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The First Law, The Only Law

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I’ve been struggling with my words so hard the last few days. I’ve written several posts and deleted them all. I keep trying to free my tongue from the glue that holds it firmly to the roof of my mouth, to the hollows of my heart, to the wall of the dark pit of my mind. I said things last time that I itch to unsay, yet even as I die a little every morning when I wake up and find I haven’t made the smallest effort to take all my words back, I know they can’t be unsaid.  Not even if no one has read them. And people have read them.

The last week has brutalized me. Today has been one long pustulent pock on my spirit, on my everything. Nothing a million people haven’t had to deal with at the same exact time. We do this, us humans, we try to put everything in its place, tidy up the shit storms so the sewers catch as much excrement as possible, and we attempt to soothe our fragile selves with pillows made of unfulfilled promises and angel farts. We want so much to believe that life is more than this bed-pan existence, but this is IT. This is what we are.

Our bodies break down, rot, ooze, leak, ferment, fracture, and seek the lowest ground on which to burn to bones and ash.

I wrote songs about this when I was fourteen. I knew the truth when I was six which was the last time I shit my pants, not because I wasn’t potty trained but because I was scared as hell to be left to care for my baby sister and I knew, even then, that life was going to be so much more morally complicated than hurting inside when I was encouraged to salt snails and watch them die.

Every day I retreat deeper into the cave in which I hide my truth from you and everyone else. The world is too much for me. Too loud for me. I hear you all breathing from my pyre of nightmares as loud as if I was in your fucking mouths, assholes. I hear your disappointment from here and I’d care a little more if you were more honest with yourself.

The one law I still abide is love. Love for individuals. Love for non-human animals. Love for the lost, love for the dead, love for the unsteady. Love for the abandoned, love for the abused, love for the homeless. If I give you a dollar I don’t give a shit how you spend it. If I give you my coat I don’t care if you cut it up. Love is a thing you offer up without conditions or stipulations or contracts.

I see race, I see gender, I see religion, I see sexuality, I see body shape, I see style, I see all of what you show me whether you mean to or not. I see and I love and I appreciate and I celebrate everything that makes you the best possible person you can be and the things you were born to carry in spite of having not chosen for yourself. I see all of the things that make you YOU because there’s beauty and value in your skin, your spirit, your experiences, your personal expression, and your heart. The one law I still abide is love. I can love almost anything about you if you let me. I can love almost anything about you if you’re light is honest, your voice genuine, your spirit raw. I want to celebrate your hair, your skin, your eyes, your bravery, your weird taste, your love of strange perfume and funky artifacts.

If I make fun of your magnificent fluffy extreme ginger mullet it’s because you’ve accomplished something worthy of comment.  Don’t you get it? I can’t make fun of a magnificent mullet without a certain amount of actual admiration. I’m not the decider of all things good and fashionable. I’m just one lousy little person of medium height and a reasonable but not genius IQ. My opinion, like all other opinions of anything, is completely subjective and pretty much bullshit. Except for the part where I love when anyone can distinguish themselves in any amusing and interesting way that isn’t hurtful to others.

I want to say: WEAR YOUR TIGHT SHINY DISCO PANTS, LET THAT CAMEL-TOE BE SEEN FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA, SHAKE THAT MULLET LIKE YOU KNOW EVERYONE IS AMAZED WITH IT, ROCK THAT FROSTY FEATHERED DO LIKE YOU’RE IN AN 80’S ROCK VIDEO, EAT THAT JELLO LIKE IT’S THE BEST FUCKING FOOD ON THE PLANET, RECITE BIBLE VERSES TO YOUR FAMILY LIKE THEY’RE BALLADS FOR GUILTY CONSCIENCES, EMBRACE DRUGS LIKE THEY FIX SPIRITS, JACK OFF TO RICHARD SIMMONS WORKOUTS BECAUSE – WHO DOESN’T?!

Whoever you are, BE YOU. I swear I’ll appreciate you (even if I don’t understand you) if you’re the most genuine self you can be.

There are so many things about me that you can laugh at, enjoy guiltily, put on a billboard, or report to Jon Stewart to try and get him back to the Daily Show, and I won’t hold any of it against you. I’m a ridiculous person in so many ways. But I beg of you, if you find me homeless, if you give me a dollar, don’t put conditions on how I spend it.

Don’t make a contest out of human suffering. Don’t tell people they can’t possibly understand your experiences because when you do that you effectively say they have never suffered, that their experiences are inferior, that even if they care about you they can’t ever care about you enough or appropriately or in a way you accept.

Suffering is something all humans experience.

Love is something all humans should experience.

You are beautiful to me.

 

 

Salad, Experimentation, and Clouds

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I finally cracked open one of my jars of pickled Sun Gold tomatoes. They are definitely not nice to touch or eat on their own. I’m specifically reporting this to Lila and Sean who both would really like pickled ripe cherry tomatoes. I’m sorry to say that the skin is loose and the insides are slimy. I took a chance making the recipe because the book that inspired it makes a dressing out of their pickled ripe cherry tomatoes and I thought it sounded great.

I did NOT add the sugar their recipe called for. I hate sweet pickles and I also really hate sweet dressings. Balsamic dressing being the exception – balsamic vinegar has a sweetness to it I don’t mind. Anyway – I put all of the tomatoes and about half the pickling liquid, and the clove of pickled garlic into a container. I added about a third of a cup of olive oil and then spritzed the whole thing until it got as creamy as possible.

I put it on this salad pictured above (iceberg lettuce, roasted cauliflower, croutons, and kalamata olives). It was really wonderful! Since being laid off of work we’ve been eating so much better now that I have the energy and time to cook.

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While waiting for Philip to get the new labels designed I’m working on making new products to add to my line. I did a batch of cardamom vanilla lip balm that turned out really nice. Last night I worked on doing a grapefruit ginger lip balm. This did not go as well. Citrus essential oil flavor/scent seems to disappear when it hits the warm oils and wax blend. I had to add 4 times as much ginger and citrus oil as the other blends just to get the same super subtle flavor my other lip balms have. This has altered the balance of ingredients so that the balm is now too slick on the lips. I’m going to have to do it over once again and add more coconut oil and wax (the coconut oil is solid at room temp and diff than the others)

Hopefully re-batching one more time won’t weaken the flavor. Hopefully I’ll get it right the third time. It’s kind of annoying having to redo this same batch but at the same time I know I won’t be satisfied until I get it right.

That, my friends, is why you want me as your apothecary.

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I’m really happy right now.

