Taunts of Absolution : 30 Days of Truth

Day 4 : Something you have to forgive someone for.

In years past, my relationship with my parents was far beyond dysfunctional. Although we are building a mutually respectful relationship as adults, I do not feel as if I am considered a daughter. I am a family friend, the mother of their grandson. That extraordinarily detrimental relationship created a schism too great to have a distinct parent-child relationship. I have resigned myself to the notion that I will never be my parents daughter, and they will never be my mother and father.

I have touched upon the subject in prior posts, One Day, I’m Going to Grow Wings, Spitting Fire, and The Real Demons. Mostly, I fear I will remain unable to absolve them of the responsibility for the suffering they caused me, directly and indirectly.

I have to question every aspect of my childhood. The problem arises, because I don’t remember the greater majority of my childhood prior to age twelve. I could never figure out the reason for such an impenetrable block. It was only very recently that I discovered the numerous reasons for such incredible repression.

My brother has moderate autism. My mother was a raging alcoholic. And my father is a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As if that wasn’t dysfunctional enough, it accumulated into an overall bad home life. I have fragmented memories, drudged up by raising my own son.

My father was largely absent prior to age twelve. Most of his time was spent in the psychiatric ward in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. And when he released back home, he isolated himself from the family. I was far too young to understand what was happening. All I knew was that my daddy was sick, and he was never going to get any better. To me, it felt like my daddy didn’t love me. He didn’t love any of us.

required special accommodations. I was lonely, and felt as if I were nonexistent to them. Completely transparent in their world. I did everything I could for recognition. My grades were perfect, and my standardized scores were well into the 98th percentile. I had taught myself my instrument in one summer and My parents were busy handling my brother. He had special needs that ]gained first chair. My attendance in Sunday School was spotless, and I was a devout Episcopalian. What more could a parent ask for in their own daughter?

All of these achievements bred resentment among my classmates, and they alienated me from their social groups. My mother made it crystal clear when I was just a little girl that she had no desire to play with me. My brother was nowhere near my level of functioning to participate in games. I spent many nights in solitude, alone in my room with only my dolls and stuffed animals.

When I began middle school, I finally began to make friends. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! Finally, I wouldn’t be so alone. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of friendship and all of the wonderful kinship it entailed.

It was short lived. Only a year later, I began to suffer my first symptoms of bipolar disorder.

And that is the precise time my father emerged from his decade long hibernation. The man was disgusted with everything about me. He was certainly a far cry from shy about vocalizing his opinions. The criticisms ranged from my appearance, to my friends, to my music, and my hobbies. I was hurt. It was more evidence to strengthen my theory of his lack of love for me, as I was, instead of his idea of me.

I was also enraged. Who was he to come bursting into my life after so many years of absence?

He was merciless in his punishments. The greater majority of my teen years were spent incarcerated in the very same room I was isolated in as a girl. These were typically for minor infractions – “talking back” (which I considered to be expressing an opinion), disrespect, messy room, “feigning illness”, lying, etc. All because I wanted some independence and to assert myself as an individual.

In heated arguments, he would rough me up. He was careful not to do this when my mother was around, or leave any evidence. One time, I called him an asshole. Insistently, he got in my face and demanded I take a free swing at him. I refused. It would only provide him with an opportunity to lay his hands on me.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. He grabbed my throat in one hand and pinned me against the wall, and lifted me high into the air. I tried to scream, but there was not enough air in my lungs. He screamed in my face, leaving me soaked in spit. He let me go, and I crumpled to the ground, nearly in tears.

I won’t cry. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

My mother found an even better excuse to take figurative and literal swings at me. She’d get belligerently drunk and deliberately provoke me. I would attempt escape, but there was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even allowed the privacy of a door on my room.

There was an instance where she followed me around the house, insulting me as I went. I begged her to leave me alone. I attempted escape to somewhere, anywhere I could possibly manage in the house. I ended up heading to my room, of course. She taunted me, saying, “You’re just a lot of fucking talk, you little bitch. I’ll teach you a lesson about that mouth of yours.”

She swung at me, and caught me across my right jaw. Instinctively, I pulled my right hand back, and swung down toward her face, backhanding her as hard as I could. Disoriented by the blow, she stumbled backward, nearly falling down a flight of stairs. (It wasn’t the first time, and wouldn’t be the last). I grabbed her arm and pulled her forward to standing.

A look of shock and malice spread across her face as she spewed, “Just wait until I tell your father.”

So many things were said. Hurtful, awful things.

My father:

This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator!

I wish you were never born!

How dare you defy me, you little bitch!

Go on! Run up to your room and play that gloomy noise you call music. I dare you to cut yourself! Cut to your hearts content, I don’t give a shit!

My mother:

You are the little bitch that ruined my life!

Go on out there and be the little slut that you are.

I am ashamed to even take you out in public.

If it weren’t for you, your father and I would never fight. You’re going to tear our family apart. I hope you’re happy.

These haunting words still have a faint echo in certain corridors of my mind.

