The path

It’s very important. That is why I got up before everyone else did, so I could tell you.

I am on a narrow path. It leads from my house to the backyard where there is a clothesline that I can hang my laundry on. There are two people on my path, a man and a woman. They walk down the path twice a day at the same time everyday. I’ve gotten used to them, their patterns.

The path is very plain. I only have the things there that I need to survive. No more, no less. One day a garden light is put a little way off my path. I think the two people put it there because they are the only ones I ever see on my path. But I didn’t see them do it. I really don’t know because they never speak to me. They just walk in silence across my path in the morning and disappear until they walk back in the evening.

Nothing happens for days after I notice the change. When I think it is safe to veer off the path to look at it, it becomes a vicious snarling dog. Every couple of days I notice another garden light is added. I am curious, but I have to get used to it first. After a while it almost belongs there and feels safe. Maybe I can look at another one just outside of the path I must not stray from. Once I do, instead of a vicious dog I see a golden retriever. I am very frightened because I can’t seem to differentiate safety from danger.

I cry out in terror. Seeing the dog, any dog, triggers the panic in me from the vicious dog. The people show up at an unexpected time and laugh at me because I am afraid of a harmless tail wagging golden retriever. I feel frightened and alone.

It was safer to never veer from the path. Instead I needed to be more rigid and structured to feel safe and find comfort. I must follow the same routine, the same pattern. Everything must stay exactly the same. Nothing will change and I will be safe. I’m not sure the people are safe, but they are predictable if I stay on the path. If I try to leave it, they are not safe.

Every day there are more garden lights. I don’t even notice them anymore. I stay within the boundaries. But one day something scary happens. The wind blew my laundry off the line off my path. I was responsible to care for my laundry. It was part of the routine that must be followed. I now have a dilemma, a conundrum of sorts. I have to grab my laundry, but I am terrified to veer off the path. Maybe if I grab it as quick as I can and come right back then nothing bad would happen.

Nothing happened when I grabbed my laundry, except I began to notice the world outside. It changed me. I began to see things differently. I went back inside my mansion and noticed for the first time that I was only using a few rooms. There were garden lights outside of doors that I was afraid to even go into. There was so much more out there to see, to be, if I didn’t let fear stop me.

Anxiety has a way of trapping us in what we know. It was important to cling onto at one time in order to survive. Now I see a whole new world out there to explore. There are rooms in my house I have yet to go in. Fear always stopped me. I clung to structure and routine. But there is so much more. Maybe it will be safe now.

The dream awoke me. It all makes sense now. I must write this down.

The floodgates have finally opened and poured onto my paper. I can write again. I am back.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

Some harmless, some hidden

Memories swirl around in my mind. Some harmless, some hidden..

…laughter of teenage girls…the lighter flicks…not to smoke…melting the tip of the eye liner so it glides on easier…

I put on eye liner for the show. It goes on easy. It almost smears, unlike the sharp pencil of my younger years…Does anyone use a lighter anymore to soften their eye liner pencils?

…I see a younger face in the mirror, then she is gone..

A harmless memory..

An interview for the show…

Were you ever involved in theater before you came to this theater?

…My dad dropped me off at the theater before work…I was the little girl with a small part in the show…I was dropped off early before everyone else…I walked the trails alone in the woods surrounding the theater, sometimes afraid…but it was only a deer…alone…fun on stage…the big kids…the costumes, the makeup…

…The only time alone with my dad…his boss taking him for lunch…maybe I can go too since I ride with him…laughter…why would I take you??

The next summer, I got a part in another play. I was a princess.

…Reading my lines out loud with the other princesses on the grass in a circle in the summer sun…gone…have to drop out…Matt is sick…my mom left for the summer to go to a hospital out of state with Matt…selfish…how could you still want to be in the show…your brother is sick…so lucky that you are not sick…so lucky…anger and tears…some things are more important…crying…no ride…alone…loneliness…missing my mom…fragments of memories reflect off the surface of the dark murkiness in my mind…

Were you ever involved in theater before you came to this theater?

Just one innocent question scratched the surface…I don’t answer…

It has happened before over the years…innocent questions avoided…the explanations too personal…too painful…they shouldn’t be, but are.

Over 20 years later, I walked through the doors of another theater…in another town…and left all those old hidden painful memories behind me..

Or did I?

Birthday blues

Tomorrow is my birthday.

What do I want? Something that can’t be bought in a store.

I want a day of peace and tranquility. Just one day that is problem free. I want an escape from my normal routine.

Every day is the same. I start a couple loads of laundry before heading off to work. I deal with problems at work. Then I deal with problems at home. Sometimes simultaneously. After I make supper, clean the kitchen, and fold laundry I finally get to go to bed. I wake up and do it all over again the next day. Although I enjoy working and keeping busy, sometimes adulting can be monotonous and the responsibility burdensome.

