Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trailer Park Lessons - Hold Your Fire

I told you a couple of weeks ago about the trailer park that my dad and I moved into following some pretty intense family craziness. (Including his - to be fair, the way that we ended up in this trailer park had just as much to do with his inability to hold down a job and to stay away from drugs as it did with any of the other stuff that was going on in our lives.

And it happened that we moved into the trailer park with the shitty ass tin can single-wide with holes in the floor and a governor on our water meter. 

This week's lesson is all about a giant hard-headed boy that has always had to figure out things on his own. When he was the same age as the Supergirl, he hung himself upside down in a tree by his foot (that is a story for another day) after being told repeatedly not to even climb the tree (and I wonder where my girl gets this hard-headed stubborn streak of hers). 

It's also a story about a man named Butch. I am not sure if Butch has ever had a last name, but I am pretty sure that as time has passed, he has forgotten it. He's the kind of old biker guy that lights his next cigarette with the one he is currently smoking, drinks nothing but Busch (yuck!) beer, and somehow never, ever has to go to work. He was rail thin and wiry with a long gray beard that he never trimmed. 

There were rumors around the park that Butch had once shot and killed his dog right in front of his trailer steps because of a hangover. Judging by the pile of empty Busch beer cans right outside his window, and the blood-stained dog collar he kept hooked around his front door knob, it could be true.

One day, my younger brothers came over for a visit and the youngest (although he was about 11 or 12 at the time) stumbled upon our dad's BB gun. I told him to leave it alone and for a while he did, but when I went to the bedroom I heard the front door open, a BB gun pop and then a ricocheting rattle followed by a squeal, a slamming door, and heavy breathing. 

I storm out of the bathroom, "What happened?". My terrified brother looked at me, panic in his eyes. "I shot the concrete slab with the BB gun and the BB bounced.

"Bounced into what?"

"Butch's house."

"What did you break?"

"Nothing. I just heard a voice that said, 'Boy, I return fire.'"

Lesson learned - unless you are prepared to go to battle, don't fire. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shaken, But Not Beaten

We all know that I have been in quite the funk lately. That I am dissatisfied with my marriage, my life, my job. That I just want to runaway.

All of that, every stinking piece of it - the bi-polar, the marriage, the two jobs, the kid, the guilt, the rain, the gray, the being so broke that you are not certain if there will even be power on this week or whether or not there are groceries in the house even though you are working two jobs and you never sleep and the creditors never stop calling, and February - all just took over and attacked me.

They (I still don't know who they are) say that people have two responses to attacks: fight or flight. I am not sure where I fit into that. I feel like I have been fighting, I feel like I have been a tense struggle to get past all of this, to not let myself get dragged down by yet another February and yet, here I am, closing in on the end of the worst month of the year (every year) and I am shaken and scared.

For the first time in more than 12 years, I cut myself because I couldn't take the pain inside of my head anymore. It hurts to write that sentence. It hurts to acknowledge that I really resorted to a failed technique of my twenties as a coping mechanism. It hurts to admit that I have allowed myself to get this deep back into the hole.

And, to be quite frank, it scared me straight.

I reached out to people that I know care about me. I made sure that someone who was in close proximity of me knew what I was struggling with and (without words) made absolutely sure that I wasn't going to be able to turn back to that again.

After thinking on the consensus of people that know me the best, I quit taking my antidepressant. That might not make sense to some of you, so let me explain.

When I am depressed, really depressed, I need an antidepressant to get me out of that hole, but once I am no longer chemically depressed, continuing on an antidepressant (for me) will turn me bat-shit crazy. For real. And I stop sleeping. And eating. I get bored easily and dye my hair (badly). I make rash decisions and I blow people off.

And that's just the beginning. It gets even worse, because as people notice the changes in my personality, as people start to recognize that things are not all that I am cracking them up to be, as they begin questioning my actions, I start to internalize all of that as criticism. I start attacking myself, tearing myself down, little by little, piece by piece, until I don't feel anything anymore. I stop feeling real, I stop feeling at all.

