Tuesday, February 7, 2012
It’s awesome to me that there is a hole in my living room designed to burn things. And not only does it burn things but it functions to use the burning as heat for my home. I love the colors and the heat and the smell. I love cleaning out the ashes. OK, what now? Yes. For a few years now, I have discovered that cleaning my fireplace is an incredibly cathartic activity. The fire has done its work. Everything is burned and gone and cleansed or destroyed. It’s left behind the ashes of what used to be. And getting in there and sweeping and brushing and cleaning those ashes has become a deeply symbolic practice for me. I can start over and start new. I can watch the transformation. I can see the chars and the marks but it is ready to start again. It allowed the fire to stay contained and keep me warm and comfort me, and when that is over it gives me a chance to start over again.
I don’t know if I will be adequately able to explain how appreciative I am of having a job. I mean, there is the obvious, I got divorced and needed work and found great hours doing something worthwhile and offering me enough to live on. Obviously I know that finding steady employment is really challenging, especially doing something you love to do, and I have that every day. I get to go to work and take care of other people and make friends and be in public and handle what gets thrown at me. I get to be proud of myself and always remember when I get frustrated or tired how many people would love to trade me places. I am beyond undeserving for that.
But as a survivor of mental illness…as someone who wasn’t even able to drive to the grocery store or go places without my safe person or have any hours in my day that weren’t consumed by my madness from intrusive thoughts and endless compulsions…as that girl…I am speechless. I am employed. By people who don’t even necessarily know of the battle I fought and still fight every day. I am succeeding. And I’m failing. And I’m getting up and doing it all over again the next day. The feeling of liberation is not akin to anything. It’s finding myself in the day to day that everyone else has. I relish the day to day. Sometimes it’s boring. And that is the most exciting part. Sometimes I am doing work and just doing work all day when it hits me like a bitch slap that I am not a prisoner to this today. And I appreciate being employed because it makes me like everyone else.
I want to fail. I need to fail. I hope that many times in my life a get the chance to fail and fail again. Because that means I tried something.
If I didn’t fail then I didn’t try. I didn’t step outside my box and push myself to do something…anything. Sometimes I fail at getting out of bed. Sometimes I fail at liking myself. Sometimes I fail at being happy with who I see in my mirror. But I’m trying. When I quit trying, that’s when it’s over. Sometimes I fail at love, relationships, cooking, running, meeting, learning, stretching, walking, prioritizing, letting go, standing tall, speaking, speaking, being kind, or just accepting life. But I’m trying. And failing makes it so much better when I manage to do it right. And when I fail at the same thing again I can remember what the success feels like and try to go back. Failing is not a disappointment. It’s a motivation. It’s reality. It makes me face the fact that life is real and I am real and no one gets to live in Eden. Failure is God kicking me in the ass so that success is never expected and always is appreciated.
It seems counter intuitive that the girl who has life challenging panic, anxiety and OCD which confounds the very essence of what fear is would be appreciative and even thankful for fear. Fear makes me alive. Kind of like failure. It makes me real. It makes me balanced. It makes me think. It makes me analyze and make choices. It keeps my blood moving and my senses sharp. It forces the primal instinct to the surface and makes me face it head on. There is no hiding. No pretending. I must acknowledge it and chose to let it refine me. Not define me.
It's this weird primal thing that we do. We just do it. From when we are babies. And we do it before we can talk or anything. It's communication. There's no predicting what will make you laugh. Will you laugh at someone else, yourself, uncomfortable situations? That's me. I laugh in socially inappropriate situations. Like, full on belly laugh. Funerals, church, the middle of a huge fight, presentations, sex etc etc etc etc.
But that is what heals me. It protects me. It gives me a chance to breathe and process and take in the situation around me. It releases chemicals in my brain that God knows my crazy ass brain sure as hell needs. Laughing is contagious (not unlike herpes) and can go on until you forget what started it. I love that feeling of sore muscles after laughing so hard at some one's joke. Or their funeral.
Do I use it as a defense mechanism? Of course I do. You don't need a psychiatrist to tell you that. Yeah. Sometimes I don't want to deal with what is right in front of me. So I look for something funny. Or I find the absurdity in it. I lighten it. And then I can get into it and deal with it. Once it stops being scary because it made me laugh. Once it stops being a threat or a burden or something totally unexpected I can DEAL with it. I can laugh. And I can heal.
There are probably all kinds of facts about how laughing has health benefits blah blah boring so if you want to google that crap go right on ahead. Nerd.