Couch Potato


April 2008, Albuquirky, NM

I wish I could relate that the following day I popped out of the bed (that was not mine) renewed, refreshed, rejuvenated. Up, and at ‘em, ready to do something constructive. But, of course that is not the case. That outcome goes with someone else’s story, with a life that is, you guessed it, not mine. The truth is I don’t remember what happened the next day, nor for the next two weeks. They are, as people like to say, a blur. My next memory is of lying on the couch, crying. But don’t get the impression that I reclined for a few minutes and had a good cry, and then got on with my day. No. I mean, I sobbed. With great big snot globs hanging from my nose. It wasn’t a few minutes. It was a few weeks.

Mostly, I let the snot globs hang. I didn’t bother to use tissue very often. It felt good to cry; for the first time in nearly two years, I felt safe, physically, at least. I felt I was crying out of an enormous relief, and I reveled in it. I’d lie on the couch, morning, noon, and night, marveling at the way I felt. The couch was keeping me grounded! But God it was ugly. So, I’d laugh at its hideousness, with its background of diarrhea-after-a-bug brown, and its foreground of black Kokopelli figures, yellow Zia symbols, and green chiles. And then I’d choke on a heaving snot-glob-sob of gratitude, and run my hands up and down the material, stopping to rub the rough, raised spots of Kokopelli flute, Zia symbol edge, and green chile top. Rub, rub, rub. Oh God, I’m safe, I thought. Safe! I don’t have to worry about one person overdosing, and another one blaming me. Rub. rub. Oh God I’m safe. I don’t have to worry about crazed men breaking down doors, in sloppy pill/alcohol hazes. Rub. Rub. Oh God. I’m safe. Rub. Rub. Rub.

Basically, I flipped the fuck out.

And, kept flipping out. There was no job search, from this place that was not mine. There was only the couch. And somehow, I made that mine. Probably because I never left it. Memory after memory swamped my cranium, and day after day, I was plagued.

Woosh. There it was, the time I’d spent with the Scottish man. I shouldn’t have stayed with the Scottish man. Oh God I really shouldn’t have stayed with the Scottish man. That fossilized red-headed giant really did believe he could get me in the sack. I’d asked him to drive me to Mexico, if I paid for the gas, so I could buy the penicillin that I desperately needed for my skin. He took me, as asked, but then proceeded to buy several bottles of Viagra. The ride home was dreadful. Why had he purchased all of those pills? I found out the answer when we got back to his place. “Are you sure, you’re sure you don’t want to get in the tub with me? We can wash each other. It will be fun. Let’s make bubbles!” I thought if I stayed any longer, he might try to force me to make those damn bubbles, ick. What told me that, I didn’t know, but I listented to my instinct and left the next morning. But that meant I’d had to ask another guy I shouldn’t have been spending any time with for a ride. Ugh.

Bam. There it was, the time I’d spent with the Indian man. In a whisky-induced rage, he’d ripped a gold necklace from my neck, and threatened to beat me for being too rich. We’d been sitting in a park, smoking cigarettes, having what I thought was a good conversation when out of nowhere he jumped up and yanked off the expensive chain my grandfather had given me for some birthday or another. “Bitch,” he said. “Stupid, white, filthy rich bitch. That’s a decoration for you, you stupid white bitch, it’s money for me! I should beat you. Stupid white bitch!” Somehow, I’d managed to run away, in the dark no less, and back to the shelter where I was staying.

Smack. There it was, the time I’d spent with the older woman. I thought she was my friend, but no, she was not. Her daughter had stolen several of my belongings, and when I told my (ahem) friend about it, she told me that I could get out, thank you very much, because her daughter would never steal from anyone. “Get out,” she’d screamed so loudly that my bowel contents curdled! I’d ended up calling the sheriff to guard me while I packed, she was so enraged. The cop was just as mad as she was and kept yelling at me to hurry up.

That couch. That sinfully ugly couch.

As I cried me my very own creek, that couch became my friend. It had help me up, so far, yeah, way better than any person I’d ever known.

Dear Bio-Dad…You are Forgiven


Dear Biological Father of Mine,

Well, first of all, forgive me for making you sound as though you are some sort of hazardous material or a recycled fuel! But I always call you Bio-Dad. With three to talk about I had to give all of you nicknames and that one’s yours. But I’m pretty sure you would find humor in that – yes, I think it would make you laugh.

I will choke on tears and a tightened throat as I type this, for these words are so hard to write. I guess it’s the not knowing, whether you are dead or alive, suffering somewhere alone and feeling hopeless and helpless, or in a place of peace, at last. I will always wonder what has happened to you. I’ve scoured certain websites, looking, sometimes shaking, to see if “that’s you.”

No matter where you are, living or not living, I want you to know that I forgive you. I feel no resentment or hatred.

I understand why you gave up your rights to me, so that I could have the surgery I so desperately needed – it was a very selfless act. I know, you couldn’t even come close to helping then, so you did the right thing, but oh, how hard it must have been for you to do it. For that, my heart bleeds. I’m so sorry it worked out that way, for both of us.