And that leads to self-harm, because if all you can ever feel is anger at yourself, all you want to do is stop that one thing that is offending you so much. Yourself.

You could say, "Stop. Don't do that." To me, that would kind of be like telling a diabetic to not have high blood sugar anymore or telling someone with high blood pressure not to feel stressed. All of those things would be impossible without treatment, and yet somehow people think that having a psychiatric disorder is different, or all in our heads.

I am not saying that I am instantly better. (If only it could be that simple.) I am saying that I am not accepting the attacks right now. I am saying that I am going to keep fighting. I am saying that even in the lowest of the lows, I can see that this month is almost over, that the sun and warmth will be back again soon.

I can see that no matter what the voices in my head may say, today, I matter. Even if it's just to me, today, I matter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Run, Baby, Run

I come from a family of runners. When things got bad, too hard, bill collectors started to catch up, we moved. We moved a lot when I was a kid.

And when my mother decided to leave, she did it in the dark of night with only what she could fit in the car and my brothers. No note, no explanation, just gone.

My sister threw all of her things out of her bedroom window and then walked out of the front door to go on a date. She never came back.

When I was younger, I used to think that it was such cowardice. How can you just run instead of taking responsibility, instead of standing up for yourself, instead of owning that this was your life, part of your own making?

I feel that pull now, now that everything is chaos. I feel the need to pack up the car, the kid and disappear. I feel like I am crawling out of my skin, just sitting here waiting. Waiting for what?

In the still and the silence of the sleeping house after everyone has fallen asleep, I think I could do it, I think I could just get in the car and drive, just be gone. There is nothing keeping me here.

To what?

That’s the question that haunts me, that unknown. I am too much of a control freak to not know where the next meal is going to come from, too many questionable factors weighing me down. What happens when the real world catches up to me again, when there is nowhere else left to run? What then? What happens when the Supergirl realizes what I have done and begs to go back to her home, the only home that she has ever known, the home that she was conceived in?

So, I stay, in this mess that I have partially created. And I wait. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February Blows

I know that I have mentioned before that I hate February. The illusion that this is the shortest month, is laughable at best because this is the one month of the year that seems to go on FOREVER.

Nothing good happens in February.

On Valentine's Day (which I do not celebrate, by the way), the school called to let me know that the Supergirl was sick. Also? She couldn't go back to school the next day because she had to be vomit-free for 24 hours and seeing how she got sick at a quarter to four...well, you do the math.

I had hoped that she could make it through the car ride home without incident. My hopes were dashed. We pulled into a gas station, made a rush through the door to get to the bathroom when we were cut off by a mom of 3 young children who took her entire brood into the one girl's bathroom. I tried to coerce the now panicked Supergirl into the men's room, but she refused.

And then she erupted, projectile vomiting all over the floor of the Circle K.

I grabbed her and shoved her into the men's room where she proceeded to attempt to lecture me on the dangers and rudeness of pushing as I gathered armfuls of paper towels to clean the floor.

It was as I was cleaning the floor of the gas station on my hands and knees that I began to notice that a crowd had begun to form around me. And the cheery mother who had cut me off on the way to the bathroom, began to berate my poor parenting skills that my child would vomit on the floor instead of in the men's bathroom. Yelling at me. Yelling at me because my child was sick. (Dear God, lady, you must be one fucking spectacular parent that your children have never had an accident in a public place.)

Teens took pictures - and video!- with their phones. My child cried for me from behind the door of the men's bathroom and I just kept cleaning the floor. Head down, trying not to cry, trying not to vomit, trying not to become enraged as I saw the Hubs (I wonder if I should still call him that) across the room enjoying social hour with a former pastor.

I finished the job. I threw away the paper towels. I grabbed my sobbing child and I left it all behind.

