How often do you make time for the magic? A better question, selfishly, is can and do I make room for the magic. My husband bought me a beautiful bike for our anniversary. He often jokes other wives might ask for diamonds, but I wanted a nice sturdy bicycle to take me around. Probably to take me outside of the landmine that is my mind. Its sleek. Dark gray and fast. Fast like me. Fast like my thoughts. Fast like my moods sometimes. I even track my speed and distance on an Excel file. Physically I am always trying to do better. Can I beat my last time? And then, what does it really matter.
I have taken a new job. Not my first choice, but one I obviously applied for. In this electronic and digital age, job postings appear on my phone while I sleep. Dutifully I went to the coffee shop to apply for various positions. I am approaching 45 and trying to make a career change. I am a social worker at heart and on paper. However, I am ready to sow some new career Oats. The job market seems to disagree with me. Application after application. Trying so hard to create, with sincerity, the best damn cover letter imaginable. You need this…check. Yep…super personable. Diligent..double check. I am your Go Too Gal.
I fancy myself a professional. I passed a county test and got invited to an Interview. Must of surpassed at least 20 folks to get this far. The Court system has been a silent interest of mine. I have some experience within the walls of a court room as an advocate for my clients. It feels like a nice fit more me. New…but also pulling in my social works skills. I put on a shiny dress. Answered key questions and waited.I didn’t get the job. I didn’t even get 2nd round interviews. I was devastated. Naively. Possibly. Probably.
This new job. I hope to be the best. I hope I can bring new life. New Skills. New energy. As I await the start date…
I was riding my beautiful bike along the river. For the first time, in a long time, I wasn’t trying to beat a clock. I wasn’t trying to Outdo myself. I wasn’t battling the everpresent voices in my mind. The ones that hang and lure like a lantern. Innocent, but deadly. I made my way up and down the river bank in peace. Breath seamless. Stride powerful. Sunshine guiding me.
As the bike path ended and gave way to city streets, feeling grateful and at peace, I saw the woman I am to replace. She had on a beautiful sunhat, seemingly also at peace, as she entered the Farmers Market. She seemed to disappear into the landscape. As she crossed, I felt a sense that it was right. I am in the right place.
It was magic.
I suppose there are “days like this” for everyone. It can be relative. What deeply affects me, rolls right off you. And vice versa. As my mind tries to scramble together the answers…how did this happen again? I was so diligent..so vigilant..so mindful..so…..
I am frozen on the couch. I have no answers. I chew on my nails. My legs bounce around full of anxiety and fear. The tears, just behind these blue eyes, hover in anticipation of the fall. Too many thoughts and surely the visible pain will be seen. Trying ever hard to keep it together.
Not thinking. Over thinking. Just breathing. Looking out the window, searching for something to see. Something else to feel. Distraction must be the key. As the wind tousles the trees, and I can hear dogs barking down the street, I attempt to lose myself in sounds of life. Life outside of me.
Replays of the last conversation w one of My favorite people. Really, my best friend. Rattles my mind. The one uncomplicated relationship has somehow entered the realm of complication. In just a matter of minutes, emotionally charged extra long seconds, things now feel weird. Uncomfortable. Disappointing. Sad.
I’m not afraid of honest apology. I am afraid of confrontation. Afraid someone important to me will stop loving me at any moment. Because I’m an alcoholic. Because I have bipolar disorder. Because sometimes I’m irrational, over emotional, and so damn sensitive. But, this is all part of who I am.
I was recently discussing the idea of redemption. For me, this translates into regaining trust w my husband. Trust I have shattered too often in the past year. First it was a devastating manic episode, which I will never forget. But, really it’s about my picking up the bottle to solve problems, knowing it most likely will cause problems. That part I conveniently forget.
Stepping whole heartily into recovery; be it from alcohol, binge eating, gambling, or mental illness can be scary. Intimidating. Exhilarating. Freeing. Though, one never knows when, if, or how those feelings may come about. Trusting in the process. Trusting in self. A personal redemption of sorts can feel simultaneously completely out of reach and infinitely possible. Depends on the day. The amount of willingness available. Perhaps which step is being taken. Literally and figuratively.
I acknowledge I am powerless. I believe A power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. What I feel I need to do next is relax. Step back even. Not try so hard to conquer whatever beast I think is in front of me. Real or perceived. Be it the jobs I’m Interviewing for, the complications I may have had a hand in, wanting so badly to understand how to turn it all over, and just being a better person.
Phew. It’s a long road. Learning to not be so hard on myself. Not attaching myself to the outcome. Reaching out. Being grateful my arm extends into the air unexpectedly sometimes. Most of all, opportunities to make things right are all possible. IF I’m open enough to just let things happen.
I would swear it’s that crooked hand of time bending my reality that leads me back. My warped memory downplaying the urgency. It was just a handful of mistakes. Not very many really. It’s a mere lack of mindfulness on my part. Of course, I can fix it. If only you would do your part and not cause me extra stress. You know I can’t handle stress. Actually, I think it’s the loneliness. My phone doesn’t ring. No one seems to care. I’ve been forgotten. Always misunderstood. But, the anxiety. THE anxiety is really the culprit. I should really talk to my doctor about it.
