2.46. The Wounded Soul – My Proudest Failure

This post is not about the many known names who have died over the course of this year from apparent suicide. Their deaths are sad and a loss to the world but there is nothing that can be done for them.  Their chances have ended. It’s sad but what can you do about it now? This is not about the unknowns who are gone from this world. Their story is no different. This is about the ones we can save. 

When I was 26, after my son was born, I suffered from postpartum depression while simultaneously suffering from an infection, which caused me to lose part of my right breast. The fake glue that was holding my doomed marriage together melted away. My world crumbled very quickly. I recall sitting in a bathroom and penning a letter to my child in which I apologized for failing him, for not being strong enough to have the desire to continue. I remember calling a crisis hotline while sitting on the curb of a dark street and telling some stranger I was a horrible piece of shit because I had a child but I wanted to die. I remember going to a hospital and asking for an evaluation. I sat in a cold, bare room, and waited for someone to tell me I was insane. After talking with Tom, he informed me I was suffering from PTSD, from events earlier in my life,  and Postpartum. When I said I wanted to die, he explained, I was simply asking to sleep…for rest…escape from pain I could not seem to get away from. I was released and attempted to pull myself out of that darkness. 

When I was eighteen, after being caught in the act, I admitted to battling Bulimia. It was a slow way out but I often hoped I would just become extremely frail and collapse and that same sleep would come. My mother told me to get over it. 

When I was 13, my father found me in our trailer in Clintondale, New York. I’d swallowed a ton of his painkillers and anything else I could find in the medicine cabinet. I was ashamed of my life. I was scared of being a nothing. I wanted to quit. 

When I was 11, I was admitted to a mental health ward, against my will (and my parents) for a mere 16 hours (a lifetime to an 11 year old btw). I’d gone in after a referral from a childhood therapist. Because I wouldn’t discuss things that were happening but implicated myself in several acts of self-harm, I was held for evaluation. I can still remember the screams and belligerent rants of those held in rooms next to me. After those 16 hours, I conned my way out of that hospital, claiming it was all an act and absolutely nothing was wrong with my home life. I learned how to lie on that day. 

When I was 5, a sibling found me on the ledge of our apartment window. When asked why I was up there, I said I wanted to die. My mother beat the ever-living piss out of me and sent me to bed. 

I have tried to die, thought of dying, hoped for dying…TOO MANY times in my life. I’ve purposefully put myself in dangerous situations, in the hopes that I would find release. Through those years and failed attempts…I never found it. 

I’m not telling you this because I want pity. Because I want you to think I’m epic and strong for “surviving.” I don’t know why I wanted to die from such a young age. I don’t know why I wasn’t “built” to better deal with the hardships of life. I don’t know why the unknown seemed so much better. 

What I do know are two things. 

  1. I was already dead. My body didn’t have to perish. TRULY, I believe I was a walking tomb. My son gave me my soul. I still struggle. I still panic. I’m still a hot mess. But I have never hoped for another breath the way I do now…as I have my son in my life. 
  2. Someday, I will die. I will not try. It will be against my will. And I will not want it to happen. I will feel pain as it all slips away because I will not see the tomorrows of my child, his children, the life I will miss. Someday, I will not have a choice. 

All of that being said…

I AM NOT AN EXPERT but I know the helplessness. I know the desperation. I know that feelings of sad hope that the damn phone will ring and someone…ANYONE will pull me back from the ledge and say, “I care about you. Please don’t go.” We all want to know that someone wants us to stay. That someone NEEDS us to stay. That our fire lights another persons world. We all need a reason to have no desire to step on that ledge. It’s ALL about love. 

The trauma that happened in my life, very early on, stunted my growth in MANY ways (so the doctors say). There are many times that I am stuck back in that mind frame of a child and I am terrified. I am frail. I am lost. It’s a fight to not go back there. To train my brain that I’m not reliving those traumas. That things are not repeating themselves. That I am capable of dealing with it IF they are. 

I am telling you all of this because we all know someone who struggles. Who is fighting. Who may be too quiet. May say the wrong things. May lash out at the smallest occurrence. May come off so angry. May push people away. May be an emotional punching bag. May live a lifestyle that is reckless. May be unaware that they are begging for help. May be pleading for rescue in their eyes but not their words. 

