When You Can’t Can’t Anymore

I fell off the face of the earth again. I’m sorry. My excuse this time? The same that it is every. single. time.

I was afraid.

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Anxiety has this horrible ability to get in the way of any and every daily function. It overtakes our priorities. It convinces us that we’re not up to the challenge.

Add depression and you might as well just crawl under the covers and never leave. That’s what your brain tells you. Not only is it all too big and overwhelming, but no one is ever going to appreciate your work. No one is ever going to like your results. No one is going to want your art or your music. Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. It drones on in your head until, suddenly, you’re drowning. There’s a rational side of your brain back there tsking at you because it’s ridiculous. You have plenty of air. The dog and the cat are both cuddled up next to you as you make your way through an entire tray of Double Stuffed Oreos. You have a roof over your head you have managed to convince yourself to go to work every work day to pay for. There’s food in the cabinets.

But you’re still terrified.

Add social situations and then you pretty much wish you could just give up and die. People are hard. You keep hearing that you’ve offended someone or that they’re annoyed that you called out again this week because of a panic attack. You want to have people over because you’re much more comfortable in your space than you are in theirs, but the place is a wreck and, instead of cleaning, you’re glued to the bed or the couch, still eating those Oreos.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had weeks…months even, where I felt like if I moved I might fall off the earth. Everything was stressful. I was exhausted. Truly couldn’t keep my eyes open. Food was complicated. I ate like a 6 year old at a birthday party just so that I could say I had eaten something. Showers were stressful- am I going to accidentally cut myself with a razor again? Am I going to have a major allergy attack again? Should I plan to have an allergy attack? Should I get up earlier so I have time to have the allergy attack before I drive to work or should I take all my showers at night so that the physical weariness that follows an allergy attack will help me sleep through the night? Let’s not even get started on grocery shopping.

I used to be an honorary “member” of a local AA chapter. I drove a true member there 2-3xs a week because they’d lost their license for a term. They let me sit in and I’m going to tell you right now that some of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned in my life I learned from recovering alcoholics. Odd, since I’ve never been truly drunk. Tonight I’m sitting here, looking at the baby steps I made over the past year that have accumulated into such a huge difference in my life and it’s like I’m hearing them encourage one another around that table all over again. If you don’t think you can make it through the week, make it through today. If you don’t think you can make it through today, make it through the morning/afternoon/evening/night. If you don’t think you can make it through that. Make it through the next hour. Make it through the next 30 min. Make it through the next 10 min. Make it through the next 5.

I am still alive because I made it through quite a few 5 minutes in my lifetime. Now, I’m stepping it up. Instead of just existing for the next 5, I’m going to make something happen for the next 5. I’m going to clean a sink. I’m going to fold socks. That’s it. Just the socks. I’m going to clean out the kitty litter box. I’m going to put away 5 things. I think I’ve leveled up some way, because I look around my incredibly overwhelming and stressful apartment and I just can’t “can’t” anymore. I can’t handle another evening of just making it to the night so I can escape into the hopefully blissful darkness of sleep, only to awaken anxious the next morning because my apartment looks like a FEMA supported disaster area. There’s no room to have people over. There’s no time to go visit them because I’m coming home and fighting anxiety in an effort to clean it all up so I DO have room to have people over.

This is not a sustainable lifestyle.

I don’t want to miss out on the life I want and the things I want to achieve because I was afraid. It’s going to be hard. It already has been. But if I can go 5 weeks with less than 10g of sugar in my diet per day, I’m pretty sure I can wake up and choose that morning to get out of bed instead of hit “snooze”. If I can stay in a room where a man is yelling and throwing his arms around because he’s angry about something and I don’t run and I don’t flinch, I can choose to wash my dishes. If I can co-design/build a Wendigo costume for the local LARP, Badlands, in 6 weeks with a ridiculously low budget while working a full time job, I can choose to put away the laundry.

You have to remember that life is a series of choices.

Life is a series of choices. Choices have consequences. Are you genuinely exhausted or are you just really tired? There’s a difference. Get real with yourself and clean the toilet. Are you genuinely sick nauseated or are you anxious nauseated? There’s a difference and since you can’t really make the second go away maybe try washing 5 dishes instead of worrying about whether this nausea is going to get worse or better soon.

I suck at rebuilding my lifestyle. I’m not going to lie to you. But I wanted to post this to encourage you to make the choices. I wanted to do this together with you so neither of us have to do it alone. I want you to know that if you fail for 5 min you can win for the next 5. You can choose to not sink into that rut.