- Staind

I cried out for help. I was dismissed as spoiled, going through a phase, and attention-seeking. I did need attention. By the time I was in high school, I had attempted suicide twice and was cutting at least weekly. And still, they turned a blind eye to it. I had to force their hand to get the help I needed. I can’t help but feel if they were more involved, they would have noticed my behavior was amiss. They failed to get me diagnosed correctly.

For a great duration, I held them accountable for my screwed up mind. In my eyes, all of the neglect and abuse made me crazy. I went on to have dysfunctional and abusive relationships. I was devoid of self-esteem and vulnerable. My baggage would have been too much to check at the airport.

As I have grown, I have come the realization that certain things were beyond their capacity for parenting. They could not have been better parents, given the circumstances. It’s not as if there weren’t moments where they tried. By that point, the damage had been done.

I have tried desperately to forgive them for those awful behaviors. But, each time I find myself getting close, another hurtful experience comes to pass, reviving old memories that I relive in my mind over and over again. Some scars will never fade. I can never forget. But perhaps, one day, I will have the capacity to forgive all of their wrongdoings.

Medicine from The Doctor

As of late, my disappearing act has largely been a result of the longest running series on television and the largest Sci-Fi franchise in the United Kingdom.  Some of my fellow Sci-Fi geeks may have already guessed it.  If you don’t know, then you may just be living under a rock.  I have been obsessed with Doctor Who.

At first, it started out pretty innocuously.  I am an avid Sci-Fi fan, raised in a family of Trekkies and long-time Doctor Who fans.  I recall my parents watching Doctor Who weekly in the evenings.  It would bore me to death and I’d end up going to bed early.  I detested it’s airing.  And now, I’m hooked.

Why the sudden change of heart?

Imagine watching this brilliant, lovely, quirky man traveling through time and space with his various companions.  It’s quite a spectacle to behold.  Alternate universes, twisting story lines, all contingent upon past and present events.  Even events that occur in the future that are yet to happen come into play.  When you are with The Doctor, anything is possible.  That’s the beauty of Doctor Who.

Today, I found myself searching for a sonic screwdriver replica for C.S.  He, too, is absolutely obsessed with the show.  In fact, he was so enthralled by it that he went out and bought a Doctor Who-esque coat.  I wanted to try to get him one for Christmas, but there’s no way that’s going to happen.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

In the meantime, I sidetracked with the plethora of Doctor Who backstory that exists from the previous series.  I came upon a timeline of the history of the various incarnations of The Doctors, when they appeared in the series, and who their companions were at the time.

In fact, there was a clever graphic I found:

Doctor Hoo!

And then I saw it.  The 4th Doctor, Tom Baker.  I remembered Tom Baker very vividly from my childhood.  He was the only Doctor that ever existed to me.  He had this curly, puffy hair, smashed down by a fedora he wore.  And there was the long, autumn colored scarf.  It was tangled all over the place and hung to the ground.  He was quite a character.

I was prattling on and on about my recent Doctor Who findings to C.S. in the van-buggy when POOF! – the realization hit me.  Certain things about this man had been subconsciously affecting me for years.  The scarves.  I’ve always been obsessed with the multicolored scarves.  And the coats.  There is nothing more sexy on a man than a trench coat.  There was always this idea in my head that quirkiness and eccentricity were preferred traits.  It conveyed a certain cleverness, imagination, and intelligence.

The 4th Doctor has been there all along!  The only thing that brought it to the surface was my admiration and fascination with the 10th Doctor.  Fantastic!

But, I can’t help but wonder – what else has Doctor Who left subconsciously dormant in my mind?

What secrets lie beyond?

High School Never Ends: Unfair Game

Sing it again!

Four years you think for sure
That’s all you’ve got to endure
All the total dicks
All the stuck up chicks
So superficial, so immature
Then when you graduate
You take a look around and you say HEY WAIT!
This is the same as where I just came from!
I thought it was over!
Aww that’s just great!

I had theorized for years that high school was boot camp for life. Some people are assigned to the hot zone, and others end up behind a desk. And most of the time, just like in the military, you don’t end up in the place you signed up for. Usually, the place you end up wasn’t quite as bad as training.

I was mistaken.

High school is actually the kiddie pool for life.

When I was in high school, all I wanted was to graduate and get the eff out of there. In fact, I wanted out so badly that I dropped out at 17, entered the pilot cyber-charter school, and finished out 11th grade that way. The only reason I was coaxed back to my high school was the fact that I could enroll in five music classes and only needed one gym. It was way better than the option of a purely academic senior year.

I missed a record amount of days that year. A whopping sixty-two, when the fail limit was twenty-one. I missed almost three times the maximum amount. I actually missed one day over half of the school year.

(It was a miracle I graduated at all).

Yes, I had a severe case of senioritis. It was more than that. The whole ordeal of high school made me ill. It was a jungle of mini-adults, preying on one another in the attempt to establish social superiority. All for what? To be openly adored and envied by many and secretly despised by everyone that was trampled?

