The Last Day

Where did November go?!

First of all, let me say that November is a horrible month in which to do National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. It’s busy, there’s travel going on, there’s family obligations, food comas, etc. I nominate changing it to…January. The holidays are over, it’s a fresh start to a new year, and it’s not my birthday month. But I digress.

I did the best I could this month. I felt particularly stretched thin, blogwise and otherwise. I’ve found that whenever I try to raise the quantity of blog posts I do, the quality of each post goes down considerably, and this month reflected that. So, I stretched the rules and reblogged several oldies that I am proud of, and I think those rounded out the month’s work quite well.

I wanted this NaBloPoMo to reignite my love of writing and my ability to express myself more eloquently. It got me thinking about future blog topics that I can write when I have more time (meaning, posts that I can compose over the course of a week in 15 minute increments while hiding in the bathroom). It helped awaken my creative side as I continue to figure out who my post(during?)-mommyhood self is going to be.

I’d like to thank everyone who read this month. I know posting once a day can get old pretty quick, so thanks to anyone who stopped by. A special thank you to anyone who left comments, because it’s nice to know that my words aren’t just going out into the void.

I’d love some feedback. What posts from this month did you like? What topics would you like to see more of? Any new topics you’d like me to tackle?

In closing, my daughter just starting pulling herself to a standing position yesterday and I’m thrilled because she’s amazing. She plans to apply early admission to Cal next week.


NaBloPoMo Day 30, Last Day

 

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Happy Blogiversary to Me

I don’t know what to write today.

Usually when that happens, I write a poem. I scrape together some stream of consciousness and parse it into lines of prose.

WordPress reminded me that today is my blogiversary. I’ve been blogging since 2011. Six whole years. That’s nuts.

I am a very different person now than I was then. That was before I became a licensed therapist. Before getting engaged, promoted to running the therapy department at my old job, married, quit job, moved, pregnant, house, baby, then one more baby. I wonder if all that is reflected in my writing? It’s hard for me to tell.

But I’m still here and I’m still me.

I’m proud that I’ve kept this up for so long, and through everything that’s happened. It’s sad that the vast majority of the little blogging community I was a part of when I first started has disappeared. I miss them. I miss reading other blogs and getting comments and feedback from them. I felt like I knew them. I wish them well, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. I wonder how long the average blogger lasts?

Here’s a pic of yours truly from 2013, in California, post licensure, promotion, and engagement, but pre-wedding and everything else. I was reminded of this pic when I wrote my poem from yesterday (except it’s totally not raining, I know, but the way I felt was the same), but in my haste to post I forgot to search for the picture to accompany. Enjoy.

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aaaaand now it took me so long to find the picture on my computer that it’s after midnight so I technically missed posting for Day 11. FML.


NaBloPoMo Day 11 because I say so, dammit.

Three Years Later

On Tuesday my partner and I celebrate three years of marriage.

I want to say it’s been all rainbows and unicorn farts, but it hasn’t.  Well, there have been farts, but not those of the unicorn variety.  It’s been…loving and supportive and stable and hilarious and the kind of tenderness that brings one to tears.  But it’s also been the biggest challenge in our relationship since moving out of state and having a kid and basically having our whole world flipped upside down.  And now we’re about to flip it once again with baby number two.  Woo-boy.  I’m sure glad I have him by my side for all this.

But enough about our marriage.  The anniversary gets us thinking about our wedding and all the bittersweet feelings that go with it.  I blogged about it (read it here) to help me cope at the time and then the post got Freshly Pressed, which I initially had mixed feelings about.  On one hand, getting recognized for my writing is always nice, but I was worried that the feedback I got would just make me feel worse.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad and I felt so validated knowing that many, many other people felt similar letdowns as a result of their weddings.  My comment section became a big virtual group therapy session.  We shared horror stories and shared what helped make us feel better.  I thanked people for reading and supporting and commenting.  People thanked me for writing because it made them feel less invalidated, less sad, less alone.  I am glad that I wrote what I wrote.

