Ode to Beyonce

My favorite furry friend Beyoncé has passed away. I found her upon my return home from work this past Wednesday. She was a beautiful, gentle, black and white kitty. Her sister, Sage, passed a year ago. The first month without Sage Beyoncé was lost. She bellowed into our long hallway once the lights went out for the night. It was heart wrenching. But, we also had the opportunity to watch her blossom into herself. I say that because Sage pretty much ran the show at our house. With no alpha personality to share space with, Beyoncé changed from an introvert to an extrovert. She suddenly demanded my attention. Demanded when to be fed and even became a picky eater. Expected to be pet in a certain way. She was now the princess of her domain. But, honestly, she just wanted to be loved wholeheartedly.
I loved her as she would allow. We rescued her and her sister at about 2 months old. We were later told Beyonce was the “runt” of the litter. She certainly acquiesced to her domineering sister. Beyoncé was sitting on my lap once, which was rare. I mean neither of these cats enjoyed being picked up. I don’t think they experienced much socialization those first two months. Anyway, I digress. Beyoncé and I were enjoying a moment and Sage jumped up and swatted her away. Just like that B slinked off. Just so you know, I didn’t oblige Sage and swatted her away accordingly. Its not like we weren’t a happy household. We truly were as a foursome. But there seemed to be some unwritten cat rules.
As miss B gained confidence she even went outside. A big deal considering sticking her nose out the back screen door caused anxiety. Slowly, if we kept the escape door (aka backdoor) open she might venture 1-2 feet. She had to know she could go back inside at anytime. In her own time, Beyoncé came to enjoy venturing in the backyard. She sat amongst the plants in our garden. Most recently she flopped in front of the tomato plants and I called her the tomato whisperer. Like into the summer nights she would sit below the stars only coming to my call. I had a special way of calling her name. She wouldn’t come in for my husband.
Funny enough, she started to love mornings outside. Before I had to go to work. I would let her out, but not ten minutes later she wanted in. Then wanted back out. In the span of an hour I probably let her in and out 5-6 times. It was almost a game. I willingly played along. I felt she deserved it.
In the last months of her life she stopped eating much. She was thin. People would jokingly ask if I fed her. Of course I put food out everyday, she just wasn’t all that interested. She seemed okay, though had to work a little harder to breathe. We did take her to the vet and were told she had a small tumor. I hesitate to say we aren’t ones to put a kitty through testing that would only give us a timeframe, not necessarily a solution. So we brought her back home and loved her more.
Our cats have continual flea issues and I have tried to be vigilant. In an effort to relieve Beyoncé of nefarious scratching I opted to put flea medicine on her. I don’t think her system was strong enough for the medicine. This I didn’t know. I wanted her to be free from pain. Perhaps it helped in terms of fleas, but not in terms of her strength to handle the chemicals.
I left for work on Wednesday morning full of worry. I could see she was struggling. I was hoping the medicine was coursing through her system and it was a temporary reaction. I didn’t think she wouldn’t make it through the day but felt her time in my life was dwindling. She had signs and symptoms of her sisters passing. Seeing her sprawled on the floor obviously vying for her last breath was heart breaking. I wish so much I had one more day. Or even knew I had only one more day. I would have spoiled her rotten.
I am without furry friends. Unconditional love buckets. Sometimes a reason to get out of bed. A distraction from my head. Company.  I have cried.  Waves of emotion wash over me. It’s too quiet in the house.  I cleaned her area and removed food bowls, water, litter box.  I miss her only being willing to eat if I pet her at the same time.  I mean, really, I always have 5 minutes To spare. I miss calling her name as I walk through the front door…Beeeeeyonceeeeeeeeee!
We provided Sage and Beyonce a safe loving home. I know they felt that. In return I felt their love. Rest in piece my favorite furry friends.  I will forever miss you.