I know that my business is going to take a lot of time and a ton of work to turn it into a paying gig, so money might get stressfully tight in a month or two when our surprise cushion from getting some taxes back is gone, but I choose to believe it’s temporary. My old friends here also know that suffering from serious chronic depression means I will still struggle with that in cycles no matter how good things are. That’s just been a fact of life for as long as I know it. My medication makes these inevitable cycles so much milder than they would otherwise be for which I’m deeply thankful.

But right now, this week, the last three weeks, today, I’m simply happy.

All this week I’ve been rereading my manuscript for book 2 of Cricket and Grey and it’s appalling. First drafts are so appallingly bad. I’m forcing myself not to edit. Technically the stuff I’m rereading is all second draft and just as appalling as the first. But I stopped writing the first first draft in the middle of the book. So when I pick up the thread and start writing it again it will be first draft material tacked onto a second draft first half of the book. Don’t worry if that was crazy-convoluted and you don’t follow. The main point here is that I’m  preparing to work on my book again and it feels fan-fucking-tastic!

To be honest, the first draft reads like I’m coddling Cricket and Grey apologetically for making them go through all the horrible shit they went through in book one. Coddling your main characters doesn’t always do them the favors you think it does and it certainly does nothing for readers. I think I needed to get it out of my system.  If you live in a dystopian future in which you can’t afford basic medical care, the government only intervenes with self interest but lets you hang otherwise, and you can’t find a packet of Haribo gummies anywhere – there have to be some comforts like love and friendship, right? A little down time by a late winter fire and a feeling of safety…

Perhaps I’ve been hard on myself with this second book because I know I want it to be even better than the first. I’m proud of my first novel but I see SO MUCH room for tightening up my writing style, for tightening up plot, for enriching the reader’s experience of scent and sound and sight. I think that’s a separate post just on writing.

I’m off to read a little more manuscript and work on that lip balm. I hope you all have a great Thursday!

 

My Champion is a Hundred Pints

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This post was updated to reflect that I thought this weekend was February 1st, but I’m a whole week off! So this new adventure doesn’t start until the Monday after this one.

On February 2nd I’m going to pop a new pill. One that will make me vomit if I drink even the tiniest drop of alcohol. I’m fighting the thought that this represents a door being boarded shut forever. Last year I promised myself I would do this if I couldn’t learn to keep my alcohol consumption within healthy bounds. I made a point of not promising anything to anyone else. I didn’t drink for the first three months of 2014. It was pretty easy, except for Fridays, which made me want to rip brick walls down with my teeth.

But when the three months was up I quickly returned to my previous habits.

I have a happy relationship with alcohol. I haven’t got the darkness that comes with black outs, risky behaviors, alcohol-fueled abusiveness, or terrible regret. I rarely experience drunkenness at all because I loathe the feeling.

I’ve said all this before. I’m not sure I need to repeat it. I’m not really talking to anyone but myself. I answer to no one but myself. This is my autonomy as a human being. The human being I am requires that I consider the people I love and care about in all the decisions I make, of course. But what I write here is, ultimately, between me, myself, and I.

One of the truths I keep half buried, always, is that alcohol has made me a better mother. That’s not something anyone is supposed to ever say. Motherhood should be pure and unadulterated. For me, motherhood has been one long conversation with a breaking heart. This has nothing to do with who my son is, because as challenging as he’s been and may continue to be, he’s a beautiful and wonderful person. I experience so much pleasure in knowing him, in having the privilege of rearing him. This has everything to do with how ill-equipped I was to steer a tiny human being through all the awful challenges of childhood. This has everything to do with how I didn’t know that having a child meant reliving every fucking tiny little shitty minute of my own childhood again, but with the added weight of wanting to protect my own baby from everything I know about life that ever made me want to die. Every rejection my son experiences, I experience with a magnified pain, every set back, every rage, every disappointment he experiences is a little death in my own heart.

Those times I haven’t got any comforting answers for his worries, his pains, his sorrow, I feel myself fall apart just a little bit more.

Motherhood has gutted me.

Alcohol has smoothed the road. It’s administered calm, reason, and respite. It has given me constant courage and forced my fences down, again and again. Alcohol has mellowed me, allowed me to function, and to rejoice. It has kept me open to laughter and joy. It has prevented me from reacting with panic and anger when patience and love are required.

But I require more of it all the time to maintain my equilibrium. The price is my health. My alcohol consumption has hurt no one but me and my budget. But I can’t keep paying the price of my health. My body is tired. I’m only 45 but I feel like I’m 80. I guess that’s better than when I was 15 years old and felt like I was 150 years old.

All of this is nobody’s business, but, as usual, I share it because all the relief and non-alcohol-related courage I’ve ever gotten has been from others being honest, telling their stories even when it made them look bad, even when it turned the world against them, just so other people like them could feel less alone.

Not feeling alone is a powerful weapon against a poverty of safety.

I want to live a life in which I can hang out with friends and enjoy drinking a couple of pints of ale or sharing a bottle of wine. I want to live a life in which this is an occasional, even a frequent enjoyment. I would like to live a life in which it’s part of the dinner table, not part of the whole night.

Alcohol tames my insomnia. Though I may never know regular good sleep, alcohol keeps me up later and through its magical chemistry it bypasses my dreadful insomnia so that I can get right to sleep. Yeah, I still wake up several times a night and am still plagued with bad dreams, but at least I have the sensation of being able to nod off easily at first. I take what I can get when it comes to sleep.

Alcohol enables most of my socializing. The only people I genuinely don’t need alcohol to hang out with are my closest and oldest friends. My family (possibly just my mom) thinks I’m a super social creature. I do seem that way, I suppose. Most of my socializing is online, for one thing, and for the rest, I prefer social gatherings where alcohol is a feature. I don’t know how to be comfortable around people without the calming smoothing effects of booze. I don’t know how to socialize without beverages. Without alcohol I’m pretty much limited to socializing over coffee between the hours of 10am and 12pm.

Without alcohol I want to tell everyone how much I hate their hair and their air of casual rapture. Without alcohol I want to ask everyone why they’re so fucking human, as though I’m not, which I am. Without alcohol I struggle hard not to pull people’s hair and stare hard at their camel-toes like a village idiot fixated on a parade of naked clowns.

It’s not that alcohol makes me better at socializing, it just makes me feel better about being the person who asks every couple I’ve just met to reassure me they aren’t about to get divorced.

I don’t know how long I’m going to take Disulfiram. I’m on a journey of reparation with unmapped boundaries, uncharted obstacles.

I’ll tell you this, though, the first person who calls me an alcoholic gets a fucking hemlock milkshake. Maybe I am, but I prefer to keep the stigma-sticker off my back for a while longer.

 

Want a review copy of my book?

