Saturday, March 31, 2012

Standing up

I'm being all self-reflective and introspective and feeling my feelings lately.

It's hard. But it's doing something. I don't know that I'm happy about turning into a mushy girl, but I'm definitely kicking my feelings in the vagina. I'm not being dominated by them anymore. At least not all the time. So I was thinking about where I was one year ago. Believe it or not, this whole thing started about a year ago. Of course, I didn't know that (that's kinda how that works) but it has been about a year. I wanted to tell one year ago me a few things. Maybe because one-year ago me had no idea what was about to hit her. Maybe because one-year ago me looks an awful lot like present-day other people I know. Maybe one year-ago me is someone else's one-year from now in which case I write to you from the future. Or the past. Like magic. At 88mph.

One Year Ago Me,
In a few weeks a bomb is going to drop on you. You already sense it coming but you are trying to pretend like it isn't there. Your world is going to turn upside down. Everything you ever thought to be true and safe and real will be shattered and revealed to be an illusion. You will be overwhelmed with the things you discover that are happening in secret right now under your nose. You will experience betrayal on a level that no one should ever have to live through. You will be discovering that this betrayal comes from the person you love most in your life. And from the person you have always had insecurities about. You will question yourself. You will question him. You will question her. Hell, you're gonna hate her and him for bringing her into it. You are going to hate them for dragging your children into this mess. You are going to be angry and sad and scared and confused and bewildered and angrier and mean and feel hopeless and powerless and then... you are going to give up. You are going to make a conscious decision to stop living because you think that you are not going to be able to survive the pain of this discovery and the repercussions of their choices. You will give up.





And then...you will be quiet for a white. You will be still. You will be frozen in that moment for what feels like eternity.





And then... the voice in your head, this one that is here now telling you this from a year in the future, that voice will start whispering to you to stand up. Stand up. Stand up. Stand UP. GET UP. And you will. Somehow, someway, you will get up and you will start making choices. You will be angry and hurt and betrayed and bewildered and scared and sad and mean and jealous and protective like a mama bear and angrier still but you will be standing up. And then... you will be all those things but you will be a little more confident. Then you will make another choice to keep moving and keep breathing and a choice to keep living and you will begin to accept the changes forced on you by the selfish behavior of others. You will be mad and scared and sad and devastated but you will be on your feet. You will be making choices and going places you never dreamed you would go because you are going to be forced to. You will HATE it at first because it is unfamiliar and hard and scary. But you will do it anyway. Because YOU decided to Stand The Fuck Up.

And then...a few months after that...you will find that you are angry and hurt and sad but also exhilarated and curious and tougher than you thought.You have a light in you that almost went out. You almost snuffed it out on purpose. But now it is shining more brightly than it has in a long long time. And you will be angry and sad and mourning your loss but you will have something new; you will have the desire to change. You are going to realize who is insignificant to your life. That no one gets to decide how you live. I know it seems highly improbable now. Before you even know what is about to hit you and you've only ever speculated about what you might do if this happens. But it is going to happen and you are going to want to get better and you will find that you are not at all reacting how you thought you would.

And then...the anger is very slowly going to find empathy. Empathy for her as the other woman. Empathy for him as a damaged and hurting individual who saw no other option. Mostly empathy for yourself. You will start to forgive yourself. Because you are going to berate the shit out of yourself for a while. And you can forgive yourself for that.

As of today, You haven't entirely forgiven yourself and you sure as hell haven't forgiven the other people involved, but the point is that you WANT to. You are working on it. For yourself. Yes. You care enough about yourself to work and face the pain and learn to forgive you. Because you deserve it. So you can be free. It's a lot different than how you feel about yourself now. And how you will feel about yourself in a few weeks when your world seems to cave in.

And then...you are going to start trusting again. You are going to love again. It's going to be hard to do that after what all you've been through. But you are going to make a decided choice to be in love. In love with a man who is patient with you even though you are still learning trust completely. You will be independent. You might even start to look back over the last year and see how this might have some positive outcomes. You might start to realize that without being forced into these decisions you never would have the opportunities that you have. You are still going to hurt like hell and miss your kids because it wasn't your choice to share them but you are going to try. You might start to realize that you never ever wanted to end up like this, but since your heart has literally been torn wide open and exposed, you might as well use this opportunity to examine all the things that were hiding in there behind the shell. You are going to take that busted up psyche of yours and start looking at what you can change. You can see that where you are now isn't bad at all.

