Today my heart…

…is heavy.

Every year, come hell or highwater (which is exactly what it was this year – thank you Hurricane Matthew) my mother goes to Paris. Paris is her heart place; a piece of her soul lives there. We who love her, know this, embrace this, and send her on her merry way every October.

She’s almost 80 and legally blind and a badass adventurer.

But my 85-year-old father’s health hasn’t been so good lately. Actually, we’ve had some pretty big scares recently.

So Mom was going to cancel her trip but instead, I flew to Florida to hang out with Dad.

Perfect solution for all of us.

And then came the hurricane. Mom was gone, Dad was evacuated, I didn’t know if I was going to even be able to arrive here.

Turns out I was. Dad had just returned to his home which was damage-free, yet still a mess. When I got here, there was a massive amount of debris and the steel “shutters” still covered every window and door except the garage.

It was mighty dark and fortressed in here – like a bunker.

Dad was in pretty good shape and very good spirits. I was super psyched that I was here.

We’ve had a week of cleanup, chores, and lovely talks. We completed some projects that he would never have been able to do on his own.

And I have seen things; I’ve gained insights into my father and into being elderly in general.

I’ve witnessed that a sense of order is important. I’ve experienced the frustration of not being able to do simple things by oneself. I’ve opened the doors to the near empty refrigerator of people who no longer cook for themselves. I’ve met the comrades who take care of each other because none of them can do it completely on their own. I’ve been here for the death of a close friend’s child.

This morning my father is visiting a friend who can no longer leave the house and has become isolated and depressed.

I sat in the cardiologist’s office while he explained that they can’t explain what is happening to my dad’s heart and lungs.

I’ve watched my father wince in pain. I’ve seen that he needs to sit down and catch his breath after taking the dog into the yard to pee.

I made the decision to stay with my dad rather than take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my best friend from high school – a choice I certainly would never have made when I was 17.

And, I’ve borne witness to his strength and resiliency. He’s still the same guy; kind, witty, intelligent, loving, and totally unwilling to give into old age and sit on his ass.

Vital.

We’ve had gallons of coffee, bowl after bowl of ice cream; we casually ate our meals at the bar in the kitchen rather than the dining room table. We’ve lingered, we’ve shot the shit, I shared some incredibly personal and painful bits of my life

For the first time EVER, we have watched the news and agreed on politics.

I have been told, repeatedly, by many of the folks in this town, “You are your mother.” I am honored.

My father is amazing, a gem. He is the most decent man I know. After close to 60 years of marriage, he and my mother are still in love.

So today, I depart. He will drop me off at the airport at noon so I can return to the rest of my family who I miss terribly.

But I am sad. I could stay here forever. I would love to be here when my mother arrives (tomorrow) and have more time with both of them.

This trip has brought to my awareness the fragility of life and the desire to share these last years with my mom and dad; they won’t be around forever.

I get that in a way that I’ve never really gotten it before.

I adore my parents. I am so fortunate to have been born into this family.

I am so thankful that I outgrew my stupid teenage rebellion.

The unthinkable

A baby has died. A teeny tiny member of our small community is gone.

I can’t, I won’t even try, to fathom what is going on in the hearts of his parents. It is too unbearable to imagine.

For everyone who is a parent, it is our worst nightmare; it is the possibility that keeps us up at night worrying. It is the reason why we yell at our child for crossing the street without looking. It is the driving force behind standing over a sleeping child searching for the rise and fall of gentle breathing.

For me, it is the fear that has given me cause to wonder if I really am cut out for this parenting gig.

With my children having reached the ages of 21, 19, and 17, that fear has not diminished even an ounce. The only thing that has changed is the possible cause of death; car accident instead of SIDS, fatal football head injury instead of choking on a Lego.

Instead of hovering over my sleeping child as I did when they were small, I now hover, waiting for them to return for the night and go to sleep.