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I need several people to review my book and and do a giveaway of the trade paper edition I send them when they’re done reading it. Anyone interested? Here are the details:

  • You need to have a blog to publish the review on and at least a few readers who would be interested in a book giveaway.
  • I want a real review – if you find fault with the book – be honest. I still want you to publish your thoughts and do the giveaway. Thoughtful criticisms are welcome, however, I’m not interested in reviewers who totally trash books they don’t like.
  • I want links to purchasing my book provided in the review post.
  • I want your review to be added to Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Your backlog of books to read and review needs to be short enough that you can do this review within a month from now.

Interested? If you are, please email me at: angelinawilliamson1atgmaildotcom and give me your blog url, your address, and I’ll send you a trade paper copy of Winter: Cricket and Grey.

Here’s a synopsis of my novel (the book is so much better than this – I am still working on my synopsis skills):

At the end of the twenty first century, there is no city government left, just federal officers to oversee taxation and deaths. Cricket Winters, an apothecary like her mother before her, is the only medical resource most of the town can afford, and she’s lucky if she can get her hands on good quality catgut. When Cricket’s father dies, a handsome young friend of his named Grey Bonneville shows up at the burial to pay his respects. Cricket is drawn to Grey’s Scottish accent, so much like her parents’. Grey is impressed with her ability to throw a dirty punch, and circumstances bring them much together. But as Cricket begins uncovering family secrets that may cost her her property and livelihood, she no longer trusts anyone, least of all Grey, whom corrupt federal agents claim is a smuggler, implicating her father as well. In desperate need of money to save her property, Cricket gets a job with the local Mormon crime boss as an armed guard for a trip to Portland. Before she hits the road to Portland, Cricket finds disturbing evidence about her mother’s unsolved murder that makes her the new target of old evil.

What I’m Getting Out of Boring Friday Nights

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Things got pretty out of hand last night.  I had THREE cups of decaf PG Tips.  I was in bed by 12am with a major tanin BUZZ.  I think the cream might have mind altering qualities I was previously unaware of since I was most certainly —

YAWN.  Could I be more of a boring old lady now?  Seriously.   No snacks, no alcohol, no smoking, no caffeine*, un-fun amounts of sugar (3 teaspoons to be exact), and no excess of salty fatty things.  I had 2 modest slices of muenster cheese after my bowl of pasta.  This level of healthy living is extremely irritating.  The only way I could have irritated myself more is by taking a long walk or visiting the gym.

I’ll tell you one thing this tells me: I will not fail in reaching my 3 months of not drinking goal unless someone I love gets dreadfully sick or dies**.  I can’t see anything else shaking me from my resolve to get back to a healthy place with alcohol because the thought of a lifetime of sober Fridays and Saturdays fills me with such terrible depression – NO.  I must relearn how to drink in moderation*** and not drink every night.  I must get to a place where not drinking most nights is comfortable and I’m motivated to do it for my health.

So that’s the good I got out of my very dull Friday night.  And tonight will be more of the same dull tread towards a healthier body.  Speaking of my body – after 11 days and a minimum of at least 11,000 fewer calories consumed in that time than I normally consume in 11 days, I have only lost 4lbs.  I once heard that 3,000 calories = 1 lb.  So if I really only cut out 11,000 calories, my weight loss is right on target.  However, that’s only beer calories I’m accounting for.  Not the other 600 to 1,000 in food calories I haven’t been eating (the stuff I eat after dinner to keep from getting tipsy). This tells me that my body is grimly hanging onto every pound it can.  But I’m going to win.  That’s all there is to it.  It can’t keep hanging onto the weight if I consistently consume somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 fewer calories a day that was maintaining my enormous weight.  My body thinks I’m going to give up like always.  It’s wrong.  I have my teeth in this thing now.  And I suppose every dreary Friday and Saturday night is going to remind me why I’m doing this in the first place.

Right now I’m losing at a rate of 2lbs per week.  Which is a healthy amount.  More than that is not considered healthy.  If I can at the very least keep up that rate of loss I will be able to lose 24lbs in my 90 days of sobriety.  Perhaps if the ball is really rolling at that point I will extend my sobriety to another 3 months just to keep things simple.  More than anything else I need to not be obese.  Honestly, I’m more comfortable being an alcoholic than being obese (though it would be best to be neither).  I guess for my health’s sake it’s good that excessive drinking for me means obesity rather than gauntness as it does some drinkers.  I know exactly why, of course.  So I can’t drink excessively and also lose weight.  It’s a good bind to be in now that I’m dealing with both.

Right now all I talk about is this challenge and my weight.  I realize how boring this is to some.  Sadly, it’s mostly what’s on my mind right now.  All the places my brain goes and all the thoughts I have about addiction and this challenge and what’s led me to this point are things I need to get out and process.  I haven’t checked stats in a long time so I’m pretty divorced from whether I’m gaining or losing readers.

I think maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol will be much easier when I’m a regular sized person again.  I’m going to scan some pictures of me when I was “regular” sized to illustrate what that means to me.  One thing is for sure – I will not have succeeded in my goals until I have a discernible waist again.

*There is always a small percentage of caffeine left in beverages that have gone through the decaffeination process.  I only foot-note this because if I don’t let people know that I know this statement isn’t an absolute there is always some fucking bored reader whose main object in life is to SCHOOL people.  Actually, that happens on facebook way more than it happens on my blog.  And when it happens on my blog it’s rarely a regular reader.  The length of this footnote and the tone illustrates the degree to which I enjoy being schooled.

**Maybe I could get through something like that without drinking but I doubt I would see much virtue in that.

***This word is misleading since some of my friends drink once in a while but think of that as drinking in moderation.  Moderation to me is something like 2 drinks a night or not drinking several nights a week and have several drinks only a few nights a week.  Just so we’re clear on what I mean when I use that word.

If Only my Brain had a “Comotose” Switch

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I would like to point out that I have not been scrooging on everyone’s Christmas.  In spite of my disappointment in the Christmas crowd for trammeling Thanksgiving with their Christmas chatter.  I’m hoping that this magnanimity on my part will inspire everyone to leave off the Christmas chatter until AFTER Thanksgiving next year.

Today I’m going to see The Hunger Games in the theater while Philip and Max see The Hobbit.  That’s right, I’m a Hunger Games movie fan and I haven’t read the books.  I’m still not sure I’m going to.  I’m almost as excited as the tweens about this movie.  Plus – I love movie popcorn even though I know it’s very bad for me.  The only time I drink soda is with a big bag of popcorn at the movies.  I love going to the movies by myself so this is a double treat.

