Write? How?!?

When my anxiety is at peak performance I feel like I am being smothered with bubblewrap. If I move it will pop pop pop and my face will cringe, my fists will tighten, my heart will beat faster.
That’s how I feel now.
I woke up dandy! I feel great! I just don’t want to disturb the force!
I feel like ending everything I type with an exclamation point!!! Because I’m anxious!!!!!
See? Can you feel the stress of nothingness as you read that?
My anxiety has given me writers block.
It’s driving me crazy. The kind of crazy that comes along when you’re weeding a garden and find that never ending crab grass. No matter how much you yank, cut, pull…it’s there, mocking you!
I know this dose of jitters will end when I find the words for what I’m avoiding, or over compensating for.
What am I afraid of and distracted by? Everything or nothing. When I figure it out I am sure the drops of words will turn into the waterfalls of wisdom, words to live by.
For now, it’s just heavy. It’s hurting. It’s lonely.
I don’t feel it. But IT is there.
My inner human is acting like a child. I want to be out in the world, while my take charge brain screams to shelter in place. Beware. Stop. So much happens out there. In here is where safety is found.

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It’s Only Natural…

 

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Watching the wind blow through the trees.
Kicking up the dust and
watching it cross and cover the path made
on that bright, crisp morning –
Early enough that the dew was still sipped
by the wild flowers following her
road to nowhere.

As the sun begins to beat down on her face, the dew has now dried and
the leaves are curled to protect the
moisture they’d gathered.

Reaching out to the tree branches
covered in moss and web, she
breathes deep.
There is an ephemeral beauty in what
is taken from and what is lost in this place.
Though its sounds are of such
sadness…
much like the last song
of a dying bird…

There is a decrepit Redwood that, though
rotting, it
still holds her secrets.
She imagines that perhaps her struggles could
be buried there, and
that the lone song of her dying dream might be
buried there as well…
deep within its roots.
Deep within its safe place –
where life still exists.

In the spring
seedlings may shoot
from this dirty place, and
a new chance at life could begin, if
only the sunlight could get in.

 

 

A Spoonful of Sadness…

 

(I’d like to apologize in advance for this post. Typically I try like hell not be this person. I’m sorry.)

 

 

I am trying not to break, really I am. I lay in bed awake, sometimes until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning praying that I don’t die, because I don’t want these last few months to be the way my children remember me. I cry in my closet. It’s not even one I can walk in to, so I just lean into my sweaters and wipe my face with their sleeves. (It sounds so pathetic…and it is…really.)

When my son JJ was born (he’s 6 now) I had a bad case of the baby blues for about three months. I just cried. Good, bad, anything changing in my bubble of a life and I would weep. Stress was manageable, but challenging…like undoing duct tape with wet fingers.

*I have tried not to write this, as over the last few years I really have been working on being the woman who chooses to see the goodness, the sweetness my life gives me. My optimism is what keeps me hopeful, and filled with desire for each tomorrow.*

 

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I can’t do this, I think to myself. But I keep going and act as if I’m fine…which seems to be working in my favor. Short of the mess that is my house (which is easily explained away with the sheer volume of humans and pets living under our roof) no one says anything that makes me wonder if perhaps they know I’m struggling with severe, debilitating and at times terrifying postpartum depression…and have been for the better part of a year.

I just don’t have the words to write this. My desire to be held, well it just cuts through those words and leaves them empty and dangling like wet, freshly cut grass.

I’m not detached from my beautiful baby, by Gods grace. From the moment I saw him there was this intense infatuation I could feel…all the way to my very soul. My depression came on slowly. I have no love lost…but being here (though I know it’s my depression) all day and every night…here…alone with this beautiful little boy is so hard to do right now. I nurse him, I sleep with him, eat with him. He touches my face with those small loving hands and I want to escape. This feeling is killing me. The shame, the heartache…it’s inescapable. It’s torture. I feel like I’m dying inside and nobody can hear my screams for help. I don’t want to kill myself, although the immense guilt for feeling these emotions make me want to die. I just want it to stop.

