Sunday, January 4, 2009

Off the Rollercoaster

I can hear SciFi in his crib. Playing and not sleeping. I could really use the solitude. I am trying to read a book my friend and I are working through together: Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be. It is written by Donna Partow and designed help me become closer to the Proverbs 31 woman. In 90 days.

But the toddler in the other room is singing. And climbing out of his crib. And pooping his diaper (which he should no longer be wearing). Please, please, please baby. Just do the routine.... Stick that pacifier (which he should no longer be sucking) into your face and shut. it. Muh. Mommy loves you.

I do prefer the squawks from the other room to the help he gave me in the kitchen earlier. I was cleaning the kitchen and making lunch. Why? Why did I clean before I made lunch? I still don't know. I like to make it as complicated as I can, I guess. Anyway. He found a bottle of my Melaleucal "MelaMagic" cleaner and on the bottle was the image of a mop. SciFi pointed and repeated, "mop! mop! mop!" until I "ummmhummmed".

I should know by now when he pivots like a ballerina followed by a full sprint, that he is on a mission. And this particular 2-year-old's mission was to fetch our mop. To show mom that she knows that he knows we have a mop just like the one he sees on the bottle. So when he came in with it, I glanced in his general direction and "ummmhummmed" some more. I didn't understand that the mission wouldn't be complete without the scrubbing bubbles. In the time it took to drain my broccoli, he had climbed up on the counter, and dumped the cleaner onto the floor beneath.

When our eyes met, he knew I would intercept, so he did the hustle. In two steps I could spoil all of his fun so he got down and mopped like the energizer bunny.

Instead of being concerned about toxins, or the fact he'd been standing on the counter, I was overwhelmed by darkness.

All I could think of is how badly I want to get off this ride. God... a beach in Mexico is calling my name. LOUDLY.... God, I feel so guilty for wanting to run away. Can't I even make lunch? Can't I even hold myself together until noon? Am I too selfish? What is the matter with me?

In these moments, everything shuts down. And the child next to me who is simply being a child, triggers my despair. And it has nothing to do with the mop. Or the mess he made.

Its the cry from a woman can't seem to find the energy to clean up her own personal messes.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sitting Indian Style

I believe prayer & meditation are remedies for depression. But truthfully, God and I aren't right. My prayers are mostly just little thoughts that I aim in the general direction of "up".  You could call it begging.

When the crisis began, I saw myself as the woman who received healing just by touching the hem of Jesus' robe. I was touching and God was blessing. I watched Him work many many miracles in my life. He provided the money for my Husband's treatment when we didn't know how we were going to pay for it. We simply believed the money would come. And in just days before his departure, it did. It was nothing short of a miracle and just thinking about it is encouraging. I walked in total faith and God blessed me mercifully. Just as promised.

Back to the woman. I imagined her wispy and slight. Faithful and Graceful. Practically dancing up to Jesus with plump fingers barely caressing the edges of Jesus' beautiful robe. Time stops and she is wonderfully healed.

But that is now how I would describe my own hem-grazing experiences.

First of all, I show up late. Because I was crawling on the cobblestone streets with four children in tow (one on my back even) my knees are a bloody mess and so are my knuckles. I see Jesus in a group and feel left out. Instead of going forward, my crawling ceases and I take a moment to judge myself. I lose hope. I lose my resolve. I cry and I wonder if I'll ever be privileged enough to stand next to him like his disciples do. I turn around and blame my children for getting in the way and for needing me to carry them. I tell them how heavy they are and what a burden it can be to carry them along when I can barely move forward. I embrace guilt. And then I somehow get a grip. And my finger reaches out and my hands stretch open with force. I don't just touch the robe. I pull it to me and bury my face in the linen and by the time I'm done, I've stained it with my tears, my blood, my pain, and maybe even my snot.

And in this healing moment, I am shameless. I'm changed. My soul quiets. My heart glows in my chest. Tears are traded for peaceful sighs. I find myself recklessly in love with Jesus. Content.

My God, this has been such a torturous journey. I've sometimes felt as if I'm dragging on the backside of Jesus' hem... more like a string of cans getting yanked behind a car than a follower of Jesus. Please be patient with me. I feel stuck in this ugly place of paralysis. I'm sitting in the street with my grief. Wallowing in it. My faith is weak. I know you are here and I know you love me.

Right now, all I have is this: that I am somehow still here. Sitting but not running away.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Depression Part 1

I woke up two hours ago.  At 4 am on the nose.  I couldn't fall asleep last night even though I was completely and utterly exhausted.   

I'm battling severe Depression.  Not a word I like to use.  Not something I like to admit.

In pubic, I think I hold it together pretty well.  Most people would describe me as friendly and well-put together.  Recently, I was mistaken for a High School student.  Granted, the woman was old enough to be my great-grandmother... it is also possible that she was blind in one eye and couldn't see out the other... but still... at almost 37 years old, I'll take it.   