Between now and my birthday – after which I will be starting my big fresh adventure – I need to be mapping out my intentions, my goals, and my ideas for getting there.  Part of not drinking (for however long I abstain) is recognizing all the things it does for me.  No matter how much of addiction is just a chemical your body grows dependent on – it can’t grow dependent on something if it doesn’t perceive benefit from it in the first place.  For some people the thing they love about alcohol is shutting out all their problems – being drunk.  I have known plenty of people whose main reason for drinking is to get actually plastered.  They want that total incomprehensible slurry place where you are no longer in control.

I hate that.  This is why I don’t do psychedelics.  I hate feeling out of control.  I hate things to swim before me or become unpredictable or to alter from how they are supposed to be (the way colors get weird on acid and everything has an aura or how heroine makes you feel like you’re under water and time has slowed down).  I hate it.  It makes me feel scared and it makes me so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my body.  I already want to do that most of the time.  Taking anything that accelerates and strengthens that desire is like poison to me.  I don’t want my mind altered unless it’s going to be altered to be less weird and dark and scary.

My mind is already a complete chaos of thoughts, hundreds of ticker tapes constantly computing and spewing out reels and reels of words and feelings and images and predictions and voices.  It never stops.  It’s a mad-house in my head.  This is why I have to write.  Writing is the most natural and healthy way I know how to get some of the noise down.  If I transcribe it into words on paper (or on a screen) then it makes my head a little bit calmer.  Cigarettes helped too.  Then psyche meds helped the most.  I still have a head full of noise but it’s less malignant and harmful when I’m on psyche meds.  It’s interesting without being so scary now that I’m medicated.

I need to figure out how to give myself the same benefits that alcohol does in healthier ways.  So first, here’s a list of what it does for me and how it has gotten me through 7 years of hell:

Beer makes me sleep better.  I still wake up a couple of times a night most nights and I still have nightmares but I don’t have any trouble getting to sleep in the first place and getting back to sleep when I wake up in the night.  When I don’t drink I have insomnia and once I wake up in the night I have a much harder time getting back to sleep.

It needs to be noted that I’ve had sleeping problems my whole life.  Not sleeping well when not drinking isn’t a withdrawal symptom, it’s just me going back to the way things are when I don’t drink.

Alcohol eases anxiety and quiets my mind.  It instantly eases my anxiety.  Social and otherwise.  I do not feel anxious when I’m drinking and I love that.  When I’m drinking my mind feels calm and in conjunction with television shows or movies it is completely quiet.  There is no other time in my life when my mind is completely quiet.  A quiet mind is an addictive feeling.  It is not quiet when I sleep and it is not quiet when I’m just drinking but when I’m drinking and watching television there is no noise in there.  Just blissful quiet.

Alcohol tastes good.  Yeah, there’s no beverage that tastes better to me than beer.  Except for coffee and water, which I drink quite a bit of too.  Tea is okay but lacks the punch of bitterness that beer has.  Coffee has the same satisfying punch that beer does but I can’t drink coffee (not even decaf) later than 1pm.  (I drink mostly decaf as it is)

Alcohol makes it possible to be social.  I don’t think about this too much because I avoid social gatherings as a general rule.  I love to hang out with very small groups of really close friends and though I don’t NEED alcohol for that – in those situations it’s just warm and festive and enjoyable.  But without alcohol I could not possibly go to parties or large meetings of people.  The idea of going to a dry wedding sounds like the most depressing and tedious thing I can think of.  I don’t know how people can do that.  I have serious social anxiety but most people only know that because I tell them I do  – they can’t tell for themselves because I am very skilled at hiding it, especially if there is alcohol present.  If I have to attend any big group meetings with people I don’t know intimately I will most likely drink more than usual when I get home to bring down my anxiety levels.

Alcohol is an effective pain killer.  Ever since breaking my hip I’ve had a lot of pain in my body.  Even after it healed.  Since then I’ve had a lot more problems with my back going out, my feet started having problems, and exercise results in injuries quite often (recurring foot injury, flare-up of hip pain, the weight of my body is absolutely to blame for some of this though I have always had skill at injuring myself in situations that shouldn’t be injurious)

I am a person who relies heavily on habits to get me through life.  Routines are important.  Not necessarily having a strict daily schedule.  Not like that.  Routines such as the order in which things are done.  Every morning I wake up, start coffee, brush my teeth, and then go to the bathroom.  Exactly the same.  If I wake up and have to go to the bathroom really bad I will try very hard to wait until I have done the other things first.  If I can’t, I feel out of whack.  Every night after 5pm I start drinking some beer and I check in with my family, feed my kid, eat if I haven’t already eaten (though I usually eat dinner before 5pm) and then I start watching shows.  I have to watch 2-3 hours of television with alcohol to wind down before going to bed.  Minimum.  Otherwise I’m too wound up to sleep.  I generally don’t bother trying to get to sleep early because I have never been able to.  Not even with alcohol.  Sometimes I’ll watch tv and drink beer until 3am.  My body doesn’t like this.  My mind desperately needs it.

Ideally, I would have a mental health professional visit me every day at 6pm and turn off my brain, activate a coma, and then return at 5am and turn my brain back on and wake me from my coma.  It’s essentially what I try to do to myself every night.  It’s the best I’ve been able to come up with and it works well except for the part where I’m fat and hate myself.

I always laughed when my Kung Fu teacher talked about studies that show that watching television puts your mind in a coma-like state – AS THOUGH THAT’S A BAD THING.  I realized that that’s exactly what I love so much about it.  I watch it and one part of my brain gets engaged in what I’m watching and the rest of it shuts up like it’s in a coma.  If you have a brain like mine you know that this is the only time I truly am at rest.

Reading books used to be inextricably connected to smoking for me.  It took me a few years after quitting smoking to be able to read books again without an intense urge to smoke.  It’s been years now since I struggled with that.  I got back into the habit of reading without smoking and they are no longer linked.

Drinking is now linked with watching television.  The link is also complicated by another issue.  Something I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before.  When I watch sitcoms I usually drink one beer per show.  When I watch dramas I usually drink two beers per show.  This is actually very difficult to queue up properly.  I won’t stop watching television until my last sip of beer occurs in the last scene of the show.  If I have half a beer left at the end of a show I have to watch another episode.  If I finish my last beer only halfway or two thirds of the way through the show, I have to open another one.  I rarely leave a beer unfinished unless I fall asleep in my chair.  It’s very much a compulsion.  I feel itchy inside to have things not level out evenly.  I also have to finish ALL the beers if I even hope on a prayer to not drink the next day.  Philip not drink the next day even if there are some left over.  I want there to be no beers left and it isn’t just because I don’t want the temptation.  It’s the unevenness of leftover beers.  I have been known to stay up two hours longer than I wanted to because I couldn’t stand the thought of 2 or 3 beers being leftover.

