Thursday, July 31

dazed and confused

Maybe I shouldn't be trying to write while simultaneously tired, buzzed and listening to the frantic squeals of my baby girl. Maybe, but I am going to try anyways.

My dear friend, Sean, ended his life last week. In the days that followed his friends stumbled around in a daze, trying to make some sense of something so senseless. Andrew and I packed up the kids and drove to Calgary (12+ hours), then left the kids with my parents and sister while we did what we could to get some closure. This entailed spending the days getting to know Sean's friends and packing up most of his material possessions. We cried a lot, fought a bit (he and I argued once or twice, which is pretty rare, then the night before we left, I had an argument, followed by a very good conversation with my mother), cried some more, laughed a whole lot, and the packed up our car and headed home.

Since we got home on Monday night, things have been a blur. There are bills to be paid, kids to be fed and entertained, unpacking to do, and this unshakable numbness that hangs over everything. Questions and ideas are swirling through my mind at breakneck speeds, slowing just long enough to completely disorient me before moving on.

My place in my family right now is as the rock, the anchor. Andrew has had to return to work (we like eating and having a place to live) and I know that dealing with work and his grief leaves little room for much else. I may not like it, but one of us has to keep us from falling to pieces, and where Andrew was my rock 9 months ago, I need to be his now.

I just wish I knew where to start how to start. I have spent the better part of the past days on the couch. I've eaten far more than my body needs or even wants, barely willing to do much more than read stories to my kids and watch them play. Today I got groceries and the smart part of me sacrificed buying all organic foods so that we could have somewhat convenient foods around. Tomorrow, I'll take the car to our weekly appointment rather than transit. Hopefully that way I will have the energy to stop at the library and for a play at the park.

I don't really want to see people right now. But it has been two days and I think it is time I started out of this slump. I made plans to go to a movie tomorrow night with a girlfriend and on Friday morning I am hoping to get together with a mama-friend. On Saturday we'll (hopefully) have friends over for a BBQ - one of whom knew Sean and was the whole reason those three crazy guys came out to Vancouver eight long years ago.

Looking at that list fills me with apprehension - I feel so raw, but I know that it will do me good, which means I can be fully more present for Andrew.

Wednesday, July 30

I am sure you understand

I am feeling less than social or productive right now. I am just keeping my head above water and am trying to take it really easy.

I might not post anything for a while, though I do keep trying, so who knows?

Saturday, July 26

after the dawn

I've spent the day packing up my old friend's things. I am completely spent. His funeral is in less than an hour and I feel like I haven't done enough, though I know I have done all I could. I hope that my small effort will make things a little easier for his mother. I simply can not imagine her pain.

Andrew is on his way with my black clothes and something greasy for dinner.

I know I have a few readers out there, if you could please keep Andrew, Sean and Sean's friends and family in your hearts and prayers, it would mean the world to me.

I just want to go home and have this all be over now. There is still so much to do.

Wednesday, July 23

saying goodbye

One of the most wonderful humans I have ever had the honour to know passed away. He was my husband's best friend, my muse, my shoulder to cry on, my knight in sparkly armour. He was a cheerleader and confidante, my son called him Uncle Sean and I always pictured him getting drunk at their weddings. He was full of life, love and talent. He could always make me laugh.

We've been living apart for two years now, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I am going to miss him so much, there is a hole in my heart and it feels so deep.

I am going to miss you, Sean.

Wednesday, July 16

and then there was.... some

I did it myself, it needs some help at the back, but looks fucking dope! I love it. I began with scissors and then used the longest guard we had (#4) and buzzed away.

Sebastian asked if it means I'm a boy now... we had a three-year-old's discussion about how hair does not determine gender.

I am a big fat hippie

On the advice of a trusted friend and my therapist, I went out yesterday and bought The Artist's Way, a pretty notebook and a nice pen. Last night I dove in and read all the introductions and the first week's module. This morning, I started my "morning pages" and wrote affirmations (and "blurbs" - the cynical mental reactions to my affirmations).

The structure will push me along and the process feels timely. Without getting too flower-child on all y'all, I'll likely share some of my insights and frustrations as I do the 12-week program.

The writing reminds me of Birthing From Within and I managed to get through the feeling that it was too new-agey to get something meaningful out of it, so I have faith that if I am open to the ideas and the process, I'll find direction and meaning.

Tuesday, July 15

my head is on loose, but my shoes are tight

Ahhhh, the glamorous life of a girl with mental illness.