What interests me now, and what prompted me to write about this again, is that that blog post has been by far my most popular post.  To this day – almost three full years later – it still gets about 3-10 hits a day, on average.  Every day.  And occasionally, people still comment with their own stories.

It makes me feel so sad when I read what people have Googled to get themselves to my wedding blog post.  Things like, “my wedding was a disaster,” and “I can’t get over how my wedding went,” or “I’m depressed about my wedding.”  This sucks!  Part of me feels validated because, again, I am definitely not alone in how I feel about my wedding.  However, part of me feels like a sucker.  I fell for the whole wedding-industrial complex.  I got wrapped up around expectations that were handed to me (and that I readily accepted) by society, spent a hell of a lot of money, put tons of eggs into the basket of one blissful day, only to have it crash down all around me. What does this say about our society that this post-wedding blues phenomenon is so common?!

Would I do things differently?  A few, but not many.  I admit, even now, I still just wanted the fun, expensive party that I could enjoy with all my friends and family.

In the months following my wedding, I responded to the many comments readers posted.  Some were unsolicited advice (one of my least favorite kinds of feedback), others were words of sympathy and encouragement, and many were similar horror stories.  Because I was going through my own grieving process, I found it difficult to respond to others who were suffering as I was. Reading those comments brought up my own yucky feelings that I was still wading through (or trying to forget – depending on the day) and it was uncomfortable.  It stung.  Each new story was a reminder that I’d always look back on that day with some amount of sadness, grief, regret.  Even today, a random comment that gets posted brings it all back, just a little bit.

While responding to these comments, I found myself wanting to slip into a therapist role as I typed.  Of course, that role feels natural to me, and it also protected me because it created distance between myself and my feelings.  Now that I am much more at peace with how my wedding went and how I feel about it, reading and answering the comments is easier.  Easier, but not pain-free.

My brother made us a wonderful video from the raw footage a relative took at our wedding, and only recently did my husband and I muster up enough courage to actually watch it, almost three years after the day.  Of course it brought back some of the yucky feelings.  The grief.  But.  It also reminded me that I actually managed to have fun that day.  And the ceremony was wonderfully moving.  And I looked beautiful.  And we were so in love.  I couldn’t deny it – the proof was right there on camera!  Whew.

In all the discussion with readers about how to heal and move on from these experiences, we often talked about having a do-over.  A “corrective experience” as therapists put it.  I pictured the two of us on a beach in Hawaii with an officiant and a photographer.  No one else.  I have flowers in my hair.  The wind is whipping my white cotton sundress around.  The sun is setting.  We’re laughing and holding hands.  And no one can take away our joy.

Maybe someday.  I say maybe, because I don’t want to get too hung up on expectations.

 

Let’s Finish This Bitch

Well, this is it. 

I did NaBloPoMo. 

I wish I had had more time, because I actually still have some great ideas for posts, but not enough time in which to flesh them out. Plus, blogging from my phone sucks. 

On the other hand, I wrote some things I’m pretty proud of. I pushed myself in ways I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t committed to blogging every single day for a month. 

At the same time, I’m looking forward to returning to living my daily life for the sake of living it (or for the sake of keeping my kid alive)  instead of for the sake of blogging about it. 

Thank you to my new readers! Thank you to the Nano Poblano team who supported me. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to read and comment on more blogs this month.  There’s been a lot going on. 

And now it’s time for me to shave this mustache. That’s what we’ve been doing this whole month, right?

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Welcome to my head space

This month, I have felt really inspired to create.

It’s felt like a nice change.

With the weather getting increasingly gray and depression-y yuck, it has helped to be able to create and channel my energies into blogging while still hibernating from the outside world (it’s a win-win).  Each day I think about (okay, obsess over) what I might blog about, and I am constantly drafting pieces of posts in my head.

Inspiration isn’t the issue.

It’s not having the flexibility to write when I get these urges to write that is the problem…because I’ll think of something awesome as I am falling asleep, or in the shower, or while changing the dirtiest poopy diaper blowout (think, like, day old Indian food.  with undigested corn.  you’re wellllllcome) and then the carefully crafted sentences just sliiiiiip away, usually gone forever.