And when we got home and took showers, I hoped it would all be over.

I was wrong about that, too. And as I watched the Hubs sleeping dutifully on the couch through hours 3-7 of the eruption of Mount Supergirl as though nothing were wrong, as I shampooed vomit out of my hair for the second time that night and washed a 3rd load of clothes, as I finally felt safe enough to lie down and attempt to sleep? It came to me.

There is nothing good about February.

Oh, and I cannot be married anymore.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trailer Park Lessons - How To Eat Free On Sundays

After my mom left and the house I grew up in (sort of) got foreclosed on, my dad and I had to find a place to live. When he said that we were moving into a two bedroom tin can single wide, I cringed until he told me the rent - $400 a month including water and trash service. What a deal! We could easily swing that!

I moved in, sight unseen to the strangest trailer park community that I had ever seen (not that I had seen that many, but this was the strangest group of people ever amassed in one place). 

The first trailer on the left was a woman named Lynn. Lynn was one of those people that look normal until they speak and then the weird just seems like it is projectile vomiting all over the place. Lynn had a much younger boyfriend that was Korean. He did not speak a word of English. Lynn spoke no Korean. I am not sure if he knew that he was her boyfriend, he may have just thought that she had adopted him. 

One Saturday afternoon, Lynn came over and asked my dad if he would like to go out to lunch on Sunday. My dad said sure, but let her know that he didn't have a lot of cash (between paychecks or between jobs, one or the other) so they would have to go somewhere on the cheap. "No problem," was her only reply. She showed up at our trailer at 9:15 and told him she was ready to go. 

Now, the rest I got from my dad, because I wasn't there. Lynn didn't have a home church, in fact, Lynn had never been to the same church more than once, but since moving to Tiny Town she had learned one truth about all Baptist churches. Baptists love God and they also love soul food and potential new members get to eat their first meal for free. 

In the months that followed my dad got saved or baptized once a week at a different church while Lynn took pictures, cried real tears, and brought home cake or pie or cobbler. 

I drove by Lynn's trailer today - she has spray painted (in electric blue no less) "Praise and say yes to Jesus" in floor to ceiling letters all the way around it. 

If you need to get your grub on, at least there are still ways to get good food and good company (and maybe a bit of the gospel) on a Sunday. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


The Supergirl loves to stuff her belongings into boxes and bags. It doesn't matter if she has to stand on it to get it to close, she is going to put her treasure-of-the-moment in that box, or bag, or kitty carrier. Every so often, she comes to me and tries to get me to close the box. My first impulse, of course it to relieve some of the pressure by taking a few things out.

"NO!" she screams. "It has to all fit in." And off she will go, toting her container of choice while teddy bear legs, ribbons, and doll heads poke out of the sides and top.

I think I understand the feeling, this impulse to contain everything in the neat little container. To not let anyone know of the broken, the messy, the chaos that goes on in the inside. I've been doing it for years.

What I am learning, is that even though I thought I was keeping it all under wraps, presenting this well contained package, my package has been largely made of glass. Maybe it was plexiglass. Something that you can see through...


And all of that chaos and crazy that I thought I was hiding so well? Everyone knew the whole time, they were just too polite or scared or shocked to admit to it.

It feels good to let go of that stress. The stress to keep everything contained and perfect. The stress to make it seem like there was not really a problem, the stress to pretend like I was really normal.

I live life. It's messy, it's chaotic. Sometimes, I screw it up really big. But it's who I am.

And for the first time ever - I am okay with that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Through The Filter

You see me. Normal, ordinary, plain Jane me.

I have filters, filters on how I see the world, how I see myself, how I see everything.

The first filter is dark. It's my most common filter. It gives everything, everyone a rather dismal sheen. The world is covered in a veil of grey. There is no reason to be happy, to be glad, to be thankful. This life is just something to get through until you die. There is no joy, no elation, no good. Just grey.

I hate gray.