I was easy prey, far down the food chain of the high school food chain. Don’t be mistaken. I was not at the very bottom. I created a new breed of outcast and made it fashionable. It was a fabulous alternative to being hated for being a poser. I flaunted my flaws in hilarious self-loathing. It was quite a show to behold. Best of all, I helped push it so far from popular culture that it was enticing. A geeky, intelligent rebel? Who knew?!

It caught on. This was before emos existed, during the time of goths. I was neither. Sure, I was adorned with black clothes covered in pins. But, I was determined to give a permanent home on the social ladder to every kid that didn’t quite fit the mould. I wanted to challenge every social norm, and show everyone that different was actually better.

Just that alone put me in the line of fire. But what could they possibly gossip about that I hadn’t already broadcasted myself? I was poor as hell! My family was an absolute wreck! It was clear to see that I was a fat band geek. My wild eyes glared at the cliques behind thick lenses. Plainly said, I was a crazy freakshow!

I lied. I smiled when people gossiped about me. I’m too poor to afford new clothes every school year. I’m a whore, because I have sex. I see a crazy doctor and take crazy meds. My mother is a drunk, my brother is a tard, and my father is crazier than me. I don’t actually have friends, I have followers and worshippers. I acted like I fed on it, and turned to preach to my flock to do the same.

Truthfully, I felt like less than garbage. There was a drop of truth in every story. I felt ugly and ostracized. I didn’t like people’s perceptions of me, but I knew I never would. I should at least put on a show! Turn your own self-loathing and insecurities into something inspirational to some and controversial for most. It worked for Howard Stern, right?

Every jock, priss, prom queen, cheerleader, dancer and intellectual took their own shots at me. We were so far removed toward the end that it didn’t really affect me anymore. The shots from the artists, thespians, and fellow musicians hurt the most. You would think there would be at least a little bit of camaraderie. I suppose it is every (wo)man for themselves in the urban jungle.

I didn’t even plan on walking at graduation. My plan was to finish finals and disappear into the ether. But, parents get what parents want. I walked across that stage decorated with honors, and extreme gratitude that all of that was behind me.

Today, I learned that it is still exists, maybe even more so, right ahead of me.

Perfectionists Anonymous

We're all guilty of this at one point or another.

Hello, my name is Lulu. And I am a perfectionist.

I have at least six half-written posts ready to roll out. Each contains explanations of what has been going on in my life lately. Yes, I’m aware that nearly a week has elapsed since I posted anything.

Why don’t I release any of them? Because, they aren’t quite right. None of them are actually completed. And every time I read them, I deem that there are entirely too many non sequitur tangents, and start editing. Before you know it, I pulled the wrong thread and the whole thing unraveled! Well, sh*t!

At least I know that I’m getting closer to returning to my original condition. You see, I was born into this world as a perfectionist. It is one of those . . . (dropped the word. Thanks Lamictal!), neurotic tics in my very DNA, bred into one generation after another since the beginning of time.

During the big bang, a collection of cosmic dust got together and became determined on being perfect. In evolution, this was found as a specific enzyme that became a tiny molecule in long DNA sequences. From an amoeba, all the way through vertebrates, into the homo genus, it settled into my first line of ape ancestors 9 million years ago. This was the same ape you saw engaging in curious behavior of sorting leaves for no specific reason. Later, it was the caveman who etched, and then went back to attempt to re-etch cave drawings. Today, it’s a genetic line, mostly comprised of dark blonde Scottish women, that are consumed with the urge to perfect everything.

I hope you could find that as amusing as I did. That was exactly one of those sidebars I was describing. But, since I have deemed this a stream of consciousness post, I can write whatever pops out. Now, I want you to do something for me. Locate the little red X at the top right of your screen. If this gets to be a little too Woody Allen-esque or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you have your option. Otherwise, note the comment section below.

Back on track, or thereabouts. This started earlier than I have memory. When I was four, I recall the need to conquer everything I hadn’t yet mastered, but I was aware of. My handwriting was always meticulous. That was until I learned that handwriting is not meant to be uniform and is unique to each person. Of course, this happened during the “I am Unique, Hear Me Roar!” phase all teenagers eventually go through. For me, it was more like the discovery of self-loathing in depression that causes complete defeat and perpetuates the cycle of self-loathing.

Here’s where I’m going.

I do not have OCD. Okay, maybe I have some tendencies, but it doesn’t cause me significant dysfunction. I do have a threshold for this. Eventually, I’ll get too frustrated, throw my hands up in the air, and scream, “F**k it!”, as I’m seen setting the proverbial (or actual) fire to the whole thing. (Note: I am not an arsonist. I think. Define arsonist.)

Joking!

That’s pretty much what happened to me. Bipolar disorder probably put the stop to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Before, I was obsessed with perfecting skills and creations. I actually remember my life before Bipolar Disorder! Granted, I was only eleven and younger, but it did exist!

