The Woman Who Played With Matches

Tuesday was a big day. The Blackberry – now dubbed BB4, because I’ve determined I’ve doomed any inanimate (and potentially animate) object I name, arrived. And I struggled at every step getting the damn information transferred.

A compulsion dragged me into two different pharmacies in town, in search of a replacement Sharpie pen. I obsessed about it. I couldn’t continue writing in my journal without it. The writing wouldn’t look right. I saw the hideous tag of $9 and change for two. And I decided that day that my sanity had a price.

I continued with my regression therapy experiment by listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. The album as a whole. Still nothing but lyrics. I can’t ever remember where I put my phone and my cigarettes. But, I’ll never forget a single lyric from any of those 14 songs.

All day, obsessions. These obsessive, intrusive thoughts snagged and snapped at me.

You lose everything remotely important. Check your bag for your pens. Your cigarettes. Your phone. Check again and make sure you see it. Did you put it back in there? Check again.

The world whizzed by me. And the music blared:

“Need you.

Dream you.

Find you.

Taste you.

Fuck you.

Use you.

Scar you.

Break you.”

Eraser

C L I C K .

– – – – –
“Fine-ally!” I seriously thought my bladder was going to literally burst inside of me. I pulled myself to sitting on the beige bench seat, all the way in the back. My heavy sandal fell off of my foot and landed directly on my copy of The Downward Spiral. I plummeted at freefall speeds. And upon impact, BANG! I was fiercely sobbing, van door open to a busy, boiling hot highway.

I rustled myself out of that van, and into that rest stop. I lit up a cigarette in a stall (back when you could smoke almost everywhere), and continued to sob.

“What the hell are you causing so much fuss about?” I heard from the stall next to me, “Me and your dad will buy you a new one when we get there.”
– – – – –

My father wouldn’t let me have anything that held any value. I didn’t even carry a wallet until I was 18. I didn’t carry a purse until I was 21. Why have these things without valuables. He insisted that I’d lose it.

When I did lose something, I’d never hear the end of it. Things I’ve come to realize can be easily replaced. A pen. A hat. The trouble is that these things never were replaced. If I lost something, and I loved it, it was gone forever.

Gone forever.

“Everyone I know, goes away, in the end.” Trent purred.

I was eager to get the key into the lock. I couldn’t remember the last time I had to go so urgently. I threw my bags on the sofa as I rushed through. I shedded my coat onto a kitchen chair and turned the corner to the bathroom. I walked up to the toilet and –

The seat was up.

Why was the seat up? I was the last one in the house.

A cloud descended upon me. A dark, nasty, vile cloud filled my head with heavy, smokey noise. It seemed a man had been in my house. And seeing as how only two men have a key to this house, and know the odd work hours I keep, that narrowed it down.

I take my father at his word. The man doesn’t lie. He would just avoid the subject.

That knocks it down to one.

“Confront him.”

“Wait! Don’t! Confronting a potential liar gets you nothing but more lies. Provoke him into exposing himself.”

I fired off a text, “Someone is busted.”

Normally, there is a lag time between fifteen minutes to three hours between texts. “I’m just so busy with everything going on! I’ll go to text you back and something will come up.”

More excuses. I don’t expect to take precedence every day. Just one day would be enough.

Immediately, a call shot to my cell. I nonchalantly answered the phone. At first, he carefully poked around. “Who? What do you mean? What happened?”

We didn’t speak while he was coming home. Unusual. He was only quiet when he was either alienating someone or plotting. I had him cornered.

When he arrived home, he put on a great show. He anxiously scoured the house looking for clues. In paranoia, he wedged himself between the fridge and the wall to boost himself above the drop ceiling. It was quite the farce.

He made a mistake. My husband, a man who is not guilty of anything and deeply crippled by anxiety, would not have given up so easily.

He was chipper when asking, “Would you like to take a walk over to the store for freezer pizza?”

I was bitter and suspicious. He hadn’t regarded me in that way in nearly a month. Each revision of behaviors became more noticeable. He eagerly set up the stroller. He made a pass of the exterior of the house for good measure. Only a pass. It was anything but thorough.

“So who do you think it could have been?” he uneasily questioned me.

Fishing.

“Anyone.”

“Like who.”

“Everyone and anyone who could gain access to our house. Whether it be by force or key.”

Some more silence.

He rattled off a few very unlikely people. Forced. Any shift away from focusing on him. The insinuation was nowhere near vague. If there was something to hide, I’d find out. I made that unmistakably clear.

He trotted through the store. Suddenly, necessary items considered to be superfluous became important. I begged him for toothpaste when I had thrush. I knew it would clear faster. But, though we had just gotten paid, there was no money available.

