These January Days

Silent, cold, and dark.

Drifting along the murky river –

Too deep to touch without submerging

Too swift to leave the flow.

Settle in and try to let go.

It’s just a dream

So why am I weeping?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Somebody That I Used To Know

A young woman was hit by a vehicle and died on the local highway a few nights ago. I knew her, but last saw her about a decade ago.

She was a feisty, smart girl who I met through an after-school program for those with low-incomes, and many came from abusive families.

She was no exception and an ex-friend of mine took her in as a foster child to help her escape from physical and sexual abuse.

She was 8, and her abuse began earlier.

The husband of my ex-friend began abusing her within a few months of her getting refuge at their house and is something I will never forgive.

I’m no longer friends with his wife because she chose him over the girl – effectively letting her know that she didn’t matter, and what happened to her was sad, but not enough to leave the abusive asshole.

I don’t know why that girl/young woman got out of the car she was traveling in on the highway and go into the travel lane trying to flag down a vehicle.

Was she high? Was she in a fight with the driver?

What I do know is that she was a trauma survivor with high-risk behavior. I understand the pattern too well.

I can be glad for her that it’s over. She doesn’t have to be here anymore – her life a string of suffering and self-loathing, because it was already clear she wasn’t ‘pulling herself up by those (non-existent) boot straps’. Those meant to protect her failed, and those she met who said they wanted to help her only endangered her further.

I am sorry, Nyka. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you needed. I hope you’re in peace if there’s an afterlife.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Little Boy Blues

Oh little boy! I heard your sweet voice again. It went through me like a bolt to my heart – hearing you again when you were five – maybe – or six? Your innocence and the confidence you had in me was so assuring, when really I was in such deep pain so often.

The times I wasn’t were spent exploring, playing, laughing, reading, learning, painting, walking, singing, and talking with you.

Oh you loved to talk – and sing. When you were playing with your toys you’d sing to accompany your play, and why I never recorded it I’ll never know because nearly everyone’s child is time-stamped forever these days.

Your young life is mostly in my memory, with a recorded voice here and there, or a birthday party on video.

I wish I had what I needed then. I wish I were the parent you deserved instead of the parent you got – even though I tried my best.

Maybe every parent fails. Maybe we fall short of our ideals, but I screamed at stupid, stupid shit. I was a fucking harpy who should have had her voice removed as punishment.

Now that my services are no longer required (or needed), our relationship is better. I don’t fly off the handle like I used to – I don’t take my hell out on you.

I never beat you, and I did my best to not demean, but my yelling was a form of demeaning – the accusatory tone of spilled drinks on new clothing – as though it was done on purpose. Can you forgive me for the horror I was, for making you feel small and stupid? I told you it was me not you, but did you understand that? It’s doubtful. You saw what I was, not what I said.

I’m so sorry. I know apology is kind of useless, but it’s all I have. I can’t fly through time and change, but I would if I could.

I did and do love you with all my heart, but I was broken, and had no business trying to raise you. I did better than what was done to me, but not good enough.

You were a beautiful, perfect child. You brought joy where there was so little, and my job was to honor and protect you, and give you skills to navigate the larger world.

I understand and accept if you cannot forgive me, but I ask you to anyway. I hope you can remember the love and goodness there was.

You deserved better, but you are amazing, strong, beautiful, and lovely in spite of my lack. You are smart, open, inquisitive, active, and interested in life, and I’m so grateful you are resilient.

Reading books, and rubbing your back, and singing you to sleep was our nighttime sanctuary, and it was time well-spent – a better job at parenting.

I provided necessities and structure too, and gave you choices, and did what I could to foster your autonomy – but my horrifying yelling and screaming muscles into all that was good, muddying and distorting any calm.

Please forgive me.

Or don’t.

Just please know I’m profoundly sorry for the pain I caused, and I loved you with all I had to give.