Today, no one is sure what has happened, why this child has come and gone as quickly as he has. All we know is that he is gone.

Does it matter what happened? A very wise woman said that to wonder about the hows and whys distracts us from dealing with the fact that this baby is gone…forever.

My sadness is so very deep.

As it is within our small, insulated world. There is a collective grief that many feel and we don’t necessarily know what to do with that pain.

As I fumble around, remembering the weight of that tiny man in my arms (wailing, because I am definitely not a baby-whisperer) I also see something beautiful happening.

I see community. I see that what exists in our town is strong and unique and loving.

People everywhere are throwing around the catchphrase “community.” It’s hip and trendy to “create community.”

The reality is that if you open your eyes and your heart here in this valley, we already have it in spades.

Folks who don’t even know this family are crying tears and rallying to help in any way that they can. Food, money, childcare for the sister…it doesn’t matter what, how big or how small. What matters is that a child has died, there are people suffering, and the love that flows through our town is astounding.

One of my chickens was killed yesterday.

My son hit and killed a fawn less than an hour later.

Death.

Death of the innocent, death of the young.

I know that my chicken and that baby deer are not someone’s child and that my pain over my girl is piddly in comparison to my friends’ pain, but I feel surrounded by death.

And that is painful.

Unbearably so.

And, I appreciate living so close to the natural world that I can see that yes, creatures are born and creatures die before what we think is their time.

Today it doesn’t make this child’s death any less brutal, but maybe some day it will help with the hows and the whys.

I think that I am rambling here. I want to talk about this, I want to process the grief, and yet I don’t want to make this about me. I don’t want to presume to hurt anywhere near as much as mom and dad. And I certainly don’t want to be a gossip.

But death needs to be talked about and picked at and felt. Our culture is at a complete and utter loss when it comes to grief. If one is not devoutly religious then it is likely that there is no set of guidelines for how to cope with the unimaginable.

For anyone who has seen Rabbit Proof Fence, there was a scene where a grandmother’s children are taken from her. She collapses on the ground and beats her own head with a rock. It struck me as beautiful. In moments of intense agony, who wouldn’t beat themselves with a stone?

I loved that it was accepted.

We don’t have that. If someone saw me beating my own brains out they’d call the cops.

So we make food. We show up at friends’ homes at 9:30 at night to just have a little bit of company and not feel so alone. We accept the parents right where they are and do not judge. We worry; about the mother, the father, the sister, the grandmother. We talk about the child, the sadness, the hows and whys, because whether those things matter in the big picture or not, sharing those thoughts helps us to bond as an extended family.

We say the words coroner, autopsy, burial, in hopes that speaking them will take just a little bit of the power, the rawness, out of them.

If I can say autopsy, then hopefully it will help Mom and Dad say it too.

Because it is an unbearable word to use in the same sentence as your child’s name.

We gather together and pick at the wound – perhaps if we pick enough scar tissue will develop and the pain will lessen.

We create the container that will hopefully help this family in feeling loved and supported and not alone in this agony.

 

 

 

Coming out of the closet

I’ve been struggling to write.  I haven’t been especially inspired.  Really it all began with the shutting down of Single in the Southwest.

That was my choice – yes it was, in many ways – but to be totally honest, I hated ending that blog. It still exists, it’s just that I don’t write there any more and no one has access to it unless I allow it.

My Ex, T-dub, hated Single. Vehemently.

And I sort of can’t blame him, yet I repeatedly explained the math to him – stop giving me so much to write about and I will quit publicly raking you over the coals. I thought it was simple, yet apparently he didn’t see it that way.

In a moment of, I’m not sure what, frustration? indignation? I got so sick of him and his oh poor me I am such a victim of her writing act that I decided to rid the world of Single in the Southwest.

I understand why I did it and in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do – for the children.

Not that I believe the children were being hurt by anything I had to say – they didn’t even care about the blog – but T said that he would cooperate and be respectful if the blog was gone so poof! gone.