Through this filter I am fat, insecure, ugly, stupid, lazy, slow, selfish. There is no point to my life, no good that I can be to anyone. I am worthless. I am less than trash.

My second filter is the one I like to think that most people have, I like to think that it is closer to what the real world sees. It's full of light and color and awesome. My brain fires in all directions. I am confident, sexy, funny, charming, seductive, and smart. I am driven. I am powerful and happy. I laugh more. I love the world that I am in, I believe the world is mine.

There are dangerous sides to this filter too.

I have no inhibitions. I have none of the guilt that normally hugs me like a blanket, I have no sense of ownership or responsibility to anyone or anything. My brain fires so fast that I can not get my ideas, my words to come out of my fingertips fast enough. I can not turn off my brain to sleep. I cannot stomach any food because I am constipated by the words, by the thoughts, by the very things that I most love and I cannot get them out of me and into the world fast enough and it breaks and it hurts and I don't know what to do because everything is moving so fast and so hard and if I just keep fighting, just keep trying to sit still in my tiny office in front of this computer screen maybe, maybe, maybe just maybe I can get them to come out in a cohesive paragraph.

And then I look back and it is all wrong and all angry and what I thought was witty sarcasm was really just just me using a thesaurus to drive home a point about laundry and it is all wrong.

So I don't hit publish. I erase it all because it is wrong and I swallow up all of the things that I wish I had said, because I couldn't say them and I continue to suffocate on the thoughts that I cannot push out of my body.

This is Bi-Polar Type II. It is not fancy or exciting. It is not all razor blades and crazy. It's just a mom trying to find the middle so that she doesn't freak her kid the heck out.

Sometimes I succeed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Broken and Messy

This is not going to be some pretty post. In fact, it is probably going to come out pretty ugly, but in all fairness I am warning you beforehand so if you don’t want to see all of my ugly bits and pieces, you can go ahead and click to some other momma blog that features pictures of precious little girls with gigantic bows in their perfectly combed hair and always clean clothes. I never claimed to be that mom, never claimed that this would be that blog.

I have talked recently about feeling like a kitten in a dryer tumbling towards oblivion but there is plenty that has happened recently that I haven’t told you.

I haven’t told you that I don’t want to be married anymore, that this unit that I have tried so hard to protect, so hard to build for so many years has just crumbled through my fingers. I haven’t told you about how it’s not his fault, this time, that I just physically, emotionally can’t do this (whatever this is) anymore. It’s not fair to him, to me, to the Supergirl to just keep pretending that we are all just fine, just okay, just dandy, when really? The reality is that things haven’t been anywhere close to okay in a very long time.

I have told you that I am not really sleeping anymore. Or maybe you saw that on Facebook. I don’t know.

I don’t sleep.

I also rarely eat.

The truth is I can’t sleep, my mind just won’t turn off. There are times, days that I am so very, very tired that I physically cannot stop crying. No matter how hard I try, the never ending fount of tears just keeps pouring and I can’t control it. It scares me, this inability to control my own bodily functions.

I have told you that I am taking an anti-depressant, but I haven’t told you that it may have made me a bit manic - that looking back now on the last few months I can see that the person driving this machine wasn’t really me or it was me, just a funnier, braver, more hyped up version of me. I haven’t told you that I have lashed out at friends that have seen the change that have recognized the problem and suggested therapy.

I have told you that I have a great boss. I haven’t told you that my work performance at the full-time job may have slipped due to over exhaustion or over exertion or my complete lack of ability to pay attention to anything lately. I haven’t told you that Great Boss decided to call the employee assistance program rather than writing me up. I haven’t told you that they referred me to a therapist to get me help or that I am terrified of dredging up more of the past that I would prefer to just keep buried. Or that I am terrified that by allowing them to poke and prod at me they may take away the manic side of me that does (and can) get things accomplished.