This month, my husband knows, when I am typing furiously and I barely answer him when he asks how he looks in his new knee-high gym socks, to NOT BOTHER ME.  I AM IN THE ZONE!!!  MUST.  BLOG.  NAO.

(Like, just now, he left to go up to bed……or was that an hour ago?)

So, not being able to write when I want to is frustrating, but such is my life for the past year.  I can’t do anything when I actually want to anymore.  I can’t sleep, eat, pee with the door closed, or dance naked unless Dylan is also sleeping, eating, etc. respectively.  (We observe such time-honored family traditions as the “pants-off dance-off.”  It’s epic, you should try it).

So, that’s the bad side.  The good side is that I’ve been reading people’s GREAT STUFF and I have been taking some stock of my own stuff and I just got to meet THE BLOGGESS and I’m all like YAASSSSSS!!!  IF THEY CAN WRITE ALL THE FUNNY THINGS, SO CAN I.  And write I will.

And I’ve started to think about what stories I want to tell (mostly because I am running out of ideas, and partially because I want to push myself and maybe write about some new things).  For some reason, I feel an urge to write about traumatic things that have happened to me in a short story format.  Does that sound interesting to people?  I supposed I could just try it, and if it falls flat, then lesson learned.

Any other words of advice for someone like me who wants a challenge, who feels inspired in a general sense, but just needs a push in some direction?

Sorry about the rambling post today, but it certainly does capture the head space I am in right now.

Welcome to my head space.


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Overdose of Fog

I wrote the following poem in March of 1999 for my sophomore honors English class in high school.  For the topic of our poems, we were to pick a character from one of the books, short stories, or plays we had read during that semester.  I chose Mary from the play Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill.

Spoiler alert for a play published in 1956 (to give some setup for Mary’s character)- the play takes place over the course of one day with a particularly dysfunctional family.  Mary, the matriarch, is struggling with insomnia and morphine addiction and relapses.  She rambles on about how much she loves fog and hates the foghorn that they can see and hear from their seaside home.  Mary expresses regrets in her life, worries about her son’s health, waxes poetic about past happier times, and fantasizes about accidentally overdosing.  At midnight during the last act, Mary wanders the house high on morphine, carrying her old wedding gown.

Our class was to follow a formula for writing this particular poem.  I wish I still had it, but as you can guess, some lines had to be three -ing verbs.  One line had to compare her to a color, another line was used to compare her to a food.  Another line for her scent (where I referenced her wedding dress).  The second stanza included how she treats others, how others view her, and how I see her.  And so it goes.

I remember spending freshman and sophomore years of high school having a lot of fun learning about symbolism in literature and then struggling to write about it.  For Mary’s character, the way she talked about fog as synonymous with being high and numbing out (and hating the foghorn, because it was reality jarring her back), the symbolism for this poem practically wrote itself.

Behold:


Overdose of Fog

Mary

a kind but nervous woman,

lost in the soupy fog of a harbor on the bay.

drifting, floating, dreaming,

fooling, hiding, addicting.

a gray curtain of depression envelopes her.

she clings to the past like ivy to a wall,

scared to ever let go.

She longs for the pale blue twilight to turn to midnight purple.

she plays host to the darkness and the visiting damp, heavy screen of haze as it rolls in,

one comforting layer after another.

She treats others with worried love.

others react with sympathy, growing impatience, anger, and frustration.

They Want The Real Mary,

not the timid mouse she has become,

the one with fake glossy marbles for eyes,

scurrying through the shadows to avoid all possible reality.

I pity that mouse.

Mary

an empty Shell of a Body.

the scent of damp cement and dank clothing trails behind her.

Her flavor is that of moldy bread:

musty and rotting with old memories and regrets.

When will she take her next dose?

What else has she to live for?

An overdose of fog is all she needs…

…but damn that foghorn.


