The Eyes Have It

Sleep is awesome! Sleep is meant as a time for leaving life’s concerns and thoughts behind. It’s a time to finally exhale, after a day of holding in my breath wondering what’s going to go wrong next, and just sink into a perfect, blissful state. I really love to sleep. I love it so much that I see dreams as an unwanted interruption of the only peaceful time I have. To me dreaming just seems like carrying your life to bed with you and who the heck wants to do that? But last night I had an interesting dream. In this dream I was part of a conversation about being courageous and true to yourself. Yes, I confess I have been watching a lot of Oprah lately. Anyway, in the midst of the conversation some strange, faceless form (I can’t really call it a person because it was, you know, faceless) turned to me and stated, in a voice that had no real sound, that I had a difficult time opening up to people. It continued by saying something about how since the eyes hold truths, I avoid looking people in the eyes as a way to keep my real self safe or some such shit. Apparently I do this all out of fear. I have to say that being outed like that by a random dream phantom was kind of annoying. I actually woke up feeling pissed off, as if part of me had been pried open against my will.

Like I haven’t had that experience enough times already.

But even though it was an uncomfortable feeling, once I was awake my mind went to work trying to figure out what it meant. Hell, I couldn’t go back to sleep, so why not do some mental sleuthing. After my thoughts faded in and out for a while, a thought flashed into my head that large chunks of my life have been lived to accommodate others. Basically fear of avoiding unplesant outcomes. You know, do as I say and no one gets hurt. Particularly as it relates to men and sex. In retrospect, I realize that it wasn’t that I had a burning desire to be groped by all those random strangers. It’s more like I had this burning desire not to have the shit beaten out of me again. I remembered all the times I was afraid to just say, “NO!” because I wasn’t sure what reaction I would get. A lot of times I would tell myself to be brave and just shut it down. And while I liked to believe there was no way God would allow me to go through that type of violence again (seriously how many ass whoopings and rape can one person take), in the end I would just give in and act like I was exactly where I wanted to be. Ugh! I still can’t forgive myself for being too scared to stand up for me. Did I not think I was worth it? Or maybe the memories of fists against face, my face, kind of overshadowed the whole don’t-settle-for-less-than-you-deserve belief system. Who knows? What I do know is that allowing fear to cause me to behave in a way that makes me feel used and embarrassed, especially as it relates to control of my body, feels like being abused all over again. Plus, it is exhausting as hell! The worst part is, this time I’m doing it to myself! Even as I write this I can feel my chest tighten.

Is that fear again? Or is it regret?

Truth is I do try to keep the lid on my weaknesses, shame and secrets. You know, the ones I’m busy running from every day. Who doesn’t? So yeah, I guess dream phantom was right, I do avoid eye contact with men on the street. And in the grocery. And at the gas station. That’s my way of keeping myself safe from danger. But now I wonder, am I fooling them? Or is that why they keep coming?

Maybe, like dogs, some of them CAN smell fear.

Aside

A Sorry Apology

beeker dont give a fck

 

 

In my last post I talked about having a ‘moment’ where, in a fit of exasperation, I demanded God give me a do-over.

Talk about being careful what you ask God for!

This past week I received a text from someone I hadn’t seen in a year and had not heard from in months. In fact, the only time I hear from him is 1) when I text him 2) when he’s in the country and wants to have sex with me.  Anyway, he was in town and wanted to see me. I agreed to meet him at a nearby restaurant thinking it was a ‘safe’ spot and I wouldn’t have to make the big decision as to whether or not we’d have sex. But one beer led to  two pitchers which led to four shots. Next thing I know we’re back at my place and as the clothes were coming off I found myself wondering…what the fuck am I doing with this half-naked motherfucker in my house?

Again?

Making a conscious decision, my body totally shut down and he left the same way he arrived. Horny. Poor thing, he never knew what hit him! I regretted it for a whole split second, so here is my public apology to him.