Mom

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Fleeting

Another aunt, my Godmother, Aunt Francis, died on May 22nd. I called that morning to see if I could bring my mother for a visit that weekend, and her daughter told me she had just passed away.

I knew my aunts dying would be tough. I thought it would feel unbearable. I didn’t expect emotional silence.

Am I inured to death now? It’s where we’re all going, so I guess it’s the age-old question of why we’re even here.

Those of us who’ve rejected religion’s narrative determine our own meaning of life, and decide our ethics and morality through consequence.

I try not to hurt others because I know what it’s like to be hurt. I appreciate love, goodness, helpfulness, compassion, decency, respect, and a live-and-let-live approach as long as they’re not harming me or someone else – without their permission.

I see what hate, unkindness, disrespect, and unethical behavior bring, and do what I can to act from my best self.

Maybe Aunt Fran retains some consciousness, some sentience, outside of her body – and if so, I hope she’s with family who went before her.

Maybe it’s all a computer simulation as Elon Musk, and others, believe.

I know that life hurts – a lot. I also know there’s joy, gladness, goodness, etc., but the continued suck-ass elements of life overshadow life’s ease.

I’m sad about my Aunt Fran’s passing. I love her. I enjoyed her energy, her personality, her presence. I’m grateful she lived. She really lived – she didn’t merely exist. She was beautiful, humorful, and created beauty, order, and children, whom she got grandchildren from. She had many friends, and belonged to a community who mourn her passing.

You’d think I’d be used to a world where loss is as great as gain, if not greater, but it’s still wounding.

I used to think humans were unique that way, but we’re not. Apes, elephants, dolphins, whales, and many other species also grieve, and care about their communities.

We’re just along for the ride, however long it lasts, and I suppose it’s up to us to make it a worthy journey.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

And That’s How It Is

I’ve been so stuck in the past – as though it’s vital I get back there, as though that’s the only part of my life that mattered, as though now is a wasteland unworthy of notice when it is actually rich, and actually all there is. The past is gone – just like Steven Tyler sang in Dream On

all those years ago when, ironically, he was just becoming an adult.

I think the pain makes me feel alive, the longing gives me a sense of purpose, like: ‘Don’t forget how things were!’ – but it’s a lot of revisionist history because so much of my early life sucked-ass.

I was battling panic disorder, undiagnosed major depression, and PTSD – before PTSD was a word, and then only by soldiers who had witnessed untold horrors qualified.

Well, sorry, but trauma is trauma & fucks you up for life. Trauma literally changes your brain. My brain is different from non-traumatized brains, so stop telling me to have a better attitude! It doesn’t work like that! (“That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!“)

It’s also accepting, or trying to accept, that my beautiful boy, the light of my life, has grown up and not only doesn’t need or want my counsel, or my – anything – but he’s a man, and wants to be seen as he sees himself. I cannot divorce my connection to him as my boy, so therein lies the rub. So, that’s present pain.

I’m older. That’s present pain. There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s present pain. I’m lonely for connection more than just my significant other. That’s present pain. I can’t seem to hold a job. That’s present pain. My family is dying off. That’s past and present pain. I miss old connections. That’s past and present pain.

We’re living in bizarro world with dangerous politics and a megalomaniac president. That’s present pain, panic, anxiety, and PTSD!

Those are my fears writ large. The President is basically Michael Rapunzel, the head of the commune/cult, and the President’s sycophants, like Rapunzel’s, can’t see his horror, or they revel in their chance at power and gain riding on his coat tails.

I’ve been down this road and now I’m living through it again. It’s harder because I know the outcome. It’s all about oppression and control, not co-operation or decentralization of power. The President, like Rapunzel, is mentally ill, and no one is stopping him.

I can look at the present pain in my life and do what I can to minimize it. I know it’s also a flux issue. My feelings, needs, and desires change – sometimes on a daily basis  – but there are times I’m truly joyful instead of longing for it.

There are days I’m connected to life and loneliness vanishes.