Recently, I have begun obsessing, again, about shaving my head. But then, there's Ms. Spears' famous head-shaving experience and there's a nagging feeling that, as far as it goes, this might just be my crazy talking. But then I think about the benefits of not having hair and, I got to tell you, I am nearly sold.

First, I should say that my head is well-covered in thick, unruly hair that simulates wearing a wool toque on a hot day. It makes me sweat, which if you've been paying attention, you'll know I loathe. Plus it takes time to style well and on the days I don't feel like investing time in it, no amount of dressing well or good makeup makes up for looking like I have a dead cat sitting on my head.

I will state here and now that I know that there is a much less drastic option. A stylish pixie cut, perhaps, but that would likely mean going to a salon with my heaps of no money. I have clippers here and could shave it quickly and free...

But I'm not sold. I am not entirely convinced that I really want to shave my head, I have done quite a bit of research, read personal accounts, read accounts of partners of women who shaved their heads, found a whole schwack of head-shaving porn, and have spent countless minutes staring into the mirror trying to imagine what other people would see and think if I had a bald head.

The first thing I think is that people would assume I was gay. Since adulthood I have had people wonder if I am gay or straight, and I am quite cozy in my sexuality, so that feels like a non-issue to me. I then worry that friends and family will take it as a sure sign of my diminished mental capacity. They'd have a point, it very well could be, I tend not to think so (having dreamt of having the guts to do it for 12+ years now), but casting aside my hair could be a sign of something. I wonder if I should warn people, allowing them the chance to talk me out of it, or just do it and let the chips fall where they may.

My biggest worry is that it will not feel as meaningful and liberating as I expect it to. My hair has long been a source of vanity and insecurity, to cut it all off would symbolise a rebirth, a shedding of the image I have had of myself for so long and a clean slate on which to rebuild my style and persona. It might just be a shaved head that garners stares and disapproval from friends and family. It might be the thing that causes everyone to lose faith in me, it might be just what I need.

I hate not having answers, and I hate that, in the end, something as trivial as hair has me so flummoxed.

Some part of me is sure I'll go through with it, or with some awesome change - but a small piece of me is waiting for approval, still. One of my greatest paradoxes is my desire to be unique and universally accepted. Even when the logical bit of me quite convincingly reminds me that a) everything's already been done and b) universal acceptance is a construct, not a reality.

Sunday, July 6

dawn, at last

I awoke this morning, after not quite enough sleep, with Sebastian's face pressed close to mine. He was hungry and wanted to make himself PB&J. I got up from the couch where I'd spent the night (we're night-weaning) and got him the jar of jam and a small packet of peanut butter we'd squandered from one place or another. He only needed a little help getting things open, then he set about his mission.

While he made his breakfast, I nursed my hungry baby, each sip relieving the ache of my rock-hard chest. They played peacefully for a few more minutes while I convinced myself to get up and make some coffee. Rigby is at the puppy stage, where she crawls right to my feet wherever I am, nuzzles my toes and looks up at me with her beautiful doe eyes.

It is one of those cool summer days, where the weighty heat of July seems almost impossible. A good day for cooking and baking - and I have a pristine kitchen to do that kind of work in. My freezer is empty, save for some convenience food (nuggets, fries and a stir-fry kit) and a placenta. My fridge is full of food that is making a bee-line to rotten, a testament to my best intentions. Today, I will clear it out and salvage what I can. Not a huge fan of making a whole lot of food on one day and then re-heating it later, but from where I am standing, it seems like a pretty smart course of action. Especially when I consider that a little warmth in the house would be welcome.

I am filled with a tentative optimism, a sense that none of this is out of my reach. I had a conversation with my insecurity last night, it has agreed to listen when I tell it to shut up. I am not sure I trust it, given that it has a history of deception and manipulation, but what choice do I have?

on life, hope and taking control

It is funny that most people describe things as spinning out of control, I think of it less as a spinny thing and more as a complete collapse thing. Everything falling apart, crumbling like old buildings in abandoned cities. Or flying. Sometimes it feels like flying - or more accurately, falling.

This depression thing that lives inside me, the thing that tells me to stay in bed and to eat and to check the stove a few more times just to make sure it is off, that thing sucks. It sucks the fun out of life and the will from my soul. And it just plain sucks. There's good news, though. Turns out I'm not willing to let it happen like that. Sure weeks of lounging in bed sound nice, but in reality it is dull and lonely.

Life is this funny, wonderful thing. Something I made special effort to bring into the world twice, I am not ready to turn my back on that. But there have been some dark, difficult moments. Flashes of decisions best unmade. Thankfully, I have a wonderful group of friends who have worked tirelessly by my side, pulling me back from the deep dark.