I am exhausted. I don’t want to eat, or be. I eat pounds of food when no one is watching and when they are I feel ill for doing it. I don’t know why. I eat so I can nurse and for no other reason at this point. I missed my baby’s first adventure at the park. I missed his first push on a swing on Easter Sunday. I didn’t care until I realized what I had missed, and felt so sad that I was happy for the time alone, even if all I did was clean. (Why can’t I just be fucking happy, get over it.)

 

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This monster, it shadows me, it haunts my waking hours with a fear I can’t describe. It’s horrific the things I find myself pondering about. I find myself saying things like “If something happens to me…” – I taught my daughter how to bathe her baby brother ‘just in case’…

The kids have clean clothes, and they’re fed. There are dishes to eat out of…and it takes everything I have to make that a reality. I haven’t done homework with JJ for well over a month. I can’t remember the last time I painted with my child, or just sat and let myself be consumed with joy by my daughter Birdie’s desire to just be with me. It feels smothering.

I wish I could sit down and say “I need help. I think I need hospitalization. Please help me.” Instead I started cutting myself…just to feel anything other than this. I’m a fucking wreck. I just want to have someone hold me. Let me cry. Help me.

My husbands job ended today, and I’m sure he will be disappointed if he reads this. I’m just letting him and our family down…again. And now I’m crying. God help me. I’m a failure. Miserable in this world of lost battles, whispers of loneliness, having been broken and betrayed by the mind and body that carried the same human beings I would die to protect, to be with. Ironic.

It’s times like this that I wish we had family here. I could use some family love. Help. Rest. I need someone to come kick my ass back into proper order, before I emotionally damage my beautiful family – because I am fine with me being damaged, but they won’t be.

*I feel like a fraud.*

I do have times of clarity where I muster up what reserves of energy I have to do things like mopping, vacuuming, grocery shopping. I sit and play with the baby everyday, no phones or tv, and laugh while I’m crying inside. I really do try to hide it from him. I want him to feel safe in his new and amazing world. I don’t want him to feel even an ounce of my suffering.

Our family means the world to me and I don’t understand (even though medically speaking I have a full understanding) why I can’t get myself out of this. I don’t understand why the thoughts are so persistent that they are drowning out the love I know is in there…somewhere.

I want my little bit of heaven back.

 

 

 

Of Pain and Pressing On…

 

 

**{ For those that are survivors of sexual assault/abuse please be aware that the following  may bring up the trauma of your past/present. This post is not for the eyes or minds of children. Thank you. }**

 

 

There is a deep, throbbing, hypothermic kind of loneliness that gnaws at my soul. The kind of chosen exile a victim seeks and though no fault of their own, feels guilty for wanting as they grow older. Though the moments of such pain are fleeting with the change of each season…the off putting desire for isolation rears its ugly head from time to time.

I have sat on my bed, many many many nights trying to write a ‘story’ about being a sexual assault victim, but it’s just not going to happen. Unlike the things I usually write about, even after all these years, it’s just so hard. It’s more than just a small moment in time. It’s the smells I fear. It’s the music that haunts me. It’s the man that took a part of who I was, and not just my body. It’s the things I will never get back, that he still takes from me. The people who still blame me, who use it as a means to bleed me emotionally.

Writing as if I was old enough to understand the intense trauma that was happening to me is impossible. I was thirteen, just a child. To say that the man who raped me was just some guy is not realistic. He is a predator, a man who worked for my father, and, looking back groomed me, gained my trust for several months. My father too busy, my rapist would offer to pick me up if I missed the bus, wanted a ride into town. He was 29, had short brown hair, clean shaved. Light eyes and tall. Unassuming.

I was told it was my doing, as I went there with his promise to buy my friends alcohol for a party. It was New Year’s Eve. He lived in the building my father owned. The Chaplin lived below him. I was told I deserved it, that I got exactly what I should have. By adults, by people that should have loved me, by people that say ‘I love you’ even now.

