Poem for a not-so-happy Mothers’ Day

If Mother’s Day is hard for you –
because your Mother has died,
because your Mother didn’t know how to love you,
because you always wanted to be a mother but couldn’t,
because you are a Mother and your children are dead, or cruel,
Then take today to rest and restore your soul,
to re-Mother yourself,
to show yourself that You are valuable.
Do something in honor of the Idea of Motherhood –
be creative, and kind, and selfless, and giving
to someone else
especially if they are hard to love.

“Some for the Road” is now available!

cover of SFtR

“Some for the Road” are meditations and milestones on the road of recovery, in a reading-a-day format. It took me two years to edit and assemble, and two years before that to write. The paperback is 484 pages, in a very readable 11 point font, and costs $25 if you order it from Amazon. The Kindle version is $9.99 to buy, free with Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1507633580/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1492955412&sr=8-6&keywords=Some+for+the+road

Grief shuffle

Inertia is absolutely normal and to be expected when grieving. This is a hard journey, this journey of grief. How to walk forward, when half of you is gone?

And yet we must walk forward, all of us, who have lost someone we love. We walk forward because they would want us to. We walk forward because to not do so is to die slowly, is to let that dull nothingness win.

Yes – we must sit with our grief for a time. We must make time for it, to absorb it, to let it speak to us. We must let it move through us, changing us, transforming us. How much time does it take? As much time as it does.

Consider the caterpillar in its cocoon. Consider the seed in the ground. They don’t know what they are becoming, but they are becoming. They are changing, sometimes painfully. Who would recognize them after they transform? Who would know what they had been, and how hard it was to get there? And yet they do.

And so do we.

There is hope after diagnosis

A guy came into my workplace yesterday, obviously experiencing the mania that comes with unmanaged mental dis-ease. He was raving about conspiracy theories and the Temple Mount – said he was even frisked by the police in the Holy Land just 50 days ago.

Little does he realize but I speak Crazy fluently, being a citizen of that country. I’ve also taken classes and read books on how to safely interact with people who are on the edge of “dealing with it”. I enjoyed the challenge of the conversation, but was also reminded of how far I’ve come.

Today is marks the 17 year anniversary of the last time I was in a mental hospital. There is hope after a diagnosis. Since I started taking care of myself, I’ve had the same job for 16 years, I’ve been married for 12, I’ve published four books and I have excellent credit. You can have a mental disorder and be fine – with proper care (a lot of it is self-care).

Like many people, I went through the trap of thinking it was a temporary thing and got off the meds (which weren’t good for anyone anyway – they no longer prescribe the one I took) and went off the deep end again. I went to the hospital again (both times self-initiated) and got on different meds that gave me clarity so I could start taking care of myself. It is hard to be “normal” when the high is so vivid and interesting. Everything is connected. Life is 31 flavors when high with mania – but only vanilla when “normal”. I’ve learned how to be in the middle.

A lot has to do with getting enough exercise, eating right, and enough sleep. Writing helps me a lot. But Americans aren’t into self-care for anything – do whatever you want and damn the consequences – and blame them on someone else. This is true with every disease we have.

The only way out is to –

admit that there is a problem,

that it won’t fix itself,

that it is chronic (think heart disease, not the flu),

and that you have a lot you can do to help yourself get better. It isn’t all about the meds – but they are important.  Look through my “Survival” book list for books that will help you help yourself.

 

Most of all – remember that a diagnosis is not a definition.  You are a person who has a mental health diagnosis.  You aren’t the disease.

 

 

Maybe addiction isn’t just for substance abusers

Here’s a rule – if you choose to ignore good advice, you don’t have the right to complain about the results.

If you eat mostly meat and drink sodas, you will get kidney stones. This is an expected result. If you know better and refuse to change then you are stupid. You are not ignorant because you know better. You’re willful and childish. It is crazy behavior.

This is my working out my anger at a friend who repeatedly has kidney stones and complains about them. They are very painful and keep him from living his life. Or perhaps this is the life he wants – a life of pain, of feeling victimized – that this just keeps happening. I realized I was very angry about this behavior of his, and dug deeper.