And then...you will fail. A whole bunch. You will have good days and you will have bad days and you will have punch-you-in-the-guts-can't-breathe-overwhelmed-with-memories-days that literally knock you to the floor in an ugly cry for hours. You will feel the intensity of your discovery when you least expect it. You will remember your life together and it will hurt. Damn it will hurt. But those days will end and new days will start. New days with new memories and new laughs and new loves and new friends and new families. And you are there in the middle of it. Living your life because you decided to live it. Because you deserve to and because other people don't make your decisions for you. And sometimes you will be happy again. More and more. You will wear your scars and you will see them and remember what you have been through and what you are going through and what you will go through in the future. You will be frustrated and tired and happy and sad and up and down and back again. You will be living.

And then...you will keep on standing up.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sometimes you have to lose your breath to breathe

I remember when there was this time when I was afraid to get on airplanes. Hell, who am I kidding? I was terrified, obsessed, crazy, crippled, panicked. I used to fear airplanes so much that I couldn't look at one flying because I was afraid it would fall out of the sky. And it would be my fault. I used to spend hours "clearing" by landing the plane in my head so I wouldn't kill everyone on board. That's why I knew that when I did the things I'm about to tell you about, I was better. I was healing. I was succeeding. I was living. I AM alive.

From the top:
Saturday I was going to a wedding. The drive was to be terribly long and boring. About an hour or a little more one way. I did NOT want to go alone because A) I like people to entertain me and B) I;ve not yet been to a wedding and I was sure it was going to suck ass. Boyfriend had legit reasons for not going so I called a friend of mine to accompany me.

Now let me explain said friend. He has requested that he be called The Commish for totally real and valid reasons that are not important at this time. Commish is one of those people who totally throws a wrench into whatever you thought your day might hold for you. You just never know how exactly your time will be spent. Everyone needs a commish.

So we are driving to the wedding in crazy far country town OK and he throws out "Hey, there's a drop zone around here. You wanna jump out of a plane today?" So of course I was all "Wait, really? You know we are headed to a wedding right? and then Commish is all "Yeah, I mean later. I'll call them." And thus it was written.

The wedding wasn't horrible. I mean, it was tough, but OK. My favorite part was the minister saying "You know, the most important day of a marriage is the last day" and in my head I was all "Hell, yeah  it is! Alimony bitches!" But since I was behind the piano I kept that to myself. We left the wedding and headed straight to the airport/drop zone place thingy. It was a little bit out of place, what with us in our wedding clothes and all. But, money paid, added to the list, and it was set in stone. Now I needed panties...

...because no, I was not wearing panties. Its not entirely unusual at any given time for me to be pantie less. However, when wearing the proper harnessing for jumping voluntarily from a plane, one must have one's vagina appropriately covered. So we headed to Wal-mart. In a tiny town. In Oklahoma. That in itself is an adventure.We left with shorts, a number one step-mom t-shirt and shorts. Also grapefruit in a jar and tic-tacs. because don't questions the needs of the sky jumper, OK! No panties. The shorts would be sufficient.

Back at the airport...time to change, strap in to a harness and get myself all ready for the awesome. The harness strapper guy was older. Not old, but older than me. He tells me to make sure the harness is right on top of my boobs or it would hurt like hell when the parachute opened and the harness hoisted my boobs at terminal velocity. Next up, harness guy informed me that "this needs to be strapped close so that it doesn't flop around and hit you in the face" because no one wants that. So commish ended up fixing the straps. Like a pro. Not even a little flapping in my face. And then... he introduced me to my tandem master, his son, Grrrrrrrant.

Grant, bless him, is a child. A wee little child. Like a baby child. Also he is about 6 inches shorter than me. So basically I'm strapping a turtle to my back at 8000 feet and hoping that he gets me to the ground alive. We , Grrrrant and I, got into the little bitty plane. I was in my super cool T and shorts. No shoes because honestly, who gets to skydive barefooted? This girl, that's who. I ended up elbow to elbow to the pilot. Education for the jump virgins: these planes don't have seats. You just sit where you fit. So I was elbows deep with the pilot. Yes. This girl who only a year ago boarded planes with medical help. Who pre-boarded with a "Safe Person". Who spent months in therapy preparing for getting on a commercial flight, got on a tiny tin can of an airplane. That was held together by duct tape. Honest. At about 6000 feet, a fellow skydiver got bored and picked a hole through one of the duct taped patches and created a hole to feel the air through. Neat. And yet I still was totally calm.