He made me a screwdriver, in a big gulp cup. He turned on The Cranberries song so popular for the time, and told me to relax. He walked out of the room. It smelled of overly ripe fruit…and Palmolive dish soap. A man I didn’t know left, closing the door quietly behind him. After a few drinks I started to feel sick, not drunk, but foggy, things became blurred. I remember trying to smile as he walked toward me, but I couldn’t move my mouth. I remember trying to talk…nothing. My arms were heavy like they had been weighed down or tied.

As he raped me, I could see out the window across the street. My friends were on the porch celebrating the holiday, drinking, laughing. I prayed one of them would look up and see me. Praying for help. Silent.

My mind was screaming for them. I tried but could not fight. My body was worthless, and he made it so. Like molten glass against my womb I screamed and screamed. Nothing. I felt my eyes bulge as I tried to move. The strain of my muscles searing in pain to escape. I could not move. Silent. Petrified.

I don’t know how long it lasted, or how often I faded in and out. I know I don’t remember everything. I remember the pain. I remember the smell of sweat, fear. Life altering pain. All consuming fear.

My friends were suppose to pick me up 15 minutes after I got there. I don’t know when they showed. In my younger years I would’ve said an hour, if you asked me now I would say hours, a lifetime, eternity.

They began pounding on his door. One friend found me on the couch. The other confronted him. Two more blocked the door. I was picked up, pants down, and brought to the bathroom. Cleaned my face. Held me up and carried me down the stairs while someone called someone and then I was whisked away to a home I lived in briefly, while I came to. The sun should have been up by now, but the world was dark. The police were called, I was taken to the hospital, a rape kit was used. I was stripped. I was photographed, swabbed, nails were dug in to. Prescriptions were given to prevent pregnancy, and to protect from std’s. Statements were given by the friends who showed too late. Blood was never drawn.

The man that raped me ran. He drove far away, stealing my fathers police scanner from the funeral home, and ran like a coward. He told someone a few weeks prior to raping me that he ‘liked them young’. I was young enough that I looked like a little girl. I was maybe 5 feet tall, blonde hair, 90 lbs, and I was wearing Levi Silvertab jeans, faded light blue, and an oversized Columbia ski vest over my white t-shirt. I was a child. I shutter to think that perhaps I wasn’t his first. God I can’t think about it.

I was told my father tried to find him, he wanted him dead. The police interviewed the Chaplin. Devastated when he realized it was his friends daughter, he later told me he cried. Beside himself he said if only he had known. He was a good man, a military Chaplin. Covered in tattoos from a life far gone but always given away with his sad, loving eyes. Detectives tracked down the roommate, who never looked at me, and he said nothing. Nothing. My rapist turned himself in some time later, hours away, and was brought back to be formally charged.

I remember walking into the prosecutors office. It smelled like copy paper, and freshly printed paperwork. Terrified. Told it was my fault I said nothing. Only that I wouldn’t testify. My mother looked at me with contempt…disgust. I was a child.

My friends refused to be totally honest about why and how we all ended up there, surely because they feared being arrested.

My mother went to the hospital, and the police station to retrieve my belongings from that night. I told her I didn’t want them. A few years ago she was still wearing my ski vest. It’s tan, with an aged black and brown zipper. It’s soft and comfortable. She wears it without a care. It makes me ill.

The man who raped me pled guilty to statutory rape, was sentenced to 3-5 years. I don’t know when he was released, but I remember seeing a man that I thought could have been him years later, and suddenly I remembered the smell of his apartment. His walk. His breath. Terrified I left the store.

A young man with the same first name as my rapist touched my belly when I was pregnant with my first child and I had my first panic attack. I was beside myself. Frozen in time. The young man wasn’t a bad person. He was mortified at my response. I hit him so hard that my hand was bruised. I had hurt someone because I was so very wounded, after all that time.

