He Killed Himself

One semester away from his Masters Degree

But he couldn’t see

The light at the end of the dark tunnel

He fumbled

PTSD was too much, he was humbled

Split open

Overtaken

Outnumbered by just one.

He was a brother to her in every sense of the word

But just for a moment

He forgot himself and his family

Who he was

Depression held him, held the gun

Nowhere to run

Now it’s done

Despair won.

Rest In Peace, Nate.

If you know someone who is struggling please help them get help.

Hotline 800-273-8255

My book on Anxiety is here

Podcast on how to overcome anxiety and mental illness is here

I love you. Please don’t give up.

Advertisements

Quiet Desperation

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Although well known and oft-repeated, that’s actually a misquote.  Thoreau wrote, in Walden, that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Here is the full quote, in context:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

Thoreau was talking about the void we all feel and the common impulse most humans feel to try and fill it with material things.  Walden is a journal of sorts, detailing his time in the woods and away from modern society, searching for inner peace and finding himself and new perspective there.

walden

A friend and I were discussing this “quiet desperation” quote last night, as we discussed our respective marriages and marriage in general.  Our conversation focused on the complacency that occurs after years of seeing the ins and outs and annoying habits of another human being’s existence.  I think it’s so common for husbands and wives to leave the runway together, aimed for the stars and the experience of a lifetime, only to land early on a makeshift dirt runway in a place just outside Settle Town, USA.

Was that too obnoxious an analogy? Maybe so, but you get what I’m saying.  If most new brides and grooms begin the marriage with the best of intentions – which I believe is the case – how do so many of us end up in a ditch somewhere, disoriented and disheartened and what our lives have become?

I’m not even talking about 10 years in, guys.  I myself have been married for 9 years, but the trouble started brewing quite a while ago and I don’t think we’re unique in that.  I talk to so many men and women – friends, colleagues, acquaintances – who are at most, content in their marriages and at worse, extremely unhappy and in some cases, depressed.  Most of them are not seeking divorce.  They just want to live their best lives and they want to do it with a willing partner who shares their interests and passions.

[Side note: For some reason, whenever I hear the term “quiet desperation” in my head the Queensryche song “Silent Lucidity” starts playing.  Interestingly, the song is about lucid dreaming, which is being able to consciously control what happens in your dreams.  So in a way, it’s related. ]

The “quiet desperation” quote came up discussing marriage because my friend and I were connecting on some shared issues.  The others I’ve spoken with relate to the same issues and experiences, too.  Even though all these people are having this same experience, none of them (none of us) are really talking about it.  It’s a secret struggle.  There is so much irony in something so commonplace and universal being something we hold inside and keep to ourselves and work to camouflage on social media.

Let’s don’t lead lives of quiet desperation any longer.  Let’s start talking to each other, and communicating with our spouses, and stepping outside the confines of the rules of marriage if that’s what it takes.  The only time that exists is the present, and it’s crap to waste it wondering if we are loved, wondering if we had married someone else, would we be vacationing in Mykonos right now instead of stuck at home washing dishes for an ungrateful partner.  That’s not life.  That’s not what life is for!

So how to we get back in the air?  How to do get out of Settle Town and back en route to our dreams and wildest fantasies (hopefully together with our chosen partners)?  Honesty!  Speaking our truth!  I think we all have to learn to be uncomfortable for a moment in order to be blissfully happy for a lifetime.

Believing we are alone is what fosters our desperation.  In truth, nothing is singular and everything is shared.  We are all connected.  We are all pieces of the same consciousness having several different (but oddly similar) human experiences.  As Thoreau said, we would be wise not to do desperate things.  We would be wise to realize that we are not alone, and the future is what we make it.

I’m rambling, so I’ll leave it there.  Namaste and happy Monday!  XOXO

 

Battlefield

Stand and fight!

Prepare for war

And face the possibility of

Losing your life

Or worse

Your heart.

Fall on your sword!

Be brave and steadfast

And prove to me

Once and for all

That you can be

My Champion

Or, if you will not fight,

Remain still and silent

Do nothing as the

Opposing forces overtake me

And my heart

And in so doing,

Die a thousand deaths

Instead of one.

