Numb…

I have recently come to Phoenix to spend some time with my sister and her family as I try to sort some things out in my life… as temporary respite of sorts until the next phase of my life is to begin again and I return to Houston.  While I am incredibly grateful to have this

Numb

interim home away from home, I feel like a fish out of water being suffocated the oxygen.

My sister is a seemingly very lovely person by all accounts; she has a happy home life with her husband, an engineer/salesman with two incredibly well-mannered teenaged boys.  She has no natural children, but is a loving, if not sometimes distant, step-mother to her husband’s two children, something to be blamed entirely on the children’s biological mother who, at a very young age did everything she could to step between my sister and the boys.

We get along pleasantly enough, we do not get too personal about each other’s lives, we do not share secrets about our private lives, past relationships or childhood experiences with our parents or other siblings.  Occasionally, we chatter about the family gossip about my children, our nieces and nephews, or our brother and sister, but it is all relatively superficial, no pun intended.

Throughout the years, we have gone back and forth with our relationship, wavering between entirely distant with no contact at all, to slightly closer with an occasional phone call, up until now where I am with her daily.  At one point, I moved in with my parents when she was in her 20’s and still living at home; we spent a lot of time together then, drinking going out, mostly just partying.  That brings us to today, 2012, sisters by blood, but virtual strangers when it comes to knowing each other, to feeling a bond, to belonging in each other’s lives.

We spend three hours at the gym every day and I have taken to observing her behavior and noticing how different she is than I am when it comes to her conduct and ease around people.  She has only lived in this city for a few months, yet she has already made a home at the gym with people that she feels comfortable enough to hug and converse with regularly.

From the time we walk in, she talks to various people; I can hear her behind me as I sit on the bike pedaling away.  She chatters away endlessly with other women, men, cleaning personnel, and other employees.  They talk about just about everything imaginable; if I didn’t know better, I would think she was campaigning to be “Miss Fitness USA” or something equally absurd.  I have never known her to behave in this manner.  The sister I remember mostly kept to herself and preferred to remain anonymous; I was the one who was the life of the party, always laughing, smiling, flirting, the center of attention no matter where I went.  What happened to change the shift of the tide?

I have watched her from the platform of the cardio machines as I work out; she seems happy, comfortable, at ease with herself and her place in life, like something is completely different with her.  However, the same thing has happened with me, something is different with me as well… something completely different has happened.  But not the same thing…

As I am walking on the treadmill pushing the buttons increasing the incline and the speed, the song “Numb” by Linkin Park comes on and I am instantly moved by the lyrics:

I’m tired of being what you want me to be

Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface

Don’t know what you’re expecting of me

Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes

(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)

Every step that I take is another mistake to you

 I am almost hysterical thinking of everything I have lost in the past 8 years since my father’s death, everything about myself, how different my personality was back then, how much stronger and more confident I was then.

 I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there

Become so tired, so much more aware

I’m becoming this, all I want to do

Is be more like me and be less like you

 It strikes me then that I feel she is different since my father’s death as well; that we are all different, her, my brother, my older sister, and me.  It is hard for me to determine who has fared better than the others, if any; but I know that I am barely getting by most days now.

Looking back to the days after he was killed, the four of us kids vowed to stay close, to never lose contact with each other, to quit cutting each other out of our lives; we sat in the back of my brother’s pickup underneath a starry sky on July 4, 2004 and promised to stick together through thick and thin, to stand beside each other no matter what… it was less than three months later that the other three were not speaking to me and I was the black sheep once again.

I am so numb from the see-saw version of my relationship with my siblings, from not even knowing them; I am starting to see a more clear view of where my flat affect developed.  Watching my sister hug virtual strangers at the gym when I cannot even accept a hug from a family member when I am moving away, uncertain when I will ever see them again, I cannot help but think, “Either something is very wrong with me, or something happened to break us… maybe both.”

The song continues… and I am paralyzed with pain.

 Can’t you see that you’re smothering me,

Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control?

‘Cause everything that you thought I would be

Has fallen apart right in front of you.

Every step that I take is another mistake to you.

And every second I waste is more than I can take.

 I will never be good enough anymore.  I will never fit in.