About five, maybe six years ago I received a check in the mail for just over $800. It was from my states victims compensation fund. The man who raped me had been arrested, and in order to be released he had to pay his bail…and restitution. My mind, my heart, my body, was worth $800 and a note in the checks memo…my case number I think. That child remained terrified. After all those years, I could see his face.

I remember after I was raped that I would constantly walk out of my bedroom to make sure I wasn’t alone. I remember how conflicting that was with the need to escape myself. I began cutting my wrists, the inside of my thighs, never too deep. Enough to feel a mental release of my emotional torture. To wound my sickening body. It was euphoric, yet I cried. I was afraid of myself. He took everything from me, and I hadn’t even begun to live. I showered constantly and scrubbed myself until I was raw, until hives would appear. I needed to feel clean. I wanted to die. I wanted to find him and cut off his dick. I wanted to torture him. I wanted him to die so that I wouldn’t have to in order to survive.

It’s been many many years since I was forced to carry the title of rape victim. My life has changed. I was given a family of my own. I was baptized, and found Gods Grace. Rarely do I think of my sexual assault. It’s been a hard and painful road. Climbing up a steep and burning slope before I could see the light of day, of God, of a future I wanted to be a part of. I have little value in myself, and to be honest I’m not worthy of love in my heart, my mind. But in my soul…deep within where only God can touch, I’m beautiful. I’m whole. I’m loved. In that small place, I’m not a victim but a survivor. It is with that still small voice, and my faith, that I’m able to let that small light shine bright. I made it. I’m here. And for those who suffer alone…I won’t be silent.

 

 

**{ You are not alone. You are loved. You are beautiful as you are. Time, as it is, will pass on and can become part of your healing rather than  the still burning embers of your loss. }**

These Hands

I had a dream last night.
I was standing in my kitchen and I dropped a casserole dish. As I watched it fall to the floor it’s shape became that of a heart. It’s rounded edges were thick. My reflection hit the floor and as it shattered I looked down at my hands. They faded as I reached for the shards and I was helpless…

My hands are, much like the rest of me, failing.

My hands.
Hands that held my fathers, as we walked to the coffee shop and where they caught me as I fell to my knees.
Hands that reached for my mother when I was afraid.
These hands have seen the worst of me.
They stole. They begged. They wiped my tears.
My hands.

Unable to carry the burdens of my life at times, my hands have held my face as I sobbed.
Fists tight. They have fought for me, battered and bruised.
These hands have tried to protect me, even when I would not.

My hands.
My hands have washed my beautiful children. Reading them stories as my hands held them close. These hands have tended to their cuts and scrapes, and wiped their noses. Fingers that once braided my daughters hair are a tangled mess. Hands that helped my children to grow and learn are now keeping me from them.

They have caressed my husbands face, they have held fast in his arms.

My hands are tired. They just don’t feel the same.

Ever defiant to what my heart feels, my hands have always held fast to what I could not. At times I have wanted to let go, my hands were strong when I was broken.
My hands.

Hard working. These hands have planted and toiled, made meals, washed clothes. At times barely scraping by for the family I love more than life itself, and now…they are shaky.

*****

The simple things are getting harder to do. I can’t open juice for my children. Holding a cup, folding a towel…such matters are whittled with frustration. Breaking the seal on my aspirin bottle feels like I’m only reminding myself that I can’t do it, or anything else on my own. My pots and pans though dry, feel slippery to my finger tips, and I’m worried I’ll burn myself. I drop my phone. I can’t feel it in my hands sometimes. I feel like my hands are betraying me. Once a joyous event, bathing my little one has become a chore as I am ever aware that he could go under the bubbly water and I would struggle to help him. I slam my cup down as though my hands have forgotten how to be gentle. Things that should be second nature are now things I have to work at, do over, clean up.
Often I used my hands to write of love, life, and to make works of art, create beauty, plant. Now, my hands, much like the rest of me, are failing.