Specifically

Silly rhymes and funny puns

Were a part of you

And your life so poured into mine,

They are a part of me, too.

I miss your humor and your laugh

Booming through the air

I miss the lessons I thought were play

And simply having you there.

Sneaking turkey in the kitchen

Trips to the symphony

You were the first person ever

To place real value in me.

Remember the time in Switzerland

Pretending, scientifically

What a magical time we had,

Thinking specifically.

Pictures, stories, memories

Keep you alive even now

I hope that you remember me too

As you sing your songs in the clouds.

wild

Many men have told me

I’m the one that got away

So I can’t help but wonder

Why none of them ever asked me

To stay.

Losing My Religion

I’m working on a book.  It’s a pretty involved process, and I am learning a lot as I go.  Thrilling, exciting, and … anxiety inducing.  Talking about the anxiety that used to run my life kinda makes me jittery.  I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a relapse, as much as it is recalling some of the old triggers that sent me into a tailspin.

The last few days I have been thinking a lot about religion in my life.  Growing up Catholic and attending a Catholic school, I took it all very seriously. I took for granted it was all true.  Even later, as an adult in the Southern Baptist church, I was a player in an elaborate game of Follow the Leader, even though many times I had no idea who that was or where we were supposed to be going.

Eventually my  husband and I had a falling out with our church – or, more specifically – our faith.  I have read accounts of others who have moments in their lives similar to what we had – an awakening, a change, growth, transition, you might even call it spiritual death, triggered by a great trauma or catastrophe.  For others, it’s the opposite, and such an event actually moves them towards the church.

Seeking answers, seeking truth.  Looking all around us for anything that makes sense when all that is comfortable and familiar has crumbled.  I think it’s human nature to want to assign a higher meaning to things that are tragic, and I certainly did.  When what I call the Terror came into my life, I learned pretty quickly what Christians do.  My friends, my Sunday School mates, they supported us.  One bought us groceries, one encouraged me to read my Bible when I was afraid, another class donated money so that our bills would be paid.  It was lovely to feel so encouraged in a hard time, and it lasted about two weeks.

The Terror would last much longer than that, and as our time of hardship wore on, the Christianity wore thin.  Our friends lost patience with us.  They withdrew their assistance.  Life goes on, right?  Some of them encouraged my husband to take the kids and leave me.  Some said to have me committed.  One person told me, quite matter-of-factly, that the things that were happening to me would not be happening, were my faith only strong enough.  Pray more.  Really mean it.  If it doesn’t help, you don’t really mean it.  Suddenly, I felt all alone in this “family”.  It was as if I had spiritual leprosy, and the entire community took a collective step back from me so as not to catch it.

Looking back, it was a gift.  These people who removed themselves from our circle, and pushed us out of what was known and comfortable, forced us to explore other possibilities than the ones we had blindly clung to for so many years.  I started reading things that had previously been “forbidden” to me, started considering possibilities that I had always dismissed as impossible and ignorant.  I used to pity people like me, people who didn’t worship Jesus and meet up at church to talk about all the ways we were going to save the world.

Out of necessity and desperate for relief, I began researching alternative therapies.  There’s actually a pretty thin line between medicine and religion, and as I learned about healing the body I also found out a lot about alternative spiritual practices.  Meditating, EFT, chakra balancing, crystals, astrology, numerology, reiki, essential oils, burning sage, prayer bowls and beads and moon ritual and tarot cards and more have made their way into my consciousness and I am a better woman for it. I walk barefoot and talk to the moon if I feel like it.  When I talk about animals and spirit guides, no one makes fun of me.

The irony is, by taking the first step into a spiritual truth that feels so much more aligned with who I am, for the very first time I am actually changing the world.  If everyone had the courage to be their authentic, unapologetic selves, the world would be a different place entirely.  Now, I feel free.  I am growing in new and exciting ways, without limits and without guilt.  New and trustworthy friends have filled the voids left by the people who couldn’t deal with our pain.  Best of all, by dipping my toes into a spiritual ocean I had never been allowed to visit previously, I feel united with every other person in the world.