I haven’t told you that I can’t remember a time that I was really, truly happy. I can’t tell you that there was ever a time that I wasn’t looking around frantically trying to find whatever shoe was gonna drop and trying to brace myself to be the one to protect my family from those falling shoes, even at risk to myself, to my sanity, to my health. I haven’t told you that my default thinking in times of stress is to self-harm, that I am the one to blame, that they (and you) would all be so much better off if I were not a part of this world anymore.

And I know that depression lies and mental illness lies. I get that and I don’t listen and I keep fighting and I put on that fa├žade that you see me with EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

But there are times that the mask is too heavy, the battle is too hard, that the lies are just intolerable and on those days I am weak, so very weak.

Today, I begin a new fight. Pray for me.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The ABCs of Raising a 5 Year Old

A - Annoying. She is not really that annoying (only at bed time and when I wake her up in the morning and in that 15 minutes until dinner time when she tries to bargain for every possible snack in the pantry). It's more of the way that she says annoying, which is awesome and makes me smile but is sure to be gone forever in the very near future. Ack-noying. "Momma, stop ack-noying me!"

B - Butt. All of the time, night or day. Butt. "Momma, momma, momma, mom, momma, momma, momma, look! Ha ha, you just looked at my butt!"

C - Candy. "Can I have a piece of candy for eating my dinner? Can I have a piece of candy for standing here staring at you? Can I have a piece of candy for breakfast? Can I have a piece of candy for going to school? For taking a nap? For listening? Because you punished me?" The bargaining never stops. 

D - Diva. Glitter lip gloss, too much makeup? Tutus, short shorts, and high heels? We have got you covered. 

E - Eating. Homegirl likes to eat when she is tired. The later it is, the hungrier she thinks she is. You can keep her up past her bedtime, just know that all of the vegetables from dinner will be polished off before she collapses in exhaustion. Another great E word for raising a 5 year old? Exhaustion. All of the time. 

F - Fat, Flabby, Fabulous. Yay! My kid learned new words. Ugh. "Please stop talking about my fat butt and my flabby boobies. I can't deal with it today."

G - Girl. I knew that one day I would have a little girl with curly hair and a good tan. I prayed for it for a long time, but how did I end up with such a girly-girl? It's like someone took a gigantic jar of Pepto-Bismal and glitter and dumped it in her closet. It's all just so pink and frilly and high-maintenance! She will never understand the pleasure of a 5 minute shower, a quick hairbrushing, and running out of the house. She will never understand how much easier low-maintenance is to maintain when you have a baby. 

H - Helper. There is nothing that I can do that does not involve a helper these days. From getting my shoes on in the morning, to, evidently, starting the car - I have a helper for that. Too bad she is not old enough to dress me and carry me to the car - I could use the few extra minutes of sleep in the mornings. 

I - Imagination. I honestly don't know what is real and imaginary anymore. When she came home and told me that a boy bit her on the thigh for talking too much, I looked at her leg. There was no mark that night, so I just assumed that this was another of her stories. Until the gigantic black and purple knot showed its ugly face the next day. When I asked her teacher about it, she said the exact same thing - no mark, must have just made it up so she didn't do any paperwork. Imagine her surprise when I showed her the bruise. 

J - Jealousy. Other children, especially younger children, watch out. She will not have you touching her momma. Ever. 

K - Kitten. "Put the kitten down." "Take that off of the kitten." "Please stop trying to put the kitten down your underwear." It's really amazing that anything is accomplished at our house. 

L - Laughter. Wherever the Supergirl may be, you are sure to be laughing. Honestly, it's the only alternative to going completely insane. 

M - Makeup, makeovers, call it what you will, the girl is obsessed. Be careful to not sleep too soundly lest you become the next victim. 

N - Noisy. There are precious few hours of silence in her wake. Enjoy them when you can. 