I used to be a cheerleader (Did I just admit that?) and in many ways I still am.  Usually, I love to encourage others... I'm quick to compliment and try to overlook faults in others.  I do my best to smoothly navigate through rough conversations with "sandpaper people" as I call them.  I hug.

Lately?  I'm likely to call people names.  I'm tempted to foster grudges.  Is it just me or does everyone have some sort of personality disorder? I don't have a lot of patience and virtue feels like a vapor I can't seem to latch on to.

I'm weary.  I want to sleep and cry and I lie in bed wondering if swallowing a handful of pills would mean that I wouldn't have to do the hardest thing in the world:  swing my legs over the side of the bed and begin again.

Last week,  I looked at the knife sitting on the counter, and I thought about using it to slice my wrists.  Which is not something I'd ever do.  Too messy and painful.  The mere fact that I even had the thought, startled me.

When Brittany shaved her head?  I understood her.  She was oppressed.  She was in a rage.  Some people pull their hair out... some people cut... some people hit, berate, and accuse others.  Pain has to go somewhere.  When the photos and videos of Brit were circulating through the media, I was going through my own personal hell.  I was being torn apart by sexual abuse.  Absolutely shredded.  It's a wonder I didn't shave my own head.

I had a six month old baby and three other children.  Two of whom were victims and needed me to be their pillar.

So I tried to be everything to everyone.  I nursed my baby through sleepless nights.  I did my best to listen to my talkative, active son who cried alligator tears when I told him daddy couldn't live with us for a while.  I raced around trying to make everything all-better for my daughters.  I ran our fishing business, oversaw a construction project that was built from the ground up while my husband was away.... I ran kids to school, grocery shopped, shoveled the snow that delayed the construction project.  Spoke to attorneys, counselors and advocated for myself, my husband and my kids.  I moved from Alaska to Washington and back again. 

Until my husband was out of prison, I kept it together, day by day.  I counted the hours until he came home.  Naively,  I thought everything would be better after May 17th.  And some things are better.  Much, much better.  And some things are not.

I didn't realize that after being in survival mode, I would crash.   I see myself  like a wine glass slipping out of a wet hand... suspended... breath-held... praying to God everything would turn out OK... that the glass would merely bounce, not shatter.

If fantasizing about violence with kitchen knives, craving a bottle of pills and justifying BrittanySpears' hairdo is any indicator... I've hit the floor. With force. 

I sat in my closet, wrapped my arms around myself,  and admitted it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This Christmas, I Channeled Grandma

My Mom's Mother was German.  As a child, I spent a lot of time wondering why she cleaned so much and laughed so little.  She's not remembered as being a very loving woman but every time she gently pin-curled my thick head of hair, I knew she loved me.

Grandma did a lot of funny things by accident.  When we laughed at her, we made sure to do it in private.  After all, this is a woman who was known to start whipping kids with the wooden rosary she'd just been praying on.  And it wasn't just Mary and Jesus she threw around, her broom was used as a powerful weapon. With it, she chased small children and animals into hiding all the while shaming them with German curses.  

Unless she was angry, Grandma spoke English.  Her mother, my Great-Grandmother Folk, tried not to speak German in public, either.  Since this was post-war America, speaking the language of Hitler was something done in private.  Or in extreme anger.  Take your pick.

Once, Great-Grandma Folk came over to watch my mom and her two sisters while my Grandma went to the dentist.  She was getting fitted for dentures and of course, had to have her teeth pulled out.  When she came home with a painful, puckered and unsightly mouth, she reverted to speaking German with her mom.  My aunt was hiding under the bed bawling because she thought that without teeth, Grandma couldn't speak in English.

She pronounced Tylenol, "Ty-nol", called the couch a "Davenport", and had friends that were "Eye-talian".  Her medicine cabinet was filled with so many over-the-counter drugs that I'm sure would be of great value to the neighborhood meth user.  My Grandma often confused the drugs in her cabinet. 

It wasn't uncommon for us to be laughing at the kitchen table because we heard, "Jesus, Mary & Joseph! I just dropped Pa's nasal spray in my EYE!" coming from the bathroom.  Or, "Oh, for Pete's sake! That was BEN-GAY?! I thought it was Polygrip."  It is the running joke in our family.  

Which is why my mom called me a few years back to tell me (between tears of laughter) that instead of cleansing gently with a cotton-ball full of astringent, she had rubbed her face raw with nail-polish remover.  Jesus, Mary & Joseph.

Yesterday, I used my own astringent.  I noticed that it seemed a bit bubblier than usual and thought that it might be my imagination.  I inspected my cotton ball to see if maybe there was some soap on it or something.  And then today.  It happened again.  Instead of the nice, tingly lavender rubdown, there was a strange, foamy residue.  I marched downstairs-in my towel, even- and confronted my 8-year old.