And I called his bluff. He “spoke” to me one time after that – ONE TIME.

And that was via text and just enough to inform me that no, he would not be paying his portion of the kids medical bills.

That was a year ago.

Could I have had my First Amendment Rights upheld in a court room? Probably. I certainly wasn’t writing anything that wasn’t true.images-2

I didn’t lie about him calling me a whore. I didn’t lie about him dying his chest hair. I didn’t make it up when he threatened me in public – in front of the kids and their entire football team – screaming that I had failed my children.

I also didn’t only write about him. There was a series on vibrators, quite a bit about parenting teenagers, and the one about work that almost cost me my job. And yet, he thought it was all about him.

Typical.

So yes, there was a good chance that I could have kept on typing away but I grew tired of the fight.

I also had a lot of fear. What if a Judge saw me as a bad parent because I wrote the things that I wrote? What if we stood in a courtroom and the Judge agreed that I was harming the children with my words? What if the judge called me a whore?

Then, the moment preceding the moment where I threw my hands up in the air yelling “I give up,” T was in the middle of insisting that of course, the blog could stay, but that he would be able to determine if anything that I wrote was suitable or acceptable.

In other words he believed that he should have final editorial approval before I hit “Publish.”

C.E.N.S.O.R.S.H.I.P.

Fuck that noise.

So, Blog – Gone.

Writer’s block – here for the long haul.

One of my greatest sadnesses when I look back over the years is realizing just how much of my life has been run by fear – primarily fear of him.

I have this deep anxiety-producing paranoia of getting in trouble which most likely started when, surprise surprise, I was a young kid and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Unfortunately I lived my marriage in a way that created the same dynamic. And then it showed up in a few other areas of my world, like work, and suddenly it became crippling.

I’d like to say that it became the litmus test for all decisions that I made, but the truth is, it didn’t.

I’m still independent and feisty enough to not let anyone else tell me what I can and cannot do.

I just suffered the consequences afterwards. In other words, I got in trouble.

So with my kids’ well-being at stake, I cowered in the face of fear and shut my trouble making mouth.

And in the process, shut myself right down.

But things are shifting for me. Or I actually need them to shift and so here is a step that will hopefully take me in that direction.

Over the last couple of years and the last few court hearings, I have come out on top – way on top. I have seen that the court system may be really flawed, but if you get a wise judge who is also a parent, sometimes things work out the way that they should; the way that is actually best for the children and…fair.

With the freedom of a few wins and watching a judge put him in his place and validate that I am a good mother, I am able to shed some of my fears.

So today, I am taking a monumental step. I am coming out of hiding.

Have I thought this through?

Probably not thoroughly enough, but I tend to be impulsive anyway.

I’m sick of the fear. I am sick of hiding. Sick to death of handing my power over to him. And living in secrecy has been doing just that.

So, today, I will link HDD to my own Facebook page.

And right here, right now I will say:

I , Suzanne Strazza, am High Desert Darlin, the artist formerly known as Single in the Southwest.

And I am a writer, a mother, a lover.

I am exercising my First Amendment rights.

And I am free.

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No, being an introvert is not cool.

Google “being an introvert is cool” and you will get approximately 502,000 hits.

Huffington Post, Near Science, Thought Catalog Weekly, Introverts for Dummies.

Have you seen all of the memes out there? Girl wrapped in blanket on couch with cat and book. Girl not answering her phone. Girl sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye.

It’s almost always a girl.

And she’s usually quite endearing.

And happy.

There are new articles, studies, personal essays and cartoons every single day celebrating the life of an introvert, making good-natured jokes about a person hoping that a party gets cancelled or eating alone in a restaurant.

I even saw on an Introvert Bingo board “Adorably Awkward.”

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The message is definitely YAY for wanting to be alone!

Many of my loved ones find me quirky, silly, eccentric.

But let’s just clear something up right now…

IT’S NOT FUCKING COOL TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS BEFORE FRIENDS SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE.