He was overly enthusiastic about everything. At one point, he went to the Digiorno pizzas, and exclaimed what a great price they were. I had done so three months ago, and was shot down, claims they were still “too expensive'”, and returned to the same nasty, three, overcooked Tombstones.

Fake. Appeasing me. Buying my distractions.

I glared as he rushed through our taxes without complaint. We have never done our taxes so late. Never down to the wire like this.

Irresponsible. Careless. Uncharacteristic.

I fished through his cell phone for clues. He’s clever. He would have erased any tracks. He’s too paranoid to let anything revealing slip.

I have my reasons.

Pulling on the Reins

Firstly, I’d like to apologize to my readers.  I have not be a good blogger, and I have not been able to keep up with other blogs at the moment.  My emotional life has been chaotic, at best.

Lulu's Recent Moodscope

I’ve had a couple of 60’s and 70’s.  But, I’ve had many days that were in the blue.  I noticed what the defining factor of my highest days was.  Exercise.

Training is exhausting, but I absolutely love the run.  It does take a lot of my time and energy.  I’ve realized that I need to work on me for awhile.  Without this work, I will crumble beneath myself.  It is imperative that I start cementing my own foundation.  I find it crucial that I start defining myself in different ways, through expansion and reassigning attributes.  I find the need to grow beyond what I am at this moment.

I want to make this clear.  No, I am in no way leaving Pendulum, Canvas, or abandoning Blog for Mental Health 2012.

In fact, I am reprioritizing my blogging and my life in general.  Where these things make the top ten, in importance.  I’ve realized that mental health blogging, and mental health advocacy through blogging are extraordinarily important in my life.  I have not been giving them a great deal of priority as of late, and I find it incredibly unfair to others, including myself.

Shorting myself is something that I seem to be painfully talented at.  It is too easy for me to become complacent and put the needs of others before my own.  In my personal life, I need more freedoms.  I need more alone time.

I need to stop begging, borrowing, and stealing time.

I have to stop feeling like I owe things to people, and get trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of obligation and manipulation.  As far as I’m concerned, I have paid my debts.  The rest is for me.

Selfish or not, that’s the way it is.

Again, I am too passive.  I am too complacent and find myself working too hard to keep the status-quot when I am completely dissatisfied with it.  My foot is down, planted on sturdy, firm ground.  I am taking a stand.

Instance:
We took a brisk, early morning walk to our local pharmacy.  It’s not too far, about a mile or so.

I had warned C.S. that it may take more than a few moments for them to fill my prescription.  Sometimes, I have to wonder who is the woman in this relationship.  He huffed and puffed, and we moved around the store.  I picked up some essentials, and have been craving new writing pens.

(I will have them.)  They just didn’t have the ones I liked.  But, a frivilous purchase, although I am a school teacher, was out of the question.

The pharmacist asked me what I’d like to do with my b/c script.  It’s not due to be filled until the 9th.  Except, for some reason, I’m early.  It would have had a co-pay that day, as opposed to not having a copay if I could wait it out two days.  I turned to ask C.S.’s opinion.  I do need the medication, but not that badly.  I can make up for missed pills.

He sat there, with our son and hassled me.  Get the pills.  Let’s go.  Beast is starting to get fussy..  I turned to him and said firmly, “I am making decisions about my health and our finances.  If you or T.D. is having a problem, then kindly take him outside and wait.”

The walk home was difficult.  Not in the sense that it physically bothered me.  I’m in fantastic shape, putting a many miles under my feet.  I went on this tirade.  “It is not your mind, and it is not your body.  It’s none of your business.”

To which he replied, “I’m paying for it.  It is my business.”

“It’s not.  You don’t live inside of me.  You don’t know what goes on in there.  You have no interest in it either.  Butt out.”

I despised that phrase, “I’m paying for it.  It is my business.”  On two fronts.  I pay my contribution toward the severe detriment we suffer due to my extensive medical needs.  I commute and hour each way to do so.  It is not as if I am laying around a sofa all day, spending all of our bank account.  Don’t portray me as so.

I had pointed out at one point that he was not my legal guardian, and no living will exists to proclaim him my proxy when and if I become incapacitated.  Damn fine move on my part.

He plays no role in my treatment.  I have signed releases that he has full access to my records.  He has never spoke to my doctor about any troublesome symptoms.  In fact, as much I hate to admit this, I would be likely to declare my indecisive mother a medical proxy.  She’s done so well with the rest of the family.

I am pulling in the reins.  This carriage will not continue until I say so.  It is my life too, and I feel like I’m being completely left out of it.  This is my stand.

