Fear has become my constant companion these past months, sowing seeds of doubt, confusion, and discouragement that have taken root deep down inside of me where my essence and passions are conceived. It has choked my creativity, inhibiting my freedom … Continue reading
Thanks to the invasion and conquering of my body that is the first trimester, I’ve been feeling like death lately. Fevers, allergies, nasal congestion, round ligament pain, hellacious back and pelvic pain, all day morning sickness, lack of quality sleep yet bone aching fatigue….you name it, my body has been tortured with it the last 8 weeks. We’re not even going to talk about what only being on one medication (an anti-depressant that triggers some good ol’ rapid cycling between hypomania and depression) has done to my mental state these past weeks. Or maybe we will, but not today, simply because I only have enough energy to type a paragraph or two and then I’m going to go back to being The Blob.
What we WILL talk about is the music that’s been rescusitating me when my mind and body tap out. Music really IS therapy, and in my case it’s been my life support the past two weeks especially.
First up we have Mr. Timberlake…I mean, do I have to say anymore? If you haven’t let the groove get in you lately, I highly recommend purchasing The 20/20 experience, closing your windows & curtains, and dancing til your feet fall off. Even my zombie ass has been shaking it-there have been days I wouldn’t have been able to gather the energy to brush my teeth or feed myself had I not put on “Let the Groove Get In,” “Mirrors”, “Spaceship Coupe” or “Tunnel Vision.”
I have this thing for Marc Anthony-not because he’s physically attractive but because when the man opens his mouth the most beautiful sounds come out. The man can sing, period. His salsa albums are staples in my music collection, so when I found out HE’S BACK WITH A NEW SALSA ALBUM-his first in 10 years, I nearly broke my fingers trying to download his new single on iTunes. This song? GIVES ME LIFE. Gives my hips life too, too much in fact, because after dancing to this, the pain is unbearable-but so. damn. worth it. Listen for yourself….
And finally, THE SONG that has just been KILLING me not so softly every time I hear it is the latest from Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu. First of all: Monae. Badu. Are you freaking KIDDING ME? I’m still in shock that two of my favorite female artists (who are bad ass on their own individually) collaborated on a track together. And unlike LL Cool J & Brad Paisley or Beyonce & Andre 3000, these two have crafted a funk/rock hybrid that’s a f—king masterpiece. From the lyrics (especially Monae’s rap at the end!) to the music itself, it’s just an incredible piece of work, and a welcome relief from the oversexed R&B/hip-hop/pop nonsense that’s dominating the airwaves right now. And the video? Pfffft. S-I-C-K. I dare you not to shake or twerk something to this….but for the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE don’t record a video of you doing so-the world doesn’t need yet ANOTHER video of a female (or male) twerking it in booty shorts. Leave the webcam off
Anyway, enjoy the epic-nes that is “Q.U.E.E.N.” Pure art & pop genius. WERK IT.
What music is giving YOU life these days?
First, some snaps from Alex’s post bath photo-shoot…
And secondly, I’m pretty sure my heart grew 2-3 sizes thanks to all the love pouring in it while these moments were captured. Which, if you ask me, is just the kind of expansion my mama heart needed seeing as though a new resident is moving in…
Looks like I’ll be having more than just turkey for Thanksgiving this year, y’all
My big boy is going to be SIX y’all. SIX. I can’t….I just….HE’S A MAN CHILD.
You can read last year’s birthday post here: http://butterfly-confessions.com/2012/02/22/he-fixes-me/
Today I’m supposed to be telling you about the time I nearly died during a military exercise in the Nevada desert.
Me+5 cans of tear gas+gas mask fail=the fires of brimstone & damnation taking up residence in my body.
It’s a good story, but before I share it with you, I have to explain why I am.
I told my friend Susan about it and she almost died from laughter. Death by laughter is a much better way to go than death by tear gas, in case you were wondering.
Anyway she didn’t really almost die laughing (duh, it’s called exaggeration) but she did have tears in her eyes, and after she composed herself she reminded me of something-I don’t talk about the other parts of my life here very often, if at all.
I’ve spent the majority of this blog’s life telling you about my struggles with mental illness, motherhood, & low self-esteem. I’ve touched a little on social issues & religion too, but the only “light” thing I’ve shared here are my Napoleon Dynamite-esque dance skills. (New here? Check the “Dance” tab up top)
I realized there’s so much about myself and my life that I haven’t shared with you, especially the parts that aren’t so heavy. Example: I used to show dogs (think Westminster type dog shows) when I was 8 years old. Also? I was pretty damn good at it too. See? I haven’t divulged that kind of info and I feel like it would be nice to do so.