If you are that person…tell someone. ANYONE. Talk until your blue in the face. But keep talking. If you’re talking…you aren’t dead. AND THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. If you know someone like that…listen. Listen and really hear. You don’t need to fix it all. Just listen. Sometimes, that is all a wounded soul needs. 

Dear Suicide – I am proud to have failed you. 

Sincerely not yours…this girl. 

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1.133 – The Price She Pays

She can forgive those who hurt her the most but she can’t forgive herself for mistakes made and wrong paths taken. For dreams unfulfilled and thoughts to be had. She can’t forgive herself for sins she never committed and crimes she never saw but she will hug the demons that ripped at her soul, that egged her on as she sat under the droplets of a long cold shower…a pile of pills soggy at her feet.

She can forgive those who hurt her the most but she can’t forgive herself for the lost time and the aged bruises upon distant faces in unforeseen times of crisis. For the desire of her heart that burns like a trickling ember down a slope of sand. She can’t forgive herself for acts of weakness and moments of vulnerability that ended in a dreaded stalemate but she will forgive the taunting of enemies she now dines beside.

She can forgive those who hurt her the most but she can’t forgive herself for the whimsical thoughts of escape into a time and space when she could matter and mean and know and feel and love and be loved and grow and prosper and be recognized for more than the wickedness that spews from her mouth.

To run away from who she is into a storm cloud of who she could be…atonement…to nod and smile and accept the foe as a friend because no one else will know her name beyond bitch or slut or hey you or loudmouth or mistake or why are you still here. Redemption.

She can forgive those who hurt her the most but she can’t forgive herself for being born and breathing and wasting time and wasting space and not being smart enough and not being skinny enough and not being funny enough and not being glamourous enough and not being innocent enough and not being beautiful enough and not being sexual enough and not being enough enough enough enough enough

Worthy, special, wonderful, vibrant, brilliant, magical, hypnotizing, tempting, amazing, captivating

She can forgive those who hurt her the most but she can’t forgive herself and so she is willing to walk a mile…a million miles in shoes she doesn’t want to wear just for the sake of being…someone.

1.132 – Turmoil

The art slips away from me…a mind boggled with an abundance of questions. Stories and ideas sit on the back burner when, in all actuality, they should be at the forefront. Reflecting on life is a reminder of a failed one…what could not be saved is what leads me to this tailspin of uncertainty.

Don’t let anyone fool you; divorce takes two people. I swallow the pill in knowing that I wasn’t my best to make my marriage work…I wasn’t strong enough to encourage it to evolve instead of perish. And in the aftermath of realizing that…I sit here as a broken woman. I am broken because I was apart of something that could not last, could not beat the odds. I am broken because I am faced with making even more difficult decisions. I am broken because I could not guarantee my son a unified front.

My spirit is ready to make the move, to return to my birthplace, to start my life anew, to create a life I want to live. My mind is fogged with the concern for others, for the connections that may suffer if things don’t go as planned, for the worry that I am…yet again…not making the right decision. My heart breaks because, as much as I want to be fair…I can’t imagine being apart from my son for a day…a single day…that far apart.

This whole scenario makes me want to break things and spit and curse and banish all smiling faces. If I was a man and I was offered a job far away…the move would make sense. It would seem justified. I’m doing what needs to be done to provide. But I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I can’t give my child up…even for three month periods. What kind of person am I?

Is the opportunity to make more money and be closer to a family source a justified reason to sacrifice six months of the year with my child? Shouldn’t I be able to find a way to be happy and accomplished exactly where I am? What does it say about me if I can’t? Do I stay where I am for the sake of my son if it means I am not happy as an individual?

I’m crushed. Because I feel like there is no middle ground. I’m either selfish or settling to remain as I am. This person I despise. So many would say that my child should be enough. Is there something wrong with me if I want…more? And I feel like the biggest piece of shit on the face of the earth for writing that last sentence. But I want to be more so I can give more. Even still…it feels wrong to feel.

I don’t think I’m strong enough to make this decision. But by not making a decision…haven’t I already decided? I am broken and it is taking all of the fight left in me to not curl up in a ball and hope for the moment when I whither away. In this case, there is no good decision. And I don’t know if I can live with that.