But, verbally sparing and expressing emotion is a tricky engagement in my household.  So, pulling in the reins is more than taking full control over own life and those dealings.  It is pulling in the reigns of my marriage.  I am pulling back.  Plans change to suit him.  I am disappointed.  Therefore, I am pulling back.  I don’t depend on him for my happiness.

I want to, I want to be someone else or I’ll explode.

Radiohead - Talk Show Host, most commonly known from Romeo + Juliet

I’m Game!

I didn’t realize that I had been tagged multiple times.  I should have!  As I was saying to Angel, events that occurred during my depressive fog kind of jumble together.  So, I’m still catching up.

So, I’ve arrived at Angel’s Questions.  Here’s the deal.  I’m not going to tag, because I’m sure everyone has been tagged by now.  If not, feel free to pick up the questions I leave at the bottom.

Angel’s Questions:

1) What is your favorite mini-series?

Hands down, “Pillars of the Earth”.  If you haven’t read the book, by Ken Follett that’s fine.  You can read the book before or after you watch the mini series.  In this case, it doesn’t really matter.

2) What song is currently stuck in your head?

Now that you mentioned it, one came to mind, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.  It is also the “House” TV series theme song.

3) If you’re a girl, who would you pick as your girl-crush? Or if you’re a guy, who would you pick as your guy-crush? You have to choose at least one. Although I guess this question has a heteronormative bias. Whoops. Well, if you identify as homosexual, choose someone of the opposite sex as your answer. Okay, I’m amending this question to try to make it as bias-free as possible. Who’s one guy and one girl you have a crush on? You must choose one of each.

Literally, and this is going to sound hilarious.  I have a crush on my husband.  I’m not kidding.  Any and all males who bear a striking resemblance to my husband can be included.  That’s Robert Pattinson, (Edward Cullen from “Twilight”), and Tom Welling (Clark Kent from “Smallville”).

Women?  Kate Winslet!  She is gorgeous, no matter what color her hair.  She had the perfect figure.  She’s not rail thin, and she’s curvy.  She is a real woman.

4) If you got to choose any occupation you wanted and money wasn’t an issue, what would you choose and why?

Cheating.  My ideal occupations are teacher and writer.  Both of which I am doing, and both of which I am not making a whole lot of money at.

I love being an educator.  I really do.  It is fulfilling and thrilling.  It’s different each day.  I get to watch about 90 kids grow up each year.  And to think that I’m a part of their lives, even for that short time.  Some will be able to look back to that and think, “That’s Ms. Em.  She taught me music when I was a kid.”  I remember some of my favorite teachers, the ones who really touched my life.  And that’s what I try to do every day, is make a difference in a child’s life.

As a writer, I want to make a difference in the mental health community by lending my voice, support, and ideas.  I want this to become a serious public issue one day, not something that everyone just puts on the backburner, because they don’t want to talk about it.  Mental health is important.  Mental health disorders are real, and they have a real effect in people’s lives.  Untreated, there are serious consequences.  I want the world to see it, and know it.

5) When you’re using numbers to make a list, do you put periods, parentheses, or something else (if so, what), after the numbers? Why do you think you have this preference?

When I’m using numbers to make a list, there is the number, a period, and then a parentheses.  It would look like this 1.)  I have this preference because it looks neater and is easier on my eyes when I’m skimming the list.

6) What sorts of books do you like to read, and why?

I have favorite genres.  Personally, I love psychology books.  Psychology is my thing.  It could have been my career, but I decided education is where my heart was.  There’s a scientific way to figure out how anything works.  We can take all kinds of things apart and figure it out.  Even the human body.  But, we still haven’t figured out the brain.

That’s because the mechanisms that make the brain work aren’t physically apparent.  It’s a mysterious thing.  I want to know how people think.  I want to know why they are the way they are.  I want to be able to draw similarities and differences between them.  It’s just fascinating.  People are complex and fascinating creatures.

7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?

I’ve never thought about it.  I’ve never actually driven that kind of distance alone.  I guess I would have to start playing license plate games, or something. 

8) Do you believe in anything supernatural? If so, what?

Of course I believe in the supernatural!  I believe in ghosts, aliens, astrology, spirits, “God” (if you will), and all kinds of things.  Especially aliens and astrology.  Astrology is something that ties in closely with psychology when you look at it hard enough.

Anyone who is interested, I do natal astrology.  Mainly through the use of natal charts.  Go ahead, check out your chart and see how close to being correct it is.

9) Why do you visit my blog? (How’s that for a nosy self-promoting question? No, you don’t need to answer this second question. It’s rhetorical.)