So moving forward, I’m going to try and be more open not just about the heaviness of in my life, but the lighter, funnier, interesting experiences I’ve had as well. The stupid mistakes I’ve made,(like dating a guy I met on a greyhound bus on its way to Jacksonville, Florida…after almost marrying this OTHER guy I had moved to Florida for…all while I was 7 months pregnant. Yea. that.) stories from my Air Force days (like the time the government thought it was ok to let me be qualified to use seven different deadly weapons) and other random stuff from my “pre mom, pre mental illness takeover” days. Maybe I’ll even throw in some high school stuff so you can see how giant of a dork I was. (And still am)
I don’t share enough about the other parts of my life or the experiences I’ve had outside of being a mom & a manic depressive, and I’d like to thank Susan for pointing this out to me. You should thank her too because some of these stories will be TMZ-worthy. I can hear your inner gossip hound licking its chops in anticipation.
First up will be the tear gas story. I’ll try to have it up by tomorrow or over the weekend at the latest. I have to talk to some of the people who were there with me to refresh my memory on some of the details. (Inhaling tear gas causes black outs & mild amnesia)
Get ready to (hopefully) laugh your ass off at my expense. There WILL be talk about loss of bodily functions & the expelling of bodily fluids. You’ve been warned.
Maybe I was being naive, but I thought once we moved here to Austin and got settled in, we’d be done with Mr. Change. I mean after going through so much of it the last 8 months, and all of it permanently altering our lives, I thought our season was over once we moved into our apartment.
I was wrong. Dead wrong. I forgot that change is fluid, always there, weaving its way throughout our lives daily. It doesn’t matter if it’s life changing or something we wouldn’t think twice about or deem trivial, change is a constant companion in our journey through life.
Some of the changes we’ve experienced since moving here were planned, well-thought out and goals we set for ourselves. When we talked about moving here back in April, we sat down and talked about what kind of changes in our lifestyle we wanted to make. For example, we wanted to get back into being more active and doing the kinds of recreational activities we enjoy-running, hiking, being outside, exercising, yoga, taking the boys on bike rides, all of us learning how to swim, etc.
I’m happy to report that we’ve done that. We joined the YMCA in September and we’re addicted to it. The kids love going to the child watch play area and basketball courts, Brennan’s going to do track this winter, and both are being signed up for swimming lessons. I’m addicted to the rowing machine, Bertski to the strength training and BOTH of us are addicted to the running trail just across the street. People-I can leave my kids in the child watch at the Y and go run on the 3 mile trail that loops around Lady Bird Lake. IT’S FREAKING GORGEOUS . What I love the most about it is that you see all kinds of people out there walking or running, whether they are in amazing shape, young, old, or trying to get into better shape. There’s such a huge focus on health here in Austin-you can see and feel it. It’s really been one of the best parts about our move. Being active is super easy in this city and we’re in love with it.
Some of the other changes that have happened have been surprising, incredible, and disappointingly difficult to deal with.
The surprising? Brennan being in school. Why? Well for one, he’s in school. Kindergarten. My baby boy has grown into an incredibly intelligent and dynamic 5-year-old BOY who goes to school. I knew when we moved here that he’d be going. But in the chaos of moving, it was just some intangible theory in the back of my mind. When it came time to walk him to his classroom I was a wreck. Bertski even teared up.
Something we didn’t know when we moved into our neighborhood was that we moved into the one with the best elementary school in the city. A huge part of why it’s so good is because it has access to money (it’s an affluent area, so the parents who are in the PTA pour a lot of money into the school-and they fundraise LIKE CRAZY.) which means they have access to a wealth of resources that other schools do not. Brennan goes to music, art, PE, spanish, and other “specials” offered during his school day in addition to his regular curriculum. His teacher rocks, keeps us well-informed of what’s going on week to week, and to say that Brennan is thriving there is an understatement. His mind has literally exploded with knowledge and he comes home every single day with a huge grin on his face as he tells us about what he learned.