Then, I became distracted with myself. My feelings, my consciousness, my cognition, and my world. It was all about me. I went around with the blow torch and sledgehammer and demolished everything. Because, if it came from me, then it was flawed in design from its origins. It was as flawed as I was.

And for a very long time, I went through a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies through self-sabotage. I carry an inherent flaw. Time to get to the incinerator!

But, as years of treatment have ticked by and the medicine has coursed through my veins, I began a process of ecdysis (look it up, I’m not linking it, I’m busy). I don’t consider this a process of reversion. But, it is not synonymous with metamorphosis, because I am not coming out of the cocoon as a different being. It is something different entirely.

I am moving in a corkscrew fashion down a time line that is supposed to be linear. It is only linear in the sense that one can draw lines down the outside of the corkscrew to find a correlation between that snap shot and the next at the point of intersection in the corkscrew.

So, here I am. A whole month of bipolar of stability. The longest point in my treatment that I have experienced this. And if I were idly questioned, I’d remark that I hardly feel stable. My life is a hectic mess right now. But hey, when is anything hectic organized? Pristine chaos – HA! But, my emotions are solid, though they rattle. Is this what non-Dx people feel like?

Now, I’m busy, so I’m going to stop writing now. Have a lovely day.

Tarnished and Golden Friday

Lulu Quirk #5 – extreme claustrophobia. Large crowds in tight spaces are the easiest way to set off a panic attack capable of anything. Black Friday might be the scariest day of the year. Every year, I reserve this day for hunkering down in the bunker and waiting it out, like people wait out a snow storm.

The Suit Strikes Again
The bad news started early that day. C.S. spoke with our lawyer. The plaintiff lawyered up, and now, the driver of the vehicle is claiming personal injury. (The owner and the driver are not the same person).

What bull! When I arrived on the scene, C.S. was sitting on the curb with and unfocused stare. His glasses had been lost, and no one even bothered to attempt to locate them! One leg was extended and swollen with bruising. It was clear he was hurt, and yet they let him just sit on the ground.

And she’s claiming personal injury!? Complete lies. When I arrived, she and her male friend (still not the owner) were jumping up and down in the attempt to get the convertible roof down. I saw her up close. There wasn’t a scratch on her. This lawsuit has become a circus.

I am not at liberty to discuss the next course of action. But, it wasn’t the most fabulous news of the morning.

Karmatic Vindication
The day was completely redeemed. Yeah, like all humans, especially women, I am petty. I don’t hold active grudges because that takes more effort than I have to give. But I will never forget someone who mistreated me. That includes all of the catty girls who treated me like I was some kind of outcast trash.

I was bullied and picked on. I was overweight. I wore glasses. I lived in a poor, completely dysfunctional family, in a bad neighborhood. My fashion was gothic, standard funeral dress to celebrate every miserable day of my teenage existence.

Eventually, I rebelled against social norms by challenging them at every turn. I started an extremely popular clique called, “The Anti-Clique”. I was an inspiration to all of the wonderful kids who were cast out. Kids with quirks, nerds, geeks, creeps, weirdos, goths, etc. Most everyone was welcome, with few exceptions. Some people were just beyond help. Eventually, I became a household name. I was practically a cult leader.

I was also particularly smart and incredibly talented. I was an honor student who was Chorus vice president and president. I was accepted into the very exclusive Select Chorus by audition. I was section leader in both classes and section leader in band. And I was also accepted into the extremely exclusive music technology pilot program.

I may as well have had a target on my back. Being in the public spotlight with massive support to mock conformity put me in a prime position for attack.

I have mostly forgotten all about it. When it comes up, it’s all rehashed, but with a certain amount of emotional detachment. I don’t really care about what happened. It gave me the drive to become the beautiful, vibrant, educated, and fulfilled woman I am today.

We had a late night. When C.S. and I were dating, we used go to restaurants for half-priced appetizers all of the time. We went to a local restaurant that is rarely ever crowded. When we arrived, we stood at the hostess table for quite awhile. I was becoming irritated. The only thing worse than bad service is inedible food.

But, when our hostess greeted us, I knew exactly why we had an extended wait. I immediately recognized her and I knew that she had seen me from afar. Likely, she ran around begging others to cover for her and came up empty.

Macy was one of those girls. This girl had been a snobby bitch since Kindergarten. We had neighborhood schools, all except for mine. And we were shipped to an adjacent community school. We were outsiders. No matter how nice I treated this girl, she always turned her nose up at me. Her mother even treated mine like dirt. Her mother was the PTA President.

We spent three years in Select Chorus in opposite sections. She was soprano and I was alto. We sat directly across the semi-circle from one another. She was nothing. Not a section leader, and never picked for solos or competitions. But, she’d stare at me with a permanent snarl on her face with her nose propped in the air.

There Macy stood, as a hostess / waitress at a local restaurant with an ass that she could rent as a billboard, and the color of an Oompa Loompa! She was so clearly embarrassed that she couldn’t even make eye contact with me! And once we were seated, she mumbled something about our waiter, and made a beeline for the kitchen!