Hey Dude,

I’m sorry I didn’t melt in your arms and cream myself because, after months of silence, you decided to fly into town and grace me with your presence.  I never knew you could leave me feeling absolutely nothing at all.  It was a surprise for me and I know damn well that wasn’t the response you had become accustomed to. So, yeah…sorry.  I am also sorry that I no longer equate the number of orgasms I had with you with anything other than really good sex. Oh, you were good! I can’t take that away from you. It’s just that I’m no longer that female who needs to be seen on your arm to feel like I’m somebody special. Yes, I realize you like being seen with me as well but apparently I’m just not that into you anymore. But most of all, I’m truly sorry that between my medications and my therapy sessions, it’s becoming clear to that what is familiar ain’t always what’s best for me.

Now I know this is the part where I’m supposed to say I hope we remain friends, but let’s keep it real. We were never actually friends, just two consenting adults who hooked up whenever you were in the mood.

Have a good one,

JSandra

Do-Over Days

Do Over Button

The other day I unconsciously found myself saying, out loud, that I wanted a damn do-over. As soon as the words out of my mouth, I realized how true they were. That’s what I want! A damn do-over and yes God, I’m talking to You. I remember when we were small, I would beat my little brother at almost every game we played. Well, not sports because I basically suck at anything that even remotely requires physical exertion. Except sex, but I digress. The point is, after losing a card game or whatever, he’d always say he wanted a do-over. I suppose it’s because as kids, we figure if at first we screw something up but we get to try it all over again and succeed, the results of our first attempt no longer count.

Hence, I want a do-over.

Because I’ll be dammed if my life is gonna start at fifty-three. Hell no! Having spent the last few months working with a really great therapist is starting to show me some of the ways my life has gone left. Way left. I swear between the abuse, the drugs and the on-again-off-again-there-it-is-again depression, my life resembles a damn Lifetime TV movie. And we all know how those story lines go. Truthfully, even though I’m learning to see my life more clearly, a lot of my sessions leave me drained. And sad. I guess with clarity comes conviction and I am realizing just how much I missed and messed up. How many good people I ran off because I didn’t know how to like myself so obviously I couldn’t understand or accept their love for me. And I cringe when I think about all the times I would turn to the most fucked up people and think I was better off with them. Why didn’t I know better and do better? Oh that’s right, I’m not supposed to linger on my past but instead do my best to create a better future. But how am I supposed to do that knowing that if I’d known then what I now know, my son would have had a better childhood. Instead he had to deal with a mother who drank too much and yelled and cried for no reason. A mother who wasn’t ready to be a parent and didn’t know the first thing about the importance of providing a solid foundation. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. So yes, Lord. I want a do-over to make up for all the times that I screwed up.

Wait. What did You say? This IS my do-over?

Well in that case, guess I’d better get off my ass!

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That: My Microwave Mentality

The other day I realized that, even after being in the microwave for almost six whole minutes, my plate of leftovers still wasn’t hot enough. What the hell! I was hungry and those six minutes felt like an eternity. Yeah, I know, first world problems. Anyway, I got pissed and started cussing the microwave, something that’s happened almost every week since the damn thing replaced my old microwave. Truth is my old one ran circles around this piece of shit and not a day goes by without me wishing it was still on the shelf in BrandsMart. So yes, I cussed at it and again mourned the loss of the money spent on it. That is, until I remembered that instead of putting it on full power, I had set it to 80% power. Oops! With no one around to blame, I chuckled, called myself an idiot and put the food back in for a few more minutes.Walking out of the kitchen, the first thing I found myself thinking was how anyone could expect the same results from 80% that you would get at 100%. This led me to wonder how much of what I do is done with me giving it 100% and how much is being done with me just giving it 80% of my effort? My next thought was, “Oh my gosh, I think I just had what Oprah would call an aha moment!” 