O - Occupations. She is going to be a cheerleader, no, a doctor, no, a veterinarian, no, a famous singer, no, on TV, no, a nurse, no, a mom, no, a seller of auto parts (eek!), no, a writer, no, a teacher, no, a painter, no, a worker at McDonald's. There is really no job that she is afraid to try out. 

P - Precocious. The tender age between big kid and little kid is a time of defiance and discovery. She will test her boundaries, over and over. There will not be a time when she will be just 5. She explained to someone just the other night that she was 15, she's just stuck in a little kid body. Fabulous. 

Q - Queen. She doesn't want to be the princess anymore. The queen has all of the power. 

R - Resistance. She will be your helper all of the time as long as you have no expectations. Ask her to help you out by picking up her things? "Oh, but, momma. I am so very tired. My legs, my legs are just so tired..." Of course they are, what was I thinking?

S - Sand. Jesus, the sand. Watch what happens at 1:10 - this is our normal.

T - Tattling. Lots and lots of tattling. Including telling on you to you, or threatening to call your mother.

U - Unimpressed. The harder you work at something for the kid, the more unimpressed she will be, but let someone give her 50 cents for a flippin' toy out of the bubble machine at the grocery store? That shit is like the Holy Grail.

V - Vulva. Also shout out to "Claire" at school for the ultra-special introduction to the word vagina. Seriously, "Claire" throw a momma bone and give me a heads up before you go teaching anatomy in preschool. 'Kay? The way she says vagina, though? Bagina. Another thing that I can not hear often enough. P.S.? The vulva is never a pocket. Ever. Stop sticking money in there. 6 AM is too early for me to make these kinds of discoveries. Also? Girls are friggin' gross.

W - Whatever. This right here is what is gonna make me smack my kid right across the face. When added to the preteen eye roll and the hand in my face that she has perfected, I may just go to jail.

X - That's the letter she will write on a piece of paper when she decides you are in trouble. Get too many Xs and she will try to punish you. It never works. She still does it. I have about a hundred Xs on pieces of paper in a shoebox in my closet.

Y - Youth. Wasted on people too silly to make the most of it.

Z - Supergirl.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ask A Man - Man Looking

One of the questions that I have often asked myself is how is it that a man can never find what they are looking for? I mean, they are pacing back and forth looking only at the ground, hands crammed in their pockets screaming and yelling about how "nobody can find anything around here, damn it!"

Obviously they are the best people to find things, right? I mean its typically their stuff that they are trying to find - its not like I try to convince the Hubs to find my bra or socks in the morning. And, yet, almost everyday I hear, "Have you seen the remote?" or "Do you know what I did with my phone?".

When I got the ask a man question last week from a very concerned wife that her man may be losing his eyesight or his memory, I knew that Dr. Assberry would need to give some of his expert advice on this particular topic.

"Dear Dr. Assberry,
 Lately it seems as though my husband maybe losing his memory and/or his eyesight. He can't seem to remember where he put anything and once he does find them he leaves them in the strangest places! There is currently a sander in the middle of my living room floor for absolutely no reason. And yesterday, he asked where we keep the recycling bin. We have lived here for seven years, it has never been anywhere different. Should I take him to the eye doctor or the neurologist?
~Why Don't You See That?"
Dear Thoughtful Wife,
Before you take your husband to the doctor, ask yourself a few questions. Is the thing that he is looking for neon? Is it that important, like a check or cash? If not, then he is probably waiting for you to find it for him. That's one of the reasons that we get married, to have someone to help look after us. Also, this new trend of leaving things for you to clean up? Probably just his way of showing you that you are needed around the house. It doesn't work both ways though, so don't start thinking that you can leave things laying around and they will magically find their way to where they belong. You will only end up angry in that scenario - I promise. Of course, I am not a medically trained professional and if there are other things going on that you have not said, make sure that you take him to the doctor.
~The Good Doctor
I would like to thank Dr. Assberry for his candid response to our reader's questions. If you should have a question for the doctor you can e-mail it to me here or post it in the comments section below.
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