Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thoughts at Bedtime No One Will Read

I've been staring at the blinking cursor now for about 3 minutes. My head is full of thoughts that I don't know how to put into words. I have a bit of a headache and holding true to Oklahoma allergies, everything about me itches right now. I haven't shared my last couple of entries on facebook or twitter, asking people to read it, and I have to say that it was actually quite gratifying. I always said that I blogged for me and no one else so here's me putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

Tonight my thoughts are a jumbled mish mash of chaos. Included are (in no particular order):
I wonder if I'll have a dream free night tonight. I hope I have a dream free night tonight.
I should get up and get ready for bed.
Why am I so tired all the time?
Why does my head hurt? Maybe I'm dying....
Money money money.
So many people suck.

That last one seemed to be the theme of my day. But if you compare my current stress level over the fact that so many people suck to the stress level I was experiencing 9 hours ago you'd be so proud of me. My anxiety has been like a fucking freight train barreling toward a head on collision with my very core for quite some time now. And the smallest thing can set it off. This is a fairly new phenomenon that's started happening within the last year or so. The most confusing thing is that while most of me wants the anxiety to go away there's a certain part of me that takes comfort in it. There's probably something very deeply mental about feeling that way.

Following the thought of something small setting it off: the text alert on my phone just dinged from the other room. My first thought: someone wants something from me. It's not true. People rarely want things from me. I live a very fortunate life and I know it. I'm not wealthy, nowhere remotely close to it. But I have a partner in life who can sense when I'm about to break and does everything in his power to talk me down. My children, while too close to summer to give any fucks any more, are for the most part perfect. Yet I can't help but feel pulled in twelve different directions at any given moment.

Delusional? Probably. Over dramatic? Definitely. Terrified that this makes me too much like the woman who gave birth to me? Absolutely.

This brings up another question: When does someone lose the right to still be called a mother? Biologically speaking if you've had a fetus in your womb then yes I suppose you're a mother. Emotionally speaking however a lot of women who are mothers will never really be mothers, if you catch my drift.

One of the most rewarding things about a new and beautiful friendship is the ability to be able to talk to her about family issues. We are both survivors in so many ways, and being able to connect on that level is a wonderful thing. There have been many friends who have complained to me about their mothers and/or families. This usually leads to me pretending to be understanding yet screaming YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA on the inside.

Unless you've been a real victim of abuse, no matter what kind, it's hard for me to relate. That's not to say that your issues aren't just as valid to you as mine are to me, but it does mean that I won't be offering much sympathy.

Anyway. Most people suck. Those closest to me do not. New friendships are rewarding. My weekend was crazy exhausting but rewarding. I desperately need a shower and decent night's sleep, free from stressful dreams. Here's hoping my nightly ritual of falling asleep to the sounds of Parks and Recreation will help to soothe me. Good night, world.

P.S. Bonus to not sharing this and the fact that maybe 12 people will stumble across this means that I'm not even gonna read over what I wrote. Bring on the typos and grammatical errors. I COULD GIVE A SHIT.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Nirvana

My brain is on a roll tonight. I've done my fair share of thinking and would love for it to power down now, but it rarely does what I want. 

I've been listening to nothing but The National on repeat for the last hour, with the occasional cough from Faith's room. The dry air in our house may just kill us all. 

At this point winter can go fuck itself. I'm so ready for summer, and I don't care if it brings a heat hotter than 10,000 suns with it. I'll welcome it with open arms like a lost lover. Yes, summer heat. Cover me with your warmth. Burn my flesh with your rays. Make me sweat. Dominate me. 

I'm convinced that my overload of emotions lately has everything to do with the fact that NBC took Parenthood away from me and I no longer get my weekly cry in. This blog post started to be a "things that made me cry recently" lump of patheticness...seriously. 

Instead I'm here to let you know that I had a wave of euphoria tonight while cooking dinner. I was there, standing in my kitchen. I had Weezer playing on our record player, as all good kids from the class of '98 do, and all else was quiet. The kids were doing their homework. Cory was reading. I looked around me and thought I can't believe this is my life. These beautiful, brilliant kids. That caring, wonderful man. This is my life. 

I didn't think about the floors throughout our house that need to be replaced. I didn't think about the three 5 gallon buckets of paint waiting for me to finally use to freshen up our house. I didn't think about the constant financial stress or concern over jobs, master's degrees, or other stupid shit that's been worrying us for the past few months. In that moment I reached nirvana, even if it was just for a moment. 