I Will Address This w Myself

My new gig is PT…24 hours…3 days a week. I used to work full time, probably more than full time. Its day 3. I’m done with my first week. I have friends who are my new bosses that support me. They set me up with a work area not heavily monitored by the cameras. At least they are not in my face and infiltrating my mind. What a blessing.
I feel quiet and distant. I guess just feeling out my role. I carved out this new position and expectation is high. Perhaps assumptions are high. Though I come to this agency with a lot of knowledge, Its still a new position. Which I think I can fulfill, eventually. Perfectionism casts a wide spell and I am certainly a sucker. I want to impress. I want to succeed. I want to be all things to all people. NOW. But, that gets me into trouble. EVERY! TIME!
So, I am trying really hard to take it slow. Ask foolish questions. Relax. Enjoy the ride.   That’s not easy for me.  I’m a need to know person. Need to know where I fit in. Need to know my role.  Need to know ahead of time what is expected of me.  Those things are not a given at a new job.  I brought my calendar into my supervisor’s office and tried to secure dates and times of things..anything.  I don’t think she is holding out on me. Rather I think she doesn’t know quite what to do with me. How to train me. Guide me.  We are getting to know each other in the process. Which is fun.

I see old habits already forming. Not leaving my desk for lunch. Not going on breaks. Not taking walks. I am aware. I will address this with myself. I will!

Maybe it’s Me being…ME

The vessel that carried me through the day
Collected hours of my existence
Added structure
Gave me voice
Afforded me the gift
Of compassion
Empathy
Genuine desire for advocacy
At one time
Well just yesterday
Was the very definition
Of who I am
Has washed ashore
I walked on fresh sand
Made new imprints
Carved a new path
Pebbles in my shoes
Follow me in the car
In my home
Stuck in my socks
Reminding me
Of the open road
That lay ahead
A new chapter
A new reason to get out of bed
A new job title
A new definition
Or maybe just me
Being me
In a new space

Madly….Deeply

Chocolate and flowers are not the way into this girls heart. Don’t get me wrong, some decadent dark chocolate and fiery red roses are welcome, but no substitute for deep sincere love.
I’ve experienced “puppy love.” In college I was sure I met the (young)man of my dreams. He was smart, handsome and innocent. He was driven. Broke as hell. Determined to become a doctor. He was so many things I simply wasn’t. My yang. Best of all, he didn’t drink, which left all the alcohol for me and a guaranteed designated driver. Its the little things.
I’ve experienced “unrequited love.” After my puppy love suddenly, out of nowhere, moved out I was broken. Messy. Probably desperate. I latched onto more than a few men but they couldn’t carry my weight. I fell and they watched in dismay. Often saying, “but we just met…” For some reason, these particular men seemed not to appreciate my quick affinity. My ability to throw everything aside. Afford loyalty before trust. As each one walked away, I was more and more confused. Doesn’t everyone want love?
Looking back, I slowly discovered I didn’t really know what love meant. In my formative years, love wasn’t free or forthcoming. It was earned. Straight A’s, for example, gained high favor. Loss of a high school tennis match led to shame. Expression of teenage angst got a wagging of the finger. If I pleased you, the payoff was love. But, then again, not really. Doesn’t everyone deserve love?
Today, I am “madly, deeply loved” by my best friend and husband. I believe I “deeply, madly love” him in return. Its messy. Ugly. Beautiful. Meaningful. Paramount. And above all else, sincere. Nothing is off limits. I yell. Slam doors. Cook dinner. Check the mail. Bring laughter. Be of good cheer. Have anxiety attacks. Have manic moments, depressive weeks and the love can still carry me. This intimacy is immense and binds us in a way I have never known. The warmth and tenderness that permeates the air we breathe no matter what, brings new meaning. Ushers in a whole new understanding of what love truly is. At least for me.

Reprise: Maybe I’m *not* Out of Ideas

On days like these I don’t know what to do. Noise is too much. I mean the lowest setting on the ceiling fan in the next room is too much. The light is too much. I mean the alarm clock in the farthest corner of the room is too much. I am sooo cold. But my head. My mind is burning up. I put my cold hands to my forehead over and over for relief. But none comes. I close all the shades. Put on noise cancelling headphones. Sit. Breathe in and out to a count of five. But I can’t sit. I can’t breathe.