Ha! Karma’s a bitch! and you could tell she was getting it three fold. I’m hardly arrogant. But I knew what it looked like on the outside. I’m in stylish clothes, thinner than in high school, with lovely skin and brilliant blonde hair. C.S. is gorgeous. (I can say that with confidence because he bears a strong resemblance to Robert Pattinson, or Edward Cullen from Twilight). And T.D. is beyond cute. And overall, we are a pretty happy family that appears as if we have money.

I texted a high school friend who texted me earlier in the week to ask if she was being catty over her pleasure in watching all of these other girls become wide and miserable. “Absolutely not!”, I answered, “You didn’t do it. They’re paying for all that they’ve done.” I had to dial this back to her and she laughed. I don’t usually bathe in other people’s misery, but in certain cases, I can’t resist. She assured me it was totally justified.

A little after midnight, I receieved a call from my friend. Excitedly, she asked, “Did you see Macy’s recent status?”

“No, we’re not FB friends. She’s private. What did she say?”

“Apparently, you must have given her a serious blow to her self esteem! Status: Goals for December: 1.) Get in shape, 2.) Get a second job, 3.) Be happier in life.”

And the smug laughter ensued.

I didn’t have to say a word. I didn’t even have to make eye contact. All I had to do was be myself.

Revenge is like a fine wine. It gets better when aged.

The Real Demons

We just passed Halloween, the day where we essentially celebrate ghosts and demons by pretending to be someone else. I love Halloween. But, I have experienced real demons. It’s not something I care to revisit at any time, not even annually.

The subject of Judge William Adams shook me like an earthquake. The tremor was so intense that a number of bottles on my shelf plunged to the floor. This has conjured up very old, very dangerous demons.

Repression is a defense mechanism I had to cultivate. Prior to that, I carried the burden of the emotions that those memories conjured up from their brimming cauldrons. Then, a cycle is perpetuated from those. The circular motion of violence is born, doling out vicious events with dire consequences. Repression is amazing in it’s function. Get over it.

I do not attempt to invoke pity. In fact, I’d rather be despised than pitied.

Get over it has to be emblazoned on my family crest in centuries past along with Suck it up. I learned my lesson by developing pneumonia and somatopsychic symptoms over the summer. It should have inspired me to do some “fall cleaning”. I failed to check under my bed for the boogeyman. Funny, I didn’t see him – I spent most of my summer under there attempting to locate my black leggings.

I need a sounding board. But, I have to divulge some more sordid details of my past before I can get to that.

Yeah, we’ve covered the child abuse in my life. Unfortunately, that paved the way.

I’ve covered my tumultuous relationship with my high school sweetheart. What I didn’t mention was how he violated me. Ugh. I can’t even bear to use the appropriate word: rape.

I trusted him. I consented and then changed my mind. It was physically painful. He pinned me, and smothered my screams in a pillow. “Why didn’t you stop?!”

He lit a cigarette and smiled. “Oh, shut up. You liked it.”

It’s haunting.

I was determined never to be a victim again. That inspired my mutually abusive relationship following. “Love The Way You Lie” on Youtube can give a visual representation. It was the first and last time I ever intentionally harmed someone. I just wanted to hurt him as badly as he hurt me on the inside. I wanted him to wear those battle wounds and carry them with him for the rest of his life. Because I knew I would.

I’m ashamed as much as I’m hurt.

I accidentally opened this Pandora’s box. These memories flooded in with all of the emotions that have infected my brain and stirred my disease. It has colored my world. I am angry, bitter, paranoid, and sullen all at once. Now that the box is opened, what do I do now?

What can ward off demons? Because I know holy water in a super-soaker won’t do it.

Buried Treasure

Thank you, Tori. Thank you, Trent. It’s still a bit hazy. But it is all trickling back into my memory now.

I listened to a lot of Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails in my teens. Really, I actually went out on a bus to the music store in the square or center and purchased the CDs. (That might put some of you with Mr. Peabody on the Wayback Machine). Since my bout with pneumonia that came fully equipped with laryngitis, I’ve had problems with my singing voice. I wondered how I trained my voice before I had a teacher. And it took me back to Tori and Trent.

Anima and Animus, feminine and masculine sides of my personality and thus, my art. They weren’t role models in the familiar sense that I looked up to them. Something inside me resonated with these two figures through their music.
I sang Caught a Lite Sneeze in the shower. I know, so cliche, right? I guess I hadn’t put any thought into what the song meant in many years. Seeing it now, through adult eyes, made it mean something different.

She’s describing the push and pull of a relationship and the particulars about the man. Why did it have to be so complicated? I wanted to hear it again, so I started to listen a “Sessions” version on Youtube. And then, I knew who it was about. In the end, it was about two people who were meant to be that never were.

The hazy memories of who I started my life as came into focus. Other than shedding some naïve notions and gaining some cynicism, I have finally come full circle. I am that girl in the woods. The only difference is those woods became my home.