1.129 – A Million Petals

“Someone gave you flowers”

When I was in middle school, I had a really grouchy music teacher named Ms. Diaz. This woman scared the ever living piss out of me and everyone else I knew. But she loved what she did. And that was making us sing and dance like friggen smiley puppets. For our first performance, we had to sing some god awful song that I can’t even remember. But that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that my parents didn’t show up. Yeah, that sucked.

The second performance of the year was the holiday set, which I was unbelievably excited for. My father was a self-proclaimed JewBan (Jewish and Cuban) and I was thrilled to have learned “This is Hanukkah.” The curtain went up and I was ready. We sang several holiday songs and I could see my mother and my father sitting toward the back. We’d just finished a set and the Hanukkah song was next. And that’s when my mother stood up, whacked my father on the shoulder and made her way out of the auditorium. Trying not to cry, I watched my father follow my mother out of the crowded venue. “It’s not really my thing,” she’d explained later. My father apologized when she was out of earshot. Yeah, that sucked too.

My mother and I fought the morning of my senior graduation. She’d called my father some awful names and I came to his defense. She slipped into the typical martyr act and hooped and hollered about how I showed her no love or respect…how I only regarded my father as if he were a saint. We went to my graduation and I left my parents in the car. The music played and I made my way to my seat. I got in line to receive my diploma and noticed that my father sat alone. My mothers seat was empty. When I got onstage, I looked around the gymnasium…only to notice my mother standing by the back entrance for a second. And then she walked away. Right before my name was called. Yeah, that sucked.

When I was in college, I was elated to get the role of Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. I invited my mother. Why, I still don’t know. She called with 20 minutes to showtime saying she couldn’t make it because she was in the hospital after suffering a stroke. “Well, you sound fine,” I’d said. “Well, I don’t feel fine.” The show must go on. And it did. After the show, I called my mothers friend…to check in on her progress. “What do you mean hospital? I just got off the phone with her…um…she’s been at her boyfriends.” By the way, opening night was my birthday. Yeah, that blowed.

What the hell does any of this have to do with flowers?

Nothing.

And everything.

Before he passed away, my best friend used to listen to me talk…allowed me the chance to vent and babble on about these types of moments in my life. He listened until there was nothing left to say. And then, he’d say the same thing: “Here’s a flower.” It was an imaginary flower…a figurative flower.

The first time, I asked what the hell was I supposed to do with a pretend flower and I am trying to tell you why I am upset and you are not being a very good friend right now you butthead.

I’m giving you a flower, he said, because you cannot see the beauty in the world. You are too fixated on picking apart everything until all you see if something of uselessness…of ugliness. Even in the bad, there is good. I’m giving you this flower so you can pick at it to your hearts content…and then you can let it go.

He gave me a field of flowers.

But he was right. In every performance, I got to perform…despite seats being empty. In graduating, I reached a goal so many in my family did not. In theater, I got to play a part I respected and worked hard to get. I did not see the beauty and wonder of each moment because I allowed myself to tear it apart and fixate solely on the negative of it all.

Very shortly before he died, my BFF said something that sticks with me even now. “I hope there comes a time when I never have to give you a flower again. Not because I don’t want to but because you will have no reason to pick any petals away.”

A time when I can just admire the beauty and find no reason to dwell on the bad. Sadly, I think I live in that field…continuously dwelling, worrying that something terrible is just around the corner. Because things don’t go well…can’t go well for people like me.

Despite a lifetime of being a Nervous Nelly…I hope there comes a day when I can walk in my field of flowers…and just enjoy the view.