About the stories – the abuse, the drugs, the drinking, the random acts of violence – I’ve heard about them from Mom, and a few others.  But the things that you did, I understand. I know they came from a deep pit of hurt that you didn’t know how to deal with very well.

Biology speaks. I’m sensitive, too and that has created a lot of ruckus for me over the years. I’ve done things of which I’m not proud, yes, it’s true, and I know that if I could talk to you, I would be given your understanding and compassion. I know this from a place that has no name. I will just call it awareness.

I’m sorry that so many in your life saw you as bad – shunned you without taking the time to understand why you did certain things.  But I do, yes I DO understand. Your childhood was disastrous, hey, just like mine!

It would have been nice if Grandma and Grandpa could have acknowledged their role in your problems!  But I’m not so sure they had peaceful childhoods either, and so I have to forgive them also. Maybe that had no idea that they were letting you down. Even if they did, I try to remember that for many it is so much easier to run from a problem, rather than take it on, tackle it, own it, and fix it.

Please know, no matter what anyone else thinks, I don’t think you’re bad; I really want you to believe that this is the truth. I know what it feels like when people watch you create an “event” or a “scene” – label it horrendous, and then go on to judge you as a freak, a sinner, a crazed-nasty person, unworthy of life or love. Blind eye. They don’t see the pain that caused the actions. They see what they want to see. It is convenient.

If I could give you one gift, it would be that knowledge. It’s not your fault! You just have to do your best to accept this blindness, forgive people for what they don’t understand, forgive YOURSELF, work on fixing your own problems and go on to help others. If you are alive somewhere, I hope you’ve found a way to do this.

Sometimes when I think of you, I cry, feel sad, and can’t stop wondering. But the one thing that always puts a smile on my face is the snowball. Do you remember? You, living in Arizona at the time, called me late one evening, to say that it had snowed and that it didn’t do that very often where you lived, so you ran outside and quickly made a snowball and stuck it in your freezer. I remember you said you would save it for me, just to prove that it snowed! I’m sure the snowball is long gone, but the memory will always feed me my heart.

I hope these words make it to you, somehow.  I love you and always will. You made me, how could I not? And I know, just know, that you love me, too.

Love and warm thoughts always,

Your daughter

Absolutely Nothing is a Mistake!


Absolutely NOTHING is a mistake if you learned from it. No matter what you’ve done that YOU think is terrible, no matter what you’ve done that OTHERS think is awful, you have NOT made a mistake if afterward you found a way to grow.

Yep, so you made a “mistake.” Did you sit your butt down, think about it for awhile and realize some things? Did you think of a way you could do it better next time? If yes, then you have not made a mistake, actually what you did was have a mis-take. A miss on the take. You took to doing something and you missed. So what? It’s okay!

Don’t beat yourself up for mis-takes. They are PRECISELY what you need in order to accept yourself, move forward and become successful.

Tolerance


When you shun someone,

you are really shunning yourself.

Indeed, you are shunning all of humanity.

Don’t run from what you fear, don’t turn your back

on what you don’t understand. You cannot call yourself compassionate

if you shun. Shunning divides, it isolates, it ripples outward, throwing shards of harm,

across all places, all faces, and races. Across all religions, creeds and sexual orientations.

If you shun, you shun yourself. If you shun — you are to blame for others shunning, too.

Who ARE The Most Inspiring People in the World?


1. Someone who has struggled.

2. Someone who has struggled with abuse.

3. Someone who has struggled with abuse and addiction.

4. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction and depression.

5. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression and anxiety.

6. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety and thoughts of “ending it all.”

7. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all” but made the choice to keep going.

8. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going and sought help.

9. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help and succeeded in helping themselves.

10. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves and then saw how many other people are struggling, too.

11. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves, saw how many other people are struggling, too, and decided to do something about it.

12. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves, saw how many other people are struggling, too, decided to do something about it, and did it by having the GUTS to share their stories.

Look for someone who has the courage to share their extremely difficult journeys, their utterly heart-wrenching stories. Listen and do not judge. Instead, learn from them. You have just found one of the world’s most inspiring people.

Ten Ways to Manage a Freak-Out


Ok, so you know the times that I mean. You’re coming unglued. You can’t cope. Your heart is pounding. Your thoughts are racing. In fact, there are layers of thought, fifteen-feet deep. Crap. Wait, you don’t know what you’re thinking about. You can’t tease out just one thought. Sweat is beginning to trickle from places you’d rather not mention, at least not to someone you don’t know well. Ack! You can’t take it. The panic is mounting. Oh no! You’re freaking out, and since you know you’re freaking out, you freak out some more. You get up, since there’s no way to sit still. Suddenly, you’re in another room, but you don’t know why you’re there. Confused, you leave that one and find yourself standing in some peculiar spot like the middle of the hallway with your mouth hanging open. Your heart starts skipping beats. Uh-oh! Maybe it’s a heart attack. Possibly you’d call 911 if only you knew where your phone is hiding. Your breathing is erratic, your hands start shaking and soon after, your entire body.