Catching Hell

I am struggling
I tried
I’m hurting
Why is that my problem
You’re hurting me
I can’t help you’re perception
I love you
You love me
I need you
I don’t want you
Please stop
I want this
You’re damaging me
I don’t care

What’s your problem
….

Why can’t you just be happy
I don’t know
You’re so fucking ungrateful
I’m sorry
This is all your doing
….
You’re fucking warped
I’m sorry
You’re a fucking control freak
I need to trust you
I don’t care what you think of me
Why am I here

Please give me reassurance
It’s okay to feel threatened
I’m begging you to stop
It’s your fault…just keep your fucking mouth shut.
I’m not okay
Everything’s fine until you start in.
I love you
….

Put in Place

The line fades…
…hair falls,
…shadow closes in.
The ears ring…
…door slams,
…heart breaks.
The days few…
…hope little,
…power gone.

Taking what it wants,
…Leaving empty handed,
…Needing what it hasn’t…

…Never alone,
…Never forgotten,
…Never release,
…Never loved…
…And never over.

The color faint…
…fear lingers,
…dark remains.
The pain forever…
…waste builds,
…filth is seen.

The memories felt.

The time frozen.

The life broken.

Banana Milkshakes

When ever I was sick, or hurt, or happy my mom would make me banana milkshakes. She made Texas sheet cake EVERY year on my birthday…because I loved it. When I moved away from home as an adult she brought me homemade chicken noodle soup. My mom, for all her failings, and mine, has tried to mend the broken bits. For me though, the pain and indifference she had made me feel often out weighs her kindness. Perhaps it is because I see so much of her own issues in myself.

My best memories of my early childhood are surrounded by the pain. The ups and downs, her love then her screaming. It wasn’t easy for her. She raised us on her own even when my parents were married, and after my dad left we really gave her a run for her money. Catching snakes and bringing them inside. Stealing her change to go buy rats from the local pet store. My mom never complained about her lot in life, not about my father and his shitty lifestyle, the women, the drinking. She prayed every day for my dad…until the day he died she loved him and still does. She knows more about suffering than I can begin to describe and even though I will never name her…some things are never meant to be repeated.

My mom ‘Que’ was in special ed until her sophomore year, and back in the 1960’s that was very different from today. Retard was a formal word and not an insult, stupid was accepted and belittling of those with special needs was part of daily life. She wore glasses and had a speech impediment. And they left her there until her sophomore year. She married my father and after years of trying to have a child and fostering they adopted me….

I don’t remember very much of my childhood honestly, but I know there was good, I just know it. My mom truly tried to give us everything she could, but you don’t know what you don’t know…

I remember the banana milkshakes. The cold sweet taste in my mouth. The joy of feeling loved in a cup. (Perhaps a look in my broken mirror…why I have such a detestable view of food.) The smell of cake being made. The bitter cocoa filling the air, as I sat in anticipation, excitement. Knowing that with my cough the warmth of homemade goodness was forth coming.

Que is not evil, not hatred personified. She is but one stitch in the misunderstood world surrounding mental illness. She is loved no less for it. She is my mom, and nothing changes that. She is the one I cried out for with heart break, each child I brought into this world. No matter the distance or time not spent will take that from her, me.

Someday she will find herself whole, as will I, and we can meet, mend the fences, for a little bit of heaven.

Answers

Many many times I have stayed up all night with my children. Sickness, new teeth, heartache and loss. My fondest memories are always of them after they fall asleep. Even now, seemingly unneeded and often feeling unwanted by my son Jay, I peer into his room and for just a moment I watch him sleeping. He’s so calm, not a bit like the teenager I see briefly wander down the hall to and from his junior man-cave.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life as a parent, and I’d like to think that I have learned from them. I keep reminding myself that this too is merely a season, all be it a really rough one.

Jay has anxiety (GAD). It’s a thorn in his side and an ache in my heart. We butt heads constantly and I am forever trying to reach out, let him know I’m here. His symptoms are so similar to mine at his age, but unlike my mother, I have refused to give up. I will never disown him. I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to be told that I was owned, and then thrown out time and time again….