At the time I wrote this, I was very proud of it, and I am happy to report that I still am, all these years later.  Part of the reason why this poem stands out for me is because it was blindly voted the best in my class by my peers and earned a perfect grade as a result.

It was around this time that I first fancied myself as a writer with any kind of real potential, so sharing this early piece of writing more publicly is a gesture that I consider to be…vulnerable, but I also share it with excitement and pride in a show-and-tell kinda way.  You know what I mean.

Sidenote: Ever a rule-follower, I remember feeling quite nervous that I included a –gasp!– swear word in the last line of a school assignment.  But the play was filled with swear words as I recall, and so it fit Mary’s character.  Plus, my teacher for that class swore (…didn’t he?).  At any rate, nobody cared, and when my teacher read it aloud to the class, he actually put emphasis on the word, exactly as I thought it should be read: “…but damn that foghorn.”  If only my swear-phobic 16-year-old self could see my blogger-motherfucking self now.


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Mommy “Blogger”

So, all you Mommy Bloggers out there – tell me how you do it.

Cuz I have no idea how to fit all the things to do into my day, plus blogging.

It’s quite ridiculous, really.  All the things we’re told we should be doing as mothers.

I’m supposed to feed the squid every 2-3 hours.  But first I have to change his diaper to help wake him up and/or calm him down before feeding.  On a good day, this takes 5 minutes.  On a bad one, he pees all over himself and then projectile poos all over the clean diaper I had waiting for him.  So, sometimes “changing a diaper” can take 20 minutes.  Then we breastfeed (The fact that we’re actually breastfeeding now is a whole other story.  It used to be 20 minutes of let’s-scream-at-mommy’s-boobs-and-kick-and-squirm-fun-time.  Not fun.) maybe 10-20 minutes each boob.  And then, since I don’t make much milk (sad face), we supplement with formula, which takes another 10-20 minutes.  And then he’s probably got himself a wet diaper (or worse) that needs attention.  And THEN I try to pump, if he doesn’t scream when I set him down to do so.

By the time I am done pumping, he’s maybe asleep.  Maybe.  If he’s not, I start over to figure out what his boggle is.  If he is, then I have a decision to make – do I try and sleep?  (note the word “try.”) Or do I fold laundry?  Or wash the bottles?  Or cry in the bathroom?  So many choices…

And then, it’s time to do it all over again.

There’s no time for it all.  Do midwives and nurses and doctors hear themselves when they’re telling you to do all these things?  Because I haven’t even mentioned the walks I’m supposed to be taking or the sitz baths or pooping or eating lunch or training for American Ninja Warrior.

And then there’s blogging.

So hang in there with me, Psychos, because I don’t plan on going anywhere.  I just may have to start blogging during my scheduled crying-in-the-bathroom time instead.

Reminders

I wrote the following post several weeks ago, shortly after moving to the Portland area.  I hesitated in posting it, mainly because of the reaction I was afraid it might get.  But after reading Charlotte’s brave post on her blog Momaste about her own depression, I figured I should go ahead and post, too, regardless of what others thought.

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It’s time to get up, Melissa.

…..what?

You need to get up now.

Not yet.  I don’t think I can.

Take off the covers, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit up.

…O-Okay.

Now take some deep breaths.  One thing at a time.

I am doing my best to listen to the voice inside my head.  The good voice.  That voice who can see the other side.  That therapist voice who always knows that things are going to be ok, even when I seriously doubt it.

It’s so hard to take my own advice.  I can’t count how many times I have told clients to try and provide themselves with reminders about how it feels to climb out of a depression, or how it feels after you’ve just left an abusive partner, how it feels when you’re loving life and you actually have hope.

We need those reminders of what hope feels like, and now I am needing them, because depression lies to us.

Let me say that again: depression lies.

Some of my clients remind themselves by journaling.  When they feel themselves slipping, I’ll remind them to go back and read the entries they made when they felt good about themselves.

Some of my clients use artwork they’ve made as reminders.  Others use music.  Or dancing.  It’s about whatever works.

