminy Creek (correctly pronounced as “creek” now). Still venturing to the edge of the muddy water, but usually keeping my shoes on. I no longer felt the cool mud as my feet sank between my toes, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I no longer feared my mother’s wrath when I came home with muddy shoes. Oh, she would still be angry, but I was a teenager and I knew more than she did, or so I thought.

Now I bring you to present day, sort of, well, yesterday. In a pair of week old mesh sneakers I jumped into my Chevy Malibu and headed about 8 miles north of town to pick up the girls. There’s no creek there, no river to mention, just farm fields and houses, and the great spring thaw.

How glorious is the great spring thaw after a harsh Michigan winter? Only as glorious as you allow it to be!

A left hand turn into the driveway of the home where my children were visiting led me into an unforeseen (at least by me) abyss of mucky black mud, and the old Malibu reveled in it, axle deep. I should have scolded Molly Malibu that there are no tadpoles there, no friends to cut school with, there was nothing worth getting the mud between my toes. However, Molly, even though she is an automobile is about 14 years old, just at the age where she knows more than me. And so, I sat, for a few seconds I tried to get out, tried forward and back, seeking solid ground with the rubber Good Year’s, but in the country, in Michigan, there’s no such thing as solid ground, everything is just one great big mud puddle, every single spring.

So there I sat, as the female home owner ran toward me with an already muddy shovel. “Ah,” I said, “I see I’m not the first.” I smiled at the thought of her being readily prepared for some city slicker to get stuck. (You can take the girl out of the city, but ya can’t teach her how to drive anywhere else.)

I stood back and allowed her to shovel as I nervously wondered if I called my husband would he even hear the phone ring? He had headed to bed just before I left, he was exhausted and I had a strong feeling the phone would not wake him, and that left me feeling more stuck than Molly’s wheels, axle deep, in the muddy waters of this driveway.

The home owner called her neighbor who came to rescue this old city girl … with a tractor. I watched as he got down on his knees in the black mud, only then did I realize the depth of mud that was rushing through the mesh in my sneakers and leaving me chilled to the core. “Thank you,” I told him, but somehow it just seemed insufficient.

Plucking me out of that deep, thick mud left me relieved, but now I had to get my girls to the car, which now sat in the middle of the road, flashers glaring an angry reflection on the muddy waters that Molly was no longer sinking in. The girls got in and I sped away, partly from embarrassment, and partly because I was blocking traffic.

Funny, when I was young, getting muddy always got me into trouble with Mom, but the fun outweighed the trouble. When I was a teenager muddy water meant good times, good friends, and good memories. Now, mud just sucks me in and it takes a good neighbor and his tractor to get me out. So, I want to know, who in the hell took all the fun out of muddy waters???

A Daughter’s Memories

Dad’s feet are tapping to the beat of this old song, on a day, long ago, this song was threatening to blow out the speakers of the old eight-track player. “As long as I can dream it’s hard to keep this swinger down.” Even now, those words stand true, sure, Dad can’t do what he once did, but he sure as hell doesn’t sit still for long, and he is always creating memories along the way.

This song has been coursing through those grey brain particles of mine all day. It’s almost as if the needle is stuck on the old record player. However, with each pass a new memory reveals itself.

When I was young and he would pull me onto his lap so that I could steer the car up Florida Avenue and into the back driveway. Or when I was 16 and learning to drive, as we were driving down Bridge Road he pointed to a brown piece of hair on my black spandex leggings. I vainly searched for the hair, until he calmly said, “Please don’t take your eyes off the road.” I wanted to ask why he told me about it, years later I realized it was to see how easily I could be distracted … apparently it wasn’t difficult at all.

There are so many memories, I can’t possibly name them all without the benefit of a novels worth of pages. It saddens me that I am just now realizing that I have not given this to my own children. I’ve been so lost in a heap of fear, fear that my adult life may play repeat … yet with no signs that it will.

I wonder what it’s like to live without wondering who or what is behind you, without looking over your shoulder. Without a single care about what others think of you.

I may not know at this very moment, but I’m working on it.

Spring Break is when???

In two weeks the girls will be off for Spring Break, one will be going to Arkansas for the entire week, another will be going for four days, and the third is stuck home with me. Yes, stuck, that is the only way to refer to it.

Yesterday I learned that she is worried that we will just sit home, as we always do, as my illness dictates. Sitting at home in the comfort of these four walls, fearing the pain and anxiety that lurks on the other side of the door.

Somehow I need to develop an action plan, a plan to help her have the best Spring Break yet, and that is going to require stepping, no leaping, outside of my comfort zone. Yes, I am fully aware that they make medication for people like me, but those meds pretty much knock me on my ass, thereby avoiding the very things I fear because I sleep rather than function. Sooo, what’s a girl to do?

I could easily call my doctor, in fact, I have an appointment between now and then, but what would I say. No, my daughter deserves better, my daughter needs better, and hell, I need better. I already looked up a few places to go, but most of the ideas that I have don’t open until May, and I fully realize that the mere act of planning doesn’t make it happen, if anything it sets us both up for disappointment. Yet, not planning leads to either in action, or a total failure of my coping skills. Sooooo, planning it is.

With a silent hope that I can pull off the best Spring Break she has had so far in her life I can only wish that she will remember this more than she remembers my illness.

What can I do for you?

In my current state there isn’t much that I can do for others. In fact, I have spent most of the winter isolating myself from others. It began with my return to my family after an extended stay with Dad. I wanted to reconnect with my husband and children, to cherish the moments I had missed and to create new memories that would last for generations.