So I pace. But I’m so tired. Yet, so agitated and restless. I send a desperate text as the tears begin to fall. I don’t know what to do. Terrible discomfort. I want to fall into bed. Escape with sleep. Rest. But I cannot. Neither my body nor my mind can fend off this intense desire to jump out of my skin or through a window.

I bounce around the room from couch, to kitchen stool, to the floor and back round again. Massage my neck. Put on loose clothing. Wrap myself in a blanket. I tried the ice in a bowl. Taking notice of my senses. Drinking hot tea. I am out of ideas.

I rush around my small house. Thoughts crash into me. Some big. Some small. Some disturbing. Some just silly. I pass by my “art box” in a frenzy. Back and forth until I think to pick up my paint brush. I pour some paint onto an already used canvas. Swoosh the color around. Aggressive at first. Then rhythmic. My body begins to sway as I see my brush dance. My breathing begins to soften as the paint collides into beautiful choreography. My story in the moment.

I never used to believe in “that rhetoric:” Feelings pass. Tomorrow is another day. Ride the wave. Blah blah blah. But, as I give myself a chance more and more. Let myself FEEL the moment more and more. Accept. I see the possibility in this language. The possibility in me.

I may not always have a canvas available. Paint at my disposal. But, luckily today my toolbox afforded me this option. Each toolbox is different. At home or on the go. The value of even the smallest hint of a tool box is evident. It, like me, can always be a work in progress.

Forgive me for the Dance

After the fire has long been expunged
My ashen feet charred w soot
The spiral smoke infested ceremony
Precariously Rests upon my skin
Paying homage to the damage you’ve done
They say let go of
What you cannot keep
I needed rid of you my love
Your stench hanging in the air
The enmeshment more than a charade
Your lines blurring into mine
Our step becoming too in line
I tried casting you off
With dignity
And grace
You came back w a fever
bungee cords in place
Tethered
Always tethered
My breath becomes yours
Until
I severed the connection
Painfully and slowly
Plotting
Disguised as independence
Disguised as a need to grow
Gasping for air
I lit the fire
Freedom flames erupted
And began to replenish my soul
Forgive me for the dance
Upon your demise
As I swayed
Sashayed
And pranced
To a rhythm all my own

Its So Okay

When we held hands it was electric.
A modern day sparkler extravaganza.
He lit up the night sky in a way I never knew existed.
Later, I came to realize it was all a fantasy.
His grip was just on the verge of being too tight.
Its okay, he’s just strong.
His words came across w a pungent tone.
Its okay, he’s just intense.
His desire sometimes could illicit pain
Its okay, he’s a fierce lover
His lips were sultry and smelled of another
Its okay, he comes home to me
His whispers were full of deceit
Its okay, sometimes lies fill the gaps
His love for me is grandiose
Its okay, i can be anything he needs

As Real as it Gets

Sometimes I wonder if my life is real. Especially when I am feeling up. I question if it’s all a fantasy. Is my perspective really in line with reality?

I am planning to quit my job. I’m sacrificing a bit of security, in that throughout the last 4 years I have had numerous hospitalization and taken countless days off. Twice, since May 2013 I have taken 2 extended leaves lasting 3 months. It might help I have been st my job 17 years and have been a “model” employee. My perfectionism, workaholism, and the fact my identity is wrapped up in my work, probably played a major role.

I have 2 job opportunities in the proverbial hopper. I think they are legit. But, I fear they are not. My anxiety certainly tells me they are not. Paranoia creeps in and I think a new place of work can’t handle my “issues.” Should I be transparent and divulge I have bipolar disorder now? Should I wait? Should I just close my eyes and hope for the best? Everything is uncertain. I don’t do well with that. Its fodder for my restless brain.

I do feel like I know my current work situation is not healthy for me. Its taken me a long time to admit that. I always thought it was my fault I would become overly stressed and symptoms would arise. Turns out with bipolar disorder I am more susceptible to stress, which in turn can trigger either mania or depression. I can attest to both. I’ve reached heights of psychosis that were terrible frightening and lows of depression that were devastating.