Linkin Park Lyrics

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/linkinpark/numb.html

 

Regarding Suicide

I read a blog the other day about suicide that really struck a deep chord with me, as I feel like I could have written it on countless different occasions and with so many varied outcomes depending on the day.  For a few days I have kept the thoughts in the back of my

Antidepressants

mind trying to ignore what I was thinking and not write about it, letting the fact that I “reblogged” the article and that I commented on the original blog be the only acknowledgement that I thought about it ever in my life.  However, it has been gnawing at me every time I have a few minutes alone; like a flashing neon sign, blinking “S-U-I-C-I-D-E”… it just keeps popping into my mind like pink and green lights.  I feel compelled to write something, to dedicate at least a little space, a mere 500 words to the subject.

Suicide, or at least the attempt at suicide, is an old friend to me, and has been for almost as long as I can remember.  My first attempt was when I had stolen some codeine laced pills from my mother’s friend at 13 and had downed all of them at school and had collapsed in the hallway.  When I was taken to the counselor’s office and slept it off all afternoon, I was able to talk my way out of the situation as being exhausted from going to modeling school at night and being out late as well as eating next to nothing; both true statements, but I simply omitted the part about taking the overdose of pills along with the rest.

The next legitimate attempt that I recall was when I was 18 and I was at home and took as many sleeping pills as I could swallow without throwing them up.  I then drove to a friend’s house, although I do not remember the drive, but I showed up there.  She spent the rest of the night forcing me to throw up and making me drink coffee, all the time threatening to call the police if I were to go to sleep.  I remember that we were not really friends after that night, not that we were very good friends before that, and I cannot even remember why I would have gone to her house in the first place other than I had nowhere else to go that evening and I remember not wanting to die alone.

For years after that, there were so many attempts with both over the counter and prescription drugs that I could not even begin to identify each time; sometimes I was alone, in fact, most times I was alone.

I noticed that things took a dangerous turn for me when I started to have a difficult time sleeping if I was not fantasizing about committing suicide.  I would think about overdosing, hanging myself, sitting in a car in the garage with the car running, parking on the railroad tracks, driving off of a cliff, walking into the ocean… there were more fantasies than I can remember.

As I would get deeper and deeper into my fantasy life about suicide, I would not live during my waking moments.  I thought I had nothing to live for, and in a way, I was living a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I lived with a man who had always been the love of my life, but I did not treat him that way. He would come home from work and I would barely acknowledge him, often barely even getting off of the couch or out of bed to greet him.

Several times he came home from work to find me unconscious from an overdose of pills, rope wrapped around my neck, sometimes with a plastic bag barely covering my face.  Eventually, he tired of my behavior and left me.  I had finally broken him, exactly what I had feared all along that I would do from the day I had met him… I knew I was never good enough for him and I had finally proven myself right.  My first thoughts were, I wish he had let me die one of those times instead of revived me every time.

Well, it has been at least two years since my last attempt, and while I still struggle with the depression at times, I no longer soothe myself to sleep with fantasies of suicide.  I now have fantasies of how perfect my life is going to be when I get to return to him, as he has opted to give me a second chance… I feel like the luckiest girl alive.  I want to live.  I choose to live.  I choose life.

I’ve made my decision

This is an incredible decision to live… it is a struggle when you have bipolar disorder. Every day is a new struggle to make that decision.

bipolarblogging

I decided I didn’t want to live.

Things have been bad for a long time now.  My depression isn’t getting any better in spite of all the things I’ve been trying to do and all the changes in medications.  It’s been almost impossible to work.  I’ve complained for a while that there isn’t enough work to do to stay busy, but things finally picked up a couple of weeks ago.  But being so depressed it’s been all I can do to keep up with the bare minimum.  I just have no motivation and no energy.  I spend my day staring at the computer screen or out the window, waiting until it’s finally time to go home.  But it isn’t any better there.  As soon as I’m home I just wander around from room to room, checking email for the 100th time and watching reruns of shows I’ve recorded.  I…

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My Sister and Me

My sister and brother-in-law came back to their house this weekend to finish packing

Sisters

everything and to take me back with them to Phoenix until I return home to my significant other in December.  I needed a place to stay, and they needed somebody to house-sit for the last few months so it has worked out nicely all the way around.

I have been almost completely alone for months, except for the weekly to bi-weekly visits from my mother when she would come up to take me shopping for supplies and to do laundry.  The house is in an incredibly isolated area with the only nearby houses being abandoned or vacant for years, no traffic, and the only noise is the sound of the wind rustling through the canyon.  One friend of mine recently opined via email that he likened my situation to that of the caretakers in The Shining, as I am highly sensitive to anything scary, it did not exactly give me the warm fuzzies.