What I got was lost friendships, often being referred to as “selfish,” and so many missing the signs of my ever decreasing mental state. Those that said they had my back were really sticking a fork into it. In some cases, even dragging my children down with their opinions and stories.

On bad days everyone was there to “help” it was only later that I discovered their helpfulness included judging myself and/or my children and our worth in society. This is life, it’s not a game, a person shouldn’t dishearten a child based on a diagnosis carried by their mother.

Maybe others think that bipolar is contagious, or maybe they missed the signs of me trying so desperately to hold tight to the silver cord as I sought light at the end of it. With each new rumor spread, each invitation non-existent, and each day growing darker I realized that I could easily fall off the face of the earth and few would care for long.

Oh sure, everyone would have others to blame for my demise, but would anyone wonder how they could have treated me differently? Probably not, because we live in a society of blaming others. The truth of it all is had I met my demise the only blame to be laid is that of an on-point, yet obscure diagnosis that seems to take me down a path of mis-perception, especially at the tail end of every winter.

If you can’t fully and privately support myself and my family on our darkest days, then there is no reason in hell that you deserve to enjoy us when the light shines.

I appreciate my family; my husband, my children, and most of my birth family. For those “friends” that can’t handle the heat; you might want to start by leaving my personal hell to me, I’ve got far more experience dealing with it than you.

Not that it is any of your business, but …

Many people have come to me with concerns of my lack of input on blogs and social media, so I will lay open my wounds for you to see.

It has been a long, dismal, rough winter here in Michigan and I have found myself to be less than happy about waking up each day. My anxiety level is through the roof and I worry more for a sunny day, than for great riches or good fortune. Getting out of bed lately had been just short of requiring heavy equipment to roll my fat ass out of bed, and I dread it.

Is there something wrong? Hell yes! It’s called life and crappy perception. Yesterday was a beautiful day here, with temperatures topping out in the 40s and someone suggested that I go to a park, for an hour every day, and write in a journal as I soak up some sun. Yesterday I called that hope, and I smiled at the thought of a gentle breeze flipping the pages of my journal as I wrote. But today, the fog has only just lifted and the clouds still hide the sun teasing us yesterday. It is 1:30 in the afternoon and still no sun rays to be seen or to soak up.

Instead of going to the park I went to a bookstore and bought a new journal to write in, new beginnings deserve new pages. I did a good job of staying mindful until I saw an old, blown our tire on the side of the road, that stupid tire took me back in time to a memory of fear, anger, and frustration from many years ago. A neighbor had set a pile of old tires aflame in her yard on a hot, dry, summer day, and our house (from my perception) was at risk, not to mention the toxins she was releasing into our air. And then, I realized, I no longer had to feel those emotions, the only fear that I have to feel concerning that memory is the fear that I have injected into the memory of someone that has long since moved.

What does all of this have to do with my lack of online presence? Well, I can create my own drama, I don’t need everyone else’s! So, I am trying to find new habits, joys, and precious moments that have less to do with the unrealistic online world, and more to do with the life I want for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not gone forever, just in need of a serious reality check, and only I can do that.

I still answer email, private messages, and phone calls, I just try not to be drug around by others emotions, I have enough of my own to deal with.

The Spelling Bee

It was third grade, I stood at the microphone and stammered over the letters of a word I no longer remember. “That is incorrect,” was the response of the official sitting at the table to my right.

My face flushed, I stood for a few extra seconds, not really sure what to do now. “Please take your seat,” another official said into the microphone.

Tugging at my dress as I walked I found my seat, only two others remained, that meant no matter what, I was in third place. Third place, I’m not a very good speller. What about all of those A+s that I always got on my spelling tests? What about the hours upon hours that I spent studying? It all seemed like a waste of time now, just another reason for tear drops on my dress.

Many years later, in high school, I was informed, on many occasions that I had an uncanny writing ability. Opinions always seemed to match that, so I tried hard to teach myself to write, and write well. It would seem that I had the ability when family and friends read what I wrote, but when it came to the big leagues I needed more work to keep up.

Recently my daughter was in a spelling bee, she was ousted in the third round. As a way of showing her that I understand the pain of her “failure” I told her about my own spelling bee horror. When I got to the part about getting third place my husband said, “Really? You must have been better at spelling back then?”

I asked what that meant and he said, “Oh come on, I’ve seen the way that you spell.”

The one thing I thought I was good at, writing, was now in jeopardy with his words. Spelling is the main component of writing, if I suck at spelling, than clearly I suck at writing. This, this blog is the first thing I’ve written since he said those words. Oh, I’ve tried, but the computer or sheet of paper screams back at me, “YOU SUCK! Just give up!” and so, I do, I’ve lost interest in anything to do with writing … and others have helped this along in other facets of my life.

A few weeks ago I attended a conference where I learned that children self-harm because their parents aren’t at the top of their game, “they are burned out.” Then I heard someone say that I look like a man … and someone else said that my family is so sick all of the time, like we are a bunch of hypochondriacs.

If this is what people are saying right in front of me, what in the hell are they saying behind my back? The truth is, I don’t want to know, don’t care to know, and now … I can’t even leave my house because I wonder what you will say when you see me. The very thought has me paralyzed with fear, and unable to function.

“Don’t worry about what others think!” everyone keeps telling me when I voice my fear. And all I can say is, “If it were that easy I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this.”

Others thoughts, opinions, and words have left me realizing that I am good at one thing and one thing only … failing. I should have known that way back in third grade, but I trusted my recovery from embarrassment or, so I thought.