I want you to believe with me that it can be done.

This Is My Life

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Photo by Dave Goodwin of Green Doors Studio

 

I have to go home now because my dog needs let out.
I am afraid to go home because of what my mind will tell me when I get there.
I cannot go somewhere else because my dog needs let out.
I have been sitting in this parking lot for ten minutes.
This is life with anxiety.

I sit in my car in front of my house.
I cannot go in.
Now we both have to pee.

I cannot go in.
Life is made of choices.
I will go inside.
Maybe.
In a minute.

I try to go inside.
There are patches in the concrete of my porch where the paint is rubbed off.
I’m sure they happened long before I moved in.
Today they startle me.
I must have done something to cause them.
I unlock my door and go inside.

Everything is temporarily better.
My dog is happy to see me.
He hasn’t messed on the floor.
My housemate won’t be mad.
I don’t know why he gets so upset.
The dog uses puppy pads if he goes inside and the carpet was ruined long before I moved in anyway.

I am confused.
I was doing something.
I am standing here with clothes in my hand.
I have put down my bags.
I was going to pee.
I need to pee.
But I need to put away the things I have brought home from work.
I am frozen.
I cannot move.
My mind will not let me choose which I am to do first.

I am terrified.
A man’s voice yells at me from upstairs.
I have done something wrong.
I know not what.
He is angry.
I am unfrozen.
There are clothes in my hand.
They must go to… somewhere.
I wander into the bathroom, a slight scowl on my face.

I cannot remember why I am here.
In my daze and my fog my brain confuses my two purposes.
I almost put my clothes in the toilet.
At the last second I remember what I am meant to be doing.
At least I think I do.
There are clothes in my hand.
I put them in the hamper.
There is a man upstairs.
He sounded angry with me.
I should go see what it is I might have done.
I go upstairs.

I call as I go, trying to see if perhaps I imagined it all.
He has no reason to be angry with me.
There is no response.
I stand in the back room, confused.
There is a light on in the bedroom but no one answers my voice.
I am alone.
I don’t understand.
Was it all in my head?

There is no one in the lit bedroom.
I move to the living room, puzzled.
The front door is opened.
He re-enters the house.
Did you call for me?
No. Why would I do that?
He’s smiling.
It’s supposed to be a joke.
I want to cry.
It isn’t funny.
My brain is trying to make me understand that he isn’t angry.
Nothing is getting through.

I try to answer his questions.
I try to have normal conversation.
I keep getting lost.
My eyes won’t focus.
My throat is closing with tension.
Are you ok?
I don’t know how to answer this question.
Did I scare you?
Technically, no.
I disappear.

I open the computer.
I have to type.
I have to share, but I don’t know why.
No one wants to hear these things.
No one wants to read these words.
This poem started on Facebook.
People are checking in.
People need me to be ok.
I am not ok.
And I don’t know why.

He comes downstairs.
He is loud.
He is getting his laundry.
My dog barks.
My head hurts.
He is singing loudly and off key to make me smile.
My dog barks.
My head hurts.
He asks if there is anything he can do for me.
I want tea.
I never want tea.
He says I will have to be upstairs with pants on in ten minutes.
I’m not sure I can.
But I want tea.

As I type, my Facebook chimes
Over and over.
I am afraid to look.
Someone will be mean.
Someone will be mad.
Someone will tell me to suck it up.
Someone will be worried.
I am scared.
I cannot check my Facebook.
I cannot live my life this way.

Someone please make it stop.

Twisted Psyche

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I have wanted
I have needed
So many times
To spill the words on the page
To finish the thoughts that begin
But they drift away from me effortlessly
Like smoke of incense spilled into a draft

Philosophy pours from me
Thoughts deepen into me
Purpose struggles to find meaning
And meaning attempts to confine itself in words
So that purpose can be comprehended
But the fit is like pouring the mother
Into the maiden’s pants
While the crone sits by and chuckles

We are all made of water
But so few of us know
So they pretend to be made from wood
Or from stone, barely shape-able
Because they fear…
What?
What is it that they fear so intensely,
So intensely that they explode
In ultimatums and electrostatic detonations

They sear the atmosphere with their zeal
Demanding that all inhabitants of this world we share
Bow to their own interpretations
But the blind man feeling the elephant’s trunk
Has no real advantage over his blind brother feeling its tail
Neither is entirely wrong and neither is entirely correct
But they cannot possibly comprehend that
The only wrong here is to force their brethren to walk
On a path they were never intended to follow

How are we to judge one another, then?
How do we assert what is the right thing to do?
We do not. That is the point.
We may speak of our experiences and the outcomes of such,
But we must constantly view life with the understanding
That we were meant to be different.