Losing my religion became the catalyst for finding myself.  I’m a better wife and a better mom because I no longer operate from a place of “not enough”. Instead of trying to force myself to fit into someone else’s box, I’ve broken free of all the boxes and I make my own way.  I am more than enough.  I am everything I was created to be.(Yes, I still believe in Creator/Source.)

The path I am on is one of total joy and truth. I have met so many fascinating and kind people. I continue to learn about other beliefs, world religions, and I feel connected to my fellow man.  There is no judgement or pity in me for them.  Instead, there is love.  REAL love.  Unconditional love.  I am stronger, genuine, and aware.  Where once my life was a nightmare, it’s now a dream.  I am finally awake.

Moon-Goddess-moon-4701545-428-500

Hitchhikers

There was a meteor shower last night.

Did you see it?  Did you notice them?  Were you, like my family, standing outside, looking up, ignoring the icy cold in order *hopefully* catch a glimpse of something magical?

We stood in the parking lot, the four of us, looking up.  We laughed and talked and danced.  Yes, we danced to stay warm.  We counted twinkles, identified constellations, and hugged each other while giggling about the possibility that if we kept our gaze up long enough, our necks might get stuck this way.

We connected and played and enjoyed each other, imagining dragons as we exhaled smoky white clouds of breath.  We talked about distant planets and galaxies and the undiscovered life that might be staring up at us at the same time.  There were jokes about aliens, stories of great Roman warriors who now live among the stars, and scientific questions about just what those stars are made of and why they appear to twinkle.

I saw one!  I was looking in the right  place at the right time, and I saw a star go from here to there, ever so quickly and quietly.  Before I could point it out to anyone, it was gone.  I mumbled a belated wish to the heavens, but the truth is that in that moment, with my tribe, I was already living my best life. What else could I ask for?

The Gemenid meteor shower came and went, and we lugged our chilly bodies up the stairs to our front door and into the warm, welcoming space we currently call home. Each of us tiptoed like baby birds to our respective nests, and without any more mention of stars, prepared for bedtime.

As I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come, I realized the depth and importance of what felt in the moment like goofiness…

Moments like this are what make childhoods worth reminiscing on.  Moments like this become memories that will amuse us, comfort us, remind us for the rest of our lives of the happy, silly time we had “that night”, looking up at the sky, cracking up at what the neighbors must be thinking about us, musing that we might be waiting for our mother-ship to come and whisk us away to the next universe. (Did we bring towels?)

Yes, the stars showed up and twinkled brightly for us, but it was we who brought magic to the night.

Shooting-Stars

 

 

X-Ray Vision

My son sprained his ankle yesterday at school.  He didn’t tell anyone and the teacher didn’t see, so no one called me.  When he got home, he told me all about his day but he didn’t mention his injury.  In the evening, when he was winding down, he finally mentioned his foot pain.  After some interrogation I got the story and proceeded to perform Mommy Triage.  Everything seemed ok, just a bit swollen, so I gave him Motrin and an ice pack.

Everything was fine.

Until.

An hour or so later, my son walked over to me and began to cry, almost inconsolably.  He was cold, he said.  So cold it hurt and he couldn’t get warm. I took his temperature, expecting a fever, but what I saw was the opposite.  His temperature was dropping.  His skin was cold and clammy to the touch.  I carried him, still crying, back to his bed.

As a mom I feel like I’m constantly walking a line between not reacting ENOUGH and TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.  There is not much in between for me, unfortunately for my calm, collected, level-headed husband.  Husband, of course, thought our son was overreacting, but I had a feeling he was telling the truth.  His tears, hot and streaming down his face, were real.  The fear on his face was real.

Externally, I tried to comfort him by saying things like “It’s going to be OK”.  Internally, I was making a list of who to call, what to ask, and what to pack for the hospital.  I called my mom, who is a nurse, and with her guiding me, checked his pulse, his temperature, examined his body for bruising, and put a heating pad in his bed to help him get warm.  After watching a couple of episodes of Transformers on Netflix, he fell asleep. I took out the heating pad and left the room, still feeling some anxiety in my gut.