Without rehashing all the random thoughts that started swirling around in my head, suffice to say that one incident is now helping me be more aware of the way I approach tasks. For example, for the past few months everyone has heard me complain about how hard it’s been to find a job. Between you and me, my efforts have been well below 100%. So for the past few days instead of sending out two resumes, then crawling back in bed, I now spend hours looking for jobs. So far that has resulted in my sending out over a dozen resumes. Have those dozen resumes landed me one single interview? No, not yet. But according to all the stuff I’m learning in  therapy, emotionally healthy adults aren’t supposed to give up the first time something doesn’t work out the way we want. Apparently, adults must stick it out until we get the desired results. And be patient. And learn to take responsibility for the areas where we are weak. And all that other stuff. Yep, I am being an adult. Even if this shit is hard as hell! God knows my usual reaction to life has been it if doesn’t work the first time, fuck it and move on. After all, life is too short to waste time kicking a dead horse, right? So why not just stick to the easy stuff and save yourself the trouble of waiting around for something that probably isn’t going to be worth it? That has always been my philosophy. Ever since I could remember I’ve always bragged that when they were handing out patience, I didn’t want to stand in line, so I got none.

In all honesty it’s not so much that I didn’t have patience, it was more like I just didn’t believe in myself enough to make it worth the wait.

But now between therapy, medication and my little aha moment, I make myself get up and try again. I gotta tell you most days it’s all I can do to turn on the damn computer. Why? Because it’s frustrating as hell to  scroll through all the job descriptions that I want, only to realize my qualifications don’t match for shit. It’s even more frustrating to come to terms with the fact that the positions I’m qualified for are the ones I don’t want. But instead of getting mad and eating everything in sight, I’ve been going back and tweaking my resume. Granted it’s done while I’m eating everything in sight but don’t judge me, it’s called baby steps.

Oh well, guess this is all part of growing up after the age of fifty.

A Violent Cycle

Today’s session was tough. And embarrassing. Tough because it made me realize that events from my childhood really did a number on me. Embarrassing for the same reason. Yes, therapy is supposed to help us understand ourselves better. But my therapy is showing me just how little I seem to know about myself. Why wasn’t it clear to me that the beatings I saw my grandmother and aunt dish out to my brother and cousins was actually violence? And that even though neither of those women touched my physically, those witnessed acts touched me emotionally? How did it escape me that the only clear memory I have of my father, whose death I have mourned for the past forty-nine years, is the memory of him spanking/beating my brother? A spanking that had my mother yelling at him to stop because, at only three years-old, my brother was ‘just a baby and you’re going to kill him’.

For the majority of my life it’s been very clear that my mother doesn’t like me.  Well, she didn’t like me when I was growing up. Now, I’m all she really has so she tolerates me. I have come to terms with that. But apparently I’ve been so busy focusing on how to get along with my mother while trying to forgive her for all the fucked up things she’s said and done to me over the years, that it never occurred to me that there might be more than one toxic relative in my past.  Oh Lord! I just can’t deal with this. Yeah, I know it can be seen as a breakthrough, but I promise you it doesn’t feel like one. What victory am I supposed to get from the realization that I was basically conditioned to be fearful, critical and unhappy before the age of five? How was I supposed to know the reason I used to sneak wine (and replace it with grape juice) at the age of ten is because I was in pain? I don’t want to think of my life as having been one long series of me being hurt and coming to accept that pain as normal. Not that it ever seemed normal, not really. The fact is that on some level I knew it wasn’t the way I wanted to feel, but for the life of me I never knew how to break out of the cycle. So I did what many of us did; repeated the only behavior I knew while at the same time trying not to duplicate it. Does that make sense?

Jesus, am I totally schizophrenic?  More importantly, what have I taught my son?