"Lambchop.  Tell me the truth.  Have you been doing science experiments with this?" I asked as I held up the bottle in question.  He denied it.  I didn't believe him.  I pressed again.  "Are you SURE you didn't add something to this??  Hydrogen Peroxide?  Soap??  Come on.  Just tell me."  I could not get him to admit he'd been tweaking my skin-care even though I practically interrogated him.

Which is why I felt just a little bit guilty when I discovered it was eye-make-up remover I'd been smearing all over my face.

Under my breath, I muttered "Jesus, Mary & Joseph...."  I fugured my Grandma and I were just wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sabbath Dinner

After I made a delicious, vegetarian version of Pad Thai for dinner, I asked my husband and 8-year-old son, "Lambchop" if they liked the meal.  It was one of those conversations I assumed was happening above my two-year-old's head.

Lambchop:  "I'm not a spice man.  I'm more of a sour man."  


SciFi:  "I batman!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

I'm sitting in the local coffee shop feeling like a princess because there is only one outlet in this joint, and guess who's computer is feeling the love?

Beneath a child's cut-out snowflakes, taped to the nearby window are flyers announcing upcoming community events. If I really wanted to attend, I would have to decipher the time and place by reading from right to left. Ordinarily? Not a big deal. But considering I've been on the opposite side of of the social status-quo for almost two years now, I find it poetic.

I guess that's where I've been since my last post. Learning how to live with my modern-day scarlet letter. I was first introduced to this term as a kid. I don't remember in what context, but if I had to guess, it would've had something to do with my German Grandmother giving some sort of warning to my aunts. In my mind (heavily influenced by 70's sitcoms, mind you) I imagined Penny Marshall flying into her apartment with a giant, loopy, cut-from-felt "L" on her shirt. I mean, Laverne was doing the kinds of things that called for the wearing a scarlett letter, right? Quite honestly, I still imagine it that way.... that cursive thing stuck to my chest.

In reality,the scarlet letter is elusive. I'm not sure who put it there or who else sees it. I see the reflection of it in some people's eyes but not others'. Sometimes I remember to remove it with prayer, and some times I stick it on myself and hide behind the tremendous weight of it.

I battle with this. I stay home from social events. I decline dinner invitations. I lower my eyes in public. I allow shame and embarrassment to overwhelm and depress me. I hide at home unshowered and in the sweats I slept in. For two nights straight.

I recently made something called a vision board... it is suppose to way to keep me focused on things I would like to accomplish in this life. In the middle I drew an ornate mirror to remind me to see myself the way God does. But lately, I've forgotten to listen to him and all I see in the mirror is a woman who hopes her God is holding on to her because somewhere between the last post and the present, I think she let go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grandpa, the Internet is Better than a Billboard.

Ah! Two posts in one day! I'm dizzy with excitement. Let me tell you why I now post again even with my just-turned-two-years-old distraction wrangling around on my lap! Carol Davis- Morning Show Host Extraordinare and THE most entertaining woman attending the Proverbs 31 conference in June, "tagged me"! I'm not sure what I'm suppose to do, but I will tell you I about passed out with joy that someone other than my mother was reading my blog. (Sorry, Mom!)

The drill:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

So, apparently, this is less like freeze tag and more like, "Hey.... do you remember when your Grandpa told you not to reveal anything about yourself that you wouldn't post on a billboard? Let's do it anyway!"

1. If you were to climb into my bed and fluff my pillows, you might just find hidden treasures. I tend to take things off while napping... my watch, hair-ties, maybe even the phone.

2. When I was waiting for my husband to get out of the slammer (don't I sound trashy?) I measured the time by a little toenail experiment. I went out for a pedicure just a couple of days before his incarceration (see, not so trashy) and applied light pink polish. Because I was too labored with kids, work, depression, and oh, yeah... kids, I didn't have a chance to get another one. So, after a few months, I got curious and wondered if I'd have ANY toe polish left when the hubby got out. Guess what? It takes exactly eight months for my large toenail to grow out.

3. My favorite kind of film is a documentary... action films put me to sleep.

4. I am not responsible enough to have a cell phone. In the last ten days I've misplaced it countless times and as of now, haven't seen it in 6 days. It doesn't really bother me and the mere fact that it doesn't, drives my friends and family nuts.

5. As a young girl , I would sometimes comfort myself by quietly singing an obscure Amy Grant song when I felt lonely, insecure or afraid. In my most distressful adult moments, I sing it in my head.

6. I am a dental oddity. I enjoy straight teeth even though I sucked my thumb until I was... um.... lets just say old enough to have a crush on The Karate Kid.