I was a dark blonde, long haired, chubby, short girl with big, dark framed glasses. You could always find me with a pen or an instrument in my hand, a song in my heart, and an ache in my soul. Mostly, I looked brooding or electric. I was quite a character.

“At work, I really let my freak flag fly,” I said proudly to C.S.

Today, I am a bleach-blonde, moderately weighted, short woman with Buddy Holly glasses. You can always find me with a Blackberry or a Pilot G2 pen in hand. There is a strong voice with song that made a nest in my heart for loved ones. My soul sparks and stirs, with both warmth and burns from the fire within.

Why did I have to lose myself, to throw myself away entirely, in order to really find myself?

A Mixed Bag?

I am terrified of myself right now.

When I first began As the Pendulum Swings, I had started off with a post called, “To See If I Still Feel” which described a similar episode with self-injurous behavior that I blogged about recently in “Confessions of the Pain of Payment”. Soon after my original blog post, I described an incident which I thought was a mixed episode in “Shifting Gears”.  It was the first time I had ever experienced both hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms at the same time.

Last night, I didn’t sleep more than five hours.  I had taken three and a half milligrams of Xanax and 30mg of Temazepam.  I should have been knocked flat on my back.

My brain was buzzing, ablaze with thought and compulsions.  There was a sensation of vibration all throughout my body.  I surveyed my kitchen and drearily thought, “My house is disgusting.  It’s an absolute nasty, repulsive, filthy hut.  I wish I could burn this place to the ground.”  But that wasn’t my compulsion.  I wanted more than anything to clean.

First, I showered and scrubbed myself raw with a luffah.  Shampoo ran through my fingers and foamed as I clawed my scalp, three or more times.  My quest continued in the kitchen.  The skin on my hands was raw, red, and peeling as I ripped through the dishes.  I meticulously wiped down every surface with Clorox.

It wasn’t enough.  I gathered every piece of paperwork that had been piled up on my counter and threw it in a box.  I set it atop a large laundry basket and hauled it up the stairs.  Everything in it’s right place, everything in it’s right place, my mind’s voice frantically whispered.

I sorted through two months worth of paperwork, cleared two desks and organized their drawers, and cleared, then rearranged my dresser.  It was immaculate.  It was also 3AM.  I didn’t want to stop.  I had so much more I wanted to do.  But I feared that I would be too tired in the morning to even think about getting up.

My eyes opened in a flash when the first alarm went off.  And I didn’t even consider hitting the snooze button seventeen times this morning.  I laid in bed for a few minutes and felt the dread and dismay of my life.  Everything was still wrong.  It was all wrong.  And now, I was falling behind in my own life.

So, I sprang to action.  T.D. had Occupational Therapy at 9am.  I was compelled to clean the house some more.  I went through emails and started getting back on the horse and back into my life.  I went to work and disciplined sassy fifth graders.  I entertained Kindergarteners with new games.  And I rekindled old friendships with my third grade group.

Not once did I yawn.

I suspected that what was happening to me now was what happened three months ago.  Opening my web brower, I began my investigation into what a mixed episode is really classified as.  The NIMH states:

Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.

What?

Again, I verified it. DSM-IV Criteria for Bipolar II specifically states that “There has never been a Manic Episode or a Mixed Episode”.

How is this possible?  I have never had a full-blown Manic Episode.  I don’t think, anyway, at least not diagnostically so.  But, I know that I am having feelings of despair and hopelessness while having boundless energy, racing thoughts, and pressured speech.

Bipolar II, as described by Psycheduation.org, is very fitting.  I have more depressive episodes than anything.  My episodes don’t really last longer than a few months, if even that long.  The longest hypomanic episode I ever had was for two weeks.  They usually only last about a week and then are followed by crushing depression for a few weeks to a couple of months.

What the hell is this?  I feel like I’m losing touch with reality.  At the same time, I don’t even think I want to be in touch with reality anymore.  I don’t want to take my medicine and I’d rather give in to my impulses than keep fighting this constant, tedious, exhausting battle.  I want to stay up all night and do whatever I’m compelled to do.  I want to lay in the yard in the middle of the night in the rain.  I’m being hit with all of these illogical and sometimes sinister thoughts at light speed.

I’m going downstairs to try to continue the conversation I was having with C.S. at dinner.  He asked what I cut with because he had already thrown out all of the razors.  I’m crafty, what can I say?  I’ve contended with worse than him.  I didn’t want to answer, partly because I want to hold on to my little box of lies, and partly because I didn’t think it was appropriate dinner conversation.  I asked if he rememberred to buy band-aids.  He told me that he refused to buy me band-aids because he’d rather shame me into not doing this again. He told me that he’s taking a tough love approach.

Do you know what happened the last time someone took a tough love approach with me?  I suffered while I bided my time.  I waited until I had a reliable and self-sustaining source of income.  And I ran like hell while never looking back.

I’m up to like 919 words.  If you’re still with me, please, help me with some of your insight and personal experience.  At least insight into what I’m dealing with here with this seemingly mixed episode.