While I am not inside his head enough to know what he may have taken away from what he saw growing up, I certainly remember some of what I did. And it makes me cringe. A four year-old shouldn’t have to drag a chair over to the front door and lock it at night because Mommy is passed out on the couch next to a bottle of Hennesy.  Or have to sit stroking his distraught mother while requesting, “Mommy, please be happy.” And certainly no child should have to jump on an abusive boyfriend’s back in a futile attempt to intervene in the ass-whipping his mother was again receiving. That particular day  event stands out in my mind because, in my desperation to ward off the blows from my live-in boyfriend, I had picked up a knife. Unfortunately, my back was literally against the kitchen wall so the only way out was going to be me slicing into his drunken ass. Well, stomach, but you get the point. With all the yelling going on, my then four year-old had come out of his room to see me wielding a knife and crying hysterically. That’s when he started screaming, “Leave my Mommy alone!” and jumped onto  my ex’s back. It was then that I saw a horrible image in my mind. What if I accidentally stabbed my own child? Truth be told, I cannot remember how that particular incident played out. But that incident stands out because of two things I did that day. First, I clearly remember promising my son that he would NEVER have to witness anything like that again. And secondly, I also promised myself to break a decades old cycle of choosing abusive men.

I am proud to say those are two promises I have kept for over twenty-eight years!

 

Wine vs Wellbutrin: An Epic Battle

Wine vs Wellbutrin Someecards

One thing a lot of people say about me is that I’m stubborn. I like to think of it as not so much stubbornness but more like I believe I know what’s best for me. Even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. To that end I have started back smoking. Not that I think smoking is good for me (I’m not that crazy), it’s just that, considering we’re all going to die one day, I don’t see what difference it makes what I die from.  Besides, smoking helps to curb my overly active appetite. These extra pounds that have found me since summer don’t need any more company. I say the ten pounds found me because I damn sure wasn’t looking for them, but here they are anyway. I’m getting fat, therefore I smoke. And speaking of habits I’ve picked up again, I’ve also started back drinking which (according to the labels on the bottles), should not be combined with my medication. Honestly though I don’t see the harm in having a few drinks a week. After all I’ve survived two rapes, cocaine, LSD, Angel Dust, hash, domestic violence, opium, the military and my mother!

I’m pretty sure a little Pinot Noir isn’t going to kill me.

Unfortunately, the professionals overseeing my mental health journey do not agree with me. In fact, they feel so strongly about my need to stop drinking that I’m apparently no longer qualified for an advanced treatment group they were considering me for. In order to get a referral into the group, my mind now has to be clear of the ‘numbing effects’ of alcohol for at least thirty days. I ask you, what kind of bureaucratic bullshit is that? They don’t have a problem prescribing me Wellbutrin (whose known side effects include: delusions, memory impairment, seizures and jaundice) and Lamictal (whose known side effects include: blurred vision, loss of balance, tremors and aseptic meningitis), but they have a problem with me drinking a friggin’ glass of wine? Not a single one of them said a peep about my smoking, so I guess they have no issues with me inhaling carbon monoxide, freon and hydrogen cyanide. But fermented black grapes are enough to get  me blacklisted? Get the fuck out of here! A part of me is mad at myself for even bringing up the fact that wine has entered my life again. But honestly, it never occurred to me that a few glasses of wine every so often was a sign of my inability or unwillingness to assist in my own healing. Truth be known, my drinking these days is nothing compared to this time last year. Whereas now I might buy two or three bottles of wine a month, this time last year I was downing a bottle of rum every week. By myself! And just between you and me, I was also getting high on a regular basis. So while mixing anti-depressants with alcohol may be frowned upon and seen as a hindrance to further progress, my hand is busy patting me on the back for having come such a long way. On the other hand, I do want to qualify for a more intense treatment if it will help me get to the next level, so I’ll just stop drinking. I think. Maybe.

Oh boy. That’s not sounding too convincing.