That’s the incredible part. The surprising part? Kindergarten is a LOT of work, yo. We haven’t even gotten to the homework stage and I’m already terrified of the next 12 years. There are projects to do, (which is a first for us because I’m craft challenged) Teacher Appreciation lunches to bring food for, library volunteering to do, car lines to wait in (pause for a breath) school carnivals to attend and donate to, booths to work at said carnival, online resources to practice on, apps to download, music performances to go to…. are you getting what I’m saying? Trying to remember what’s due when, and all of the other details has been more overwhelming than I’d like to admit. I wasn’t expecting it to be this tough of a learning curve. But overall? It’s good. We’ll get through it.
Our lives overall are good. It’s been an incredible experience to have something that was just a dream and a plan become tangible and just plain awesome when you start to live it out. We’ve been so fortunate.
The really disappointing part? Well there are two. One-while Austin is a progressive city, the VA system here is not unfortunately. Actually it’s f*cking awful. I’ve never been to a place where they don’t have operators to answer the phones whether it be at a clinic, hospital, or whatever. It’s so frustrating when you’re in crisis and trying to get ahold of someone and a) no one answers the damn phone b) your new psychiatrist treats you like you’re inconveniencing them and doesn’t listen you, and c) you get the run around when it comes to treatment options or question the lack thereof. (ex: they don’t offer individual counseling. WTF?!)
More on that later, but the last disappointing change is that today Bertski started a new job and I’m a little sad about that. A lot of sad. Even though he spent a lot of time during the day previously working remote for his old client, he was still here and I found a lot of strength and comfort in that. The boys loved it, he loved it, I found relief in it and loved the routine we had developed. He already told me that this new contract is going to involve a lot of late nights, impossible to meet deadlines, and frenzy we’ve experienced with his previous contracts. That worries me, because it tires and stresses him out. He has less time to spend with us and on his side A.I. projects. In the past when he has a contract like this, any routine we’ve developed dissipates and we just kind of let things go. I’m hoping that as tough as this new contract will be, we’ll still be able to adapt ourselves to it and maintain what’s been working so well for us since moving here.
Whether it’s good or bad, large or small change is and will remain constant. I’m going to try to remember this and focus on learning to be even more adaptable to it as I move through these new stages of my life.
I have a lot of fears.
Well, maybe not a lot, but at least two or three that seize my body with terror & fill my mind with awful images & scenarios whenever I think of them.
The thought of not being able to draw in a breath without choking on water & being submerged in a body of water petrifies me.
And snakes…my toes curled up & my heart nearly flew out of my chest just typing that s-word…so I think it’s best we just move right along to my final fear:
I’m terrified of the dark.
Yes, I’m 29 years old and I’m afraid of the dark-have been since I was a kid. Even as grown woman & mother of two kids, a small part of me is always convinced something will emerge from it to “get me,” even though my rational mind knows this isn’t the case.
But that’s the thing about fears, right? They aren’t always rational, are they? (Follow me, I’m trying to go somewhere, I promise.)
I think what scares me the most about darkness is that it places everything it covers into The Land of the Unknown…what was sure & recognizable in the light becomes shadowy, fuzzy & unclear in the dark. For a control freak like myself, I’m sure you can imagine why this freaks me out. I wish I could tell you that I don’t stay awake some nights wondering if the shadow in the closet is really from the ironing board that I KNOW is there…or from some horrific figment of my imagination it’s put there to f– with me. Seriously, I wish I could but I can’t. I don’t do it much when I’m with someone else but if I’m by myself? Forget it. I’m cowering under the covers trying not to think about how unsafe I feel…Sometimes, just to shut up & shut down the fears screaming in my mind I have to actually get up, turn on a light, and go physically touch objects around the room I’m in…just for reassurance.
Crazy, right? Weird, right? Yes I know. Stupid? Probably…but as I lay here in my bed typing this and trying to tell myself I’m not going to wake up with some stranger laying next to or on me, and that the boys & I are VERY safe, I’m realizing that my fear of the dark is really just a fear of uncertainty. I hate not knowing. Ambiguity and I are not friends. Not being able to see & know everything around me leaves me in a very unsettled place emotionally…which disrupts me mentally, and manifests itself physically into agitation, irritability, paranoia, and crippling anxiety. I even get intrusive thoughts sometimes. My mind smells any hint of fear & just takes off in about 20 different directions, all of which lead to something horrific happening. If I can’t see or know everything there is about something, a person, or where I have to go, I’m a wreck and not too pleasant to be around. This is one of the reasons I hate getting lost. Can’t. Stand it.