And then it was that moment. That moment when Donatello Grrrrrrant strapped his tiny self onto me and threw open that door. That was the moment that my breath left me. Not fear. Not anxiety. It was pure excitement in me. Life. Spirit. Soul. Body. All connected to a point where air was rushing past me and 8000 feet of sky was below me and my breath just stopped. Before I could even assess the awe of that moment, I had my foot on the runner and Grrrrrrant was rolling us out of the plane. And again my breath left me. My body had no other way to react to the surrealism surrounding me and the pure adrenaline of what I was experiencing. And we fell. We feel towards the earth so fast and so well. The chute yanked us upwards so quickly. I knew at that moment why it was so important to tuck the vagina and boob straps. Because that is some serious force pulling on that harness. Not to mention the little guy on my back.

Seeing the world come towards you will do wild things to your mind. It will transform your idea of what you thought you were capable of. It will make you bleed. No really, apparently I kicked the crap out of the plane on the way out and was all kinds of bloody and bruised. Like a bad ass! Like, I don't need you plane! I'm gonna just jump out and be alive until I'm not alive anymore. And I don't know when that will be so I am going to say yes and be alive and experience and love and live and not hold grudges and think and play and laugh and LIVE until I don't anymore.

We hit the ground with awesome force. Since I had Grrrrrant on my back, I had to keep my bare feet up and out of the way. This caused some serious grass burn on my backside regions and I wouldn't trade that itchy mess for all the money in the world. because I lived it. i felt it. I experienced it. I'm still experiencing it a little bit in fact. I did something that it never even occurred to me to want to do because I just assumed I couldn't. But I did. I lived.

It sounds so cliche. Hell, it feels cliche. But I left the last remnants of my old self up there. As we climbed in altitude enough to make my head dizzy, I felt the last bits of the old me going away. I don't need that scared girl anymore. I used to hide behind her illness. I took comfort in the safety of OCD and depression and anxiety and medicated myself with the thoughts of being unworthy to breathe the air or share the planet with normal people. But I have been changing. And I left the rest of that girl in the sky. The one who felt invalid and incapacitated and unworthy and sad and powerless and victimized. I'm not a victim. I'm Angela. And I am living better than I thought was possible.

So thanks to Commish for changing me in a way that I didn' know I needed. And thanks to Grrrrrant for strapping his rookie self to my back and rolling me out of a plane. And thanks to the sky and the air and the enormity of life for helping me find perspective. And thank you, old self. You made me want to be better. You showed me how far I've come and how limitless I am.

When someone asks you if you want to jump out of a plane, you say yes. Always say yes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Depersonalization: Holy. Crap.

Fun story.

I was planning on posting more of the 100 things I appreciate today. Remember how I made a list all at once and dragons turned up on the top of it because I am neat? Well, guess what? My list is gone. Just not where I saved it. Kind of like the time at Christmas when my mom decided to number all of the gifts with an intricate cross-referenced wrapping paper pattern system. This was so we wouldn't shake all the boxes and figure out what we were getting ahead of time. It actually resulted it more shaking and even more guessing because of the additional variable of not knowing who it actually belonged to. Then the "master list" with all the answers to the mysterious names/numbers/paper designs was lost and we spent Christmas opening any box we could find and holding up the gift so mom could decide who should get it. It's like that. Without gifts.

So I guess I will start over at where I left off. Somewhere in the teens. In the meantime...

I am officially a speaker at the IOCDF convention in Chicago this summer! I know I mentioned it once before but now I'm mentioning it in an official capacity. This will be my second time to attend and to speak at the conference. I have plane tickets, I have a hotel and I have it mostly paid for already. It's a good feeling. A successful feeling. An accomplished feeling. It's one of those achievements that I cling to when I'm not feeling particularly successful. They are turning me loose for a full 90 minutes this year! And I think my year has plenty to fill up that time. So who is going to the conference?!