Namaste
I wish to be one with you
And to celebrate our differences instead of condemning
Because it is this way that we can learn about the whole elephant:
Together.

I am trying to learn
That I am most discontent
When I am looking at my life
Walking my path with the constant fear
That you might disapprove of it

Apparently I do not need to accept your judgement
But I am afraid that if I do not
You will push me away from the elephant
And I will have to stumble darkly
Until I happen into another strange creature
Likely face first
And who’s to say that those already petting
This soft downy skin
And feeling these smooth conical teeth
Will not just push me away as well?

Perhaps I was made to explore
The extent of a being
Entirely on my own

People are exhausting.
People are hard.

So I’m Here

Now what?

I keep asking myself that question as though once you land in your chosen location the furniture magically moves itself from 7 hours away into your new apartment and arranges itself nicely with things neatly tucked away within. Food is supposed to stock your shelves without need for the money to purchase it and you’re supposed to begin baking and cooking wonderful things for wonderful people right away. The flu doesn’t show up just as you’re starting to get used to everything and wreck your Thanksgiving plans, killing a week’s paycheck. You don’t have to call up the only gig you have on the books for the season and cancel because you’re too sick to drive to the location…

Now what?

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In January/February of this year- this box and a very good friend are what helped me keep it together. Oddly enough, this box was given to said friend as a parting gift. It sits here, halfway through the process of painting and antiquing it, as a place of grounding in my life. As long as I’m creating beauty in the world, somehow everything will magically turn out ok.

Well the paint didn’t make it down here from Bristol, but the sewing machine certainly did. I have what I need to work the costume for my January performance, so that’s what I’m going to do. Ladies and gentlemen, the shop is now open and the artist is IN.

I couldn’t do it without you- your ooing and ahing and wondering what comes next. Thank you for being there for me.

No One Cared

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When I was a child I wanted to play dress up
But I was surrounded by boys
So no one cared.

As I got older I began to write novels
But people thought the humor and storylines were juvenile
So no one cared.

I started piano lessons and won competitions
But soon after that we moved far away from my teacher
So no one cared.

Then I began creating colored pencil art until my teacher was replaced
By someone who only did 3 dimensional art and painting, which I hated
So no one cared.

When my brother died I had to give up soccer because my father said,
“Don’t leave your mother alone after school.” I wasn’t very good anyway.
So no one cared.

I enjoyed making jewelry for a while
But I was still learning the balance between “too much” and “perfect”
So no one cared.

I was extremely intimidated by the talent of a classmate in college
Because he was gifted and I had to work, but no one knew
So no one cared.

After graduating from college I was supposed to have gotten married
It was really difficult to find a job and I wasn’t even dating at the time
As a result, I couldn’t stay where I wanted to be
But no one cared.

I started over in a new state and still had trouble finding work
I was lonely and I was hungry, but I hid it
So no one cared.

I finally grew the courage to record my first musical album
But a computer formatting accident deleted it before we were done
So no one cared.

I gathered the money and all the hope I could muster
And traveled in faith that a talent scout would want me
But no one cared.

I started over in a new state again when I got married
And that didn’t turn out the way I’d thought
I kept quiet because you don’t air your dirty laundry from your marriage
So no one cared.

I had to start over again in yet another state
But I got there and found out that my friend didn’t love me unconditionally and
No one there cared.

I started over yet again with a new group of friends who are wonderful
But that one day some guy looked at me and said,
“Why don’t you ever do anything with your life?”
Seething in frustration, I killed him and buried the body
So no one cared.

The above stanza was only what I dreamed I’d done in that situation
In and of itself that desire seems wrong, but because I didn’t really do it
No one cared.

Pretty Things

Photo by Cassie Frese

Photo by Cassie Frese

Today I hung up my wings
And I cried to see them go
Into the back of the closet
Unsure of when next they might emerge.

Today I gently fingered the leather
Of the armor I loan to my friend
As I put it into a basket
Unsure if I will ever see her again.

Today I put away my sword belt
And I cleared the real money
And necessary things from my bags
While leaving behind coppers and tags.

Today I put away the warrior
That everyone can see
And instead I return to being the warrior
That dresses and reasons like me.