And it’s one of the reasons why even though growing up a military brat acquainted me with change & taught me the importance of adjusting & adapting to it, I’m not very good at embracing it like I should be. I know, you’re thinking to yourself “The chick who changes her hair color every time she blinks is afraid of change? What the hell?” But seriously, while I may not be afraid of changing how I look, I am terrified of how change impacts my life in other areas.
I like change…There are times my restless and adventurous little soul yearns for it…but then when it shows up ready to deliver I promptly begin to freak the hell out. I know-I don’t get the contradiction either, trust me.
So even though I was dying to pack up & move across the country…am giddy at the thought of marrying the nerd of my life…am relieved to be taking a break from work & school and looking forward to just being MOM….here I am, laying in a hotel room in Austin, TX, (IN THE DARK!) absolutely paralyzed by my fear of the uncertain…of what’s unknown…imagine Usain Bolt running around at record speed inside my head waving 500 “what if?” flags stirring up a fear tornado. That’s my mind right now.
A fear tornado. I’m dead smack in the center staring wide eyed at all my fears & questions swirling furiously around me.
What happens if Bertski doesn’t come back from PA next week because his train derails and crashes and I’m forced to be here by myself? How would we survive & live without him?
What if someone breaks in here or attacks us while he’s gone? How would I defend us?
What if he changes his mind & doesn’t want to marry me?
What if he hates it here?
What if I hate it here? And the boys? What if this was a mistake?
We haven’t found a place yet-what if we don’t? How long can we stay here at the hotel? Will they kick us out? Where will we go?
What if by choosing to “just” be Mom, I lose the other parts of me that make me…ME? What will happen to my passions, my goals, my ambition? What if I don’t go back to school & I regret it? Will my children think less of me if I don’t have a degree? Will I be setting the bar too low for them if I don’t go back?
Can we survive off of just one income?
What if the boys get sick or need to go to the doctor? Or me? Or Bertski? We don’t have health insurance…
What if I’m not strong enough to handle all of this change & I sink into an episode or my illness rages out of control again?
I could go on…but I’ll stop the list there. I know some of these fears are irrational, slightly silly & maybe even stupid-I know this, I do. But there are others that are valid & real and they’re the ones that cause me the most unease. I’m incredibly happy we moved. Grateful for the people we’ve met here & the connections we’ve made despite being states away from family & friends who have supported us for years. Thrilled that I’m doing this with the man I love dearly and my boys…
But I’m also scared shitless over the unknowns of this venture, of everything that sits in the dark, and restricts my vision of the future. We’ve executed a plan that brought us here, but large amounts of that plan have been rooted in uncertainty & our desire to just stick together & “make it happen”until we’re settled.
I’m afraid of the dark, because not being able to see what’s in front of me leaves me feeling very unsettled…uneasy…uncomfortable. I’m trying to take it all in stride & just learn to be okay with not knowing. I’m trying to embrace the nuances of change without trying to control it too much. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.
Well there you have it. I told you some of my fears, what are yours?
I want to say this in a way that’s eloquent & inspirational. I want to use all the right words, and craft this into a beautiful piece of writing, that carries the weight of my thoughts & emotions, and helps you fully grasp how much this moment means to me….and even though they don’t know it yet, to my boys.
But I can’t. Words are failing me. There are only tears….sobs, actually, as I lay here in the boy’s empty room, eyes closed, heart bursting with gratitude…
…and love. For the first time in my 29 years of living I feel loved and whole instead of unworthy & broken. I feel peace where there used to be agony, and joy seeping through the cracks of my deepest sorrows.
12 months ago I was obsessed with death. I spent my waking moments torn between not wanting to leave my boys without their mother & wanting to rid them of the one who felt like she had failed them.
I’m glad to say, a year later, I’m not in that place, and I’m not looking to find relief in death. I’ve found it instead in 200mg of Lamictal, .25mg of Xanax, and 2mg of Pimozide, taken at 10am, every single day…and in a diagnosis that’s forced me to make myself and my well being a priority-a first for me.
It’s been a year full of growth & healing thanks to therapy.
If you would’ve told me last year I’d be right here, laying on the floor, free from nearly all the shit I’ve been carrying since childhood, I would’ve just smiled politely, said thanks, and walked away not believing a word of it.
But here I am. Loved and whole. Healed and stronger than before. Embracing life instead of plotting to escape it…focused on LIVING it instead of just existing & surviving it.