Why does drinking mean so much to me? It doesn’t really. So why won’t I just quit? Because since beginning therapy my counselor, social worker and psychiatrist have been pulling up stuff from my past that I didn’t even realize was there. I  mean I knew they were there, just not how they had affected me. Old hurts, disappointments, anger, you name it. Shit that, quite frankly, I’d just as soon not have to deal with.  Look, there’s a good reason my memories of childhood are so vague.  The memories are so non-existent that my sister in-law once asked if my brother and I were raised in the same house (we were) because there’s so much he recalls that just gets a blank stare from me. Yes, we all know that using too much alcohol can be a way of ‘self-medicating’ which is just a crutch to avoid dealing with life’s harsh realities.  Do I want to remember all the things that made my childhood crappy? No. But is avoiding the past healthy? No. Will uncovering the truths help me to heal and not spend the rest of my life as an angry, bitter bitch? Yes. Well, that’s the hope anyway. I get that. But hell, after some of these sessions I am just drained! Drained to the point where all I want to do is go home, curl up in bed and try to calm the frenzy of thoughts swirling around in my damn head. Which is what I usually do.  During those lie-down-on-the-bed-and-zone-out moments, drinking is the last thing on my mind. But there are times when I have to be an adult and talk to people and do my job. During those times when I’m being an adult I often catch myself barely breathing and I can feel myself tightening up. It’s as if my mind has given my body strict orders to hold itself together or run the risk of falling apart in front of the whole world. So I fight back tears, fake a smile and tell a few jokes until an opportunity to escape presents itself. And after repeating the escape cycle a couple of times a week, I sometimes sit quietly and congratulate myself on making it through another day. This is where the wine comes in. Unless I have ice cream.

So what I don’t understand is what’s the difference between self-medicating and being medicated by others? After all, what makes Wellbutrin better than wine?

Aside

What A Terrific Tuesday…NOT

I’m not sure what the hell just happened, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a good thing.

My psychiatrist just suggested hospitalizing me. Considering that the last time the military sent me to a hospital, I ended up in a straitjacket with a fucking needle of Thorazine in my arm, I politely declined her suggestion. Why would that even come out of her mouth, I asked her. The good doctor replied that sometimes we just need a break. The only thing I need a break from is this damn lifelong stretch of feeling like my time here on Earth is a joke. No, I’m not ready to kill myself, just tired of living like this. Tired of not being able to focus. Tired of the little tremors that have developed since my new meds have kicked in. Just tired of the whole thing.

And that’s what I told her as I sat in her office crying my eyes out and feeling like a failure. Again. Every morning I wake up determined to do things better and different than the day before yet the end results continue to be the same. What the hell is wrong with me? I know all the right words to say, so why can’t/don’t my actions line up accordingly? These are the things I want answers to. This is what I need, not being shipped off to a hospital. Oh my God! Can you imagine me having to tell my family I was being hospitalized for..for what? I wouldn’t even know what to say. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t even tell them. I live alone so nobody would really have to know, right? Oh well, it doesn’t matter because it’s not going to happen. “I’m fine” I told her, “just tired, that’s all”. She didn’t look at all convinced but she said she couldn’t force me to go.

Whew! Dodged that bullet. Of course, I’m now going to get calls from some suicide-prevention-watch people. Well, good luck getting me to answer the phone if I’m feeling a bit down. Because when I get in that zone, the sound of a human voice asking me if I’m okay is usually the catalyst for all sorts of tears and feelings of despair.

I know I’m going to re-read this and kick myself for being so weak and whiny, but right now this is how I’m feeling.

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed…Quit

Today started off pretty well. Instead of jumping out of bed like I usually do, I took the time to pray. That simple act was enough to make me feel hopeful as if, by praying, God Himself was right there with me. Laying in bed, my thoughts were organizing the day’s necessary tasks and I was absolutely certain that every one of them would be accomplished. First on my list was doing the dirty dishes that had spent the night in the sink and cleaning up the kitchen. Did that.  Then I took a shower, changed clothes and put on make-up, even though I had no place to go. Next on my agenda was scouting online for jobs and sending out resumes.  Got that done.  Hell, I felt so good I actually cooked an entire meal. I was on a roll! The only thing left to do was make those follow-up calls I’d been putting off since December.