I’ll answer it, because I don’t think it’s important information.  I visit your blog for a number of reasons.  At first, it was interesting to see how events unfold in your life.  It was kind of like piecing together a character in a story.  What has happened?  What will happen?  Things of that nature.

But, with every story, I find myself getting involved.  Except, with a character in a book, there is no way of two was communication.  However, here, you’re not a character.  You are a person.  And I have become involved with you as a person.

I want to know about your life.  I want to know how you are feeling and what you are doing.  I want to hear your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts, musings, whatever you have to give.  There is a certain investment there.  It’s interesting, and it’s a two way street.

10) If you have a smartphone, which 5 apps do you use the most? If you don’t have a smartphone, why not?

Pandora, WordPress, Twitter, Weather Channel, and my email client.  Does that count as an app?  If not, then I’d name Tumblr as my fifth.

11) What is the most important principle for you to live your life by, and why?

Altruism.  Pay it forward.  I want to be as selfless as I can possibly be without passing myself over completely.  I have needs and wants.  I cannot forget that.  However, I know that I want to balance that with my desire to provide support roles to others.

In my entire life, I’ve always played a support role.  In school, I played in the orchestra pit during musicals.  No one ever saw my face.  I sang alto and tenor, harmony parts that enrich the melody.  Most of the time, when I sang tenor parts, no one in the crowd realized that it was me, a woman, who carried that part.

Today, I’m the woman behind a brilliant man.  I’m the teacher that is building students up to be incredible people in their lives.  I’m the music director in productions.  No one ever sees my face.  That’s fine.  I was the one who designed and hand stapled all of those programs, without any billing in the liner notes.

I am the mother behind an incredible boy.  My son is truly something else.  I know all mothers say that, but he’s so curious.  He has limited communication skills.  But, he’s three.  He can do math.  He knows the Fibonacci sequence (to a certain point), without ever having been taught.  He knows his alphabet, and can sight read.  I didn’t teach him to sight read, but he just started doing it one day.  All of these things, besides counting the alphabet, were things I thought he was too young or impaired to do.  I guess I was wrong.

And I know that with some help, and a lot of love, encouragement, and work on both of our parts, he is going to be a brilliant man, maybe more so than his father one day.

All of that.  What about what I want?  I want a lot of things, believe me.  But, I’m willing to sacrifice all of the things that I want to see others succeed.

Optional Questions:

  1. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of your gender are?
  2. You’re kicked out of the country you currently reside in.  Where do you go?
  3. What do you do with your change?
  4. What is your favorite beverage and why?
  5. What would be your ideal vacation spot?  Why?
  6. Do you have pictures around your house?  Of what?
  7. Do you think that if I were to walk into your house right now that I would have any idea about who lived there?  Why, or why not?
  8. Doomsday Scenario:  A solar storm knocks power grids out worldwide.  There is no way to know when power will be restored, or if it will.  What is the first thing you do, and why?
  9. What do you think is the meaning of life?
  10. Another Doomsday Scenario:  A few servers malfunctioned and the internet is going to be down indefinitely.  What do you see yourself doing to entertain yourself?
  11. Are you superstitious?  What are some of your superstitions?

Through the Wood

I feel liberated!

Something happened today.  There was no click, or anything that proceeded it.  It came as a light trickle from an empty well.

I felt inspired. I started generating original thoughts again. The dense fog dispersed, and I could see once more. I awaken from an inky, dreamless slumber that lasted millenniums.  The breaths I took were like the first out of a dim room with recycled air.   The clouds parted, and the sun warmed my face, rekindling the fading fire inside.

I am still within the forest. But, the sun has penetrated. The path seems more defined. I may be on my way back to civilization.

I feel the synapses in my mind sparking. My body is energized. I am not yet with brilliance. It still filters in, trickling slowly through my veins, pumping eagerly through now beating heart. My shackles anchoring my soul loosen. The chain lengthens, and there is hope.

The bright, white, shining hope embraces me, and I nestle into it.  It has

There is a light in everyone's life that beckons.

been nearly two months since I was enveloped by shadows cast around my world.  I was sinking, anchors tethered tightly, nearly choking the very life around me.  I wasn’t living.  I was merely surviving from day to day.  Moment to moment. Nothing else could possibly exist in this world, for it was too overwhelming to even consider that the next second could contain such misery.

I crawled, belly on the ground.  I could not stand; the weight was too incredible to bear.  It prevented me from resuming life as myself.  It began to nibble away every morsel of my existence.  I took refuge in the shadows, receding into myself, folding once, twice, thrice over.  Until I was nearly a speck.