Sure, I can embrace the lighter side of introversion – I do entertain myself well, I enjoy my own company, I love to read and definitely do not need external attention to feel complete or even good about myself. And yes, because I have relatively high self-esteem, I prefer being a loner than not.

But it can be so very very dark and scary and lonely and it’s not about a goddamn bingo board or hanging out with my cat.

Last night, MCB was at the neighbor’s and when he came home he said that they were coming over for burgers (which he was preparing so it wasn’t about me having to cook.) 2 close friends, super duper casual and easy and fun. They’d been pulling thistle all day and needed to be fed.

All in all a lovely invitation from MCB and had I had notice, I would have probably gotten excited.

But, since it was spur of the moment, I lost my shit. Seriously fell apart. I ended up on the bathroom floor pathetically unable to deal, sobbing.

I couldn’t decide which was worse: telling the friends to not come over and suffer the humiliation of being rude; having them come over and trying to fake my way through the evening while my heart was pounding in my chest and I was fighting back tears and therefore couldn’t be nice, and suffer the humiliation of being a bitch to two really kind people; or letting them come over and hiding in my room pretending to be sick and suffering the humiliation of them knowing that I am a complete basket case.

I had to leave the house and go for a drive. I went to the park where I often go to cry, saw a friend and totally unloaded all of my social anxiety onto his shoulders (bless his heart.) I drove around looking at wildlife wishing I was a fox.

Then, mortified, I called MCB to let him know that I was (slowly) recovering and that yes, they should come over and hopefully I was going to pull it together and be hospitable.

I did. I actually had a good time. Since M and M were here when I finally returned and deserved and explanation I offered up, “I had a breakdown” and left it at that.

What was I going to say,”I completely freaked out because I found out that you two were coming over”?

The dark side of “cool introversion” is about exhaustion and terror and despondency. It’s about crying on the bathroom floor because you just found out that people are unexpectedly coming to your house.

It means not going to the store when you desperately need something because you don’t want to see anyone and have to talk, so doing without things like…dinner.

It’s about not getting your oil changed when it’s WAY overdue even when a mechanic shop is on your property because you get gripped at the thought of having to ask for something even though the mechanic is a good friend and it’s his job.

It’s about not returning movies on time for fear of another person standing in front of the red box.

It’s about losing friends because you are unable to keep in contact since to do so would mean talking on the phone or worse – actually making time for a face to face.

It mean people not liking you because they think you’re stuck up or intimidating.

It’s about arguing with the “more the merrier” friend because she really doesn’t get that for you, more isn’t merrier and you feel so misunderstood and flawed because you’re not able to be with great people all at one time and you’re sick and tired of having to explain that to her.

It’s about feeling deep shame when your best friend does actually get it and asks if it’s okay to invite one more person to go to the movie with the two of you.

It’s about having to offend people when you  lay down the law about drop-ins and not making exceptions even for the closest of friends.

It’s about having to have time to wrap your head around shifting gears, changing plans and being in public. It’s about sometimes being utterly unable to to that.

I live on a working ranch, there is always activity here, there are always people around.

I lie in my bed silently praying that no one decides to knock on the door.

I get resentful that I can’t go collect chicken eggs without risking a conversation. Sometimes I blow off the chickens.

I spent the entirety of today alone, doing laundry, weeding, drying mint, petting my dog. I haven’t been on the phone. I haven’t left the house except to feed the chickens. I thought about watching a movie tonight, but it feels too stimulating.

So sure, there are some really good things about not being a social beast and I am super okay with going to the desert by myself and writing for three days without fear or boredom or FOMO. I am incredibly well-read and getting sent to my room as a kids was a gift, not a punishment.

But folks, let’s not make light of this. Let’s not pretend that it’s all about the cat and the couch.