I was given to a family at around 9 years of age, just down the road from my mom, and my brother. I remember the family very well. Both of their girls were adopted. For the first time since my dad had left I felt whole again. It was for lack of a better word ‘normal’…how I thought a family should be. I know my mom would stop by, usually to start a fight with me, eventually with the mother and then she would disappear again. Then after about six months I was back home – devastated. I remember thinking how bad I must be if they didn’t want me either. Then again at 11. When I was twelve I ran away from our tiny home (or as it was once called ‘the servants quarters’) to the home next door where my friend lived. I stayed there two nights, in her closet. A window in her bedroom faced the walkway to our door. Hearing my dads voice I crawled slowly from the closet floor and listened…

“What the hell is going on?” He said.
“She just wants attention.” My mom growled.
“I don’t have time for this shit, I have a life.” He walked away.

I was right there. Heart broken. Too afraid to say what had happened, what had been done to me as a child, I was frozen in time. Lost. Alone.

I left the closet a few hours later and walked through the alley-ways to my school, terrified I was going to jail… Or possibly to burn in hell. I walked straight into the office. The counselor greeted me. (I had talked with him a few times.) My mom arrived soon after. They disappeared into the back room and I was left toiling over the infinite possibilities for punishment. I knew it would be bad. A door ripped open, and my mom stormed out. She didn’t look at me once. Not even a glance. I was sent to class after I gave the counselor my reason for running away.
I didn’t want to go back. Home wasn’t home for me.

Again I was told I had no right to feel, and that I wasn’t forgiven though I pleaded with her to do so. She told me the school counselor was a fraud, a fake, and stupid. He had told her she was a terrible mother. Her anger grew and I felt this immense need to flee. Run. Anything. She swung at me and I hit her first. I was in shock having never hit anyone other than my brother…which usually led to mutual destruction. She froze. I screamed as loud as I could in her face…

“Don’t ever fucking hit me again! Evvvvverrrr!”
She didn’t.

After a few months of battling with her, watching her turn her anger for me to my brother, I stepped between them so she would stop smacking him, so hard, so loud it sounded like paper ripping, with a wet cloth, cornered behind our front door. Once again I shouted for her to stop. Face red, eyes filled with both rage and fear, she grabbed one of my arms and threw the cloth at us. It was fall, my favorite season. On Thanksgiving day she kicked me out.

This was my childhood, and eventually my brothers, although he seemed to be accepted more as a human being instead of a worthless, dirty piece of trash. I know our mom loves us, and she has taken steps to get help, taking medication for depression (possibly). To this day she stands by the claim that God told her to let me go, that it’s my fault. She has told my son she hates him. She had told me to send my son away.

Through the years, I have asked myself how I could not know I was suffering from Anxiety, OCD, PTSD. Why didn’t I see it. I suppose it’s hard for someone to wonder why I had a family at all. My answer is this –

You can’t know what you don’t know…and I thought, with every bit of pain, every heart beat, every skipped meal, that I was normal. It’s all I knew. It’s all I had.

I have a family because I’m worthy of one, and I love deeply and forever. Unfailing, unfaltering…My little bit of heaven.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and my family is the most chaotic, loud, beautiful masterpiece I will ever create.

Me, Myself, Anxiety….

If I move the couch here, I won’t feel like my world is imploding. I can fold my shirt like this and I will remember to wash his dress pants. I will intentionally stack my plates mis-matched and I will have peace in my kitchen. If I just pray enough my heart will stop beating out of my chest. I can’t do all our laundry today…so it’s not going to be done at all. Tuck my sheet like this, and I won’t wake up terrified. Place the lavender candle over there and I can breathe again.

I hope to God my kids don’t think like this. I pray I can wake up one day and everything will be just so, and I can be normal, peaceful, still. I worry my family will be irrevocably damaged by me. Me.