My fighting spirit cannot be hung on a rack,
My determination contained in a basket
Or my dreams left behind with the copper.
Even when no one else can see,
There is
And always will be
A Tyrel in me.

Today I posted my rings for sale
From a marriage that didn’t survive.
I cried to know I will soon see them go,
But I’ve bills to pay,
A dog to feed,
And nothing is so pretty
That it outweighs my need to fly.

I am still The Girl With the Wings

What Do You Want From Me?

The phrase runs over and over, around and through my head. It infects everything I touch, everything I sing, everything I think… I cannot get away. I wake in the morning to wonder why I’m here. I wander through my day wondering why I bother to go on living. I’ve cut ties from the nagging judgmental voice in my head. There’s no one left telling me what to do. One problem: I was never prepared for this moment.

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There was this assumption that I would hold to the insistent and impossible expectations for the rest of my life… a life ever shortened by the attempt to fulfill such. The list was so long and so detailed it even told me to tie my shoes in an effort to be sure I caused no one else to stumble. “Have a relationship,” it said. Then it made every effort imaginable to make that commandment impossible.

I have no desire to pretend anymore that I’m satisfied with letters written to someone else thousands of years ago. No lover would accept that as enough to maintain an ongoing relationship. So let’s put that notion aside, shall we? Let’s get very real with ourselves and begin to treat the divine as though it is living since we so vehemently claim that it is. Let’s walk very far away from this notion that others have any say whatsoever in how and whom we worship and be truly respectful instead of hateful, but presented “with love.” Let’s keep our appendages inside the ride from now on as no one really needs to be bloodied by our own flailing foolishness.

Let’s figure out why we’re really here. The reason I was given was so abstract as to be an impossible deterrent to ending my personal existence. In a nutshell: not good enough. I need a reason that justifies the food I eat each day that could have been better utilized if given to another… because, what did I do today? I managed to make it to the end.

Sex and money. That’s the answer, really. At least that’s been my experience. Occasionally you run across someone that wants something else, but generally it all comes down to sex and money. It’s like people no longer value friendship, music, philosophy, art or “by hand” fabrication of any kind. What do you do when the thing you have to provide to the world is undervalued? Even in ancient Israel the church musicians were paid (via meat and other foodstuffs from the offerings and money from the tithes). What makes us any less important today that we should be providing this service for free?

Look back in history. There’s always been artists of all kinds: musicians, philosophers, writers, weavers, sculptors, painters, wood workers, metal smiths, seamstresses and tailors, hatters, jewelers, glass blowers, cobblers, storytellers, dancers… the list goes on and on. The ability to innovate and create- this is how we connect and relate to the divine. So why are we not provided for in such a way that allows us to do that? It is a blatant hypocrisy that a faith would tell you your purpose is to glorify the divine and then not support you in such a way that you might pursue that calling.

And sex? May the divine have mercy and rescue every single young female still entrenched in the ways and thoughts I grew up with. Be a perfect wife. Become a mother. Satisfy the needs of your man, because it really is a need, after all. Bullshit. Those who abstain do not die from the effort. No woman is less because she is unwed. Absolutely no one on this earth requires a legal or religious union to another in order to be the pinnacle of themselves as a person. The choice to take a mate is just that: a choice. Inside that chosen union they choose to love and need one another so that together they might achieve greater or other things they could not otherwise do alone. It is not necessary. It neither cheapens nor enhances anyone’s worth. It is a personal choice that we make.

And now we’ve arrived at the heart of the matter. It’s personal. Everything we were taught to stick our noses in was, in fact, personal. I’m not required to open any door of my soul to another for any reason whatsoever. My soul is my own and I have every right to close every door and window until I believe the climate fair enough for a cross-breeze. On the scratched side of the coin, I am also not under any obligation to acquire a crowbar and force my way into the soul of another. Anyone who sits walled away in their own tower awaiting some shiny suit of armor to haul them out is fully capable of screwing up their own courage and opening their own doors. If they are paralyzed by fear, I shall stand under the window and sing to them. In the end, coming down to mingle must be done under their own power. It is neither my responsibility nor my fault if they do not come down.

All this time and my mind has been programmed to ask the wrong question. Any intellectual knows that finding the proper answer is far less important than asking the proper question. I have recently begun the battle to leave this flawed line of thinking far behind and replace it with something that will yield superior results. I have recently begun to ask myself, “What do I want from me?”

peace     acceptance    love     happiness

That was my answer. This is what I want from myself and for myself. I’ve written it down now and placed it in front of all of you… opened a tiny window into a room of my soul. It is suddenly so much more real. It is suddenly so much more obtainable because it is concrete.