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Run River Run

Yeah, I totally stole that name – Ann Zwinger, incredible author, boater, and all around lovely woman, came up with that for one of her books, but, it’s perfect here so I’m at least giving her credit as I pilfer her title.

Anyway…

Two summers ago, right at this time of year, when the rivers were peaking and some even flooding, I almost drowned.

Seriously almost drowned – not an exaggeration, not being a drama queen – we’re talking, sinking underwater, about to give up and accept the end, understanding the depth of my will to live, not going to leave my children motherless, completely life-altering, drowning.

Years ago a friend of mine drowned – I know that it happens.  I do not think that I am invincible in water. I have always had a healthy respect for the power and unpredictability of H2O.

And yet, I’ve also had complete confidence in my boating and river-navigating skills.

So coming that close to the bottom of the river was not only terrifying, but came as quite a surprise.

What also came as a surprise is, once I dumped out of my boat, everything I’ve ever known (and taught) about river safety, went right out the window in my panicky fight for my life.

For a brief bit in the ensuing days, I tried to convince myself that it really wasn’t that big of a deal, that I was fine. I tried to sort through real danger vs. perceived danger. I attempted to list the incident under the latter.

But then, for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t want to get on the river. The sound of rushing water caused my heart to race. I stood on river banks, thankful that I was on dry land.

This was so unlike me – the obsessive boater, the person who took to the river over and over again as refuge and respite.

That’s when I realized that this had been actual, real danger.

I’ve become afraid of the ocean. I recently had to turn off a surfing video because seeing that much water from a go-pro’s perspective was unbearable.

I’ve only been boating a couple of times since then. I have let other people row my boat. I’ve lost all trust in myself.

Last weekend we had company in town and decided to take them on a float. Our river options are currently aplenty. Big water everywhere, rivers flowing that haven’t flowed in years.

I am actually the person who suggested the one day adventure. I had hoped to float my dearest river, which usually takes 2 or 3 days, in a day. The weather is warm, (in case someone accidentally took a swim) and since I know the river like the back of my hand, it felt like the safest option.

But, no permit. That still left 4 other stretches of water from which to choose. Trying to make that choice left me stressed out and unsure of myself. There was even some tension with MCB about it until he came up with a manageable plan.

Once it felt like someone else was in charge, I was able to relax just the tiniest bit.

At the put-in, I was quite spastic – concerningly so. I couldn’t remember how to rig my own boat. I tripped getting onto it (while still on dry ground) and ended up face down in the bottom of the vessel. I slipped, I almost backed my truck into a ditch, couldn’t maintain my footing as I squatted to pee.

MCB assumed that I would be rowing. He had confidence in me that I didn’t have. Yet, I did bring a huge heap of ego with me which made it impossible for me to not jump on the oars in front of our company.

When we finally went afloat, I got an oar stuck twice in the current, I got yanked off me feet, I slipped, I got the other oar stuck in the willows, and I couldn’t manage to get off-shore.

I rowed for a little while, I negotiated a few wave trains, I practiced my strokes trying to regain my ease and composure at the helm. In my head, I repeatedly talked myself down.

Then I offered for any of the others to row. First one guest did, then the second. Then MCB jumped into the driver’s seat and I lay down on the front of the boat, able to relax knowing that we were in capable hands.

The next thing that happened took my by surprise. I began to get that familiar I Want To Row itching. It took a second to realize what the feeling was, but when I did identify it, I thought, I’d better get on those oars right this second or this desire could pass on, maybe forever.

So I totally passive aggressed MCB into letting me row again. I wasn’t really fair to him about it but I wanted to nurture this little shift from fear to familiar comfort and thought that I let him continue to row, I might never be brave enough to do it again.

And thank goodness he’s a gentleman.

I rowed. Not totally smoothly, not flawlessly, but with budding confidence and no major mishaps.

It was healing, but really, it was just fun. The kind of fun that one gets to have in a beautiful place, with water and trees and views, the kind of fun that happens when everyone feels good about where they are and what they are doing.