I don’t have this problem with wine.  I can not drink when there’s a bottle of wine in the house.  I have even been able to not drink when there has been an opened bottle of wine in the house.  But I prefer beer and this thing – whatever it is – is fucking annoying and uncomfortable.  It’s exactly like that urge to do things in the precise correct order or feel wrong and itchy and have your brain stuck on the wrongness until it’s righted.  I had a half a bottle of 100 proof vodka in the house for a long time that I didn’t feel compelled to drink.

Next I will try to list some things that might help calm me in the place of alcohol and also lay out the routine that I want to establish for myself.

I hope you’re all having a great weekend – hope you’re not freaking or stressing out about Christmas.  It’s just a holiday, it’s not the apocalypse.

My Plan Versus the Substance Abuse Counselor

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Because I’ve known for so long that I was facing down a zombie of a problem I have given a lot of thought to how best deal with my drinking.  I tried some things that didn’t work.  But finally I came up with a plan that I strongly suspect will help me fight this beast back into the ground.  But I needed my psychiatrist to help me because I can’t (or won’t) just go buy antabuse over the counter.

My plan involves zero absolutes.

I don’t believe in many absolutes.  I don’t believe that if you have a drinking problem you necessarily have to become sober for the rest of your life.  I think it’s different for different people.  The trick is being honest with yourself and recognizing where you’re at and what works and what doesn’t.

My relationship with cigarettes was obsessive love at first inhalation.  From the moment I smoked my first cigarette (the second one, actually, because my friend Carrie had to teach me how to inhale it) I was a chain smoker.  There was never a social aspect to it.  It made my brain feel so much better.  Nicotine quieted the noise in my head, quelled the most vicious of black mods, and gave me the perfect way to pretend to be at ease in every situation.  It took many times quitting to really understand that that’s how it was and that I didn’t smoke for pleasure or to be social, I smoked because it performed an important chemical shift in my brain.  When I tried to quit the horrid voices in my head got loud.  My own voice telling me what a piece of shit human being I was got very very loud.   The voices didn’t come as a component of addiction.  The voices were there before I ever smoked.  Smoking was definitely self medication.  It made me feel like crap physically but it was worth it for the relief it gave my head.

I stopped smoking with the help of Welbutrin and stayed on Welbutrin because I had been in need of medication for years and it was a profound relief to not have to fight and struggle with myself every single day anymore.  I did not drink more alcohol to replace my smoking.  The smoking wasn’t what was keeping me from being an alcoholic.  These are things I KNOW.  These are not things anyone else can know to be true or untrue.  They can only speak for themselves.  I speak for myself.

My relationship with alcohol (until the hip-breaking watershed) was a happy part of life.  For the taste and the fun of imbibing with friends, it was always such a delicious and happy thing to stay up late drinking wine or drinking beer and talking politics or food or culture.  I didn’t have the same experience with alcohol that I did with cigarettes.  So I’m not willing to say of myself that it’s not possible for me to bring drinking back to that healthy place of enjoyment.  Not until I know that to be true for sure.

My Plan As Presented to my Psychiatrist:

On January 7th I want to start taking Antabuse.  I would like to take it for at least a month but up to three.  Why Antabuse?  Because disulfarim, when it interacts with alcohol in most people’s systems, makes you feel nauseous at the least but generally makes people vomit and feel wretched like they’ve gotten very very drunk.  I will do almost anything to avoid getting sick to my stomach.

While taking Antabuse I want to be exercising and working on my diet (just clean up the cheese habit and slim my portions down).

Not drinking will make it exponentially easier to get my metabolism moving again so I can lose weight.  Which I will if I’m not drinking and then eating enough to soak it all up so I don’t get drunk – I won’t even tell you how many calories a day that represents because, again, I don’t want to amaze you more than I have to.  If I lose enough weight to feel I’m making good progress then I’ll start having more faith in my ability to get the rest of my weight off.

Not drinking for 1-3 months will give me the chance to reset all my daily habits and my ability to sooth myself and deal with my depression without drinking.  I need a total reset.

I can’t think too far beyond that.  I can’t take Antabuse for too long of a period.  It’s not meant to be used like that.  I need it long enough to establish new habits, and to get the weight loss started.  If I can lose 20lbs I will have created enough momentum to self-motivate.

My psychiatrist thought my plan sounded good.  She made an appointment for me to see a substance abuse counselor to work with me on getting counseling and she was totally supportive of my desire to go with one-on-one counseling instead of doing group therapy.  So the next day I met with the counselor.

Which did not go well for me.  She immediately made it clear that she’s pretty anti-medication and she spent the whole time trying to sell me on group therapy as the only way to recover from substance abuse.  I told her the one thing I absolutely won’t do is go to AA.  I refuse to have to listen to people talking about God all the time (like they did in Nicotine Anonymous) and I have no one to ask forgiveness of but myself.  She told me about the non-religious-based group based on the AA model but without God.  But she talked about how the success of the programs are generally based on people being able to turn themselves over to a “higher power” and I could see how hard she was struggling to sell me on AA.  Who will my higher power be if I’m not spiritual?

I said that I don’t need a higher power to help me.  I need some therapy and guidance from professionals.  By coming in and asking for help I already admitted my own “helplessness” and was asking for help.  What more did she fucking want from me?  Basically she knows one model for helping people.  She didn’t know what to do with me.  She said that most people come to her because their lives are falling apart and they’re on the verge of losing jobs or spouses and it motivates them but here I am with a life that’s not falling apart – where was my motivation going to come from?

How about the fact that I want to vomit and cry every time I see my reflection of my body and it makes me want to drink to soothe those feelings of self-revulsion and then I drink and I feel so much better until the next morning when I realize that I have lost one more day to this awful cycle of self-perpetuating self loathing.

The fat makes me want to drink and the drink is keeping me fat.

The drink also keeps my inertia strong so that other things I might be doing to make myself feel better and get healthier (like exercise and being on a disciplined writing schedule) become exponentially more difficult to force myself to do.  I waste a lot of time on this shit.

The nights when I don’t drink (there have been a few) I ALWAYS feel good the next day – good about myself for not turning to beer and good about the fewer calories and stress on my liver – just really good.  But I can’t keep it up.  One night here or there but I can’t make it the  usual thing – which is why I need help.  I don’t need spiritual intervention – I need a total body and habit recalibration.  I need to make it impossible for me to drink long enough to retrain my body to function without it.  I need to make it impossible to drink for long enough to feel good about my progress and to establish new evening routines and tastes.