It, the shadows, the creeping, seeping darkness, took possession over me.  This horrible, unseen monster made the attempt to claim me.  Whispers.  Sever from this.  Sever from the world.  Retreat into me, and you shall not have to bear these incredible burdens.

I stood, breathless.  Tortured and tormented.  The air was in my lungs, but would not vibrate through my throat to create words.  I dared not refuse, but I hesitated to accept.  I refused to leave all of this, the wonderful people, community, and life I had built for myself.

Finally, I stood defiantly.  You are the burden that tears at my existence!  You are the shadow that blinds me!  And I refuse you, as I cast you away!

No longer do I feel oppressed, hopeless, and helpless.

It’s not as if my life has mended. The circumstances are much the same.  My grandmother is coming home, despite the fact that she is practically an invalid. My mother has been on a long bender.

I have $5 dollars to my name, and have been subsisting off of cup o noodles, doctored with some spices, accompanied by the last vegetable in my refrigerator. One more day. Just one more.

But, no matter. I am better than surviving, actually thriving in the puckered, sour face of stress and anxiety.  I am conquering, planting flags in remembrance of my victories, reclaiming my mind, life, and body. It is truly an incredible rush.

Invigorating, in certain moments. It provides the momentum to traverse these woods, and climb that mountain to take my place at the top.  Though the mountain is large, it is solid.  I walk once again upon solid ground, even if I am slipping on rocks that give.  I cling to the earth, determined to pull myself back to a vertical position.

I feel nearly free. The shadow has diminished, and I stand without it’s ominous presence. I am far from where I started, from in the beginning, still further even in these two lost months.  I have not backdrifted as much as I have deviated course.

Yet, a new path lies ahead.  It is forward, north and true.  Perhaps one day, it will cross my original path.  But, which will I choose to remain on?

Tag, I’m It! – Pittsburgh Edition

MM172001 tagged me this time.  And actually, after reading some responses, I am really eager to do this!

I’ll refrain from tagging anyone.  I am almost positive that this has made enough circles!

Onto the questions!

1. If you could go back and tell your younger self something.  What age would you go back to and what would you say?

I have often thought this over, although I mindfully refrain from asking the “Coulda, woulda, shoulda”s.  Had I been asked this question a year ago, I would have gone back to eighteen.

At eighteen, I had already been diagnosed and was being treated for MDD.  At the same time, I was already beginning my spiral into alcoholism.  Those are two pressing factors.  The other is the matter of my husband.

There was a brief moment in time where my husband and I were both single.  We shared a moment and a sofa.  I mentioned our history in my post Possibility and Ascension.

I would have advised myself to tell my doctor the truth about everything.  I wasn’t fine.  I had lost faith in her, because I wasn’t well after three years of treatment.  And I would have suggested bipolar disorder.

I would have told myself to stop with the alcohol.  It would almost be my destruction if I continued on that route.

And most of all, I would tell myself that C.S. and I belonged to each other.

But, I’ve thought it over.  I realized that everything happens in it’s own time for a good reason.  Though I would never wish the trials and tribulation I went through upon myself, I quite possibly needed them to get here.  My husband and I were meant to go through our awful relationships before we could be together.  Probably so that we could appreciate each other.  We needed to go through our respective hells so that we could grow toward each other.

If it weren’t for everything, I wouldn’t be me.  And as much as I don’t like myself sometimes, I actually do.  Sounds contradictory, but I like my life.  I love my husband and my son.  I wouldn’t want to change it.  So, why would I want to go back and take a chance on ruining it all?

2.  Favorite food.

Largely depends.  I find myself getting obsessed about a food.  Lately, it’s been egg white omelets.  Yum!

3. When did you start your blog? Why?  And has the purpose changed as time has?

June 19, 2011.  I often reference this post, because it was a big step for me.  It was my step into the public about my disorder.  Up until that time, I had really tried to tuck it into a corner and deal with in very privately.  I realized that I couldn’t.  Had I not written that post on June 19, 2011, I may not be here today.  It was the replacement for a potential suicide attempt.

The purpose is still largely the same.  It began as my internal monologues (and sometimes dialogues!) as my voice in this world.  That largely stands.  Except, the focus has shifted into less of a diary to chronicle my life, and more of a narrative as an outlet for my thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

It has expanded to include mental health advocacy, developing a mental health community, and a sounding board for others.  It will continue to develop in these areas, as I am now moving toward more mental health advocacy and publications.

4. What do you think your best character trait is?

Hands down, versatility.  I am extraordinarily flexible.  I can take on multiple roles, and handle a variety of situations in different settings.  I didn’t say I always do it well.  But, I can do it.