This was huge.

I even took a quick swim at the take-out.

So now, I am obsessed again. It’s a relief, really, to know that I haven’t been scared off forever.

I’m not ready for “big” water – I may never be again, and I am okay with that.  I can start with what is small and familiar.  If I get beyond that, great.  If I don’t, I’m super fine with that, as long as I can enjoy floating in some of my favorite places and not have panic attacks.

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Interesting Emotions

Interesting in a way that, as an observer, I would say, “Huh, I didn’t see that coming,” but I wasn’t an observer, I was the one having the emotions, so instead of being intrigued, I was momentarily overwhelmed.

Here’s the situation…

My ex-in-laws showed up at graduation yesterday. They traveled here together, even though they have been divorced since the year that I married their son.

She and I had been close in some ways, not so much in others. She’s a little batshit crazy. I haven’t thought much about missing her or her presence in my life. It’s been easier to write her off as a loon and forget that there was ever any connection between us.

He and I were very close, even in the early years after the divorce.  Then, once, he mentioned my (other) blog and inquired if I thought it might be hurtful to the boys. Since shutting down that blog was my ex’s raison d’etre, I figured dad took his side and considered me to be the horrible, emotionally abusive, bad guy, that his son portrayed me as.

Then, last year, in a desperate attempt to get my ex to do right by his children and help with their medical bills (which are astronomical) I wrote dad and begged for his assistance – in any way, shape, or form. His response…

Radio Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

It hurt, it was rude, it felt just like the Silent Treatment that my ex has given me for the last year and a half. I felt, that as the mother of his grandchildren, I at least deserved a “Thanks but no thanks because you, HDD, are a monster.”

But, it gave me another place to lay my indignation, frustration, and sadness for my boys.

As you can imagine, the prospect of seeing them yesterday at my son’s Big Day, was a bit nerve-wracking. I already had all of these emotions going about my baby graduating from High School, the end of an era, seeing my ex and his new family and wishing that somehow we could all get along for the boys’ sake and then there was the question of “How will his parents treat me?”

There was also the question of “How will I treat them?”

I walked into the auditorium determined to maintain my composure and be gracious, if given the opportunity, for the sake of the children. I was striving to be the bigger person and not ignore them as they had ignored me. And I was also prepared to be persona non grata yet maintain my joy for Greg.

After the ceremony, we all stood outside socializing (separately, of course) and just as things were starting to wind down and I had fallen into a conversation with friends who unknowingly were helping me keep my feet on the ground (thank you T and D), the ex-in-laws approached.

Oh. Holy. Fuck.

And suddenly, I was wrapped in a huge bear hug with dad and as self-righteously angry as I wanted to be, I felt myself hugging him back so very tightly. I could actually feel my guard letting down, could feel the physical and mental shedding of the armor.

And it felt really good.

When mom finally got there, I was able to turn and sincerely tell her how happy I was to see her.

I wasn’t the bad guy.  I wasn’t going to be ostracized. I didn’t have to hang onto my anger and hurt.

What I felt was relief. And love. And compassion for these two kind human beings who are struggling to move through the world just as the rest of us are.

They are doing the very best that they can and I can’t imagine that their position is a comfortable one. Talk about being in the middle.

Their son, to whom their loyalties must lie. Their new daughter-in-law (the third they’ve had to adjust to) who is really, from their perspective, not part of the problem and is just this young girl who walked into a hornet’s nest and started having children so then she is also the mother of their grandchildren.

There are the two children (theirs) who are adorable and innocent and ignorant of the shit show. Then, there are my two children, who have been emotionally beaten to a pulp throughout the disintegration of their parents’ relationship. And, Bobby, my child who they tried to make their child, who honestly just wants a place to call home.

And the last person caught in the awkwardness of the moment was MCB, who, as always, handled the entire thing with grace. His well-mannered upbringing showed in everything from his firm handshake with dad to his bow tie (which, yes, he tied himself.)