Life is made of all these moments, right? Some feel smaller and insignificant, like sitting in the car line to pick up the kids. Others feel huge and important, like the first time I held Cory's hand. Tonight felt like a moment to remember. 

So here it is, documentation that it happened. Remember, V. Remember these little ripples in the water that help to carry you along. They're important. 



 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My guy


When bad things happen nothing means more than having someone on your side. But this guy....

He has my back always. He never lets me down and always lifts me up. 
He runs interference when bad things happen. 
He makes sure I always have coffee in the house. 
He's never doubted my dreams or interests.
He never once poked fun of my reading choices.
He has endured Faith and me watching countless hours of Gilmore Girls in his presence.
He keeps me safe. 
He works his ass off every single night to provide for our family and didn't question me once when I gave up a good paying job because I was miserable. 
He believes with his whole heart that there's nothing more important in this world than making other people happy. 


While I've always prided myself in being fiercely independent I wouldn't last a second without him in my life. Today was quite possibly the worst day ever..most certainly the worst one we've had in quite some time. But he was there through it all. He took several hypothetical bullets for me and once again proved to me that I'm worth something. 

I spent so many years of our relationship worrying that he would realize at one point that I wasn't worth it. That dealing with my depression, my family drama, my stubbornness, my constant doubts in every facet of life would prove to be too much. But here he is, watching my back every step of the way. 


When I met him I was lost and he found me. I was so ill in so many ways and he healed me. To put it simply I was a fucking mess of a puzzle with pieces scattered everywhere and he's been spending the last 15 years putting me back together. 

Relationships grow. They mature and change with the seasons of life. There's nothing better than looking someone in the eyes and thinking, "Yep, we did it all right. We're okay. It's all gonna be okay." 

Tonight's cheese fest is being brought to you by....
emotionally compromised me,
leftover fried chicken,
a wish for a carton of cigarettes and bottle of whiskey,
and wisdom from Pamela Beesley.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hey, you. Love, me.

Cory checked out a book recently that was comprised of people writing letters to themselves when they were teenagers. 

My first reaction was god that sounds so depressing.

Faith will turn 11 this year. And apart from my excitement over her now being the appropriate age for receiving her Hogwarts letter I'm filled a certain amount of dread on her behalf. It's coming...the teenage years. 

Has anyone ever had a truly authentic overall positive experience in relation to the ages of 13-well, adulthood? Whenever adulthood happens? Side note: I'm 34 fucking years old and still can't think of myself as an adult. I've never once made a meal plan, suck at handling money and have never owned a sensible coat. 

So, I present to you my hopeful letter to teenage Vanessa.

::If I had access to any pictures of teenage Vanessa I'd insert them here::

Hey, you

I see you. You may feel like people don't see you, but I do. I see your confusion and your doubts and am here to reassure you that those are completely normal. 

What I wish for you above all else is that you would stop being afraid. Don't be afraid to tell people no. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don't be afraid to laugh, or dance, or be ridiculous. Don't be afraid to try new things. 

And stop trying to fit everyone else's mold. You will go through a short period of loving Matchbox 20, and even though you will look back on that moment in life with great embarrassment and disappointment in 20 years I'm here to tell you that it's okay. It's also okay to wear dress pants with tennis shoes...and black with brown...and horizontal stripes because guess what...you're not fat. 

You're also not stupid, ugly or doomed in any way. Don't listen to your mom's prophecies or words from her god. They'll just cripple you and lead you in the wrong path every time. Follow YOUR path. 

You will find a boy. Or rather, he will find you. And he will fill every void you've ever had in your life. Listen to him, love him, and appreciate every single moment you have with him. Remember that little arguments, while healthy, are never important. You're worthy of love. Let him teach you how to love. 

You will be a mother, so please quit worrying about whether or not that's in your future. It'll suck some days and be all that you'd ever thought it'd be on others. Even the days that suck will be nothing short of the greatest gift you've ever been given. 

Only foster and hold onto relationships that better you as a person. The sooner you learn this the less heartache you'll experience as you grow into the person you're meant to be. 

Okay. Be strong. Be awesome. Kick ass. Also, Leonardo DiCaprio won't age as well as everyone thinks he will so you can take those posters down at any time now. Relish the angst and grunge of the 90's. You'll wish you could go back to those days when you're grown and auto-tune becomes a thing. 

Love, Me. Also you. 