So, I thought I would feel a great sense of relief, even happiness, knowing that she was coming and that I would no longer be alone.  I should be thrilled to have company, I am outgoing and love to talk, should be thrilled to be going to a city, I have long been a city girl… so, what is wrong with this picture?

I have spent the past few days thinking about my relationship with my sister; she is 10 years younger than I am, we also have an older sister who is 3 years older than me, and a brother who is 5 years younger than me.  This sister and I did not grow up particularly close, but then again, I could not say that anybody in my family was very close to any one family member, we all kind of just had to survive and then each just had to get the “heck out of Dodge” in our own way when we got the chance.
As we became adults, we have had bouts of going years without speaking, but that was mostly just me, being the black sheep of the family.  So, I have been in and out with this sister; and most recently, until I came up here to stay with her, I had not seen or talked to her regularly for several years.  However, once I came to stay with her, we were together every day for a month until she left to join her husband, and we had a great time, I imagine as normal sisters do; we laughed, we talked, we reminisced.

Then, Sunday afternoon as I was spending the day with her and her husband it struck me why I am not overjoyed at this reunion and at the prospect of spending the next month and a half with her and her family; I do not know how to just be a normal sister with her.  I was feeling incredibly melancholy that day, missing my significant other, at one point I felt like crying, but I had nobody to talk to, nobody to tell.  I could not tell her, I could not talk to her; we had never done that, we do not share in that way, we are not close in that manner.  I think that is what a sister does, what a sister is, what it feels like to be a sister, but I have no idea how to even open my mouth and say those words to her, nor she to me.

While we are blood of the same parents, we do not have that bond of sisterhood, we cannot communicate, we cannot share, we cannot love in that way.  We are each separate, in our own bubble.  I do not know her, but I know me, I am flat.

Once Upon a Time… I had a Friend

Friendship

Whenever I talk to people about my past, I have a tendency to describe myself as having never had friends before.  I always say that “women and I just never seem to get along very well”.  Mostly, that is a true statement; as I verbalize this, the movie playing through my mind is high school and how I had a tendency to date boys who had girlfriends and how I developed a reputation for being “easy” as a result.

 

I was always different from most girls in that regard, when they would confront me and were incredulous at the fact that I was a cheater, I would become doubly incredulous at their stupidity that they had no idea at the definition.  The fact that I was unattached and could date whomever I wanted and that their significant other was the one who was being unseemly had clearly slipped past their tiny little high school minds.  As a result, I had no friends, and since most women appeared to buy into the same mindset, it did not look like I would find one anytime soon.

 

But, somehow, it always slips my mind, that for a few years I had a very good friend, even best friend if you will.  We were practically inseparable.  We were opposite in so many ways, but that was probably one of the attractions of the friendships and what allowed us to remain close for several years.

 

Even though she came from a broken home in the classic sense that her parents were divorced and she lived with her father and brother, she was so much more stable and together than I could have ever been.  She was confident, self-assured, and was easy to be around.  She was more of a friend to boys, but when she got a boyfriend, she was in a relationship for a very long period of time; unlike me who flitted from boy to boy and had relationships that overlapped, sometimes three at a time.

 

By the time high school ended, our lives were so different and we had gone so far beyond our separate ways that it was ten years before we saw each other again.  It was an exciting reunion as we made plans to see each other for the first time.  I was beyond exciting, as I really considered her to be the only friend I had ever really had in my life.  We spent the weekend meeting halfway between our two homes, we talked about our lives since we had seen each other, we reminisced about high school, and we talked about our future together now that we were back in each other’s lives.

 

We still could not have been more different, but it was an easy and seamless reunion, I could not have been happier.  I had no idea how much I had missed having a friend.  As an adult woman I did not realize how important a friendship like that was, so different from a mother or a sister, especially when you come from such a dysfunctional family with so many secrets.

 

We remained friends for a few months, when tragedy struck.

 

I went to her house for a visit, I was thrilled to have a weekend away from my husband and kids, I needed a break from life.  A year before I had been diagnosed with bi-polar manic depression, borderline personality disorder, and OCD.  I felt like my life was spinning out of control.  The weekend promised to be one of fun and freedom.