So these lovely people, older people, people who deserve a little peace in the twilight of their lives, are having to navigate waters that none of us more directly involved have been able to do successfully.

And they handled it like champs. Which gave me pause, then the presence of mind to put on my big girl panties, take the high road, and just show a little love and a lot of appreciation.

It was a big lesson and an emotional upheaval and a gift.

Sundays

You ever have those days when you want to be happy, get a lot done, enjoy the day?

You don’t wake up wanting to feel blue. You don’t get out of bed thinking, “I want to have a shit day today.”

You certainly don’t want to spend the whole day trying to hold it together or sleeping the sunshine away.

Seriously, who wants that?

So, this morning, I wake up next to my sweetest BF (MCB) and my adorable little dog is so thrilled to have me home that he can’t stop wiggling, and the sun is out, and I can hear my new wind chimes, and my children are happy and well, and I have nothing on my agenda until 5:00 pm except put the final dishes away after our super fun dinner party, feed the piglets, commune with the chickens, take the doglets to the pond, maybe go for a run, read a book, sew, write, then, go to my job that I actually enjoy, work for a few hours, make some good money, laugh a lot, then come home and curl up with MCB and the dog.

And yet, I am so off. My heart feels…unenthused. I want to crawl under the covers and escape – read or sleep. Or I could smoke a shitload of weed and just prostrate myself on the couch, stare at nothing, and think about even less.

When I took the dogs to the pond, I curled up on the grass and tried to doze off – that is, until the big one decided to roll all over me right after a long swim and traipse through the mud.

MCB is building a hog fence – we are now pig farmers. We have 8 adorable little piggy boys who will grow up to be kilos of bacon and chops. When I entered the chicken coop with their kale and hamburger treats, almost all of them squatted to be held. So endearing. So funny.

And still, blah.

I can’t think of a single reason to feel this way, today.

I am totally loving my life. The freedom of not working 9-5 is more liberating that I could possibly have imagined.  My waitressing gig is a good one and I love my cooking job.

Who wouldn’t enjoy creating really good food that’s fresh and organic and homemade and nurturing?

My kids are fantastic – one graduates from college today, another from high school next weekend, the third wrote me a text last night to tell me how much he loves me.

I live in a gorgeous place on this planet and my life is filled with beauty and good people and amazing friends and promise and hope and lightness.

And yet my soul is heavy.

Last night, an old friend posted a photo on Facebook of her family on the beach, in the place where I knew her; the place where I spent my formative summers, a place we thought we “owned.”

A place I may never see again because of the near-impossibility of getting there from here and the expense of just setting foot on the island, let alone trying to stay there.

And suddenly, because it’s today, my home feels less than. It’s not there.

And it sends me spiraling into the What If’s about all the choices that I have made in my life to get me here and not there.

And any other day of the week, I would be thanking the heavens above for those decisions, but it seems like Sundays are a kill-joy.

I have noticed that Sundays tend to be challenging (to say the least).  So often, when I feel this way I think, “Why do I feel this way?”

And then I remember that I often ask that question and seems like it’s on a very regular time frame and I realize, once again, that for some unknown reason, “Sundays are hard.”

I don’t go to bed on Saturday night thinking, “Oh fuck yeah, tomorrow is Sunday, I can be a depressed sloth for the entire day. Yippeee.”

No, it doesn’t even cross my mind at all, so this is definitely not a psychological set up where negative thoughts bring negative reality.

It’s something else. Hormones, brain chemical cycling, exhaustion from a busy weekend (or week); but definitely not bumming out over the fact that I have to return to work on Monday morning because I don’t work on Mondays.

So who knows what it is, but it definitely is.

 

UTAH, the aftermath

I want to lie on the warm slickrock.

Yep, collapsed on the hard stone when I finally, finally, FINALLY, made it back to my campsite.