And that’s where I got stuck.

My initial game plan was to get on the phone and call when I knew no one would answer. After all, most teachers don’t leave their cell phones on during school hours. Yes, it’s the cowardly way out, but I never claimed to be a hero. Besides, as long as I made the calls I would be fulfilling the promise I had made to myself in my prayers. Now I ‘m not sure if it’s because I didn’t roll out of bed and get moving until damn near eleven o’clock  in the morning, but by the time I remembered about the calls it was three o’clock in the afternoon. And before I knew it the sinking feeling that I had failed, again, just came crashing down on me. But rather than picking up the phone (it’s a cell phone, it doesn’t weigh that much) and making the damn calls, I instead turned to my pacifiers: Facebook. And Twitter. And Google News.

And whining online…aka blogging.

There’s something comforting about just letting it all hang out in an anonymous way. And while I am cognizant of the fact that my blogging is really just another form of avoidance (I learned that from Google), I don’t give a shit right now. I’m too exhausted from thinking about all the stuff I didn’t accomplish today to try to do anything right now. At first I thought, oh well, at least I’m not getting high.

And then I came across this:

Time-You-Enjoy-Wasting-is-Not-Wasted-Time-05-1024x1280

 

I’ll gladly take that as confirmation that today wasn’t a total bust.

 

Who The Fck Am I?

Years ago I dated a guy whose mother was bipolar. He would always talk about how she would ‘go off her meds’ when she felt like doing her own thing. He  told me about numerous occasions when his mom would do random shit like come home from shopping sprees with bags of clothes, none in her size with very little memory of where she’d been.  I remember thinking how little sense that made. After all, isn’t the purpose of medication to help you feel ‘normal’? And who among us doesn’t want to feel ‘normal’? Nobody, right? So then why on earth would someone purposely stop taking something to help them feel better? I admit that deep down, I always thought he might have been exaggerating.

Now I know better.

You see, back in August, when I had my little breakdown, I was put on anti-depressants. Oh it wasn’t a big deal, really. After breaking up with aforementioned boyfriend all those years past, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Oh stop smirking, there was no connection between the two events. No, really there wasn’t! Anyway, the preferred drug of choice for my malady was Paxil. At that time I was in my mid-30’s and ever since high school, had been seeing counselors and psychiatrists off and on, courtesy of my mother. But we won’t go into that right now. The point is that in spite of all my counseling sessions, ‘inability to play well with others’ and Rorschach tests, medication had never been prescribed or (to my knowledge), even considered. Truth is, I was kind of relieved at my diagnosis. After all, it was the first time my personality quirks and prolonged, inexplicable bouts of unhappiness had been given a name. Clinical depression you say?  I’ll take it. So there I was, chugging pills every day in anticipation of a long-overdue bout of euphoria that take hold of me and turn my life into something magical.

The magic never materialized.

Granted, the pills made it easier to get through the day without feeling like there was an 800-lb gorilla sitting on my chest. Yet I still found myself forcing smiles and worrying like mad over how to deal with my son. He was a great kid and I was a lousy mother, or so I felt. As parents I know we all worry about the effectiveness of our parenting skills. But as the child of a rather toxic parent (I admit I didn’t know the term back then) my worry at times turned to absolute fear. Especially when I would begin shrieking at him for no apparent reason. Bless his heart though, rather than fold and walk away defeated, his little ten year-old self would often look at me and say, “Mommy, you’re acting just like Grandma.” I loved my son dearly and really didn’t want to hurt him so those six words usually stopped me in my tracks. But there were many times when his childish bravado was simply no match for my emotional outbursts and I would feel like shit as I watched the pained, confused look on his face. Many years later I took myself off of Paxil with spectacularly disastrous consequences that very nearly ended me.