The more this counselor talked the less I felt I could put my journey in her hands.  She asked how long I’ve been drinking and I asked if she meant how long I’d been drinking unhealthy amounts or how long I’ve been drinking, period.  She wanted to know how long I’d been drinking, period.  I said “all of my adult life” which she indicated was not normal and an indication that it has always been a problem.  But, er, the majority of people I know have been drinking alcohol at least occasionally their whole adult lives.

Here’s what I got out of this meeting:

This counselor doesn’t approve of taking meds to help control substance abuse.

She believes in only one model for recovery.

She struggles even to sell the non-religious group therapy.

She sees my personality as a hindrance.

She said I was a “medication person” like it was a bad thing.

She seems to think I shouldn’t trust myself as much as I do.

She thinks quitting drinking may bring back cravings for cigarettes even though I assure her that the Welbutrin now serves the part of my brain that needed the chemicals in nicotine.

She doesn’t think my anxiety about meeting with groups of strangers is a problem if it doesn’t actually make me pass out.  (It’s more likely to make me drink)

Part of getting help is admitting weakness, sometimes admitting weakness makes us stronger

Nothing puts my back up faster than a total stranger deciding for me what I am and am not capable of.  The more this counselor inadvertently talked me out of getting help and told me what wasn’t good about my plan, the more connected I felt to that part of myself that knows my own strengths and that stands up for me when I feel very small.  I felt very small having to go to that appointment in the first place.  I felt gross and scabby and vulnerable in a way that makes me want to hurt myself.  When she started telling me all the problems with being a do-it-yourselfer type of person I began to see her weakness and my own strength.

I’m aware that this is a person who is skilled and experienced in dealing with people struggling with substance abuse.  I respect that she can make some strong generalizations about recovery and what most people find useful.  But the minute you see all substance abusers as the same people and assume that the addiction is the same for everyone – and that there is only one way to treat it – you become brittle and closed and you stop listening to people and when you do that you’ll lose them much faster.

We agreed that I have some serious trust issues.  I do.  I can’t disagree with that.  Forcing me to undress myself emotionally in a circle of strangers isn’t going to help that.  Every circle I’ve been forced into has reinforced how much they don’t work for me.  Hippie kids are used to being made to hold hands and say “ohm” and so I have been exposed to sharing-caring-circles my whole life and there are few things I hate more.

The thought of it fills me with dread even now as I’m typing this from the safety of my own home where there are no circles of STRANGERS SHARING SHIT WITH EACH OTHER.

It’s not sharing that’s my problem.  Obviously.  I’m a chronic over-sharer.  My problem is sitting in a room WITH strangers while sharing stories about how low we’ve gone and how helpless we are.  I share when I feel like it, on my terms, and in a way that I can still feel safe.  I already told a psychiatrist and a counselor that I’m pretty weak and in need of help.

The counselor wants me to say I’m helpless.  I don’t feel helpless.  I feel like I need support and guidance.  She thinks there’s no recovery without relinquishing all my illusions of strength to a higher being.  I just don’t believe that’s true for me.  I don’t believe that the only way to get help is to become (or admit to being) powerless.

So I’m having problems with the language around substance abuse.  The black and white lines the substance community draws.  It’s cultish.  I hate that now that I’ve gone to my psychiatrist and the substance abuse counselor I will always wear the scarlet letters for it on my forehead.

SA

Because most people believe once you are one you will always be one.  Which suggests there’s really no real “recovery” about it.  “Recovery” suggests an illness with a cure.  But if being an alcoholic means you can never drink alcohol again in a safe and healthy way – how is that recovery?  Recovery suggests returning to the health you used to enjoy.  If the illness is not being able to stop drinking then the recovery should be about being able to drink again within healthy limitations.

I know, I am very very aware, that for some people the only real goal is to become sober permanently and I completely respect that.  I may even discover that this is true for me.  For some people sobriety feels so much better and healthier they choose it not necessarily because they have to but because they want to.  It’s possible I could discover that for myself too.  I don’t know yet.

I have, for most of my life, had a great deal of self discipline.  I am on an epic journey to rediscover this in myself because I lost it somewhere along the way.

I have also lost a certain level of trust in myself.  This is one the most terrifying things that’s happened as a result of the last several years.  I prize my trust in myself above almost all else – because it is the wheel from which I steer my life.  I trust myself to do the right thing, to make good choices and then to learn from the poor choices I make.  I trust myself to keep getting up off the floor every time something or someone knocks me down.  I KNOW I’ll get back up.  I trust myself to help others get up off the floor too, when they need my help.  I trust myself to be honest with myself.  I trust myself to learn the things that I need to learn even if it takes me longer than some other people.  I trust myself not to take myself too seriously.  I trust myself to ask for help when I need it.

To lose a good portion of that is terrifying because this relationship of trust I built with myself is how I got myself through my suicidal years and the nervous breakdown I had when I was 16 years old.  That’s how I got through it.  Inch by inch learning that no matter what anyone else might do to me – I can trust myself to take care of myself.

For me, the key to recovery, real recovery, is restoring my trust in myself.  To restore my trust in myself I must get support.  I can’t trust that I will not drink tomorrow night just because I say I won’t.  I can’t trust myself to go completely sober for a month, or three months, or for however long I need to be sober.  That’s why I sought help.  Because the one thing I know I need is to not drink for a while and it’s the one thing I know I can’t trust myself to do.

I know I can trust the threat of vomiting to keep me from drinking.  And because I’m motivated to stop drinking I know I can trust myself to take the Antabuse every day until I don’t need it.  It’s perfect.  I take pills in the morning.  That stuff has to get completely out of your system before the risk of alcohol making you violently sick goes away.  Which means that I can’t just give in and drink in the evening.  I would have to not take the pill for a couple of days.  But in the mornings I am most resolved to not drink and feel so good when I haven’t had any alcohol, I can trust myself to take that pill every morning.

So I have no confidence in my substance abuse counselor.  I dislike her for all the assumptions she made about me without knowing anything about me.  I dislike her inability to see me as an individual who may require an individual approach to my goals.

What she did for me was raise my fighting spirit high.  She brought out my strength for suggesting I don’t have any.  She woke the part of myself that will carry me through the finish line.  Perhaps that’s the only purpose she serves on this fresh adventure.

The Rare Good Monday

tiny succulents

I am staying off of facebook until December 1st because people won’t stop mentioning Christmas and it’s both pissing me off and depressing me.  It’s pervasive even amongst the crowd that claims to hate the commercialization of Christmas and Black Friday and Christmas in June – but if you are getting revved up about Christmas a full week before Thanksgiving then you are absolutely participating in making Christmas the obscene thing it has become.