Note to self: take more pictures with Cory. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Strength

As I sit here eating birthday cake oreos and drinking whiskey I find myself reflecting on 2014. I went through...five?...I think five....jobs. There were ups and downs...disappointments and moments of pure happiness. 

Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. The things that come every year. 

I took one big step this last year that was necessary yet painful at the same time. 

Last year I didn't have a word to live by..a word to drive my creativity or guide me. This year feels different somehow. Maybe it's the hope for things to be more peaceful. Maybe it's the anticipation of what's to come. My marriage is stronger than ever and I can't wait for that love and trust to grow even deeper. 

There's the promise of more books to be read, more time with friends, and so much delicious food to eat. Most of all I'm looking forward to standing my ground and working even harder to not allow myself to be pushed into corners. 2014 was the year of finally standing up for myself and I can't wait to continue this healthy pattern of self preservation. 

So my word for 2015? I struggled with it for a while til a friend helped me choose. Strength. I choose to be strong. I choose to not be afraid any more. I choose to be more adventurous. I choose to not be terrified of new experiences. Or, at the very least, to still embark on new experiences despite being afraid. I choose to take use my camera more. Read more. Play more. Dance more...or at all. Laugh more. Be silly more. I will be strong. 

2015. The year of strength. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Death of Sanity

Okay, so I said that my NaNoWriMo material would be used for blogging purposes now...since it seems unlikely that I have much more to spew out at the moment. Maybe some day I'll get those 50,000 holy words.

I won't lie. This may have been the heaviest thing that I wrote, and this is the first time I've ever written about postpartum depression at length. So I guess..be warned? But here we are, for posterity. And with maybe even a small touch of hope that it'll help someone some day?



I've given birth to three children. It is probably the only truly worthwhile thing I will ever do with my life...the only thing that could potentially have an impact on the world or make anything better. With each pregnancy came months of puking in every nearly every parking lot in the OKC metro area, various bags found in the floorboard of my car, and so many toilets I couldn't have kept count if I'd wanted to. Then there was the heartburn, intense rib pain, swollen everything, and loss of all bladder function. That last one is still a very real problem even nearly 6 years after doing it for, what I hope oh God I hope, the last time.

But the worst part came after having our third. Giving birth to him was the most intense yet euphoric experience I've ever had. He was an enormous baby. I mean, gigantic. I pushed him out then Cory set him on the floor and he immediately ran across the room looking for a football to throw, that’s how big he was. I will gladly tell you all about the entire ordeal of shitting the floor while standing there as he was trying to make his way out, not even giving me the satisfaction of pushing. I will tell you with great pride that I did it all without a single drug in my body and that my vagina took it all like a fucking champ and didn't even tear like it did with my first two. I imagine that if we were to have a fourth I would probably be one of those women who squat on the kitchen floor, push the thing out, then go back to stirring my giant pot of stew.

They say that most women experience what they laughingly call the baby blues. There’s even a Sunday paper comic strip about it. A really hilarious one that I adore, with its breastfeeding and attachment parenting agendas. Baby blues fade. They get better. Maybe you cry in the shower...maybe you snap at your significant other during a moment of weakness. I had the baby blues after having our first two kids. What I experienced after giving birth to Otto was something completely different. I grew up in a depressed household. My mom used to spend hours in her closet, weeping and praying to God to save her children. My dad would shout and scream to make himself feel better. Yet somehow I had defeated the odds. I mean, sure I'd cry while reading Nicholas Sparks novels in college. My heart isn't made of stone. But for the most part my sanity and emotions were kept in check.

Once while at a tent revival (You know what a tent revival is, don't you? There are tents, the speaking of tongues, dancing with tambourines and ribbons..basically everything but the venomous snakes.) I had a young preacher point at me from the stage. There he stood in his fancy suit with his curly mullet, pointing his bejeweled finger at me. “You will be happy, child!” he shouted..spit flying out from between his teeth. Then mom wept and half a dozen men put their hands on me, shouting prayers up to the Heavens. But the thing was, I was mostly a happy kid despite so many of the things that were going on around me.

So when the baby blues progressed to something much worse I didn't know how to deal with it. This was something overeating so much food couldn't cure. Watching “Steel Magnolias” and crying about Shelby didn't make it any better. I think the most shocking part was that there were so many times when I couldn't even cry. Everything just felt numb. Dead. Asleep. I couldn't even talk to Cory about it because I couldn't find the words. There were no words. I just felt...not me. I didn't want to be me. I didn't want to be anything, feel anything, do anything.