There are times my son calls or texts and I feel better for our connection rather than inadequate or stupid.

I’ve even been kind and accepting of my aging at times instead of railing against it – but anything I’ve ever let go of has claw-marks all over it.

And string hanging off those claws.

And glue holding the string on.

And then duct tape when the glue starts to peel…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

The Bullshit of Aging

Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).

Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.

What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.

My nemesis.

I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.

We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.

I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.

I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.

I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

You & I, Dylan Thomas, you & I.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

I See Her

She’s so open to the world. She likes learning, and believes all that’s told her – she has no reason to doubt yet. She doesn’t know people manipulate and lie to get what they want, and she’s learning how to navigate the anger and family dysfunction around her.

Her sisters were everything to her, but it didn’t work the other way.  Her oldest sister was kinder, and seemed so worldly. But that’s the way it is for younger siblings. The older ones seem wise and wonderful, even if they’re also often unkind.

She is always seeking. She looked for god and found only more questions, not the promised answers. She had to let it go so she could live.

Her life moved on, the pace quickening with each year.  A son helped her grow & mature into a woman and mother, but the challenges mounted with little respite.

Time wore on, her son now a man off on his own, leaving her floundering for several years seeking stability and balance, and finally realizing nothing’s a permanent state but ongoing negotiations – or at least that’s how it is for her.

A room full of unanswered questions, and unrealized hopes & dreams stands open for cleaning and sorting, but where to begin?

question sign
https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinkinner/2200500024/

Was it Mary Poppins who said that’s it’s always best to start at the beginning? Perhaps I just needed her to say that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Waning Days of January

It began around January 23rd, and probably before then – building up – but that’s when I noticed the pall overhead and me trying to duck it, unsuccessful again. It begins with dread – or not dread exactly – but disturbance. Something is looming, something I try to stay ahead of, but am swallowed anyway.

I offer up all the positive messages I can. I acknowledge, ignore, accept, and end up pleading for its end.

Imagine a usual route you take, maybe some minor annoyances with traffic, or people, or maybe potholes, or other manageable blips on the way – and then you sense something when you get in your car one morning. There’s no reason – nothing seems different. The weather is good, the drive starts fine, and you chide yourself for misgivings about potential something ahead. A dog runs into the road and you avoid hitting it, and feel relieved. OK, that was it, that was the curve-ball that day, but your heightened awareness doesn’t ease.

You continue your routine, accepting the foreboding, or whatever it is you can’t shake, and then a tire blows, and you navigate your car to the side of the road. Vehicles pass by as you make calls to work, to a tow company, and you think that this was what your gut was warning you about.

Days pass, and the sensation dulls a bit, but doesn’t leave. It’s gnawing – like a toothache you hope will resolve on its own.

These days are leading to the precipice, but I’ve been triaging the whole time. It’s as though a separate entity is controlling my brain – or something beyond my control.

I know that’s not the case, I’m not possessed, I just can’t change the direction. I have to buckle up and hope I ride this out better than last year – better than all the years, probably since I was born, or whatever traumatic event(s) my psyche re-lives every. fucking. year.

Therapy: check. Antidepressants: no go TMS: check, but insurance won’t cover another round, and I can’t afford it out-of-pocket. Wise Mind Group: check. I’m starting a 13-week group today, and I’ve done this before, and do use cognitive behavioral techniques, but trauma is like trying to catch a greased, wild, pig. Even if you catch it, the pig isn’t domesticated.

The pig is autonomous though. Maybe the pig doesn’t think it’s self-determined – it probably doesn’t consider ‘self’ at all – but it knows enough to not want to be caught, and is frightened and raged at the trying.

February looms, but spring will emerge. That’s hope. The world still turns.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Into November

This is my tough time of year. I notice my melancholy in October – the end of summer transition – and I do what I can to mitigate it. I have a light-box that provides full-spectrum light, and I’ve busied myself with Halloween decorations, & attending a party, but I missed my son and the Halloween fun we shared when he was little.