Lately, I have been all kinds of mental. In the brain area. Like a crazy person. It's been like a back to square one kind of a situation. So like I said, I put myself into sort of this self-imposed exile for a while. And that seems to be doing amazing things. I have really tried to become med compliant again. Because one of the fun things that happens with me when I get into a bad cycle is I stop taking my meds. Which is SOOO helpful. I was/am dealing with these episodes of every emotion that exists all at once. It's like being manic and depressive at the same time. I don't know how else to describe it. All the energy in the world accompanied by all the defeating, self-loathing, lethargy. So the energy just goes inward and burns up my brain with ideas and thoughts and intrusive thoughts and obsessions and my energy winds up my body and my heart rate and my breathing and I can't sleep when I want to and can't stay awake when I need to. It's neat.

I've also had these periods of time experiencing unreal de-personalization. OK. See what I did there? unreal? If that makes no sense to you, let me break down depersonalization. It feels like someone else is inside your body running your mouth and your thoughts and your actions. It's like watching yourself from inside yourself and it is VERY disconcerting. And a little bit fun in that tripped out laughing gas kind of way. But mostly completely distracting and unwelcome. It's like I could hear my voice the way you could hear it on a recording. The way it sounds different outside of your own head. My movements felt like slow motion sometimes and other times moving way way too fast even though I think everything was pretty much normal speed. I understand it. I recognize it and I know the cause of it, but it still messes my shit up when it happens.

I'm learning to go forward I think. I think I had already learned how but now I am finding myself strong enough to do it. I spent years fighting with everything in me to overcome my disorders and my brain chemistry. Now I am doing the same thing with circumstances beyond my control. And it gets easier. It's not perfect. I'm not fully healed. I'm not without anger. I'm not all forgive and forget. I'm not "over it". But I don't think I want to ever be completely that. Because then what was the point? Without learning from it, it is all for nothing. And I can see now how I am able to do things on my own. I'm allowed to do things all on my own. For me. Because I can. I am taking care of myself. And I am requiring myself to step up my expectations of what I can do. Of what I could do all along, I just needed to jump the hurdles in order to really appreciate it. And tomorrow, I'll do it all over again. Assuming I remember to take my meds.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If you can't say anything nice...

I know. I know that it has been some time. I know that I haven't kept up with the latest installment of my project or posted pictures of my new enormous dog or told you about how I'm going to be speaking at the IOCDF conference again this year. In Chicago.

There has been no mention of my new kickball team or how I have been updating my house or any of the funny/inspiring things Boyfriend tells me daily. There hasn't been any tell of my continuous daily battle with this thing called OCD. This thing which is slowly reclaiming my life and my mind and my energy. This thing that is threatening to take me back over.

So I'll tell you what I HAVE been doing... It's a little bit like if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all. Actually its a lot like that. Exactly that actually. I've really been having difficulty with the saying awful things. I was caught in this obsessive pattern of anger and hurt so my compulsion was to lash out and create as much anger and hurt as possible on the other side. I was looking for some kind of balance. Some sort of justice. Something to vent off all of the emotions that have built up in me over the last year. I know I said I would never talk of it again. So that's why I had to literally STOP.

I could see that what I was doing was not working. Every second of everyday was becoming swallowed by images and sounds and what ifs and how comes and all manner of painful recollections and many unknown suppositions. My dreams at night have been haunted. My words were knives. My brain was doing all it knew how to do by creating a never ending obsession. Finally I knew that in order to get this under control, I was going I have to police myself. I have to be in charge of me. So I took steps and enlisted help and utilized all manner of privacy settings to isolate myself for a while. For me. So that I could expose myself to the bitterness and hurt and fear and loss and change my response. I did not allow myself to deal by lashing out. And it hurt like a motherfucker for the first few weeks. Because the only place the empty horrible pain could go was inside. The full force of it was with me all the time and I needed to learn how to make it stop. Exposure Response Prevention. It was easier when my ERP assignments were to go to a different grocery store or use the phone.

I dont know how I'm doing at it. It's been a few weeks since I put myself on lockdown. I feel more in control.. I feel lighter. I feel like the energy that had built up inside me and was threatening to eat me alive from the inside out has been vented and maybe even turned around and used for positive things. I feel like I'm starting to get a grip on this again.

But it still hurts like a motherfucker.

So I'm trying to handle the not say anything at all part. Maybe someday I'll make it to the say something nice. I'd even settle for neutral.