Sometimes I lean on dirt roads to carry me through the anxiety. Pounding of the hiking path grounding me turn for turn. Easing my agitation. Some people do yoga. Maybe I should try it. I tend to want to run. Maybe try and outrun the demon, at least for an hour or two. Huffing and puffing through the trees. Racing through brush. Just not stopping. Heart racing for all the right reasons.
The walls were closing in this morning. Same damn job search routine. Alarm rings. Rip myself from the bedsheets. Grab some coffee and settle in. Today the self doubt ran rampant. I applied for 3 jobs in the last 2 weeks. Not a peep from any potential employers. My resume sucks! I don’t have any marketable skills! I should have never left my job of over 17 years despite every ounce of me needing to get out. All the signs. Red flags waving. I should have stuck it out. I should have changed. Surely it was all my doing. Me! Me! me. Big fat failure screaming back with each scroll through the job boards.
Desire to not feel these things-CHECK CHECK
In a matter of moments I flew around my house. I need a water bottle. I need my headphones. Where’s my hiking backpack. Who am I talking to? Doesn’t matter. I knew I needed to get out of the house and out of my mind. I needed to breathe. Not filtered gym air, but mother nature’s healing powers. Escape in its purest, healthiest form. At least for me. For this alcoholic.
Music overshadowing “the neighborhood” I charged up the hill. I didn’t look back. Only forward. Step after step marveling in the fact I can do that next right thing, if I choose to. It was more than a choice. It was a want. I wanted to feel the grace that lies outside my front door. So many days I shut in. Cower in fear alone. Not noticing a thing but the heart palpitations that bring me to my knees.
Today I ran in the wind. Through yellow mustard. Stomped in mud. Heard the lyrics of songs that sometimes just pass me by. Most importantly I was in charge of my breath. Fast or slow. It was my doing. I chose to make the sprint to the next bench. I chose to meander near that bee hive…just to watch a community at large be in harmony.
Walking back to the car I felt the sweat down my back. What I didn’t feel was anxiety. Or agitation. I went to check my watch. My barometer of success at times. Did I run long enough or fast enough? I refrained. In that moment my self worth wasn’t to be defined by minutes or miles. It also wasn’t going to be defined by buzz words on resumes. I rested in the peace of mind I rescued myself in a precarious moment. A personal success if I say so myself.
The room has become too big
My anxiety crawling along the walls
calling my fear front and center
Short of breath.
Sweat down my back
Trying to stand tall when
the weight of the world is pressing
Dishes piled high
Laundry piled high
My bed sheets now hold my tired stains
I can’t get out of this bed
I can’t open that window
My poor kitty beckons in the Hall
No food in his bowl
Curtains curtail the sun and
Usher in the darkness
Weeds grow all around
Inside this broken mind
They take hold
Implant in my mind
No persuasion otherwise
This just is
Fantasy of life
On the wings of delusion
What could be
Buried deep in illusion
Who are you
It is you
That rides the wave of confusion
Your mind overrides
Your Dreams die in the fog
Of unrequited absolution
For you dear one
Rest in between the realm of
The long road is ahead
Let’s talk about reaching out. More importantly my seemingly inability to do so. I have been in the social services profession for over half my life. My sole purpose is to be there when others reach out to me. I can attest to the relief it can bring for the other person. The so-called burden has an opportunity to be lifted by the very virtue of sharing with someone else. Releasing what’s typically rolling around in the “wrong neighborhood” of the mind can be cathartic.
Armed with this information and actually witnessing it to be true, you’d think I would jump at the chance to fill someone’s ear with my stuff. Not the case. Well, not entirely accurate. The idea of this prospect is wonderful. Unleashing the demons that constantly plague me would be so beneficial. But, knowing this is not enough. Speaking my truth is so scary and difficult, I prefer to hide behind my written words. I mean conveying my pain in some form or fashion is helpful. But, again, not enough. Realistically, some days all I’m able to do is furiously type on this computer and hope to be brave enough to send it out into cyberspace.
What is this fear? Fear of being a burden. Misunderstood. Unable to express what ails my mind, body and soul. The questions you might ask to clarify. Statements you might make to “help” me. Having to dive into deep shit I don’t know how or want to. Having to admit I have bipolar disorder and all the chaos it has created. The manic and depressive episodes that have rocked me to my core. Rocked my marriage possibly to its breaking point. Wanting to expel the details from my memory, but also not dredge up the pain it encompasses. Wondering if you could possibly understand. Or, maybe you do so much that I must then console you. What a selfish thought that is! Baggage I guess is part of the fear.
Just the other day I was quite distraught the whole day. Many many tears shed in the confines of my home. Well, and into the dark black fur of my kitty. Back to bed I went after 2 cups of coffee. I had received news the prior evening I did not get a job I felt highly qualified for. The interview had gone very well in my opinion. I even brought up a few ideas and sparked a discussion. Does it get better than that? I was able to speak to my weakness within the proposed position, but more so self myself as an asset. I recounted this experience to a few friends and they agreed it sounded positive. Case Management is in my bones, I told them. 15 years of direct experience..successful experience. Over 20 years in a social service delivery model in general. I could learn the “ins and outs” of the agency.