I make doctor appointments I forget, then have a panic attack thinking of a viable excuse to give them for missing it. I lose my keys daily. I lose my wallet all the time. I forget to check binders, homework almost every day. I look out at the mailbox and worry there’s a bill we can’t pay so I don’t drudge through the snow to get it. I try to budget when I shop but what if there’s a storm or a child gets sick, or my husband loses his job? Constantly in a state of hyper vigilance I look out the windows. When my husband isn’t here I always know the quickest route to grab a weapon if someone breaks in, and I know where I will hide my children if someone gets past our dogs. I wake up afraid that someone else has taken my place, and that I am unwanted…without a home.

I’m having a panic attack.

I distinctly recall as a child stealing pictures from our family albums, and putting them in a little red plastic wagon with my favorite Barbie, my brothers favorite toy of the moment, and whatever else was important for that night in case my house caught on fire. (It stayed by my side, always within arms reach.) My dolls were rearranged daily, redressed, hair combed, and even if my bed was only a sleeping bag it was just so, or I didn’t sleep in it, opting for the floor. I brushed my hair 22 times. I got older and that turned into 11, because it was too long to brush 22 times.

I keep having to stop. I have to remind myself to exhale.

I count. I count the leaves on the shelves in my kitchen constantly, in a number always totaling 22. I count the blinds over the tv, always to 33. The screws in the bathroom equal 44, the door is 11 and I wash myself in the shower twice, always adding what I wash to 22. I count letters on packaging to 33, and start over with each of these, until it’s right, until I feel that switch flip in my mind telling me to get up, look away, breathe.

At my worst I can’t control it at all, and if I try to change this cycle I become enraged and act like a child…which I then hate myself for. I yell, get snippy, lash out. I’ve gotten better about it, and now that I understand it’s an issue, I can usually stop it before it starts. At my best, I remind myself that this is not me, and I get up before I start counting, folding, imploding. My worst days are pretty rare now, but there is almost always an unhealthy reason for that. I just have to keep going, I’m not perfect, damn it.

I shouldn’t be telling anyone any of this. My poor kids. I’m such a fuck up. God, let them grow up unique, unlike me in every way.

I still get anxious talking one on one. I have a hard time speaking in the way I would like to and in my mind, I sound like a 13 year old child. I talk quickly, rambling almost, and I sweat…a lot. My palms sweat when I drive. It’s not as bad as it use to be, but if my kids are in the car with me it’s bad enough that I time wiping my palms on my pants by the intersection. At times I can’t watch a movie or read the news. It just makes me anxious. Ordering food is just a dance of avoidance, and I do the dance every time…especially over the phone.

Hi! The name’s Bits, and I’ve got issues.
– No shit.

I struggle with my personal health. I’m not unclean, I’m a 30 something mom with ‘disordered’ eating habits who, because I can, controls her mind by starving her body. It is something I’ve dealt with long before the anxiety. I look in the mirror, shattered and falling to the floor…I see something ugly, something and not someone. At my lowest point I weighed 100 lbs (maybe) and my body was dying. I would wake up gasping for air, very aware that my heart was not beating properly. By the time I realized what was happening, my body had begun to reject food. I would take a bite and throw up, almost immediately. I had hair growing in places it shouldn’t have been, and I wasn’t even eating once a day. I should have gone to a hospital. (Baggy clothes can hide more than just bones.) I had to pace myself to eat an egg a day. After a few weeks I started with bits of bread. (Words cannot express where I was at mentally, but I knew it was bad.) I have broken teeth because of the toll it’s taken on my body and some have fallen out or had to be pulled. I don’t think my husband knows. At least he has never said so, but I know there are times he makes me sit and eat, so maybe he does. (It’s never come up over the years in a conversation…but then again, who wants to talk about it.) I did drugs as a teenager, and not because I wanted to. For a little while it wasn’t even that I was addicted…it stopped me from thinking. Silence. A heavy price for ‘peace of mind’ as they say.

I have a severe anxiety disorder. Emphasis on SEVERE, just in case they miss it…..