Prompt taken from A Creative Writers Kit by Judy Reeves

1.123 – The Letter

To my beautiful baby girl….. On Feb-16-1984 I gave birth to you in an unconventional manner. First you came into this world too soon and too little, weighing only 6 pounds and 1 ounce. At 6am in the morning, after they made the incision in my stomach, I didn’t care I just wanted to look at you and hold you. But I only had a glimpse and I kissed your head. You stared at me and I felt small. It didn’t matter that you weren’t a boy at all only that you were so small. My love for you knew no height. My guilt was even greater. Why did it happen? How did it happen? When you were inside of me I loved you, I didn’t take good care and that was wrong but no amount of self indignation can ease this pain. The next day I went to see you and I knew fear. And I prayed. God please…don’t punish me this way…its not her fault she’s so tiny, It’s mine. Tears wouldn’t make it better but every time I see you they just come out. It hurts because you’re so special. I dont want to lose you. I’m so afraid I wish that I could take your place and let me go through the agonies that you are going through now.  I need to hold you very very bad. I need to kiss your tiny body, to hug you tight. I want to give you my life, every ounce of breath. Please….fight because if anything happens to you, some part of me will die. Please….understand that I love all of my daughters the same but you U love all the more. And every time I visit you without ….incubator and see you all I have put you through I want to break every damn thing around me. And those needle marks do not help to make mother better. Love, today I visited you and saw that you had gained a tiny portion of weight but you were under that infernal light and I still had no pride because I shouldnt have allowed for you to be brought into this world so easily in time and with so little defenses.  …..you’re my last child. The baby of the lot and I don’t care that you’re my fourth girl only that you’re health improves and you come home but until you are really stable, I will have to be able to leave this pain and need to hold you. 

This is the first page of a four page letter my mother wrote to me after I was born. It is a letter that I have kept for 28 years. It is a letter I can’t force myself to throw away. It is the letter that tortures me. Angers me. Saddens me. For so many years, I couldn’t figure out why my mother had so much guilt. What had she done to be so remorseful for? It took many years and many conversations to figure out. Someone recently said it was hard to believe that I had avoided a drug infested life because of the odds against me. This is true. I was a junkie before I understood what walking was. My mother brought me into this world dependent on her drugs and alcohol. Her addictions forced my out of the womb, into a world that wasn’t ready for me. And a world, based on my many months in the hospital, that I wasn’t ready to be apart of. For so many years, I thought I should have been a boy. I needed to hold on to as many masculine attributes as possible. Because thats what everyone really wanted…what everyone really would have loved. It’s okay you weren’t a boy…doth thou protest too much. This letter saddened me for a really long time…how could this apologetic woman never really love me? Forsake me for any man that looked her way? Ignore the mental/physical/emotional anguish I was battling? Inflict so many scars? But now this letter just angers me. I am not a perfect mother. But I will not knowingly inflict pain upon my light and then say my bad. If my son says someone touched him – I will believe him. If my son needs me – I will be there. I will love my son unconditionally without trying to live his life. I will not inject my son with poison. Period. This letter gets me all fucked up. But I hold onto it as a reminder. Of what not to be. A reminder of why I fight every single day. A reminder of my goals, my duties, my privileges. Some days, I question whether my son was blessed or cursed with having me as his mother. But this letter pushes me to be the best damned mother I can be. That was the best mother she could be. Was it good? No. Was it right? No. Did it hurt? Yes. Does it still hurt? Of course. Am I a fucked up 28 year old because I have mommy issues? Probably. Will my love for my son surpass my hatred for those who abandoned me? Ya damn right it will. I wasn’t planned. I wasn’t wanted. I may not be wanted now. I’m okay with that. Because this life aint about me. Never was. Never will be. This life…this one is for my boy.

1.118 – Searching For Something

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it – kushandwisdom.tumblr

Someone posted this today on Facebook and it caught my attention, with good reason. Self reflection is a bitch. A bitch I don’t like but one that is continuously all up in my face.

The other day, I had an allergic reaction to food I should not have eaten. It wasn’t that serious – easily fixed with three shots. It was actually quite embarrassing. No one wants to be THAT person in the middle of the scene. Jesus H. Christ, just give me a pill and Ill be fine…and stop poking me with shit. No, I don’t want to pay far too much money for a two minute ambulance ride. It all seems very silly – people have heart attacks. People have seizures. My throat burned and tightened up and I had trouble breathing. A couple of hours later and I’m doped up, passed out on my couch.

All I could think about was my son. I’m not supposed to go out like this. I’m not suppose to stop breathing because of a piece of fruit. My son is at daycare and expects my ass to be there, bright and vibrant at 5:30. But the fact of the matter is…if something did happen to me…something triggered by bad footing, eating the wrong thing…a life changing moment unforeseen by anyone…life will go on. With or without me.