I suppose I could have picked up the phone that day and relayed my utter disappointment. But, I just couldn’t. We could argue didn’t or couldn’t. For me it was a could not. I sent out a few rushed texts. One to my husband and one to my brother. Both expressed sympathy, but just to move on to the next one. Typical advice. But, I’m not a typical person. I guess no one is. My bipolar brain was beating me up through and through. How does anyone know that if I don’t share? I keep it all locked inside. Tears fell on the couch and into the bedroom. My husband asked if I was crying as we nestled under the covers in the darkness. I said no. We both knew I was lying. I can’t share pain in the moment of pain. It feels physically impossible. My body will not let me. My mind won’t allow words to come out of my mouth. I just shutdown.
I have the opportunity to share my ups, downs and in- betweens with a woman who is willing to be my sponsor in AA. This equates to another human being willing to hear what ails my mind, body and soul. Can I lay down the walls and accept this possibility? Leave the baggage at the door and honor this for what it is..space to learn how to share myself. Space to learn about myself. Space to forgive myself.
Let’s face it. I don’t need space. I need connection. Honest emotional interaction. So, let’s talk about reaching out. How do you do it?
And deep within
Depression and my mind
Thick as thieves
The darkness descends
Although it never really leaves
Crawled out of this tired bed
Into the cold blank shower
No scrub can rid me of this filth
Rubbing my face senseless
So a new mug could appear
Happy joyous and free
A smile without fear
As the fog cleared
And the mirror spoke
All I know is
I can’t steer this sinking ship
Rain drops outside
Tear drops inside
The nature of thy mother
Quietly taking shape
Lifeless and Breathless
I sit and wait
For whatever god that may cherish me
To remove this deadly disease
Decides my fate
The bottle has found its way back into my hands. Down my throat. Into my marriage. As it ALWAYS does, when I let it. This was a choice I clearly made. The bottle didn’t jump into my grocery bag, into the “juice” to help make it go down faster. I picked it up clear as day. I placed it into the grocery basket and quickly covered it with my tote bag. Just another shopper. Surely people buy vodka at noon in workout gear all the time. Like every other third day. In a hat. Looking down. Making small talk as the bagger places the big fat bottle into your cute little tote….AGAIN.
Obviously I am no stranger to this scenario. Unfortunately, I have lived this the last 3 weeks or so. My grand excuse, which kinda has some validity, is anxiety. I had an interview. Right. Many many folks go through an interview each and every day. We all need money to survive this crazy world. To get in the door, magic words need to zing off the paper and capture attention. Then, the smile and enthusiasm must come through as pressured questions are fired at you during an interview. Pressured answers swirl around the mind. Yes…leadership. Of course I’ve shown it this way. Motivation..of course its just an internal quality. What would I do in this situation..well, let me tell you. I am fucking marvelous. Enough said.
No call backs. Only rejection emails. Thanks..yada yada yada. But, my mind won’t stop the nonsense of obsessing about what I should have said. I did think the interview went well. I wasn’t qualified in some ways, but perhaps overqualified in others. So, I was okay with the outcome I thought. My mind continuously reminded me day after day, night after night, of better answers. For fuck’s sake why didn’t you say you are a mandated reporter. Geez, its obvious you could handle a fire in the galley. Did you say that..NO! Without warning or cause, these thoughts bombarded me. It was tooooo much.
So down the liquid went. The courage I have now in social situations is amazing. Look at me talking you up, making promises, suggestions. Then the next day left wondering what I might have said. Did I make a lunch date? Oh shit. Am I supposed to be somewhere, return a call? Black out drinking has become my specialty as of late. The anxiety this causes only steers the anxiety ship further into deep waters. The self doubt depths I am in now is horrendous. I can’t touch bottom. Floating in ambiguity is so painful. Why do I allow my ship to reach such treacherous waters? Why don’t I reach to shore sooner?
The bottle is mesmerizing. Problem solver guru of sorts. Ensures confidence. Promises success with its secret power. Secret. Super secret plan.
My footsteps are so heavy right now. Full of guilt. Shame. Disgust. How can I be here again? Seriously. I’m working out. I’m painting. I’m cleaning the house. I’m paying attention to my cat. Alone. I’m alone. Unstructured time has always been my enemy. For whatever reason. Its not the right time to figure that piece out. I just know it doesn’t work for me. But, its my reality right now. Home alone, with a lot of time on my hands. What to do? What to do?
Pass the tissues please as I sit in an AA meeting and raise my vulnerable shaking hand to say I am a newcomer once again. Tears fall. I fumble my name just a bit. I am told I am in the right place. Smiles of reassurance abound. Familiar faces greet me with a hug. There wasn’t a sigh of relief per se. But a deep breath out, allowing the thought of recovery in. Okay. Just maybe I Am in the right place.