I thought I was better, but I'm not better, I am not even nearly better. But I am ready to fight on. All the hopelessness I see has another side. For all the big bad out there, there's as much goodness and hope. I feel it, in bits, between all the nagging self-doubt.

And there it is, self-doubt. I am doing this myself, my doubt is mine alone. Only I can answer it. I recently finished The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. Reading it, I saw glimpses of myself - no, I saw myself. I saw something frightening and I saw reasons to hope. In reading it, I realised that what I have been working with my whole life hasn't changed (merely magnified) and isn't likely to ever go away completely. The one thing I can do is learn to manage. And once I learn to manage, I can learn to use my unique skills to my advantage. Which will rock, because I know that when I put my mind to something, the results are amazing.

But, the first step is to manage - and that is an area I need a heap of help with. So I am going back to step one, I've been there before, I know the terrain, but I know there are things there I have forgotten, tools I can use. The part that has me frightened, is that this time I will only be accountable to myself. Sure, my family and friends will get the payoff of my not being broody and irritatingly thorough, but it is my life on the line.

In keeping with that, I am setting a goal for myself, I will read and put into action one section of the Self-Care Program that we used in therapy. I know it is helpful and it works, for a bit there things were really looking up, so it will be an excellent place to get started. I am also going to use my daytimer all week - I haven't been using it and I have been barely holding my shit together.

So, I've got life, hope and I am taking control*.

*of myself.

Thursday, July 3

impostor in coolsville

I know my mind is a bit messed. I’ve been trying so hard to hold things together. Too hard, I imagine. If I had a friend who I talked to about this, I would imagine them telling me that I am being hard on myself. They’d be right, but the way they say it, it sounds like a bad thing. Like wanting to be a better human is a character flaw that I ought to purge at once.

I disagree, I think I’ve been convinced of feeling the same way a few times. But those were times when my spirit felt crushed and my soul weary. The happy pictures I have of myself are the times when I was content with myself because I was pushing myself towards the goal of being a better person.

Okay, I will admit that those times I was also quite content with the minutia, my home ran smoothly, my libido was up, my self-image was positive, I felt fulfilled and driven. And right now, the things I would complain about would revolve around the dull topics of children, husbands, body-image and home care. I would then quickly let the listener know that I was on the verge of a “big change” that would likely fix the problem. Most of these big changes have never been realised - I am a lot of talk - and many have been undertaken and have quietly failed.

So, I suppose, I don’t really know anything about this at all.

I’ve been contemplating neticide (which I may have made up), completely removing myself from the tubes, getting a fresh start. Granted, my five readers would worry and miss me - so maybe I would let them know where to find me again, once I complete my contemplated net death and net rebirth. But then I think about how it would look, or what people might think, and would I feel the same way in another month? And then I stop and find something else to busy myself with so that I don’t have to make a decision one way or another.

I just feel like I have messed things up by not giving my “all” to this or anything in my life. And I know, I know, I know, I can’t give my all, I have kids, I have a life, I have so many things to keep up with right now and no one expects me to be perfect at everything... I know. But, I have been doing so little lately, so very little. My morale is shot, getting out of bed is my first chore of the day and they just keep coming. Giving up my ideal of being super mom hasn’t changed that - the same things remain, I just do a shittier job of them. And now, I can't find things in my house.

What this spat of writing tells me, is that I am happier when I am productive. I know I can do most of the house stuff well with a small effort, then, maybe, I can find something else to fill the time I once spent frenetically cleaning and organizing already clean and organized things (and ideally, stop moving them so that when I am looking for the tape I don’t have to tear the house apart... it was in the snack bin, of course).

I am sitting in the shade outside my neighbourhood artist’s cafe. I was going to walk to the frou-frou one on main, or the crunchy one on main, but after a spontaneous turn, I am here. Not quite ready to go in, partly because it will likely be hot (it is a small, reasonably popular space) and mostly because I fear being outed as an impostor in coolsville. My Old Navy flowly peasant top sure to give me away. Plus, I don’t remember my last shower or the last time I changed my underwear*.

My fear of being uncool isn’t as crazy as some of you might think. I am a dork, which I know many strange people love, but sometimes I can’t trust my brain not to stall out - leaving me with the blank stare of a passport photo. No, if I am going to do this, I am going to do it when I am feeling a touch more “together.” Or at least a little less “stanky.”

*both have occurred in the last 2-3 days, I assure you!