5. What do you think is your worst character trait?

Volatility.  I have come to realize and accept that I have a nasty temper.  Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to temper myself.

6. What is the last thing you read?

Book or blog?  I just started reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  As blogs go, I just finished reading the post that prompted this one.

7. Hero?

I don’t have heroes.  Heroes are often people we turn into characters that we idealize.  I am careful not to idealize any person or situation.  It often leads to disillusionment.  I am not good at handling that.

8. How much time do you spend on the internet in an average day?

About two hours or so.  Usually in the morning before anyone wakes up.  It’s the only time I can get the computer to myself.

Unless you count the time that I’m on my Blackberry.  Then, we’re looking at a total of about three to five.

9. If you had to chose only one social issue to fight for what would it be?

Human rights.  It covers just about everything I’d be fighting for.  Mental health advocacy, creating less of a socioeconomic gap, discrimination, and all kinds of things.  Human rights is extremely important.

10. If you could live anywhere, where and why?

Right here, in Pittsburgh.  Anyone who even talks to me about Pittsburgh will get an earful.  I love this city.  I have been a lot of other places in my life, and none have compared to this city.

Everything you could ever want in a city is here.  It’s not overly populated, only having about 300K that live within city limits and 1.5mil that live in the county surrounding.  This city and surrounding suburbs covers every mode of living a person can want.  Currently, I’m suburban / urban.  My husband would like us to move to a place that is more suburban / rural.  All within 10 miles of city limits.

We have the best sports teams, if you’re into that.  We boast the best healthcare in the US.  We have a wealth of universities to study at.  CMU is among the leading in technology.  Crime is not too bad.  There are very few areas that I would consider “unsafe”.  Our cultural district is amazing, ranging from community theater to Broadway musicals.  We have an entire district dedicated to nightlife.  And another district that is like a farmer’s market every morning!

We even have our own local dialect and slang.  Pittsburghese!

Everything you need is pretty accessible.  It can be both a driving city and a walking city.  I prefer walking.  Jaywalking is a sport.  (For me, anyway).  It’s just an incredible place to be.

11. If you could chose to have the power to read people’s minds/know their thoughts, would you choose to?  It’s not something you could turn on or off, you have it or don’t.  Why?

This is another one of those questions, just like number 1, that if you had reached me in years prior, I would have given you an entirely different answer.

When I was young, I used to think of Gene Grey from X-Men.  I thought telepathy / telekinesis was an incredible ability.  It was something that I thought would give me such potential, and such an edge.

But, I’ll tell you this.  Since the onset of my symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, I have changed my mind.  Bipolar disorder make my ability as an empath so much more pronounced.  I feel what other people feel.  Sometimes, so much that it bleeds into my own emotions and I cannot distinguish between the two.  And at times, it drives me mad.

If that’s how I feel, just being able to sense emotional vibrations, then I would refuse telepathy.  I know there is an abundance of opportunity afforded with that.  However, I don’t think I could handle all of those voices in my head.  I have enough, thank you.

More Than Ten Years : 30 Days of Truth

Part II

Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.

Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.

Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz.  It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times.  These were the years in between the first entry and this one.


Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.

It took Lea and I much longer.

I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.

Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.

I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated.  I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then.  I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had.  The only differences were these.  I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses.  I was 1/3 less than girl I was.  And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.

Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.

So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.

So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.


Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.

“I’m engaged to a man who is really good for me, who really loves me. Can’t you even be happy for me?”

She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”

There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!

I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.

Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.

She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.

She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.

In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated.  There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife.  When you graduate college.  When you get a good job.  When…

They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore.  They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife.  One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table.  She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.

We talked.  “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.

Time passed, things changed.  That was pretty much the end of their relationship.  Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault.  She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.

I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals.  I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010.  Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first.  She randomly called and announced that she was back in town.  She wanted for me and her to go out.  I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me.  I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done.  She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her.  All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.

Finally, I fought back.

“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for.  You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you.  Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too. 

Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay.  The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go.  I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon.  I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose.  So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time.  Because I’m not taking you back.”

We didn’t speak for about a year or so.  That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card.  I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it.  And finally, I broke down and emailed her.

Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.

I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house.  She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on.  I never did see her, not once.

I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.

I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it.  I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?

Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.

So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.

I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.

Only for a Season : 30 Days of Truth

Day 09 : Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

I carefully considered this question, and scanned my mind for any possibilities. I bounced it off of my husband and it came back with an answer.

I cherish everyone in my life. I will hold to them as tightly as I can, if they have any meaning. And, if they do drift, they were meant to.

The character Madea explained in the stage production of Madea Goes to Jail about the nature of relationships.