I checked on Emmett every two hours until the morning, taking his temperature, feeling his skin, and watching him breathe.  I felt very strongly that he should get x-rays, since he just sprained this same ankle a month or so ago.

Early this morning we arrived at the Pediatric ER. The staff was courteous, if a bit incredulous that I wanted x-rays on what was obviously a sprain.

Fast forward to lunch time, and my sweet boy is in a splint.  He has a distal fracture of the fibula that, due to the location of the break, did not present as such.  The break is on the growth plate, which means we will see an orthopedic doctor next week to discuss next steps.  His “just a sprain” turned out to be a broken leg.

[On the bright side, his cast is red and festive.]

This was a sneaky break.  A painless fracture.  There is internal damage on a pretty important part of the body.  Fluid has pooled in his ankle and heel. The fracture wasn’t visible, so no one I talked to believed it was there. Only after looking inside did they realize how seriously he was hurt.

Considering this, I am reminded me to be more conscious of others.  What I can see with my eyes doesn’t often betray what’s going on underneath.  A person may look like they have it all together when they are crumbling on the inside. They may not look to me like someone I could befriend, when we actually have a lot in common.  NOTHING is  ever what it seems on the surface. While I don’t have X-Ray vision, I do have opportunity to dig deeper. I have an obligation to look deeper.  To investigate.  To find out what’s going on in the heart, the mind, and the spirit.

Finding out about an injury is the first step to healing.  Knowing a person, really understanding them takes time, but it is the first step to helping them heal and grow.  Stepping out of comfort zones, crossing invisible lines we’ve drawn for ourselves, choosing to let go of old beliefs in order to embrace new friends.  These can only lead to good things – things like love, peace, and community.

I am grateful for this awareness, particularly at this time of year.

This holiday season, and always, may you see others –  and may you be seen – for the magical, powerful, gorgeous creature that you (we, they) truly are.

Confessions 1

Bless me, Father

For I have sinned

I have loved and lost and lusted

I have used and conned and manipulated

Hearts have been crushed in my grasp

Spirits suspended in mid air

Unable to move on, unsure

I didn’t want them; I didn’t want to let them go.

In all these years so many of them

I have let inside my dreams, let them influence me,

Change who I am fundamentally,

No they didn’t have me physically but which is worse?

Psychically I was theirs.

His. His. His. His. His.

I enjoyed most of it, I liked

The attention, raw attraction, the bond

Tolerated abuse, just to be the muse.

All that time I never knew, no one told me

I was giving away pieces of myself

Each heart exploding left a scar on mine

Fragments of me, slices of them, intertwined

I’m not whole, not myself, not pristine

Dirty, damaged, fractured again and again and then – sewn together

A mosaic of hearts that beat in rhythm

Souls that spoke the same language as mine

The things they taught me and the things only we know

That’s what I am made of, and I confess it, but

What can I do, how can I come clean

What kind of penance can I serve to atone, when

I’m not sorry?

Holding On vs. Letting Go

We broke up because of bread.  That’s what he’ll say.  Stupid, seedy, sandwich bread.  He went to the store, at 9:15 at night no less, to get some grocery items for me and he got the wrong bread and now we’re getting divorced.  Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s the truth, and at the same time it’s nowhere near the whole truth.  So what’s the rest of the story?

To oversimplify, he doesn’t pay attention –  to me, to the things I like, to what I eat, to whether I’m happy or sad or indifferent.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t notice.  Part of that lazy unknowing is bringing home the wrong bread and then, in the morning when I’m hungry and emotional and just want a piece of toast but I can’t have it because it’s not the right thing, he says helpful things like, “Oh, so I’m the asshole now? I got your bread.”

Of course, this story is biased towards my feelings, since I’m the author.  Is it reasonable to get so upset over being “forced” to eat the “wrong” bread?  Probably not.  Honestly, though, my hurt goes deeper than the fact that 9 times out of ten he brings the wrong grocery items home.