My boys have their mother, their parents back together, and they have each other…a far cry from what they had just a year ago.
So I’m just laying here, in my almost empty apartment, marveling at how far we’ve come…excited for the new beginning that lies ahead…Tears streaming down my face as I whisper “thank you” over & over again, my heart exploding in joy each time.
I’ve come full circle.
I haven’t been here nearly as often as I wanted to this summer.
My goals for the summer included wanting to paint & write every day, even if it was just a little.
But things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how good our intentions are.
Life doesn’t always happen the way we plan or expect, right?
My life, our lives this summer have been consumed by change…transition.
From preparing for our move to Austin in just 13 days, to buying our first space shuttle (we refuse to call it a minivan) to family members getting sick, to me just becoming engrossed in just LIVING life, everything has happened so fast, I can barely process it all.
So, that’s why I’ve been silent here. I’ve tried writing the words, my desire has been to document the nuances of this new season in our lives, but…the words haven’t found me yet.
I’m hoping they will soon, but for now just know that I haven’t forgotten about this space.
I’ll be back…
Oh yea. I’m on my way to BlogHer. More than the conference itself I’m happy to finally meet those who have become friends over the past year, Jaime, Susan, and others.
So I’ll fill you in on my experience there as well as everything else when I get back. Hopefully.
Painted last week.
It was the perfect remedy for the migraine pounding in my head, and a much needed stress reliever from the week’s frustrations & fatigue.
I painted three in a span of about 4 hours.
I find it hard to do just one….once I’m inspired I have to keep going until it runs out. It usually takes 2-4 small canvases for it to dissipate, leaving me exhausted and wanting to sleep.
The first one I painted was for a friend. She asked me months ago to paint a depiction of life before & after salvation. I honestly find it hard to paint something when it’s someone else’s idea-I usually just do it “in the moment,” -it’s not something I force-so it took me a long time and a lot of quiet reflecting to figure out how to do it. I kept waiting for inspiration or some thought to spark a sense of direction, and it didn’t come until last week.
As I was laying in bed praying for my migraine to subside, a verse from 1 Peter chapter 4 came to me. It talks about love covering a multitude of sins. My mind immediately started thinking about redemption & salvation. To me, they both represent love-the love that drove Jesus to the cross to sacrifice himself for humanity. As I reflected on this, I started to see colors-I saw a strip of black being covered up with all kinds of bright colors, which I took to represent life, and red & white interspersed among them-In Christianity, red represents Jesus’ blood and there’s a verse in the Bible that talk’s about his blood washing us “white as snow” when we receive salvation & are therefore redeemed.
Finally having my inspiration, I swallowed an excedrin, made the boys lunch, laid Alex down for a nap, and settled myself in my room with my paints and brushes spread out around me. I got to work, first painting half the canvas black. Once that was done, I sat for a few minutes wondering how I was going to take the image of the colors I had in my head and transfer it to the canvas in front of me. It was then I thought I’d try something I hadn’t tried before-splattering the paint.
It’s something I’ve seen on other paintings, but never knew how to create that look myself. Not really knowing what I was doing I just started by putting paint on the brush, dipping it in water & just flicking the brush at the canvas.
Splat. Dip. Splat. Dip. Splat.
Realizing it how fun & simple it was, I just started literally throwing paint at the canvas, covering myself & the wall in front of me in the process. I did this for about half an hour, stopping to pick different colors, watch the paint float & glide down the canvas, cover more spots, and about halfway through I stopped to take this
Still not feeling “done” I kept going until finally I had this
I put that one to the side and feeling inspired by what I had just done, I grabbed another canvas. No particular thought or meaning in mind, I just saw an arrangement of colors and slowly transferred what I saw in my mind to on the canvas.
As soon as I finished, another arrangement of colors came to mind and again, I grabbed yet another canvas and produced this
I really enjoyed painting like this. It was fun, and somehow very liberating. I posted these in Instagram, and my friend Lindsay mentioned an artist I’d never heard of before, Jackson Pollock. (my Art History game is better than it used to be thanks to 2 Lit & Art classes, but I still have a lot to learn)
Intrigued, a Google search led to about two hours of reading about him, abstract expressionism, his works, and falling in love with his “all-over” style of painting. His paintings? Gorgeous layers of colors twisting & turning in all directions. Needless to say, I’m now a fan
“On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally `in’ the painting.”
– Jackson Pollock, 1947.