She and I Against the World

The majority of people in my life assume that I’m fine, that I’ve “gotten over it.” The truth is not a day goes by that I don’t feel the absence, the gaping deficiency in my surroundings, and the dark, irreplaceable hole in my heart that used to be filled by my mother.

On a recent trip back to Kansas City, I obtained a portion of her medical records, which revealed some things that I wasn’t privy to, for example, her depression. I had no idea of my mother’s depression prior to her terminal cancer diagnosis and I could go on and on about the guilt that this ignorance instills – how couldn’t I see or recognize that the most important person in my life was depressed, but this isn’t about me. It simply brings to light pieces of the puzzle I didn’t know existed, pieces that I hope to find a home for but understand may never find their resting place.

I began A Righteous Revival as a means of keeping my mother alive. This blog has grown and blossomed into so much more but carried her memory in every post. It was just the other day, I text a close confidant in my life, “My mom was the best. This world seriously lacks without her.” Everything I do lacks without her, but she lives through me. I often ask myself, “What would my mama do?” I recall past conversations with her or imagine what current conversations might be like. This is particularly difficult because I’m not one to comfortably assume, however, I do know my mother would not have voted for Donald Trump and would express passionate opposition to his first three plus weeks as so-called leader of the free world.

My mother spent much of her youth and adulthood feeling like the black sheep of the family and I heavily identify, especially as of recently. I am the young, willingly sterile, divorced, west-coast liberal, travel enthusiast who you’ll never find lying down like a doormat or settling for anything less than I deserve or know to be right. Oh, how I wish my mother were here to witness the legacy she began, to find comfort in our similarities, and to feel that I am not alone in these sentiments.

Too often, I have found myself in situations where people are mistaking my honesty and my passion for anger or aggression. It doesn’t always pay to be direct in this world and I know that’s something my mother could relate to. So often, I’ve found myself in situations where it feels like I’m being told to shut up and sit down like a “good woman” would do, being put in what a large portion of society feels is my place. I never shut up and sit down, but it sure is exhausting to do the thing that others don’t want you to, to stay true to yourself.

The political climate of America today has a way of bringing about these desolate feelings more often than usual, especially when you find yourself surrounded by conservative white folk who turn a blind eye or likeminded liberals expressing complacency and defeat. I don’t fit into either of those categories just as I haven’t fit in to so much of my life. If only mama were here to break bread, smoke a joint, and mull over current events with. The world truly was a better place when she walked it, when it was she and I and not just I against it.

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Like a Cat

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It’s in the loneliest nights that my light shines the brightest and my soul shouts the loudest. Between the shiver of the leaves and the deliberate crawl of the opposum lies solitude, and like a cat, I can see through the darkness as if it’s midday.  Like a cat, the night bears no burden to my keen sight – perspective is the goal and perspective is reached.  And like a cat, I possess nine lives.

Marriage and Melatonin

I was bombarded on Facebook, this morning, with photos from my wedding four years ago. You know that whole “memories” thing Facebook automatically uses to choose random photos and posts from years gone by and then places them at the top of your newsfeed so that it’s the first thing you see when you log in to the app? Yeah, so this morning the first thing I saw was myself in a wedding dress. They’re actually awesome photographs of my loved ones and I and a few of my friends and my brother reminisced on them with me, which, of course, always helps.

Looking back I deem that time in my life my sixth life. If you’ll recall in Nine Lives, I’m going on number eight. And right now, I’m grieving number seven. As the brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently put it, and I paraphrase, I am not merely telling a story so much as I am living it therefore I’m choosing to refrain from too much detail at the moment. With that being said, it has been a rough past week and a half. By rough, I mean my anxiety has been through the roof and I haven’t felt this emotionally alone since the immediate aftermath of my mother’s death, a time when David would often opt for staying out all night boozing with his coworker’s rather than come home to be with me.

Self-medicating by wine, dramatic television and finally, melatonin seem to assist in getting me through my nights and my days are sort of a fake it ‘til I make it shit show for anyone who is empathetically attuned. I’ll be all right, though, because I’m always all right.  And just for the record, I am not mourning David – the despair I have expressed above has absolutely nothing to do with David.

I often feel like such an asshole for expressing my personal problems at a time like this when my “personal problems” are merely a tiny pinprick in the swollen thumb of the state of this world, of America, in particular. My therapist would remind me that my problems and the world’s problems are not mutually exclusive, however, and in order to make a difference in the grander scheme of things, one must take care of oneself first and foremost.

Nonetheless, I don’t want this to manifest into a woe is me post because my heart is also heavy and my mind is aching with the helplessness I think many of us feel amidst the turmoil of this country. The best I can come up with is something my mama always reiterated to me – basic goodness. I have to believe that kindness and compassion go a long way and I have to spread love. At the end of the day, most importantly, I have to believe that the majority of people possess those very same core values – the same core values that have the power to create the necessary equality, respect and unity that every single one of us deserves.