The bread fiasco is just one in a string of unfortunate events, each of them hurtful to me.  Each time it happens, instead of apologizing or trying to understand what is upsetting to me, he defends himself and points out my flaws.  It’s not exactly a recipe for productive conversation or progress.

Am I saying I’m blameless and my husband never gets hurt?  Not at all.  However I don’t believe he gets hurt very often, which is perhaps a benefit of being so faintly invested.  From my perspective, he has it easy.  He works all day.  He doesn’t contribute to the household in any way aside from that.  I cook the meals, clean, pay the bills, take care of school things and appointments, do all the laundry and homework, plan all the vacations and pack us for them, and so on.

I’m not a quitter.  I am, however, beginning to wonder at what point do I cut my losses?  At what point am I allowed (by society, by my parents, by my own conscience) to move towards my own healing and happiness?

We don’t have the same goals (or if we do, he doesn’t vocalize them).  I have been working on my own for a year to clean up our credit.  The most I can get out of him is a “that’s great babe” when I talk to him about it, but forget about active participation.  I’ve been hoping to purchase a home and I have spoken with mortgage lenders and realtors and he doesn’t get involved in it or even ask questions.  I plan an annual Disney trip and this year I’ve asked for help from a friend because it’s too stressful and involved for me to do on my own.  And I know that when the time comes, he will go and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and never say thank you, and never have helped with the decision making, and just thinking about this makes me cry.  I’m crying.

I want a life partner.  Someone who has dreams, someone who has a plan, someone who cherishes me.  What I don’t want is to have to drag someone along. Every day that goes by I worry I am wasting time with someone who thinks that just working is enough.  Who thinks that he shouldn’t have to hug me or buy flowers or plan date nights because he works and because I’m living off his money.  (I’ll admit that part is terrifying.  How will I live?  My job pays peanuts.)  By the same token, I’m very careful with the money and budget because I respect all that he does to earn it.  I don’t take that responsibility lightly.  A few days ago I asked if he might help me with it, at least be involved in it, and his response was that if I keep complaining about it he’ll just do it.  He’ll take over.  I don’t want him to control it, number one because he’s not great with saving and number two because I like doing it.  I honestly do.  I just need help.  I need a husband.

He is a kind person.  He’s a nice dad.  I don’t know if I’d say he’s a good dad, because he doesn’t really do things with the kids unless I make him.  Our son deserves to go fishing and hiking and to learn about being a guy, and there are things that as much as it chafes me, I cannot teach him.  But my husband isn’t teaching him either.  Again, I cry, but this time it’s hot angry tears.  My sons both deserve effort.

Maybe he’s depressed.  He has mentioned it a few times, and I’ve encouraged him to get counseling and even try medication if that’s what he thinks will help.  Has he taken any steps in that direction? No.

We’ve both made mistakes.  I planned a hypothetical lunch about 8 years ago with a guy who is a friend from high school but he saw it as me being shady.  Last Spring I found nudes on his phone of girls (plural) who aren’t me and spent a few days swallowing pieces of my heart and trying to figure out if anything I thought was real had ever truly existed.  He had an explanation. It was plausible.  After about 2 days of me moping he began acting annoyed that I wouldn’t “let it go”.  I still haven’t let it go completely, though I don’t bring it up to him.  It’s here inside me, though.

Do I worry he might read this?  Not for a moment.  Despite sharing links with him from time to time I’m reasonably sure he’s never read my blog.  I wrote a book, published it on Amazon, and shared it with him after years of being too scared to let him see any of it, and he never even looked at it.  Didn’t read one word of it.

He’s going to go the rest of his life thinking he married a crazy person who divorced him over bread.  It’s heart-breaking and frustrating.

So that’s where I am today.  Right now I’m making list a la Ross Gellar:  Reasons to stay vs. Reasons to go.  What’s better for me? For the kids? For us both?  Apologies for oversharing with my handful of readers, but this blog is a journal for me and it’s important when you feel something to speak it, and that’s what I’m doing.