Fast forward to today and here I am, back on medication. I. Hate. It. There are days when I can’t stand the thought that it takes a pill to help me get through the day my without falling apart. And there are times when I do not want to chase another damn breakfast with Wellbutrin and, like my ex’s mother, will simply skip a dose or two. On those days, I think about whether or not I really need to be on medication and replay scenes from my life’s movie and wonder: Who am I really?

This is what I know about me: Mid-50’s and no place of my own. Unhappy with where I am but no idea where to go. People in my life who think they’re my friends, but I can’t confide in them about my REAL situation. Shy. Happy. Great cook. Former coke head. A terrible manager of both time and money. Wicked sense of humor. Easily agitated. A so-called entrepreneur who hates the business I’m in but too scared/lazy/stupid to do something else, even though I don’t make enough to support myself. Sarcastic. Poor self image. Outspoken. Over-eater. Awesome lover but a lousy girlfriend. Independent. Intelligent. Survivor of rape and domestic violence. Intelligent. (Yes I said it twice because contrary to my beliefs, apparently I am really smart). Needy. Sad. A perpetual dodger of bill collectors. A woman who others think of as strong but who has cried myself to sleep over men who are no good for me or to me. Overly critical.  Job-hopper. Lives in the past because I can’t seem to visualize a future. Ridiculously self-conscious. Someone who people come to for advice yet I can’t get my own shit together. A middle-aged grandmother who unfortunately still attracts 35 yr-old boys/men. Procrastinator. Forgetful. 

Even as I sit here writing this, I can’t help thinking there’s something more productive I’m supposed to be doing. But whatever it is won’t stay in my head long enough for me to focus on it

Did I take my meds this morning?

In The Beginning, There Was A Breakdown

Wow! Over a half century on this Earth, and I’m just now facing my past.

And it’s not pretty.

Oh don’t worry, I’m not about to get all ‘my life sucks so feel sorry for me”. But I am going to share some truths. Whether or not they are well-received is of no consequence to me. I know that may sound rude  but the whole idea of being true to myself is one of the many useful things my new psychiatrist and both my therapists are helping me to learn.

Oh, did I forget to mention I’m seeing a shrink? Well I am. “Why”, you ask?

Apparently a few months ago my life just became too much for me to handle and I had a breakdown. Not a big one. I mean I didn’t try to slit my wrist or jump in front of an 18-wheeler or anything. My breakdown came in the form of tears. A lot of them. Constantly. Imagine waking up one lovely August morning, looking in the mirror at yourself and bursting into tears. Can’t imagine it? Neither could I until it happened to me. Without any warning that I remember, there were suddenly thousands of teardrops flowing out of my eyes. And there seemed to be nothing I could do to stop them. Believe me, I did try. After all, I had a 17 year-old in the next room and the thought of him finding me with snot running down my face and red, puffy eyes was more than I could bear. So I tried to talk myself down off the ledge. To no avail.  It did not occur to me that, had the ability to stem the flow of tears been within my grasp, the crying wouldn’t have started in the first place. I once heard someone say that you can’t see the frame if you’re still in the picture. That’s very true. But hey, I’m supposed to be a strong woman. A fighter. A Scorpio. So I looked in the mirror and told myself to just STOP it! Stop the fuckery, I said to my reflection. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. There’s nothing you can’t overcome.

Nothing that is, except the feeling of sadness and emptiness that was shaking me to my core.

A feeling that was so pervasive it momentarily took away my desire to live. At that time all I really wanted to do was go to sleep and not have to wake up again. So many random thoughts were swirling through my mind, it gave me a headache. All the while I kept wondering what was wrong with me. How the hell did I get to this place? I mean seriously, who just wakes up and starts bawling their eyes out for no apparent reason.

The thought of stuffing myself with painkillers and washing them down with rum briefly flitted across my mind.

Luckily, I’m too damn lazy to kill myself, so instead I picked up the phone, called the V.A. hospital and asked for the Mental Health department.

Who said serving in the military was a waste of time?

Aside