If you need more than three weeks to prepare for Christmas, I think you’re doing it wrong.  The only exception being that if you are making gifts you may need a lot more time to plan and work on them – totally understandable and I support this.  Or if you are making things to sell for the Christmas crowd then you need to prepare for that too.  But flogging your goods for Christmas shoppers before Thanksgiving is NOT OKAY.

Thanksgiving is the only holiday of the entire year that I actually look forward to and it is being destroyed by Christmas talk.  By Christmas music being played in stores and Christmas commercials running on Hulu.  And by friends and acquaintances pulling out their Christmas decorations and movies and excitement.

So, I will leave this post open all day so I can jot down the random thoughts I have that I generally post to facebook:

The word “nuptials” makes my skin crawl.

I think my morning cough might really be tuberculosis and end up being the death of me.

Not sure “Candy” is the best fake name for a male prostitute.  If he was a drag queen that would be okay, but it’s too playful and theatrical to be suitable for a male prostitute who is not dressing up.

Thanksgiving Dinner:

Salt-roasted chicken (Philip and Max are making this because Max wants to try it)

Pink Banana Squash filled with stuffing

mushroom gravy

Pear and walnut salad

pumpkin and pecan pie.

Maybe something potatoe-y for Max if he wants to try a homemade potato dish.

Today, when I’m done working on Chapter two of book two, I will procure ingredients and cook pumpkin ahead of time.

So far I have sold 15 e-book versions of Cricket and Grey.

Max has been watching this program called “Food Wishes” on youtube which is a chef who’s pretty funny demonstrating how to cook different recipes.  That’s where he got the idea that he wants to try the salt-roasted chicken.  Just now he showed me a video about how to make fondant potatoes which he also wants to try.  I think it’s marvelous that he’s watching a food show and seeing food that looks good to him.  I’m going to make the fondant potatoes today after I get another hour or two of writing chapter two in.  To see if he likes them.  He probably won’t like either – but if an extreme picky eater is starting to show interest in regular food visually, I think it’s just a matter of time before he starts liking more food texturally as well as the taste of it.  And he won’t develop the taste for real food if he isn’t given the opportunity to try it and the best food to try is food he thinks looks good.

I have just noticed that 21 people have downloaded the free chapters from my book on Smashwords but only one person (my friend Sid) has bought it.  I guess it’s good that people are trying it out, but discouraging that no one has felt moved yet to buy the whole thing.  I know that there will be plenty of people who won’t like my book, that’s how it is, but I would hope for a higher percentage that do.

Not going to facebook is being cut off from a lot of pleasant chatting.  But it also means I haven’t seen any horrible news yet today, I haven’t had to see anyone’s Christmas chatter, and no exposure to idiocy besides my own.  It’s a little quiet in my head though.  Uncomfortably quiet.  I’ve made some progress on chapter 2 now but the writing isn’t fantastic.

Whatever!  It’s the FIRST DRAFT.  First drafts are always terrible.  At least mine are.

So it’s the end of the day.  I’m about 3/4 done with chapter 2, I just made Max fondant potatoes and he liked them, and now I’m watching some shows.  I call this a good day.

My scooter is still being really weird and sometimes not working.  I hope it starts today.

The Remains of the Day

remains of the day

Things I’ve learned or observed this week:

  • My med doses aren’t high enough and haven’t been for a long time.
  • Nurses are hard-core people.

To be an effective nurse you must not fear the post-op delirium that makes patients call you a mother-fucker when you try to clean them up (my mom’s roommate) and tear out their tubes every minute you turn around (totally my mom!) and have imaginary phone conversations in which they request more heavy pain killers that will prolong their post-op hallucinatory trip to bedlam (also my mom).

  • My sister looks good in aviator glasses.  No one else does.
  • I have seen the inside of a human being.  It was less disturbing than seeing my own heart beating on a sonogram machine.
  • I respect nurses A HUNDRED TIMES MORE THAN FIREMEN.*
  • Hospitals are fascinating surreal places and I want to take pictures of everything in them.
  • The flowers in the image above arrived in my mom’s hospital room but it turns out no one we know left them and they weren’t for Sergei the Romancer because he saw them and didn’t claim them.  What’s a little weird is that the arrangement included my mom’s all-time favorite rose Double Delight.
  • Being in a hospital makes me feel like I’m on recreational drugs.  Some people seek this state of being because they think it’s “fun”.  I take psychiatric medications to reduce the natural circus-state of my brain.  If I could run loose and take pictures of everything I could normalize it by stepping slightly behind it.
  • The human body is capable of healing from the most shattering injuries and ailments.  Must remember this the next time I suspect I have some weird disease preventing my skin from un-denting.**
  • My dad is cooler than I thought: I told my sister about my lazy ambition to start a pigeon post and complained about how no one wanted to do this with me.  She suggested I ask our dad who happens to love birds.  So I put the idea in his father’s day card and he actually showed interest.  Seriously.  He loves to name things and has already named it our “Pigeonaire”.  Get it?

Two days ago my mom turned a corner in her recovery, stopped hallucinating (because her infection was finally clearing up), and has started moving and eating again.  She’s doing so well that they’re planning to move her to a nursing facility tomorrow provided her stats haven’t changed.  She’s expected to be there for two or three weeks before coming home.

She has a molded plastic piece of armor called a “clam-shell” to help protect her back which has complicated her surgery.  Having emergency surgery when you already have a compressed fracture in your back is tough and the recovery from it is especially fraught.  This clam-shell thing will help stabilize her back allowing her to move around safely which is vital to her recovery from her unrelated surgery.  This thing – it is an incredible feat of engineering and reminds me that human beings are pretty crafty devils.

I have dubbed her clam-shell the “Plastic Maiden”.

Thank you so much for all of your warm wishes for my mom to heal.  It not only helped me feel more fortified against my fears for her but when I told her how many people were sending her their good wishes and love – she truly cherished your thoughtfulness.

*They may not be risking their lives every day but they most certainly have to be at least twice as brave to face the crooked machinations of broken human bodies that they face every day over and over again.  And they’re expected to do it with kindness.

**AKA “Leg Dentitis”***

***Not a real diagnosis.

cauldron of steam

I’m going to write a story about phlebotomists in love.  I take my inspiration where I find it and anything that gives me an excuse to study the things that hold us humans upright gives me some power of understanding how it is we’re still here on earth in spite of not deserving it.

I am always caught between the normals and the others.  I hear people tell me I’m normal all the time but usually they’re people who are not normal who tell me this positive and awesome and yet strangely alienating bit of opinion.  At the same time I watch people draw away from me as though being too close might contaminate the good life they’ve carved out free of virus and evil.  Free of me.  I feel the distance and the chill between myself and them and I know what it means because I can read that distance like it’s filled with words.  I don’t belong.  I am not normal.  I am Malaise with legs.