I think it’s important to acknowledge I have to do my part. Utilize coping skills, communicate w my treatment team and take my medication. But, there is also a point where raising the white flag makes sense. Self care and self compassion need a place in my life. I can push and push. Pull and pull. Demand I do better. Work harder. Not allow stress to overtake me. But, there’s reality.

I am stressed. I am exhibiting symptoms despite my best efforts. Sure there will always be ups and downs, I’m the first to utter those words…damn roller coaster. But, if I can help myself avoid peaks and valleys, shouldn’t I at least try? If it turns out no matter what I do, this is my lot, this is my coaster..well, that’s for another day.

So, as I envision turning in my resignation letter, its bittersweet. I literally grew up at this agency. It was my first career type job. I was a young, naive 25 with a heart of gold ready to solve the issues that plague social service agencies. I was going to be the best social worker they had ever seen. I’ve made my mark. Its time to move on and put myself first.

The hopper I mentioned is as real as it gets. I’ve put myself out there. Maybe it’s a fantasy I get hired, maybe not. Its a resolution I find a new place for myself in 2017. I listen to my needs. Make time for self care and self compassion. Honor myself in a way I never have before. I’m going to let that unfold as it may. No expectations, just intentions this year.

Dancing with bipolar disorder can be exhilarating, fun, devastating, confusing, uncertain..but it’s definitely real. One step at a time. One day at a time. I’ll keep moving forward down the line.

 

A Forever Balancing Act

I’m going to share something that is so counterintuitive my credibility will probably be in question. I had a travel day for work today. It was only a little over an hour away I had to drive to my appointment. It was a beautiful crisp morning. By the time I had to get on the road, all the frost had disappeared in the glistening sun. My iPod was plugged in and I was ready. My impending appointment wasn’t stressful, so my anxiety was rather low.
I live in Northern California in what many people would probably define as a rural area. I was able to travel this distance without getting on the freeway. I took notice of the black, brown and Oreo cows standing on the hillside. I could see reflections in the standing pond water off to the side of the road. I felt the sunshine insulating my car window. Dare I say, I felt at peace.
I’ve been focusing on being grateful. Forging a connection with a higher power. Allowing myself to believe I belong in this world. Just about 4 weeks ago I didn’t believe this and landed in the psychiatric hospital. Just about 4 weeks ago I had a solid plan I was ready and prepared to carry out. But 4 long weeks later I’m back at work and enjoying this drive. Bipolar disorder has got nothin on me.
As I leisurely take in the view up ahead, I picture myself take my hands of the wheel and glide through the air. Arms out to the side like one might do on a bicycle. I think I want to feel this contentment forever. The only possible way that could happen is to veer into oblivion.
The urge to carry out this fantasy becomes overwhelming. My heart start racing. My thoughts start racing. My vision blurry. Panic attack. I pull over as soon as I can to gather myself and my breathing. I always always leave early. I’m sure you can understand why.
Soon, I turn on my signal and begin my road trip again. I practice what I will say when I arrive. I practice what they will say. I turn on some mellow music. Sink into my seat and remind myself I’m OK.
After my appointment I meet a co-worker for lunch. I do not mention the earlier incident. I prepare for my return drive home. I reach out to my higher power and mumble a few words into the car. Again some sort of comfort comes over me. I notice my surroundings. I take it slow and don’t feel rushed to get home. Its that feeling of peace surrounding me, enticing me, promising me what I perceive as freedom. If I died right now, I could actually say I was at peace. Seconds later I pulled in front of a semi truck barreling down the road. He blared his horn as i narrowly made it through the intersection. I didn’t panic. I didn’t seem to care.
Holding on to a positive feeling can be challenging in this world. For my bipolar brain it’s seemingly impossible. I shoot up, then careen down. With all that lies in between. This was all in the span of 6 hours.
How could someone who thinks they feel “at peace,” such a coveted feeling, put herself in harms way at the same time? I don’t really know. Its completely counterintuitive. I’ll tell ya its the truth. Its not hard to want to feel good. Content. At peace. But, with bipolar disorder, everything is a balancing act.