Confessions of the Pain of Payment

Warning: This post has disturbing and profane content.  Be advised that this is not for the faint of heart or anyone who might consider themselves to be unstable.  This is in no way an advocation of the content within.  Read this at your own discretion.

Small, simple, safe price.
Rise the wake and carry me with all of my regrets.
This is not a small cut that scabs, and dries, and flakes, and heals.
And I am not afraid to die.
I’m not afraid to bleed, and fuck, and fight.
I want the pain of payment.
What’s left, but a section of pigmy size cuts.
Much like a slew of a thousand unwanted fucks.
Would you be my little cut?
Would you be my thousand fucks?
And make mark leaving space for the guilt to be liquid.
To fill, and spill over, and under my thoughts.
My sad, sorry, selfish cry out to the cutter.
I’m cutting trying to picture your black broken heart.
Love is not like anything.
Especially a fucking knife.

Just look at me, look at me now.

I’M A FAKE, I’M A FAKE, I’M A FAKE.
“I’m a Fake” – The Used

I’m not a role model.  I never wanted to be one.  I only wanted to be me.  I wanted to be honest with myself at the very least. The honesty starts here and now.

Monday, I caught myself sitting at the kitchen table, alone. My sitter had called off – again. I have problems making other arrangements, as you’ve read in One Day I’m Going to Grow Wings and Spitting Fire. Stress overwhelmed me, sucking the air from my lungs. I thought again, in my still silence, about the idea of having to resign my position. My mind drifted to Zen. He’d be at my side, through it all. Tears streamed down my face. And I crumbled.

A flashback struck me. I had remembered Stacy. She noticed my bandages. So, she showed me hers. I had never encountered another cutter. We sat on the ramps one grey day, in the pale fall light pouring in from the large windows. I confessed to her in whispers; I cut again. She inspected my gashes made by a steak knife. Dismantle a shaving razor. The cuts are cleaner, easier, sharper and can be mistaken for something else.

My little box of lies was born again. When I was a teenager, I had a jewelry box I called “My Little Box of Lies. It always contained a razor, a pregnancy test, and pills I was saving. Today, it is a 1970’s Altoids tin. It only contains four tiny razors and band-aids.

I looked for areas of my skin bracelets would cover. I drew the blade against my flesh and felt numbing pain of the blade. My mind quieted as I watched the blood rush out. I made another slice. And another. I ran the razor diagonally over the gashes. It was enough. I bandaged my still bleeding wounds and carefully hid my tools of self-destruction where they would never be noticed.

Tonight, I am loaded on Xanax. It’s still not enough to purge my mind of the week. My failures at parenting mocked me. My husband’s biting words hurt my heart and soul.

I’m a lazy bitch. I’m a liar. And I’m ungrateful. Totally ungrateful for everything I have been given.

I want the pain to go away. I found myself alone in my bedroom this time. No amount of pills or lies or acts will erase this. I pulled out the blade and retraced my healing wounds. I dug deeper, gushing more and more blood. Tears rolled down my face, blurring my vision slightly.

It still wasn’t enough. I needed more pain. I needed more testaments to my suffering with fresh flesh. I pressed the blade firmly against a new patch of skin and put as much pressure as I could with such a flimsy blade. It seared through me. Again. I desired more. I needed the painful lines to pour out and release the pain inside.

I am so ashamed. I am not the Lulu with a sordid past and insights. I am Lulu, with the band-aids over her life. Lulu, the liar, the fake with a closet full of skeletons and empty words now.

Reminiscence of Nine Eleven

Ok, I have been dreading this and avoiding it all week.

I don’t buy into hype.  So, in late August, it dawned on me that the 10th anniversary of 9-11 was coming soon. I knew that all of America would soon be sucked into the media frenzy that always happens when someone drops those two words : Nine Eleven. Ugh.

It is not as if I was not profoundly affected by the experience. It is the day that changed America. I was moved by all of the people who, instead of fleeing from the scene, ran into the crumbling infernos. My heart aches for the families who suffered incredible losses. And I am infuriated at the injustice of it all.

Too many people have used the deeply impacting experience of 9-11 for the wrong reasons. Many have used it for personal gain. Other political leaders have used it as a scare tactic. It has totally bastardized the true nature behind this. 9-11 was the profound tragedy that woke America from it’s safe slumber.

Most of us who are blogging here today are old enough to remember the disturbing event in great detail. We have all heard the heart-breaking stories that followed. But, no one ever asked the rest of us. How did we see it? How did we feel? And on the tenth anniversary, how do we remember it?

I’ll tell my story.

I was in high school at the time. My high school had many wings. I spent my entire morning in the music wing, which was attached to the middle school. We were very isolated from the rest of the school.

I had remembered that I had forgotten to take my handful of pills that morning when I started to suffer from shortness of breath. I had terrible asthma and allergies at the time. So, I went to the nurse’s office to have her call home for them.