I made the mistake of telling him, hoping for some connection or commiseration – I know, I know – am I stupid, or high?, and he was not nostalgic. I think it freaks him out that he was ever a little kid, and that I remember it all. It makes no difference that he’s getting older, he’ll always have the child perspective, and I’ll always be the weird has-been parent. I should have shared my longing with a friend, or a therapist…

So, I binged on Halloween candy, sugar-coating my feelings, and started pulling out my cold weather clothes which I’ll wash & put in the bureau after putting away the Halloween decor.

It will take some getting used to the brown and greying landscape again, and my mood will shift when the cloud-blanketed sky moves on & the sun illuminates the last golden leaves clinging to branches, or providing shadow-play through the woods and surrounding hillside.

Sauteing onions and garlic for the chicken soup creates more warmth and delicious aroma, heightened when coming in from the cold, and satisfying my hunger – unlike the sugary snacks that take more than they give.

Writing helps too. Getting out the essence of my longing – parsing my underlying fear of irrelevance, of aging, and of my existential loneliness.

Remembering that youth’s bounty was mostly a more flexible body because my life was dogged by my dark story and my clinical depression. Having more energy & vitality was nice, but I mostly just existed, and it’s only now, with better perspective, and some relief of my depression and anxiety through TMS, that I’ve been living more than existing.

Aging is payment for life on Earth – and regardless of relative time scales – everything decays, and nothing stays the same, no matter my, or anyone else’s, wishes.

Acceptance is about the only choice I have if I’d like some peace, but until acceptance and approval get untangled for me, life remains a battle.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Aging Gracefully

I have no concept of that sentiment except ‘don’t complain’. Who among us would welcome aging’s insults? Perspective is a different story. I’d much rather have the perspective I have now than I did at twenty, though I thought I knew all there was to know of any importance.

And we do know a lot at twenty. We’re not idiots (unless we actually are); we’re just inexperienced.

I made some colossally poor decisions in my teens and twenties – choices I would make differently now – and some I wished I had then, but that all goes into the experience bucket. Those poor choices helped me grow and make different choices. I don’t know if they were ‘better’ choices, but they were more helpful, often.

Choosing therapy was a good decision. It has taken the better part of my life to use half the wisdom gained through good therapists (along with how to spot a terrible one – or even if a therapist isn’t a good fit, or if I could go no further with them).

So many decisions were fear-based, and there’s no do-over, so I have to live with that. Some non-action turned out in my favor – by grace – or luck, so I’m grateful.

I’ve been seeing more of my selfish, self-seeking behavior and it stings to know I’m a shitty human sometimes, but I’m still alive so I can change.

I hate aging, but I’m grateful for my relatively strong body. I have to work for it, and sometimes I skip work-outs, but forgiving myself is important because being an asshole isn’t going to make me feel or do better.

I quit alcohol six months ago. It’s kind of incredible that much time has passed. That was my only goal then, but I’ve since slowly gotten into a recovery program as well – although I still loathe the cultish vibe but recognize that for some, it’s recovery or death. I have only to look at my parents’ history to know it could, and likely would, have gotten worse for me had I not quit.

I know alcohol addiction is ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful’, to quote AA literature, as well as understanding that I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and my only remedy for continued sobriety is to work with others wanting sobriety.

Alcohol also contributes to aging quicker. Sugar is the real culprit, so I have to cut down on sweets if I want to cut down inflammation, which contributes to aging.

It’s tough to see my once smooth, collagen-filled skin starting to look like droopy lizard hide.

So, embrace it, the gurus say. I might, eventually. It’s still fairly new though, so I’m in the mourning phase. Now I’m supposed to become a sage, or crone – realizing that my intellect is still keen, and could be for the rest of my life, barring disease or accidents – and true power is more of the mind than body. Still, I don’t like how menopause has wrecked my libido, or how my skin is thinning, or my hair, once vibrant strawberry-blonde, is now fading & becoming white streaked.