Cory knew I wasn’t right. He’s always known when something was wrong. Our usual tactic when I was feeling overwhelmed was for him to take all of the kids and give me breathing space. I love being alone, so if you think about it it makes total sense that I had three kids. Being alone, in the quiet, gives me time to reflect. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I watch horrible television. Sometimes I read. But this one time, not too long after having Otto, the only thing I wanted to do was die. I thought about that scene in “The Craft” where Bonnie grabs Sarah’s wrist, eyes the scars, and says, “You even did it the right way.”. I remembered what Sarah used to give herself those scars. “A-a kitchen knife,” she said. I found myself wondering which one of our kitchen knives would be sharp enough. By this point in time our marriage had been going strong long enough for all the shit that we'd gotten in the beginning to be faded, dull, and nearly useless. I pictured myself sawing at my wrists just trying to get a good cut. I pictured Cory walking back into the house with three children, one of which would probably a screaming, hungry baby since he'd been without my breasts for too long and finding me.

Was that rock bottom? I honestly don't know. I do know that I didn't go any further than those thoughts. They all happened while I was sitting on the couch, frozen in place. I never walked to the kitchen to actually inspect our cutlery. I never considered other, less messy alternatives that wouldn't leave my already filthy house in even more disarray. (Hello, type A.) I just knew that it was time to get some help. Somehow, some way I needed to get help.

What do you do when you need to seek counseling to stay alive yet have no health insurance? When you're too proud to ask your parents for help because you know your mother thinks that therapy is of the devil, where do you turn to? The only sensible solution was to go to our local county’s health department. I took a deep breath, acted like a real adult, and called them. Gathering up check stubs, W-2’s, bank statements, and a sleeping baby in his carseat I shuffled self consciously into the building.

I walked back into a young woman’s office and sat down in an uncomfortable metal folding chair, keeping Otto’s car seat in my lap because I didn't want to set him on their disgusting floor. Even after three children I still had some sense of pride and awareness of germs. She informed me in a monotone voice that I was poor enough to qualify for free counseling and medication if they decided I needed it. I wouldn't be allowed to talk to a counselor today, they would have to assign me one and that could take up to a week. I was crushed. I needed help and was sent back home with nothing but an acute awareness of how poor we really were. We've had to use the assistance made available to the way too many people struggling to get by at various points in our marriage and the one thing that remains constant is the humiliation. The feeling that everyone is watching you pull your WIC checks out of the giant envelope in your bag thinking, “Why did they have kids if they can't afford them?” “Why should my tax dollars feed your family?”

I got a phone call a few days later from a woman with an even more monotone voice informing me, begrudgingly, that she had been assigned as my counselor. I could see it all go down in that moment. I would drive to the saddest building on the planet, sit in a room with truly crazy people, hold my baby in my lap because as a way to torture myself even further I insisted on breastfeeding exclusively so he could be a permanent fixture attached to my nipples, and struggle to gain enough trust in a woman who didn’t sound like she was interested in helping me to tell her my deepest, darkest secrets. At this point in time I didn't even trust my husband enough to tell him that I had thought about slicing the veins in my wrists open. I never called her back.

Obviously this wasn't healthy, and I realize that. I also realize that I knew immediately that that environment wasn't going to work for me. I told my brother over the phone that I needed counseling because I thought that just maybe I was suffering from postpartum depression. He made sympathetic noises and told me to let him know if I needed anything. I never told him how bad it was either.

The only thing that did help was a camera. I bought a used camera off some random college kid I found on Craigslist. I made Cory go with me so the children and I wouldn't get murdered, and I took some of the worst pictures anyone has ever taken. I took pictures of fences, brick walls and random junk in our white trash yard. There were pictures of the kids’ feet that were meant to be artistic, but only appeared so when I used the built in sepia filter. I love looking back at those pictures. It’s like I can almost see myself starting to get better.

I don't know if postpartum depression ever truly goes away. I heard someone recently discussing a mother who drove all of her children into a lake and drowned them. “But wasn't she a severe case of postpartum psychosis?” I asked. “I don't even think all that’s real,” she said. I have no idea what was going through that mom’s head on the day she did what she did, and I can tell you that the thought of hurting my children never crossed my mind. But I can tell you that postpartum depression and psychosis are very real. Mental illness makes people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable, which is why I've never written about it before. I keep saying, “I'll write about it some day, when the time feels right.” but it just never does. I don't think it'll ever feel right.