Let the journey continue…

Masters of our Fate

Tyrel is done with your talking...

Tyrel is done with your talking…

As a role player you get a perspective on life that’s generally inaccessible to the masses. You get to explore aspects of your personality that are being squelched in other areas of your life, find out what would happen if you went with your gut instead of with the crowd, take that chance on being a hero instead of hiding in the back of the battle and you learn exactly how little control you can have over an outcome.

At a recent game my ex walked right into a trap set for the inquisitive mind and sprung it by asking too many questions. The results were rather devastating to his character. It made me question my deep seated need to understand the world around me. Do I ask too many questions?

Anxiety is a terrible thing to live with day to day. A little fear now and again is good for the soul. A lot robs the soul of its vitality and its luster. “A life lived in fear is a life half lived” according to Strictly Ballroom and I’m watching this play out in my own, but without all the humorous moments and the wise asides by children. I’m also severely lacking in sequined costumes and men who dance as though David when the Ark returned to Jerusalem, but that’s a post for another day.

The price of understanding is knowing the answers to the questions and realizing that the bad results number far more than the good. Our world is not, in fact, set up for us to be successful. Too often the fear of those undesirable outcomes cause us to bring them to pass, which feeds our anxiety and creates an emotional maelstrom of a world to try and navigate. I don’t want to be like this anymore. My body can’t take it and my mind can’t handle it and my soul is aching from it… so what does one do to change their little world?

I have begun by rethinking my way through my entire worldview. Not the place most people begin, I know. Who is God? What is He to me? What do I want Him to be? Where am I going with my life? Is that really where I want to go? Is the music something I’m meant to do or something I’ve latched onto as personal therapy and naively believing that it will help someone else as well? What of the art and the clothing design/construction? I love them but should I be doing these things? Why am I here? What is peaceful to pursue and what is selfishly annoying everyone around me? Am I lovable? If presented with romance again, would I want to pursue it? Am I EVER going to own my own house? Should I? Am I, as I so often feel lately, in desperate need of being rescued or is this something I’m capable of doing on my own?

And then it hits me: I’m asking too many questions. And I am paralyzed.

Please, God, make me a stone… with a sweet nougaty center. In the above picture I might look like I can take on the world, but I assure you that my insides do not match my outsides.

My mother taught me that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, so tonight I am doing math. Tomorrow I will do paperwork and maybe move a thing or two. As I make these decisions and I actively choose one fear to face at a time, perhaps gradually my wings will grow lighter so that eventually, I’ll be ready to fly again.

Blessings on your new year regardless of your faith, religion or creed. My best to you all.

We Can Be Heroes

source: GATAG

source: GATAG

Heroes all and every one
Heroes fighting ’til we’ve won
Work through rise and set of sun
Making right ’til we’re undone

Heroes rise and heroes fall
Humbly we accept the call
Shedding dreams, forsaking all
Collect our swords, defend the wall

Heroes choices we must make
Heroes woundings we must take
Deny ourselves for others’ sake
Courage show although it’s fake

Some of us are born to it
Some of us choose to seek it
But most of us become Heroes because it was thrust upon us

Inside I quake. Inside I shake.
I cry and scream and drown in lakes
Of circumstance beyond control.
I just want us all to come out of this life
Alive.

Grief

What would you do?Grief
It is, in fact, the death
Of something.
You’ve been given a fatal prognosis.
You’ve only 2 weeks for your marriage to live.
What would you do?

When confronted with
So little time
Most people
Gather their loved ones,
Forgive,
Go skydiving,
Make whoopie,
Plan the funeral,
Watch the sun rise.

These things make
No sense
At the death of a marriage.
It’s not tragic enough for the family to gather.
I’m far too angry today to forgive.
Skydiving is an unnecessary drain on
Already limited finances.
And you don’t make love to the person
Who’s leaving you.
The court proceedings are planned.
I shall watch the sun rise.

I shall watch the sun rise
With a cup of creamy sweet coffee in hand.
I shall stroke the fur of my fluffy dog
And feel the warmth of him
And the gentle sun’s rays,
And the gentle swaying of the hammock.

No symbolism here.
No deep thoughts or comfort that
Time marches on as the sun
Takes the sky.
There is only warmth,
And coffee,
And a feeling all is at rest,
Everything has stopped,
And nothing is more important
Than this moment.

I survived
The death of my marriage.
I survived that one thing
I never believed that I could.