Acceptance is not approval and is the first step to freedom. I can’t be held captive to something I make peace with, but it’s a process, and anything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

Graceful I’m not; aging I am.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Tom Petty – Heartbreaker

Tom Petty died twice yesterday. It wasn’t his intention, I’m sure. I’m betting he’d have liked more time, but who knows. Nonetheless, it was classic rock-n-roll, to have rumored death, before the true event.

One of my favorite radio stations, WRSI, has been playing tribute all morning, and I love hearing his voice through song.

My youth was filled with his music, and I still sing Free Falling with abandon, holding nostalgia as well as immediacy.

I loved his work with the Traveling Wilburys too, and half their group is now gone.

This is life. It ends sooner than we think, and often before we’d like.

Rock on, Tom. You’ll be missed.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

National Suicide Prevention Week

Being suicidal is embarrassing. I should be better, stronger, cope well, and not need anything from anyone. I should be as strong, or resilient as I see others in my life who are not suicidal on a regular basis.

I’ve written about it, thought about it, talked about it, but when I’ve attempted – a really pathetic attempt, btw – I wondered if I could get someone to kill me. It wouldn’t be murder; I was asking for it, but what would that do to them? I can’t ask someone to harm their soul to help me die.

Also, if I wasn’t successful at ending my life, maybe I should be here. Maybe there’s hope, maybe there’s reason to stay.

Sure, I can continue to live with my shitty coping skills, and inability to control my PTSD, and failed trials of antidepressants, therapy, DBT, TMS, and now my doc wants me to try ECT, and it’s just another awful thing to endure to try to make my life more bearable.

If I found work I could stick with and manage, that would be good, and I continue pursuing doable employment, but you know what employers really like? People who consistently show up and aren’t depressed on the job. They like people who can let shit roll off them and carry on and not get overwhelmed and anxious, and they really hate it when you’re too drugged to do your work adequately. I’m sorry I’m late, I had to take medicine that knocked me out, and now three cups of coffee later, I’m jittery and still can’t focus on my work, and now that’s added to my shame bucket too.

Friends and family have their own busy lives, with their own issues piled up, and the laundry’s not sorted, and the bills might not be paid, and the kids are driving them nuts, or have to be at soccer practice, and good luck, I really hope you get the help you need, and I’m more alone than before I got the courage to call.

Happy, peppy me is the best me, and I like her the best too, but sometimes I pay more for her appearance than if I could allow myself to be quiet and observe.

I pay either way, really, because observing is seeing it all through my depression shield, or filter, or whatever simile works, and the point is I’m never in true connection.

I broke up with my significant other, or tried to, but he thinks I’m just fucked up me & my mood will pass, and he’s right, but why does he stay with me? I couldn’t take the trauma drama. I hate the trauma drama! I’d like to not be me. I’d like to disappear because it’s clear I’m not healing.

It’s clear that all the education, groups, therapy, drugs, meditation, yoga, exercise, eating right, thinking good thoughts, and all the things I try to do to get my life under control has not worked, and why would I hope for anything to change now?

My son deserves his mother, even if I’m guilt-ridden, & shame-filled, but still love him with every fiber of my being. My significant other deserves a healed me, but I’m really unsure he’ll ever get that, so I probably will have to leave and let him get on with his life.

I like me when I’m not around anyone. It’s lonely at times, but I don’t hurt anyone else. It’s sad to know that. It’s really gut-wrenching & messed-up that’s reality for me, but nothing is changing and I don’t know what else to do.

The survival will can obviously be overcome, and the best thing friends or strangers can do is not judge. And maybe listen, or maybe be with me in my pain because it’s not catching, it just sucks.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Another Perspective

I can continue to be tunnel-visioned, or I can take the long view, and the long view is that my friends didn’t seek to harm me with their votes or their perspective, regardless of the actuality.