I can tell myself that I have all the time in the world to get my shit together. To reach my goals. To pull my head out of my ass and face the demon that is my self deprecating low self-esteem…but I don’t. I might only have today. I might only have this hour. I might only have this minute.

Will I teach my son…will my legacy be that I was a quitter? That his light wasn’t bright enough to push me through the dark hours? Fuck that noise.

I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what my career is supposed to be. I don’t know if I’m ever supposed to be an accomplished writer. I don’t know if I’m supposed to ever be in love again. I don’t know why I’ve beat the odds as many times as I have. I don’t know why I let my fears get the best of me.

I may never know that magic of love with another adult. I may never get beyond working at the level I’m at. I may never be on a bookshelf. Those are all maybes. But what is certain is that I’m going to die someday. SOME DAY. But I’m breathing today. I have a voice today. I have feelings today. I have thoughts today. I have love for this life in my heart today. I can teach my son something today.

I’m not dead yet. So I need to stop acting like it.

I laid in that ER room and scrolled through my phone, searching for someone to come and get me. “Do you have a ride,” the nurse asked a million times. And I was ashamed. Because I didn’t. Because if something had happened to me…who the hell would they call? Who would answer the phone? Yeah, I’ve got friends. Yeah, I’ve got family. But who would…who could drop it all for me? Staring at my phone…scrolling aimlessly…that was hard. Realizing I havent made that deep of an impression…

But hell if someone didn’t help me out. And I’m grateful. I may not have any ONE person who would drop the world for me. But I have ONE that I would drop the world for. And if that meant walking to my car, drugged up and all, I would have.

I’m not dead yet. So I need to stop acting like it.

I’ve still got time to make that impression. To be the light to others that my son is to me. I don’t know how. But…I want to figure it out. That, alone, is a step toward something.

Something more meaningful. Something connected. Something magical. Something worthwhile. Something better.

1.117 – I Quit

On my way home from work, I got to thinking about my writing.

Where the hell is this going? Is it going anywhere at all?

The answers are simple: I don’t know and no. That being said, I start reflecting on why the hell nothing is going nowhere. And I reflect on my own bitter, emotional moment of the day.

It sucks when you feel like people see you for your negative attributes. I float in the ongoing punchline of me being the mean girl. Maybe its’ funny. Shit, maybe it’s true. But I really don’t want to be the mean girl. I’m just extremely sarcastic and extremely…blunt at times. Label it rude, obnoxious, neurotic. Maybe I’m making up for years of living in the damned shadows…I don’t know.

I’m probably all of those negative things and more. But I’d like to be better. My writing is nothing but I’d like it to be more. I’d like to know more than five people are reading this damned blog. I’d like to see my writing flourish into something worth sharing. I’d like to be considered a talent, a person worth knowing, something more than a late night secret friend. Yeah, I said it. Because I know that’s what I am to people. Someone worth knowing in the daytime at a distance and someone worth talking to late at night when no one else is available. My writing is what people read because…well fuck if I know why people read any of this. It’s about the same as me wondering why the hell people waste their time…AND MINE…talking to me.

It’s all a crock, really. It’s all made up. It’s all a badly written work of fiction. It’s all maybes and what-ifs, coulda woulda shouldas and false precedents.

I want to edit Dream Catchers. That will probably never happen. I want to complete Euphoric Damnation…which is on an indefinite pause because the concept sounded good about 5 months ago but now just seems to be a stupid ass story. I want to write a trilogy called Windows – one story told from his perspective, one from her perspective and the final one being the truth. I want to write a humor piece – one story done in several genre formats. I want to re-write Lullaby – a play set in in the voice of suicide and the victim. I want to write Killing Off Allison. I want to compile my poetry and finish The Dark Room. I want, I want, I want…to write, to write, to write…

BUT

I wont do any of it. Because I’m one of those fucking people. I’m all talk. Because attempting at putting these ideas to paper will force me to realize that I’m a fake. I’m no fucking writer. I’m just one of those people who spews out ideas. And the majority of them suck ass.

I want people to think better of me. I want to be valued for what’s in this mind of mine. I want there to be a reason I am the way I am. I thought writing was my justification. But maybe…no, I’m pretty sure…there is no justification. I’m just not what I thought I was. I’m nobody…babbling on about nothing. I’m a con artist – making you believe I’m strong, smart, pretty, artistic, confidant, secure. But I am none of those things. I am a weakling, screaming for acceptance at the top of my lungs. The problem is…no one seems to hear me. Or maybe they do. Which is by far the worst of fates.