I know when it all started, I even remember what I was wearing, what I ate that day. I remember the smell, the taste. The song playing haunts me. I also know what triggered it all over again as a teen, and as an adult. I have found that expressing myself about said ‘things’ or even acknowledging them as fact leads to a depth of despair and extreme panic that I can’t cope with so I just don’t. Not to mention the wrath, judgement and isolation. I am not psycho, nuts, inept, worthless, pathetic, warped or even delusional. I’m not a liar, a whore, or a bitch. I’m just me. At 30 something, I’m still trying to accept myself. I’m also absurdly aware of my thoughts, and the all consuming nature they have. I wish people would educate themselves and/or STFU.

My anxiety and my panic are two very different monsters. My anxiety puts me in a constant state of ‘holy shit my house is going to fall down on top of me’. It’s sweating, clinching my jaw to the point of migraines, curling my toes while I sleep. It is the thoughts that repeat themselves, repeat themselves. The need to know what is going on at all times with those I care for, a sense that something terrible is happening. My heart beats into my neck, and there are times I feel that if I could just find the perfect number, I could count it all away. I forget things, and what I don’t forget I avoid avoid avoid. My panic attacks are consistent with what I think dying would feel like. My heart beats fast and loud in my mind, but heavy, so heavy in my chest. My mouth gets dry, and I feel like I’m falling. I can’t breathe, and sometimes it’s all I can do to just say ‘Jesus’. I can’t form a thought, let alone a prayer for help, and it is usually followed by a few moments of extreme confusion.

I’m not always like the woman described above, and most days I really do manage well, although forgetfulness and nightmares are a constant, and I still have panic attacks but they aren’t every day, or every week. There was a time I remember having them 20+ times a day, and throughout the night. The inability to move, act, breathe, sit, sleep…that was my life. Every day, every hour, and the moments took far too long to pass.

I’m crying, why am I crying?

I have tried medication, but the doses required to find relief were so high that I opted not take them…the physical toll of the side-effects were not worth the benefits they gave me. Therapy was ‘therapeutic’ but for myself, it only allowed me to see how bad my anxiety was and what caused it to begin with. I needed help with the now, not the then. The bible has and continues to be a source of peace and love. (There was a time however, that reading the bible filled me with such guilt, pain, resentment that I didn’t read it for months, and forget my Christian radio station favorites. I just couldn’t.)

It’s hard to find acceptance in a world that has become very eager to push their perceptions on others, and more accurately that their perception is correct. I feel alone when I’m really struggling with my anxiety because my main effort is to maintain ‘the norm’ for those I love. I am not allowed to be anxious. I can’t be myself and therefore don’t know who I am. I don’t struggle with depression because of this, or to be honest, when I do, I now understand it’s a symptom secondary to my anxiety and I don’t let it take hold. Also, having this doesn’t make me a coward, and it doesn’t make me weak. Quite the contrary. I’ve been through hell, and I’m still breathing, heart’s still beating. More importantly, for me, is that it has given me the ability to find happiness wherever I can, and accept those who’s struggles are hidden, except to me. I know their pain, and my heart is their heart.

One day at a time. I feel like I’m attending an AA meeting and I’m the only one who showed. At least the coffee’s good.

I’m here. I’m here and I’ve gotten through another day. It’s not hopeless, empty and filled with deep regret and guilt anymore. Sure, I look in the mirror and see the cracks…oh my brokenness, but…I’m happy, and I’m healing. Clarity. Each day brings new blessings, memories made and cherished. I get to kiss my husband, and hug my kids. My shaking hands no longer hold my heart, God does. My desire to live through it for my kids does. I am learning to be still, even if it feels like it’s killing me. There is life beyond the infinite loop of anxiety, my aching and fearful soul. My life will continue and with each new season I feel a little more like who I was intended to be and less like a walking enigma. One day my story will have a wonderful ending, and maybe the Lord will use me, my life, to help others find their little bit of heaven.