Yeah, I have to fight harder to keep equilibrium and try to keep our Democratic Republic, but their ignorance is just that – not malice.

They see all things from their religious perspective, and that blinds them to the long view, but the long view is still wrapped in their dogma, whether they choose to see it or not.

The fabled Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, saying: “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” – Matthew 21:12-13 NIV

So the long view shouldn’t be on whether their elected officials will vote to try to stop abortion, but on who they are – on their fruits – and their fruits are rotten.

There is separation of Church and State in our country, and I realize they are working to end that, but it shouldn’t be eroded. We have a unique position in the world that we are not forced to anything, but come to choose freely. If they make our nation a theocracy, we become subjugated, regardless of our beliefs, and often forced to live a lie.

Religious people are free to practice their faiths, but not to demand anyone else do so, and if they could see the beauty of this system of checks and balances, they’d want the corruption out of our nation.

They’d fight to end Citizen’s United – to get money, that root of all evil, out of politics. Then we could have true stewards of our nation again. We could vote in actual public servants rather than the current corruption we’re witness to.

Yeah, there will always be those seeking power, and ways to game the system, but there won’t be so many, and disallowing corporations as ‘people’, and foreign money from campaigns, will help greatly in getting back to sanity.

This didn’t start with how any of us voted this past election. This started when money became king, when banks started writing the rules, when the Supreme Court decided Citizen’s United vs. the FEC.

Meanwhile, love surpasses all things.

My struggle is about acceptance vs. approval. I need to accept the loss of solidarity I thought I had with those friends and focus on our commonalities – on what made us friends, or like each other to begin with. We support each other in every day struggles. We laugh, cry, and enjoy each others’ company. We trust that underneath conflict is kindness and care, and our connection contains more healing than hurt.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Impass-ibilities

I have friendships that have been harmed because of their role in placing the mobster occupying the White House. Many claim to be ‘pro-life’, but are really just ‘pro-fetus’ because they don’t give a fuck what happens to birthed humans. My friends knew the kind of person drumph was and they still voted for him.  Now, those of us of conscience and concern for humanity and our earth are fighting for our lives – even theirs, the irony is.

We’re at an impasse. I didn’t want our relationships to suffer, but all I see is their loss of decency and humanity, and I don’t know how to compartmentalize that anymore. I really wanted to be above the fray, but for them it’s a meaningless game, and for me, it’s who we are as a people – as a society.

Maybe they want America to change to a theocracy, but our country was founded on freedom and democratic ideals, and the current administration and republicans are autocrats who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class, and wouldn’t know true religion and spirituality if every prophet and spiritual leader who ever existed showed up at their door.

I’m reminded that I don’t have to hate my abusers anymore, and I don’t have to protect them. I can forgive them. I can do my best to have compassion for them, but I don’t have to give them my energy or time.

It’s hard trying to value what we had and realize that belongs to the past, and we’re no longer the people we once were to each other.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Last Treatment

Two days prior to my last session was fairly horrific with a huge dip in mood & return of hopelessness.

The return to despair was devastating because I had counted on TMS to help me even though I thought I removed expectations for or against.

My usual technician, Nick, who is really lovely & has been a steady presence during treatments, didn’t oversee my last treatment. Instead the intern, Mel, who is also kind, and competent, was there with Kim, the other regular tech, who is also fine, and I had a previous connection with Kim outside of the practice so I felt comfortable enough, but neither have the ineffable presence of Nick, so it was a tough last treatment.

The NeuroStar representative was also there, so the room felt a bit crowded, and toward the end of the session, another assistant I’d never met before came in, increasing my stress.

Thankfully, I saw Nick upstairs as I was leaving and got to hug him & say goodbye as he’s also leaving for good in August. It was all I could do to not burst into tears right there, but made it to my car before breaking down.

Andy, my S.O., tells me he sees a difference in me, and I do feel somewhat better, but it’s like the difference between an overcast day and a stormy one – there’s still no sun in the sky.