Maybe this is just a majorly self-deprecating emo moment. But for the first time in 20 years, I’m almost certain it’s time to give this shit up. My fear of rejection obviously outweighs my desire to live the dream. Story of my fucking life. The self doubt is debilitating. And I’m over feeling like a crippled woman, friend, artist. I just want to fade into the backdrop and pretend it never mattered.

My love affair with writing is over.

That’s it. I quit. I’m moving on. (Thanks Sam Cooke).

1.96 – Fighting The Good Fight

At face value, she is a drama queen.

Cowering in the corner, she is a shattered dream.

Like anyone else, I have bad days. Unlike everybody else, I have extremely dark bad days. This is not to say I’m the only one. This is to say, there are normal people who don’t think their light is snuffed out because of hard times.

And yet, this is how my brain works. A small stress is just an ember, growing on a dry patch of grass, engulfing trees and landscape, wreaking havoc upon every possible dream and stamping a big fat, emblazoned failure sign in the darkness. One worry is stacked along with many until a house of cards comes tumbling down and I feel like I’m drowning. Drowning in a pool of confusion, self-annihilation and full blown panic attacks.

I cant remember the first time I had one. I thought everyone felt the way I felt when they were scared. Until these attacks happened when I was not in danger, when things weren’t so bad, when no harm was close. Palms sweating, my heart racing, tears overflowing, head spinning, and the inability to breathe…I am a wreck. I can only describe it as an emotional ocean that sucks you under and you suddenly forgot how to swim against the tide. That part of you gets stuck on stupid and you’re helpless physically, though mentally you’re screaming bloody fucking murder because you don’t want to lay down and die.

Before yesterday, the last time I’d had one was the day my father died. And that shit was expected…the attack..not the death. Yesterday, on the other hand – was just a wave of sudden grief. Everything looks bleak, the sun isn’t going to shine and I’ve plummeted to my lowest low. There really is no rescuing me in this dark space. Because my brain has all of the answers…even though it’s wrong.

In that panic, I am the ugliest, poorest, most worthless excuse of a mother. I am a sorry excuse of a woman. I am a failure as a human being. A waste of space.

And then I am on land again. And I recognize that I still feel those dark feelings but I have the strength to battle each demon like a knight with a sword…sent to slay the unslayable dragon. I don’t think unslayable is a word…I don’t give two shits, quite frankly. It is now.

The panic steals my air. The dragon rests its unforgiving claws against my windpipes and I struggle, with tears in my eyes and my sons name at my lips. Because he’s my reason to fight the beasts. The darkness. The demons. The hell that lay in the corners of my mind.

I probably sound like I’m batty as all hell. I’m not. I’m living proof that ignoring things for a sense of pride, in childhood, is pointless. Because some of us are just born differently, mentally. Some of us have distorted images of ourselves. Some of us struggle to feel less alien and more like the world. Some of us pop a pill and talk out our problems and still fear the dark. Some of us fight attacks and episodes. Some of us cringe when people make bi-polar jokes. Because we know you’d only laugh. Because you think we are fucking nuts. Because you think we want to be this way. And some of us just don’t give a fuck anymore who understands us. Not all of us want empathy, sympathy, pity.

Some of us just want to slay the dragon. To protect our kin from the demons that danced with our limp bodies. To negate the cycle from repeating itself. To stop pretending that if we don’t talk about it, it will go away. Because it won’t. It is the bear that hibernates. It is the beast the lurks with patience. It is the monster that we continuously turn our heads to look out for. It is the scar upon our souls. It is the damage that was done…the wound that will not heal…no matter how many band-aids the world wants to slap on the hideous reminder.

The panic attacks used to scare me. Now, they just remind me that I’m still alive. I will push away those who I feel will not understand. I hide from those who will shun me. I fake the smile for those I hope wont. I used to say I wished my battle was like Cancer because then people would understand and not assume it was all an exaggeration. But I don’t need people to understand in order to fight the good fight. I just need to remind myself that I now have the best damned reason to continue the battle – my boy.

My son keeps me alive.