Step one is to get yourself to actually make the reminder.  Step two, which is the harder one, is to get yourself to pull out the reminder when you need it most.

I actually got this idea from one of my very first clients who used this technique naturally.  She recognized that the abuse in her relationship ran in cycles, that her manipulative ex changed his tactics from time to time, and that she needed a reminder as to why she left him, especially when he was beginning to turn the charm back on, or when things got particularly hard on her own.

She knew just how strong her denial could be, and so she knew that she needed a real, tangible reminder.  Something she couldn’t ignore or explain away.  So she cleared out a drawer in her house, and she filled it with things her ex had broken.  Picture frames, phones, even pieces of a dining room chair.  Every time she needed reminding, she would open that drawer and touch all the broken pieces of a life she had left behind.

I used her amazing example with many clients, and right now I’m needing to use it for myself.

Because sometimes I feel like my hope has leaked out of my drawer.

Now I need you to brush your teeth.

I don’t feel like it.

You’ll feel better afterwards.

…will I feel better, ever?

Yes.

How do you know?

Because you’re still listening to me.

~~~

Tell me, what do you use as a reminder of hope?

Two poems, one story

Every once in a while I try my hand at some fancyass prose just to see what happens.

Occasionally I come up with something with which I am fairly satisfied, and two of those recent examples are here and here.

For the first poem, Bending Slightly in the Breeze, I didn’t set out to write a poem initially.  I drive past several sunflower fields on the way to work each day, and I think, when they are in full bloom, they are one of the most beautiful sights on earth.  After several trips back and forth, I realized that almost every single flower faced east.  I still don’t know why that’s the case (anyone know?), and I found it very interesting.  Also, the entire field on a small hillside just makes it look like the country is on fire with joy, especially as the sun dips low in the sky at the end of the day.

I tried taking a picture of the fields with my phone as I drove by (not the safest thing, I know), and the pictures just didn’t do them justice.  Not even close.  It was then that I grabbed my phone one morning and recorded a voice memo of what it was like to drive past the flowers, and that eventually morphed into the poem.

I wondered what it would be like to be one of those flowers.  They looked like they were all patiently waiting for something…but what?  Anyone see the movie City of Angels?  It reminded me of when the angels would gather on the beach every single morning to watch the sun rise and hear the glorious music that came with it.  Perhaps these sunflowers were echos of those angels.  What would it be like to be among them?  I wanted to see what they saw.

Links to source

For the second poem, This Was Where She Belonged, I again thought of the sunflowers since they remind me of the hills being on fire, but it was also inspired by some real, scary flames.  Recently, my partner’s place of business was threatened by a grass fire.  It’s a remote area with only one road as an entrance/exit and he and his coworkers were not allowed to evacuate for fear they’d clog the route for emergency vehicles needing to get in.  After a very tense hour or so, the fire was put out about 100 feet from his building, after his office had begun to fill up with smoke.  Needless to say, I was very happy to see him after work that day.

Back to the poem, I imagined my human/sunflower (notice her feet were still rooted in the soil) from the first poem threatened by a fast-moving, evil, destructive grass fire.  The last part of the poem was about…acceptance, I suppose.  She couldn’t outrun the fire (indeed, I was trained in such matters as a summer camp counselor), and so she accepted…her fate, whatever that may be.

Maybe the fire would spare her.  Maybe she’d get burned and rise from the ashes.  And maybe the fire would get put out in the nick of time, just 100 feet away.

This was where she belonged

The hillsides came alive as flaming horses streaked across the horizon.

Galloping, galloping with an urgent passion.

The frantic roar grew, amplified by an unseen power.

Instinctively, she knew she could not outrun them, even though the voices in her mind were screaming to be heard over the din.

Instead, she was rooted in place, captivated and unable to escape.

With wide eyes, she allowed her body to lie down and sink into the soil.

The glow illuminated her face and played with the stinging hot tears mixing with the earth.

Her hands dug into the soil, trapping dirt beneath her fingernails.

She waited.

This was where she belonged.