Another unfortunate incident happened a few weeks into my treatment when I tried to get a form for medical transportation because paying the gas in the car I’m borrowing is costly, regardless of my appreciation for the favor. The form would have allowed insurance to cover the transportation cost, but insurance denied the request.

The psychiatrist asked me why I couldn’t use public transportation and I told her that it wasn’t easily accessible, and was still costly. I later worked out the math, which would have been twice what I paid for gasoline for the car, and even if I could have found a convenient bus there, I’d have had to transfer to their town’s system, having to transfer to 3 buses, and it would have cost me double the fare.

When the form was originally submitted it was denied because Kim told me I hadn’t given a medical reason. I was a bit stunned, and didn’t know how to respond. What the fuck was I going there for? I’m not a medical provider, I don’t submit the forms, so how was I supposed to know what should be on the form outside of financial difficulties, and inadequate public transportation? And the sole reason I was there was because I have intractable depression, and TMS treatments are not offered anywhere closer, but the providers didn’t know enough to note that on the form?

The psychiatrist and the TMS team should have known better, and it sucks when those in helping professions don’t understand the poverty issues that go hand-in-hand with trauma, or can’t be bothered to work just that little bit more on behalf of those they purport to help.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Summer Scent-iment

Riding with the windows down from my TMS appointment today, the earthy scents of fields and pungent brook waters hit my brain in a nostalgic wave as I drove down the rough country road, longing to get out of my car and run through the meadow down into the brook, if only private property and ticks didn’t exist.

Summer days of childhood in the woods with friends crossed my mind’s picture screen for several seconds before receding back, refusing further examination, as though it were a dream I was straining to recall.

Perhaps it was a dream, and this is all illusion. If so, it’s a very good spell. I really feel like I’m here, like I exist, like this is a meaningful journey. Maybe life’s meaning doesn’t derive from the delivery mechanism, but I sure wish I could figure out what it means to me.

I’m still worried the TMS isn’t working, 21 visits in now, when I’m supposed to notice a difference.

I feel bereft of my old companions and our easy friendship. I wish depression didn’t exist & the elusive mind and life fuckery it creates. But that’s like wishing heart disease, or diabetes away. It’s not going to happen. I need to manage it, regardless of how exhausting the task. Eventually we heal or we succumb, and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.

Ease and balance are important, and I strive for them – try to cultivate them – and drain friends who know they can’t quell my demons so they’d rather not hear about it. I supplicate to whatever gods might exist, so far, to no avail.

I’d like to sink forever into that sweet summer dream: running through the meadow, cooling my body in the water, or exploring the woods – forgetting that time or otherness exists.

The upside is that I’m still here, illusion or not, and I get out of bed every day & make it. Coffee remains a pleasure and a boost, and I redirect my thoughts hundreds of times a day, just as I adjust my posture when I notice I’m slumping.

That’s something, isn’t it?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Second Chances

I’m nearly three months sober, and started a new depression therapy two weeks ago: TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The therapy uses focused magnetic energy to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thought to be a dark alley depression emanates from.

On my first visit, the tech & doctor mapped the specific area of my brain using the Neurostar stimulator, and I’ve been adjusting to the five-days a week treatments.

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During the mapping, the pulse was painful while they determined my treatment threshold. The treatment lasts 38 minutes and several seconds, for me. Others have generally less time than I do, but not by much, and typically a lower pulse threshold than me, which I attribute to my redheaded-ness.

Forty pulses delivered in four seconds feel and sound like a miniature jack-hammer – or an eager woodpecker – but the computer prepares me by chiming a few seconds prior to the pulses. After about four rounds of pulses I don’t feel it as intensely, but I’m always glad to hear the ‘ding-ding-ding’ computer chime signaling the treatment’s end.