I realized that part of it is that I’m still angry because my Mom was so surprised that she was dying from lung cancer. She smoked two packs a day of cigarettes for 20 years. Duh. Of course she got lung cancer. She should have known better. So many people act like this.

Addiction isn’t just about abusing substances. It is about maladaptive techniques for living life. It isn’t just about using drugs or alcohol. It is about loving pain more than loving being healed.

I’m angry because I got out of my hole of addiction and I keep seeing friends in their holes, wailing. They want attention, but not help. They want to be noticed, to have people feel sorry for them. I have to stop listening because I feel so upset when I hear them like this. It is almost as if they are celebrating their pain. I was obese, addicted to pot, and I smoked clove cigarettes. I got myself out of that terrible place, slowly but surely.

It is possible to get out of the jails we put ourselves in as soon as we admit that we are the ones who put ourselves there. We have the keys.

How are we as a culture so asleep as to cause-and-effect? I’m angry how often people complain “My head hurts” (metaphorically), so the answer is to quit banging it against the wall. We are our own worst enemies. I cannot stand listening to addicts. I was one. I got over it. Grow up. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot spend all your money and still have savings for retirement or emergencies. You cannot have a lifetime of inactivity and expect to be healthy.

Americans are willfully ignorant of cause-and-effect. They think poverty / illness / death happens to other people. Or that it is somebody else’s fault or responsibility. They blame someone else (parents, their boss, the government, for instance) for their being in that situation or demand that someone else (often the same list of people) get them out of it. These are all lies. They are all habits of addicts. It is so frustrating to watch people kill themselves slowly.

It is like we are in an abusive relationship with ourselves, and nobody is willing to tell us. Consider when you have a friend who’s dating a guy who is a jerk. He steals her money, talks bad about her, he makes her feel like she’s no good or makes her feel like she can’t do anything without him. All of her friends see this and yet they don’t tell her because they’re under this collective lie that she’ll just ignore their words. They believe that she has to figure out her problems on her own. But what if she lacks perspective to know that she has value and that there is a choice, that there is a way out?

I think it’s cruel to say nothing when you see someone hitting their head against the wall when the door is right next to them.

I think that it is not the sign of a friend to let someone continue to abuse themselves without showing them that there is a safe way out of their problems.

Now once someone has been shown how to take care of himself, been shown the doorway out of the room that they were trapped in, then it is up to them to take the next steps. You cannot shove someone through the door but it is perfectly loving to tell them that there is one.

Part of the problem of recovery is that not every door works for every person. It is like diets. Some people have to have a raw diet, while some people have to have a macrobiotic diet. Some people need to grow their own food, while others feel they don’t have the time to do it and go to grocery store. Somewhere in the middle are those who go to the farmer’s market. Every person has their own path and it’s important to remember that their path is theirs and theirs alone.

There is a fine line between compassion and codependency, and I don’t know where that is.

So in the meantime, I’ve “unfollowed” a lot of friends on Facebook, rather than hear them complain about their lives. I want to rescue them, to kidnap them. I want to force them to learn how to get better, because I think that will help me get better. Maybe I’ll get “a star on my crown” if I heal them. But I can barely take care of myself.

Growing in (poem)

I’m no longer growing up
but in,
strengthening my foundation,
clearing out old misconceptions
and flat out lies
I learned
or was taught.

This isn’t housekeeping.
This is a major renovation,
a re-new-ing.
This is tearing out the floorboards and joists
and digging down to bedrock
to reseat the base.

There’s no plan for this,
no map.
There can’t be.
Each house,
each person
is site specific.
Nobody else’s plans will work.

How can you grow up
if you don’t have a strong base?
The tree falls over
if the roots aren’t deep.

So for right now,
I’m growing in.

Poem – What gets you up?

What gets you up?
You have to have a reason
for getting up in the morning
and for making it
through the day.

Children? Work? Art?

What brings you joy? Do that.
What does the world need? Do that.

Can you get paid for it? Even better.

But even if you can’t,
do it anyway,
because it will feed your soul
and that kind of nourishment
can’t be bought
in a store.

There is no nutritional supplement
for a soul deficiency,
like there is for scurvy.

Rumi says: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

Buechner says: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”