If somebody wants to walk out of your life, let – them – go!”

Some people are meant to come into your life for a lifetime, some for only a season and you got to know which is which. And you’re always messing up when you mix those seasonal people up with lifetime expectations.

Later in the monologue, she equates people to parts of a tree. Some are leaves that bud, grow, and blow away at the end of the season. Others are branches, some of which may snap and leave you flat on your back. And then, there are the people that are roots, unseen, deep in the earth.

A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it… just let it go. Let folks go.

I used to have a problem where I’d clutch to people and force a relationship that was only meant for a season further. Eventually, I realized that I was doing myself more harm than good. This was before the wisdom of Tyler Perry through Madea. Sometimes I wish a Madea existed in my life a long time ago. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to come to my own conclusion.

Eventually, I started letting people go. And worse, there were some I had to evict from my life. My husband calls it, “Flushing the Social Septic Tank”. Anyone I determined was causing me harm for their own benefit had to go. My friendship, affection, and loyalty is worth more than that.

At first, this was a difficult process. I, too, have been evicted from the lives of others. Some of these separations were justified, but many were not. Rejection is not something easily brushed away. It is taken very personally. It often starts to erode my self-worth. I never wanted to be responsible for imparting that upon another being.

After a few major falling-outs, I came to a very important realization. It was often the fear of isolation that drove many of those friendships. And most often, it was the pain of severance, rather than the grievance of a lost friend. Those things shouldn’t be primary motivations for fostering a friendship.

After that epiphany, I refused to enable unhealthy relationships. In all likelihood, it caused me greater pain to pander for affections rather than their suffering after severance.

Many people are ships passing through my waters. Some dock, and others continue wandering in and out of the harbor. Then, there are those that come, dock, and are never seen again. I can’t be expected to board every ship, and certainly not to sail off into the great blue beyond.

In summation: Let folks go. Don’t spend a lifetime mourning their departure. We don’t mourn the passing of seasons. It is nature’s way.

A Proper Name

I have never fancied myself a writer.  This is much the same as I have never imagined myself a musician, a vocalist, and many other things that I have come to find as truth in my life.  In all honesty, I’ve considered myself to be a dabbler, more of a Jack-of-all-Tradesmaster of none.  Yes, there is an emphasis.  This is not because I’m getting down on myself.

No, the focus of the emphasis is not on what I can’t do, but more of what I haven’t done.  I have dabbled in so many disciplines, some would think it akin to something attention deficit.  I have dedicated my focus, energy, and time (and sometimes some money) to the following:

  • Musical instruments
  • Music composition
  • Vocals
  • Music Education
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
  • Prose
  • Essays
  • Informational writing and advocacy
  • Crocheting
  • Crafting
  • Eco-friendly and Green Crafting
  • Mental Health Advocacy
  • Community programs
  • Sewing
  • Musical theater directing and production
  • Autism Advocacy
  • Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Human Behavior
  • Computers
  • Networking
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Forensics
  • RPG’s / Gaming
  • Technology
  • Graphic Art
  • Photography
  • Running
  • Collecting
  • Blogging

Perhaps it’s some serendipitous byproduct of Bipolar Disorder, or just who I am.  I would be lying if I denied having the habit of starting things and not finishing them.  There are a great deal of factors that go into that: lack of focus, growing disinterest, a block of some sort, lack of motivation, and lack of enthusiasm at times.  It has given me a wealth of experience in many areas.  However, the steep downside is that I have not remained consistent enough with any of the aforementioned activities to develop a solid level of mastery.

But to me, they are hobbies.  Why would I need mastery in a hobby?  It doesn’t bring me any fortune, it is not my job , was not a keystone of a career.  What is the point of having the hobby if I have completely mastered it?  There is no joy, because there is no dabbling.  There is no sense of discovery.  The hobby becomes laborious, like a job.  A hobby is certainly what I would consider to be the opposite of a job.  Although I am one of those lucky people who took a hobby, a talent, a skill, and was able to turn it into gainful employment.

Back to my point.  Today, I received an email from an eager non-profit organization that was looking for me to assist in promoting their organization’s activities for mental health advocacy.  I thought to myself, “I did it.  I finally did it.  I found my way into the door of being a mental health advocate and coming out of this wardrobe.”  I reviewed the email several times to make sure I had the details right.  And I realized how it was addressed.  Dear Mrs. Lulu Sunshine,

I’ve been writing under the pseudonym “LunaSunshine” for awhile now.  Most have come to know me as Lulu, just a cute nickname that seems to fit perfectly, as if it were meant to personify me in realm.  It was worked out fine until this moment.  I have realized that if I want to get serious in the world of mental health advocacy through my writing, then I had better get a decent pseudonym that allows me to be professional.