I am normal and not normal.  I am sane and yet not sane.  I hear all the voices in the world colliding in my head during the most cacophonous  hours of each day.  I hear all the humans crying, reaching for hope that lives two inches from their fingers and never closer.  I am sane and yet I hold my own life cheap enough that it is always a delicate balance to feel connected enough to my body, to my life, and to the earth to keep from floating away without my skin.

There are voices.  There are so many voices.  There are voices all the fucking time.  I call it internal “noise”.  Talking to a friend the other night our conversation led to people who hear voices and have formed groups exploring other ways to address their voices than traditional psychiatric methods.  I was intrigued and as usual I felt so dual.  I resent people not knowing or understanding what my mental landscape is really like but at the same time I have no right to resent people for what they don’t know if I refuse to tell them, if I continue to hold back the darkest and scariest aspects of my personality just because I don’t feel I can trust anyone with it.  It isn’t fair to continuously obfuscate the truth as I experience it and present myself as the “full disclosure gal” when I only ever disclose exactly as much as I think people can handle.

I know myself.  I have always known myself.  Except for the couple of years where I would sometimes look in the mirror and not recognize myself.  (Fucking freaked me out.)  It was of particular interest to my psychologist later on when I finally sought professional help.  I will always understand what it feels like to look at my own face and not know who I’m looking at and that haunting deeply shook my sense of self and continues to float through my subconscious as a special flavor of hell.  I heard voices back then.  I heard the screams of children being abused and tortured.  But those screaming voices were outside of my head.  They were not inside of me because they were hallucinations.

So if hearing voices and thinking they are real and outside of yourself is considered an auditory hallucination, what the fuck is it when you hear voices that aren’t your own chattering inside your own skull, right there under your eyes and resonating through your temples?  What does it mean when you hear your brain say things  but it isn’t your own voice you are hearing?  What does it mean if you hear your brain making comments or jokes or talking nonsense in a voice that you know is not your own?

I have not been honest with most everyone because how on earth can it be safe for me to do so?  Do you know what it feels like just to suffer from garden variety depression and suicidal ideation (mostly concealed from others) and anxieties?  If you suffer these things as I do you know that people find this scary enough.  More and more people can accept it and embrace it without fear but it still makes you otherly.

But what if you are much more otherly than anyone knows?

I am a master at obfuscation.  It is the one skill I have worked harder at than writing.  No matter how enlightened people are getting about mental illness, we still live in a world that is largely scared of it.  People can claim to be completely understanding and comfortable with mental illness but there is nearly always some part of them that fears that if you are mentally ill you might become dangerous to them or their loved ones.  It can happen.  But not at any greater rate that non-mentally ill people can become a danger to you.

The mental illness stigma is burningly alive.  So how much honesty can you expect from people who are otherly?  What barbed-wire-cross awaits us if we tell you everything?  How much does anyone really understand?  Do people know enough yet to handle us with compassion and proper care?

I trust no one completely.

That’s the loneliest thing in the world.

I love my people so fucking much and I tell them everything I feel I can and I trust them more than anyone else – yet – I am constantly protecting them from myself and I worry that some day they might hate me for it but they need my strongest self and is that strongest self the self that wanted to die in McMinnville?  Is my strongest self the one who can’t listen to them eating or making noise or making big demands of me?  Is my strongest self the one who has three phrases repeating in my head non-stop for three years running?  To the point that I want to scratch those phrases out of my own head with a toothpick?

I can’t ever tell the full truth but not telling the full truth means that most people will come to conclusions about me that are inaccurate.  They won’t understand what tribe I belong to even though I know.

All I am is depressed and anxious – pretty much nothing out of the ordinary.  Right?  Except with voices in my head.  Random fucking voices that aren’t mine making comments and chattering like strange monkeys.  As though I have an internal radio station I’m tuned into.

Tell me everyone has voices in their heads that aren’t theirs.  Tell me they hear people say things and are startled and try to answer before they realize the voices came from inside.  Tell me everyone hears that shit.  Go ahead.  Because that would be awesome.  Do YOU hear chatter in your head in unfamiliar voices?

I feel otherly in the extreme but I have never been dangerous to others.  Every aggression I’ve ever felt has been against myself.  When I cry I want to hurt myself.  When I reveal anything painful and scary, like right now, I want to hurt myself.  When I feel helpless or stupid or like a fucking leprous asshole I want to hurt myself.  Even when I don’t want to hurt myself I’m always hurting myself by picking at my scalp or my arms until I bleed.  I want to stop and I can’t and I am deeply ashamed.

When people negate my place amongst the mentally ill I feel like I’ve been cut adrift from my true tribe and have no family.  I feel empty and misunderstood.  I have to remind myself of my own role in what information people have been allowed about me.  My diagnosing psychologist, the person I’ve been more honest with than anyone else, is dead.  The medical records he created concerning me are lost.  I requested them and they are gone.  Almost like I never told anyone anything at all.  The first person I trusted with the scary stuff is dead and his records on me have gone missing.  I cried in front of him and wanted to kill myself for doing it.  I told him about my auditory hallucinations and about my separate selves that were really strong when I was a teen but which are now like a comfortable separation of church and state.  I told him so much I was scared shitless and he understood and gave me answers with no judgement.

When I told him I was worried my insurance wouldn’t cover my sessions with him because they would only cover major mental illness he laughed out loud.  He told me I didn’t have to worry about that – I had major mental illness and my insurance would have no problem covering it.  Him laughing let me laugh too.  Seeing Jay Judine was the best thing I ever did for my mental health.

I have told the truth in plain sight so many times over the years with no one thinking I am other than “normal” that I suppose I could run into the field missing an arm and everyone would always see both of my arms so that it doesn’t matter what I tell or don’t tell – show or don’t show – everyone will see or not see what they please.  The only person who saw the truth and who validated the trouble, the danger, and the otherness was a dead man.  Judine told me what had been happening to me when I ceased to recognize myself when I was sixteen and he told me how it was okay to be myself but simultaneously how okay it was that I was NOT FUCKING NORMAL.  I am a person trying to hold my shit together but my shit is messed up through abuse and brain chemicals and I get to tell what I wish to tell and keep what I need to keep: private.

I self identify as the “full disclosure gal” and that’s a complete lie.  That’s who I want to be and that’s who I pretend to be and that’s who I make you believe I am.

I have so many secrets still.

I don’t care about the normals.  I don’t belong with them.  No matter what you think you know about it.  No particle of me romanticizes the crazies.  I know what it’s about.  I know where I belong even if no one else does.

Come into my head, if you dare.