My mother was there in 20 minutes. She looked very upset as she walked into the office. I asked her if everything was alright. There was a brief flash where the nurse caught my mother’s eye. She simply replied, “I’m OK. I just saw something bad on the news.”

I dismissed it. Every day, she’d spout on and on about news stories that featured girls getting killed, kidnapped, and / or raped. I figured it was something like that.

In retrospect, I recall the halls being abnormally quiet. It was quite a hike from the nurse’s office in the main building to the music wing. There were usually a couple far away voices in the girls’ bathroom or a low rumble of a class in progress. Everything was just murmurs and whispers.

But, it was business as usual in my chorus class. I took my rightful place as section leader of the altos, and was lost in the music. Next period, it was more of the same. I had select chorus in the same classroom, with some of the same students. Even the ones who came from the main building had nothing unusual to report.

It wasn’t until 11:15AM, over 2 and a half hours after the first tower was hit, before I knew. I returned to the main building to have lunch. It was the heart of period break and my peers were running and screaming through the halls. We’re all going to die! They’ll kill us all! I tried to stop someone to ask, but it was complete havoc. Teachers came out into the halls, ordering us to move along.

I sat down in a booth in the lunchroom with my friends. Some sat solemnly staring at the table. Others were shaking in a frenzy. “What the hell is going on?”, I demanded.
They gave me the abbreviated version. Terrorists hijacked four planes. One hit one of the twin towers, another hit the other. One plane hit the Pentagon and one went down in Somerset County, about 93 miles southwest of our high school. It was alarmingly close, and everything was on lockdown. No one knew if there were any other planes were out there. And no one knew what the targets were.

Was Pittsburgh a target? Sure, it’s not a large city. However, we have the best hospitals and research facilities in the world here. We couldn’t know if we were safe.

It was the first time in my entire life that I felt like I could be in mortal danger far beyond my control.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel like eating.

Next period, I had Geometry. But there was no math. It was the first time I had

An unimginable choice

any imagery of what happened. CNN was on every television in every classroom. I didn’t even really hear what the reporter was saying. I watched the north tower smoldering with plumes of smoke bellowing into the air above New York City. You could hardly see the people leaping from the windows, plunging to their death.

Then, they showed the footage of the second plane smashing into the south tower as people let out blood-curdling screams in the background. I watched in horror it as if it were happening in real time. I realized the towers could fall to either side and create a domino effect. I worried that it would.

They skipped to the blazing inferno that was now a hole in the Pentagon. Then, the blazing hole in the earth too close to home in Somerset County. Again, back to the towers. With what looked to be another explosion, the north tower crumbled onto itself, floor by floor. Dust and debris covered the crash site. I thought of all of the people who lost their lives attempting to rescue others. So many brave men and women gave themselves in the line of duty now perished under the rubble.

It was like something out of a movie.

The horror wouldn’t end. For the next two and a half hours, I watched the footage repeatedly. The only reprieve was class changes. CNN announced the declaration of A State of Emergency. Another announcement stated that all air traffic would be completely halted until further notice.

The ride home from school was sullen. The roads were practically deserted and it looked like a ghost town. Pittsburgh was still on lockdown, with the exception of necessary traffic.

It didn’t end when I returned home either. My family was glued to the television, watching CNN in awestruck terror. I finally cried as I watched the people leap to their deaths. I listened intently to people’s final words to their loved ones. There was so much pain and fear. I heard the brave story of the passengers of Flight 93. And I mourned their lives when they still perished after fighting so hard to live.

It was then that it became real to me.

That’s why it was a grizzly sight when Building 7 went down later in the evening. Although the World Trade Center had long been evacuated of civilians, many rescue workers and civilian volunteers remained. How many more people have to die? There was so much uncertainty. Is this the end? Or is there more to come?

The days following were a blur of fear, sadness, and more CNN coverage than I had seen in my entire life. It was a whirlwind of press conferences with various politicians and interviews with witnesses. I don’t remember most of it, to be honest.

I do recall this moment very clearly.

Nika, my next door neighbor, and I laid in our connected yard the next day and stared at the sky. There was nowhere else to go to escape the news coverage. The sky was blue, and the air was warm and eerily silent. Our street was a main street, and yet, it was less than a rumble. We lived close enough to Pittsburgh International Airport that you could hear the air traffic overhead. It was rare that you could look upward and not see a plane. But the sky was completely empty.

“It’s too quiet.”

We heard it first before we saw it. It was definitely a plane engine. And still, in my entire life, it has been one of the most terrifying sounds in my entire life. I ran to get my dad. He came out and squinted at the sky. He said, “It’s a military plane. Probably headed to the air force base.” The long sigh that escaped me was not enough to relieve the fear. It took a long time to relieve that fear.

It’s ten years later. Here in Pittsburgh, the PAT busses have been running a 9-11-01, NEVER FORGET message for a week. But no one here is really thinking about 9-11. The Steelers played today at 1PM. Business as usual.

I’m thinking about it, though.