WOMP! You’re having a “freak-out.” Otherwise known as a panic attack. Cripey!

So what do you do? Here are some tips. They’re only mine. They work for me, but I’m by no means an expert, so take them with a grain, or five, of salt. If they help you, great, if not, I apologize. :-)

1. Go find someone to talk to – about anything, anything at all. Find your phone and make a call to someone you trust, or seek out a neighbor. Don’t talk about freaking out, find a different topic. “Hey, can I have that Salsa recipe you mentioned last week?” “I’ve been wondering what you’re up to, fill me in.” “Got any favorite authors, I’m in the mood to read!” “Where DID you find that rug? It’s so, um, colorful.” This always stops my freak-outs. By the time I get off the phone or leave a neighbor’s house, I can think clearly again and all the sweat has done dried-up.

2. Find something to watch on YouTube. Go for something funny. Type in kangaroos, cats, dogs, turtles, beetles, funny babies, or Charlie Chaplin. AVOID the serious stuff. Make yourself watch a few videos until you start laughing. What pounding heart?

3. Clean something. There is nothing quite like cleaning to quiet a freak-out. Scrub your tub. When was the last time you did that anyway? Command your commode to sparkle! Throw out all the dead food in your fridge. It’s been laughing at you, wondering when you were going to get around to the task. The mayonnaise that expired thirteen months ago is mocking you. Go on, get rid of it. Oh, how ’bout your car? Could it use a good washing? And what of the inside? How many fossilized french fries can you find? Count them. :-) Right there is some amusing Panic Vanish!

4. Organize things. Your computer documents or photographs. Yay for folders! How about your linen closet, or your pantry? Put like with like. Organize your make-up or your tools. Straightening up makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, so naturally, you’ll feel calmer afterward.

5. Run an errand. Go grocery shopping. Pick up the clothes from the cleaners. (Pardon me while I get side-tracked. Ask yourself why you have so many things that need to be dry-cleaned. Possibly you may be able to eliminate this errand if you stop the obsession with rayon.) Ok, onward. Get that gift for your niece’s birthday, you know you’ve been putting it off. Force yourself to go get it. What about your prescriptions? Do you need to head to the pharmacy? Any errand that gets you out of the house is a great distraction. And yes, you CAN drive while you’re having a panic attack, they don’t last that long. You know this. Pay careful attention to the road. Quit worrying about your heart rate. Use your Zen mind.

6. Go for a walk. Listen to music, if possible. If you can’t go walking because it’s 2 am, walk in your garage, your living room – any space will do. Walk in circles. Walk in figure-eights. Aim for a perfect square. See if you can pull off a heart shape. Concentrate!

7. Eat something VERY slowly. Ok, so you want to lose weight, yeah, yeah, we all do – well it’s not going to happen overnight. So, eat a small piece of candy, a cookie, a granola bar. Savor it. Mindful eating! I like to do this with my eyes closed. I won’t even look at the food. Well heck, it’s not looking at me! I take long, deep breaths while I’m eating and pay very careful attention to the flavor and texture of the food. My boyfriend was oh, so skeptical about this. He said, “There’s no way eating with you eyes closed makes food taste different.” Well, he was as amazed as I when he tried it. It’s an entirely unique food experience. When I’m done eating a cookie, slowly, mindfully, with or without my eyes closed, most of the freak-out is gone.

8. Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally visit. Try the zoo, a museum, the library, your local community center, or even your town or city hall. Yes, I’ve actually visited my city hall as a means of distraction. I wound up registering to vote! I was quite pleased I’d found someplace new to go and my freak-out went away. Plus, I now had a voter registration card on its way to my house.

9. Do something creative. Draw, paint, scribble, doodle. Make stick figures. Sculpt. Make something with Play-Doh. Make paper airplanes. If you don’t know how, do some research. Or make dots on a piece of paper and then try to connect them. Once you’ve done that, color in the shape and name it. Which creature is this? Which planet is it from? Ah, also try creating a maze. My neighbor does this whenever he feels panicky. He once spent 16 hours making a maze. Heh, heh, amazing! This is extreme distraction.

10. I saved the best for last. Of course, with practice, this one can PREVENT a case of the freak-outs but if you’re not there yet, that’s OKAY. Don’t rush yourself. Just breathe. In and out, very slowly, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing. Just breathe. Count from 1 to 10. Then reverse, 10 to 1. Repeat. Really, this works, it’s Mindful Breathing, simplified. Ok, so if you couldn’t manage this one (and there are times when you can’t) BEFORE you had your freak-out, once you’re done with it, find someplace QUIET to sit and JUST BREATHE. Tell yourself that this was just a freak-out, it’s done now. If it had been a real emergency, you’d still be running from that saber-toothed tiger.

Rarrrrr!

Adrenaline, Cortisol – be gone – POOF!

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