Cory tells me that I'm still not the same person I was before having Otto. In all honesty I would almost consider having a fourth child if the fear of sinking back into the black hole wasn't too real to handle. I don’t pick up my camera for my own benefit as much as I used to. I can't even remember the last time I took a picture of a fence or an Oklahoma sunset. I do know though that some days are a real struggle. There are some days when I think to myself I can’t do it today. I have to stay in bed. I can't talk to people, look people in the eye, drive a car, eat any food, stop eating all the food, or even breathe. Then I drag my ass out of bed, take a too long shower, feed my kids dry cereal and cart them off to school wondering to myself Did they brush their teeth? as I drive away.

There are enough people in my life that know I battled postpartum depression to ask me for advice. They just had a baby and feel sad. Their friend/daughter/spouse just had a baby and they feel sad. And I always offer whatever quack advice I can. “Counseling didn't really work for me, but I found something that helped me escape it.” What I should say is, “Don't ask me, please, because I'm still severely fucked in the head.”

After playing with my camera for a couple of years I started taking pictures on the side for money. I meet the loveliest people doing this on the weekends. One of those lovely people is a beautiful, blond psychiatrist who lives in the most magnificent house, has a handsome husband who is also a psychiatrist, and two gorgeous children who both play musical instruments. She even owns two English bulldogs who are perfectly well behaved and adorably fat. One day, after taking pictures of her family leaning against trees in their neighborhood, I sat on her couch while she wrote me a check. She lectured me. “You need to be charging more. That picture we used for our Christmas card last year got so many compliments.” I took it as an invitation to dump all of my mommy issues onto her lap. I sat there for a solid half hour on the verge of tears, telling her all about my mom’s need to try and buy my love and why that gave me a serious hatred of money and all things related to money and stupid useless possessions.

Are you grasping what I'm telling you right now? I, the professional, sat in the home of a client who did nothing more than offer me a simple piece of advice and psychoanalyzed myself. I told the therapist, who wasn't even my therapist, what I thought was wrong with me. She is still one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Not only did she endure it all with the grace of a saint, but she smiled and nodded offering grunts and sounds of sympathy that I took to mean, “Your mom is an absolute bitch and you deserve better. Here, let me be your new mommy.” She even hired me two more times after that to take their pictures again.

Bottom line? I should still probably be in therapy. I still get streaks of the baby blues even nearly 6 years after having an actual baby. I try to figure out ways to trick people into slipping me Xanax or weed, even though I'm too terrified of getting caught to actually take someone else’s pills or even be near anyone in possession of weed. For now I try and hold onto the knowledge that it’s never gotten that bad again. I'm still okay. I’m still here. I’m still standing. I haven't had a day when I couldn't get out of bed in a really long time. It’s like I'm forever hiking and don’t know when I'll reach the part where the plateau where I can take a deep breath and head downhill finally happens, but at least the climb doesn't feel quite as steep any more.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

hey, guys

When I feel the need to write I tend to do it in random spurts of verbal nothingness, so excuse me while I type.

When meeting your idol it's good to write a list of the things you want to say to them. Or perhaps even just write them a letter to be read at a later date should they remember to open it. That being said, snuggling with Amanda Palmer with your big sister in a blanket fort is just as beautiful as you'd imagine. 


I attempted NaNoWriMo. I really did. I gave it a good effort, guys. But after approximately 18,000 words mostly about my childhood I had nothing left to say. The good news is that I'm viewing those words as potential blog material for the future, so hang onto your hats...it's heavy shit. Except for the things I wrote about Katy Perry and my letter to Chris Evans. 

Cory is currently rubbing my feet and legs. We've had the last five days together and it's been magic. I'd almost forgotten how absolutely perfect he is.

I don't have strong convictions in many things any more, but I'm hardcore anti book shaming. That being said I'm way too humiliated to tell any of you what I've been reading. Don't ask. I won't tell. Seriously. Don't. Fucking. Ask. 

This picture makes me feel pretty. It's amazing to me that I can be completely disgusted by what I see in a mirror, yet a decent picture can make me reevaluate everything. 


I want pizza. 

I want cereal.

I want fish tacos. 

I wish I had something important to say. See? Verbal nothingness. 

Here. Listen. Maybe cry. Maybe miss your brother. Maybe wish that certain aspects of life had turned out differently. But most of all be grateful for what you do have, because these days time seems to moving even faster than its normal way too fast pace. I cut 30 tiny toenails yesterday and was shocked by the size of the feet I held in my hands. I must remember these things...