Therefore, after much consideration, I am changing my pseudonym to something proper enough to be seen on a website or book.

I have decided on Tallulah “Lulu” Stark.

Lulu Stark - the new avatar

I have origins for this.  The name Tallulah has Native American origins in Georgia.  As do I.  The translation means leaping water, perfect for describing my own nature as fluid, changing states and shapes.  Tallulah is also of Gaelic origin, as am I.  The translation in Gaelic is abundance, princess, lady. I am no princess, for sure.  But, I am a woman with an abundance of emotion, that carries a wealth of experience.

Stark has a few meanings.  It can mean grim, representing depressive states.  It can be beyond reasonable limits, extreme, and the perfect representation of the hypomania.  And of course, it’s a play on the cliched phrase, “stark raving mad”.

There will be a few changes.  My email will change to reflect the new pseudonym.  tallulahlulustark@gmail.com is the new address.  Until everyone is used to the new address, I will have the old one forward into the new one.

My facebook is changed as well.  I will move Pendulum’s page over there tomorrow.  For now, add me on Facebook.

I will wait awhile to change the avatar.  To allow for the transition.  Please, continue calling me Lulu.  Nothing has changed in that realm.  I wanted to put the word out there.

The Cypress Tree

On an island called Chios lived the Greek God Apollo, his beloved Cyparissus, and a stag, adored by all of the inhabitants. Especially by Cyparissus. Cyparissus would care for the stag, adorn his horns with garlands, and they’d ride and gallop across the island in merriment.

One hot day, Cyparissus was hunting in the woods. From afar, Cyparissus saw an animal. Cyparissus took aim with bow and arrow and fired a fatal shot. When Cyparissus approached, the animal was recognized as the beloved stag.

In agonizing mourning, Cyparissus prayed to Apollo that he be permitted to be grief-stricken for eternity. Reluctantly, Apollo agreed, and turned his friend into the cyprus tree, to preside over the mourning of others.

I approach the cyprus in the distance. I can see it, wide branches over the swelling tides. It stands alone, and survey the landscape. I am alone in this endless field, approaching the cliffside. The others may not join me immediately. Because, they won’t let themselves see it in the distance.

What does it all mean?

My grandmother had a stroke on Christmas. She has not been well enough to care for herself for quite awhile. The details have become clearer as the cypress tree was coming into focus. She has not been well for much longer than many of us realized. It was a very closely guarded secret.

It was not for the protection of others, but the denial of one. Her caretaker. When the day comes, and she is gone, her caretaker will have no one left. In a way, she was protecting herself from psychic harm.

My grandmother went back into the hospital on Saturday, the 18th. The doctors determined she has pneumonia and congestive heart failure. On Sunday, the 19th, she had a seizure. Currently, she is in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. She’s conscious and stable. But, her doctor, who has been treating her for years, had deemed the situation to be grim.

They say she’s turned around today. But, I am not hopeful. Her brain is still hemorrhaging, slowly, but continuously. She has developed aphasia now, although she is aware of her surroundings. But, she is mostly immobile. Congestive heart failure doesn’t just go away. Her body is ailing and her brain is failing. She is shutting down, bit by bit.

And, I walk slowing, a lone soul in my procession toward the cypress tree. Each step feels like the terrain grows larger. I am alone in my acceptance that her days are sadly numbered. I am terribly alone in my grievance, crossing those days off of my calendar. And I am seemingly completely alone in the anxiety of the wait.

I know why. No one is ever ready to lose their mother.

But, I ask, what quality of life does she have? Immobilized, unable to care for her basic needs, and losing more of her brain function with each episode. How happy can she be in that state? Is it fair that many cling to her life so much that they fail to see any of this?

I see it. I mourn her life in such a state. I am troubled by her slow disintegration. And, I clutch Tallulah (my Blackberry), in grave anxiety, awaiting that call. I have gone as far as allowing my phone to remain on ring while I am at work. As far as I am concerned, I am on death watch.

I worry. My grandmother is the last bit of glue that binds this family together. Her children refrain from bickering, for her sake. Her grandchildren are only vaguely aware of each other. And most of the rest are scattering to the four corners.

I worry. About my family – about my mother. She is the glue that binds her family and the very mechanism that keeps it functioning. The woman is much more fragile than can be perceived by her stoic exterior alone. If she falls apart, her family will fall. They depend on her.

And I know. It will fall on me. I will have to find the strength to care for five people, when I am hardly capable for caring for myself.

Can I?