I want to escape emotional mini-drama

Didn’t manage that until I was out of cell range. Thank god for blank spots on the technological map.

I want to hike until I drop.

Did I really ask for that?

Or until my stubby-legged dog drops.

24 hours later and he’s still asleep.

I want to sleep in a pile of down.

Bliss.

I want to breathe.

Was thinking expansive breaths, not panting and anxiety-driven hyperventilating.

I want to not worry about money.

Who cares about money when you’re not sure you will ever return to civilization?

I want to not risk being misunderstood.

No worries about that when I didn’t see another soul.

I want to feel strong.

I did. For a long time. Before I felt weak, exhausted, and mildly embarrassed. I feel strong again now.

I want hot Emergen-C at sunset and hot coffee at sunrise.

The morning coffee was everything that I had hoped for – in my pile of down – with my stubby legged dog.

I want to stretch my legs, my mind, my spirit.

Oh I stretched it all, for sure: joy, wonder, bliss, befuddlement, confusion, anxiety, fear, worry, relief, joy, merriment.

Can’t get there fast enough.

Can’t wait to go again..

Questions

Is it that more bad stuff is happening to young people?

Is it that I just know about more because I live in a small community?

Is it that all of this kind of stuff was going on when I was a young person but I was totally sheltered?

Is it that when I was young no one talked about it all and now we are?

Is it the company I keep?

Or is the world just a scarier place?

I don’t know the answer(s); it could be All of the Above.

What I do know is that another young person in our community has died a wasteful death. She has left 2 small children behind. She made bad choices. Her life was really hard.

And now the lives of those who loved her just got harder.

Couldn’t have said it better myself

So here’s the interesting thing…I know that I have some anxiety around some things; obvious, run of the mill things, over which I assume everyone has some anxiety: money, children, ex-husband’s abuse. And during some of those times, I’ve been known to need medication.

But I’ve never really considered myself to be someone “with anxiety,” at least never seriously considered it.

And then, I read this and it gets (the overly anxious) ball that is my brain, rolling.

While I felt each one, there were a few that stood out as, “I would have said the exact same thing,” and I think, “Hmmmm, interesting, maybe…”

3. “I’m not just blowing you off. It’s hard to make plans and just as hard to talk on the phone sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t desperately want to spend time and talk. I just can’t.” — Marie Abbott Belcher

7. “Even when things are wonderful, I’m always waiting for something horrible to happen.” — Lindsay Ballard

8. “When I’m being quiet, I’m not sad, bored, tired or whatever else they want to fill in the blank with. There’s just so much going on in my mind, sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s going on around me.” — Amanda Jade Briskar

17. “Don’t shut me out. My anxiety may stop me from doing certain things, but just being asked to join in can sometimes make my day.” — Vikki Rose Donaghy

18. “I analyze things constantly because of anxiety. I cannot turn my brain off and it can be exhausting.” — Cailea Hiller

21.I want to first apologize for the hundreds of times I’ve bailed on you. The hundreds of times I had to leave early and you had no clue. The hundreds of times I had to tell you no.” — Mary Kate Donahue

28. “Keep inviting me to group things even though I usually decline. Some days I feel stronger than others, so my answer might surprise you. Be patient.” — Kara Edkins

29. “Don’t take it personally when I don’t want to go out. My comfort zone is my home. It’s my safe place.” — Elizabeth Vasquez

30. “When I say I can’t take on even one more thing, I really need you to understand I really just can’t.” — Christine L Hauck

 

32. “Sometimes I just need to be alone. It’s not personal. I’m not mad. I don’t have some problem. I don’t need to just shake it off and do something fun. I just need to be alone so I can reset myself and breathe a little.” — Stacey Weber

33. “Every time I talk to you, I go over every word of the conversation many times in my head. If I said something I feel I like I shouldn’t have said, even if it’s as simple as incorrect grammar, I will obsess about it for years.” — Chelsea Noelani Gober

Amen.