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Best friend, brother and I stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge en route to the City Clerk’s Office on my wedding day

Birthdays for the Dead

I never know how the depression is going to present itself or to what degree. Sometimes, it’s sudden and other times, it’s inexplicable and manic. One thing is for certain, it’s expected around the months of April, August and the holidays so it’s safe to say that for the past five years I feel this heaviness, this weight, pretty much a third of the entire year. And that’s not counting the other two thirds of the year when the minutest thing can send me spiraling downward into the dark abyss of grief, loneliness and sadness. It all comes down to the hard to swallow fact that living in a world without my mother has been an unwanted learning experience, one where simply not existing myself often feels more ideal than celebrating another one of her birthdays without candles that will be extinguished by her very breath.

Tomorrow, April 8th, I will wish my mother another happy birthday, the fifth to be exact, since she took her last breath. There is no guidebook for these types of things – how to celebrate the birth date of a deceased loved one – filed under the self-help section of your local bookstore. Or maybe there is? But I sure as hell don’t want to read it. And just as there isn’t sufficient guidance on how to conduct special occasions in light of death, there isn’t warning of the so-called chemical imbalance in the brain that is sure to rear its ugly head. Sure, I know what month is approaching but as I stated above, one cannot anticipate depression’s presentation, its severity or its effect. One can only ride it out, go with the flow per se.

This particular year, I have found it increasingly difficult to lift my body out of bed every single morning this week. I guarantee the people with whom I conduct my weekly routine are none the wiser. Should I applaud myself for this? Is this an accomplishment?   Let me just pause and pat myself on the back for being able to conceal my detrimental grief for eight hours a day. And if you’re not grasping the hard sarcasm in those last few sentences or sensing the exaggerated rolling of my eyes whilst I wrote it, you’re missing something.

In some ways, the daily routine aids in easing some of the tremendous sadness that has surrounded this particular month for the past five years. I’m immensely grateful I just so happen to be exceptionally busy at work this week. But nighttime inevitably comes enveloping me in its bulging, sorrowful arms and then the early morning rudely awakens me to yet another awful, unwelcome reminder, “Your mother is dead.”

 

My Tiny Rodent Heart

“…what the hell am I thinking putting this out there, for any and everyone to read and know about me?…”

Okay folks, so this is just gonna be one of those brutally honest, fly by the seat of my pants, non-edited blogs – one where I ooze uncomfortable honesty and vomit vulnerability but at the end of the day, this is my therapy. And I need it right now – I mean I really need it.

I realized as of late that I spend less than two hours a week expressing myself wholly and as thoroughly as possible. And those precious minutes are ones I spend with my therapist behind closed doors, in a very small room that could be pronounced as a walk-in closet for some and in a professional setting – not with a close friend or a loved one. I mean I’ve been seeing my therapist for nearly three years so I suppose friend is a word one could use to describe her though I don’t observe our relationship as such. Don’t get me wrong – I like her but I like the boundary, too.

The truth is I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to most people anymore. I feel as if everyone has more important things to be concerning their selves with than my redundant depression. In therapy, we call this the voice in my head that “keeps me safe,” while constantly putting me down.

Just writing all of this out is creating this sense of grave anxiety – like what the hell am I thinking putting this out there, for any and everyone to read and know about me? I think the only faith I still maintain is the faith that I’m not alone. If that ever goes, I am unsure of what will become of me.

With that being said, I am lost and ironically enough, feeling utterly alone – longing to be somewhere where I can speak freely, openly without feeling insecure – longing to be with my mother. That is not to say that I wish myself dead – I just want my best friend and her unconditional love back.

Yes, yes, it’s the holidays. * roll my fucking eyes * It’s that time of year and yes, that fucking intensifies whatever feelings I may have been feeling prior and believe me, I was feeling this shit prior. The so-called “holidays” have never been easy since 2010 and have increasingly, seemingly gotten worse for my psyche each year.

I find myself hating everyone and every thing, lacking hope. Every day, world war three is congregating in my brain. There is this constant struggle between rationality and emotion, hate and love, wrong and right, just and unjust. They overlap, they intertwine, they contradict and they drive me fucking mad. Then begins the quest to dissociate, to block it out followed by the newly learned, oftentimes confusing notion that attempting to block it out inevitably worsens it.

I always liken myself to a hamster, in its little cage, on that stupid wheel, spinning ‘round and ‘round but not making any gains – a fucking rodent! – My tiny rodent heart pounding with every miniscule leap and bound on the plastic wheel, beating toward its imminent death.