I have to work tomorrow. After work, the kids want to do something with me. All I want from them is peace. I don’t want to hear any fighting. Even when we play games, they constantly tease each other by calling names or saying that their siblings suck. They say that it is all in jest, but I don’t find it very funny.

Paul has play practice on my birthday. I should’ve known to lower my expectations when he got the lead part in the summer play. He doesn’t have time for me anymore. I was hoping that he would go up north with me last weekend. When we got together with theater friends last week, he spontaneously offered to take them sailing this past weekend. So he did that instead. Then he asked me to crew for his race last night, but I was replaced by his theater friends. I was okay with that because I only wanted to be a sub. However, he has been sailing with a much younger single woman (not alone) from the theater that thinks he’s hot. I guess I would care more if she was attractive. I was hoping to sail with Paul for almost a week for our anniversary, but we cut it back to a weekend for play practice. I am getting really sick of it already.

I feel left out. I didn’t know all of the inside jokes. I am just an introvert who wants to feel included, but doesn’t want to go. I feel like no one cares about me. The kids really don’t need me much anymore. Sometimes I don’t really care about me either. I almost got hit by a car this morning while I was out riding my bike. The lady almost went through a stop sign. She slammed on her brakes last minute when she saw me. I didn’t get angry like I usually do. I didn’t really care. Hey, I’m still here!

Although my best friend Lisa moved home almost two months ago, we have only seen each other twice. I don’t feel like running with her. I would rather be alone.

When I was a kid, my mom made a very big deal out of my birthday. It was the one day of the year that my life wasn’t all about my autistic brother. I think because of that I have high expectations of how that day should go. Every year it seems harder and harder to get excited. My birthday always signifies the middle of summer. It is going by so quickly this year. I don’t want summer to end and I don’t want to get any older!

Tomorrow I will be 21 (doubled). Gulp! Ready or not, here I come.

Depression, my old friend

In response to my neighbor’s suicide…

I understand your struggle…

When I grew up, my childhood was very difficult. It was so difficult that the big people in my life could barely cope with the circumstances that they had to deal with. In early childhood I developed two friendships to help me cope, depression and anxiety.

Depression was a close friend of the family. My dad made friends with depression too. Sometimes when the house was really quiet, I was afraid of what he might do. My brother Mark found friendship with depression too. When he was a teen, my mom found several nooses in the tree. I knew the temptation. I knew the struggle.

In late childhood, I tried to break my friendship with depression but she fell in love with me.

When I became an adult, I learned how to live with my friend. I kept myself very busy so I wouldn’t have time for my friend to visit. I worked harder and harder. When my friend noticed I was free, she would visit me.

Have you ever been suicidal before? Do you know what it is like to be that depressed? I do. It is very frightening. Thoughts and images popping into my head of my own demise over and over again. Me in the bathtub with slashed wrists. Driving very fast into a tree. A loaded gun. An empty bottle of pills. Horrible, intrusive thoughts that invade my mind unwanted. The more I try to push my friend away, the more she clings.

Over time I learned how to cope with having a difficult friend. I am a workaholic. Keeping busy keeps her away. I have a strong faith that exorcises my demons. I try to outrun my demons by running 100 miles a month. I take massive doses of vitamin D over the winter months. I try to have something to look forward to. I find the support of family and close friends who have survived difficult times.

What can others do to help that haven’t experienced it? Listen without condemnation. Allow venting, even if it means listening to things you don’t want to hear. Don’t tell them to get over it even if it has been several years since they experienced the initial pain. Sometimes being a good friend is encouraging others to seek professional help.

Does that mean that I no longer get depressed? No. Sometimes when I go through hard times, my friend comes back to help me. A few months ago when I was having difficulties with my son, she visited me for awhile. I spent a long time staring off into space. This is very hard to explain, but when I stared off into space I felt peaceful. When you sink down low enough, sometimes you feel so empty that even the pain is gone. It is a very alluring trap. I had to pull myself out of that dark void. I feel sorry for those that struggle to break free.

Over the years, I learned a few things about my friend. It is okay to feel sad. Sometimes the negative feelings in our life motivate change. During difficult times and emotions, I tell myself that the feelings will pass. I also tell myself over and over that I have felt this way before and survived it. I know how to cope, how to get through.

I am trying hard to face all of the feelings that were locked away for so many years. Writing has been very therapeutic. Maybe if I write honestly about my experiences and struggles, then others won’t feel so all alone. I am okay. You will be okay too. Find a way to cope. Be understanding toward others that struggle. Maybe it will prevent one more unnecessary death.