 

The first night I arrived, we went to a party at her friend’s house where there was alcohol, marijuana, and lots of people, everything I needed to make me feel like I was the life of the party.  The next morning I awoke to find my things packed and sitting by her front door, she was sitting in the living room drinking tea and invited me to leave.  I found out very curtly from her husband that I “got out of control” and embarrassed her and she never wanted to see me again.

 

That was it, that was the end of my friendship.  I have never seen or heard from her again.

 

So, when I say that I have never really had a friend before, I suppose it is just a mental block because of the damage that I did myself, or I did not deserve a friend.  Either way, the result is the same, I do not know how to be a friend anymore.

 

Wrinkles are a Reflection of Life – Embrace Them

Wrinkles and greys

Wrinkles and greys (Photo credit: spykster)

I have always prided myself on the fact that people think I look younger than my 44 years.  I have very few wrinkles, if any, around my eyes and mouth to give away my age.  While it is true that I have tried to take care of my skin throughout the years, have never smoked, and I do not purposefully lay out in the sun.

As I was having a conversation with someone the other day who was commenting on their own youthful appearance, they attributed their lack of furrows and creases to genetics.  So, I contemplated that and thought of my mother and grandmother and their appearance.  As my grandmother died in her early 60s while I was 18, I cannot recall her that well, and she looked the same to her for as long as I could recall.  My mother on the other hand has had a difficult life and aged very quickly from the time my dad was killed, she also has had a tendency to be a sun worshiper; so I could not necessarily determine my genetic outcome based on her skin.

However, I started to think about my lack of wrinkles as more of a reflection of my flatness.  The fact that I rarely smile, almost never laugh, and have very rarely laughed out loud all adds to the fact that I have almost no wrinkles.  When people look at me, I rarely have an expression on my face.  If I am smiling, it does not reach my eyes, it is superficial at best.

There are those rare times, those moments when I am caught off guard and with that special someone, when I can finally relax and just be myself, when I laugh; then I catch myself and feel self-conscious, and I stop. I am not proud of the fact that I cannot relax and enjoy life, it just is what it is.

While I am proud of the fact that I look more youthful than I am, there are times that I would change that fact to have smile wrinkles around my eyes and mouth, those lines that prove that I have laughed and lived.  I would like to have those creases and furrows that have proved that I have cried and worried, that I have loved and been loved.

I would like to have the lines to prove that I am truly not just the flat girl… because, on the inside, I am not.

Saying Goodbye to my Mom

My mother came up on Saturday for her usual weekly trip to take me to get supplies and to check on me while I house-sit my sister’s remote mountain home.  Usually these visits are filled with lectures about how I need to get my life together, how I should move on from my current significant other and stories about my children that leave me feeling like I have been a horrible mother.

This week started out a little different, as I was quite lonely; she had not been up in two weeks because she had been tending to another sister earlier in the week.  So, I was happy to see her on Saturday, and she would be leaving on Sunday instead of staying the usual two or three days.  As soon as she arrived, we immediately headed to town for groceries, and the lecturing started.  What was I doing with my life, what was going on with my significant other, when was I going to move on… I was feeling sick and dizzy.

Then, the stories about how she had seen my children and grandchildren started, and my heart sunk.  I love them with all my heart, but the fact that they will not see me is out of my control

Tear Drops

Tear Drops (Photo credit: Christina Matheson)

now.  I have asked her not to talk to me about them, but my requests fall on deaf ears, so the ear spanking continued all the way to the grocery store, about 30 minutes.  By the time we got there, I was emotionally drained.

We spent the evening eating frozen pizza, playing cards, I did my best trying to change the subject from my pitiful life but somehow we always returned.  So it goes, so it goes.

Sunday morning, we went to do laundry, walk around the old cemetery as we waited for it to cycle through, then came back to the house.  We wrapped up a few things that we needed to complete around here before she had to leave, then it suddenly struck me, my sister would be here on this coming Saturday to clean out the rest of the house since it has been sold.  I would be leaving with here.  Then I would be going back to Texas with him in two months.

I have no idea when I would get to see my mother again.  As dysfunctional and strained as our mother daughter relationship is, it is still a connection of sorts, she is still my mother, and I still love her.  I started to cry as we hugged goodbye.  She actually had a moment of lucidity as she told me not to worry about my children, that they would come around some day and realize that I am not such a bad mother.

I cried all afternoon as I thought about missing my mother.