Worries about whether the treatment will work are thick due to continued suicidal thoughts, but TMS takes about twenty or so treatments before brain changes are apparent. That means I have another week to go before I’ll know it’s working. TMS has helped about 85% of patients, which is good news, but I’m a redhead, so we’ll see what category I fall into.

Today I was going through some papers I’d put aside nearly a month ago and found a notepad I had written goodbye letters to my friends and family when I tried to off myself. It’s hard to read my sadness between the lines of gratitude for their friendship, and while I’m not as low as I was a few months ago, I know I’ll get there again, and I can’t tolerate it anymore.

An AA meeting I attended tonight was on positive attitude, and gratitude, and how that’s the way to pull yourself up and out of yourself and into acceptance, etc. – and for those that works for, brav-fucking-o! But, for those of us who write our gratitude lists, and pray, and think positive, and carry on with positive intention, and ‘choose happiness’, and still want to die, you’ve got a non-patronizing friend in me.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Songs We Used To Sing

Music is life – for all of us. We all have our stories: where we grew up, what we heard, what we sang, what ran through and through us, and continues to. Because of a recent trip visiting a friend, I now hear Sia’s I Love Cheap Thrills, among others, in a new context, and my friend is with me when I hear it.

My history continues in song, being a vocalist, or even just interested in music, but I doubt there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t experienced some form of music. If so, I’m sorry for them. Music is an entity unto itself, and I’d be sad for anyone who never experienced music’s transcendence.

My older brothers cued me into The Beatles, and other mid-sixties music that my parents found irritating and banal. They appreciated the swing and ballads of the 1940’s and 50’s.

I grew up in dire circumstances, not only in my personal life, but in the world around me. Vietnam was raging, my oldest brother escaped my family horror to fight in that war, and other family members went as draftees or joiners.

Music accompanied life’s tension: releasing and building – crying out and pleading – or ignoring the larger world for personal circumstance, or love and romance.

I understand the far-away look in my mother’s eyes when she heard the songs of the late 1940’s and the 1950’s that touched her heart and soul. You Are My Sunshine brought tears to her eyes, and because of that it brings tears to mine – a learned sentiment.

Driving home tonight I heard several songs from my youth, but one in particular: Love Hangover, enveloped me, and I time-traveled like a boss. A friend, long passed on, was with me as the dulcet tones flowed out of the Honda Accord’s inadequate speaker system because we needed that shit turned UP. She was there with me, feeling the beat, vocalizing, and jamming out, and then she was gone.

I was in my driveway, loathe to turn off the radio and take the key out of the ignition in case another song came on calling her back, but the DJ interrupted the moment, so I turned the few clicks releasing the key, and sat in the silence – hoping she’d materialize – speak to me – something – but the empty air grew colder, so I went inside.

My life has reached a weird divide where the past barely matters anymore. That’s good – fantastic even – but also a loss. My brain has changed and my memories aren’t as vivid, except situationally – like tonight in the car – but I feel like I’ve lost something important.

Maybe we’re designed this way. We slowly let go of what no longer matters and now I can focus on what’s in front of me.

I’ve heard that the past is gone, the future is unknown, but now is an alive & vibrant gift – that’s why it’s called the present.

I understand that sentiment, but I still miss friends and acquaintances, and our place in time that’s quickly receding. I’m becoming not even a footnote in history, among other barely-footnotes that I appreciate more and more.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Timing Sucks

Several years ago, when my son was in his late teens, karaoke was getting popular again, and I started going nearly every week. I used to go with my friends weekly back in the late 80’s. We had so much fun then, but life happens and we moved on, and karaoke fell out of favor for a few decades.

Getting back into it was a blast, and it was free! I made friends with several regular singers, and we began spending time at each other’s houses, or going dancing, or on a road trip, and it was a great distraction when my son headed off to college – even though it didn’t cease my depression or PTSD.

We lasted several years as a group, but little by little it fell apart – although karaoke is still going strong – so we come together for that once in a while now.

Karaoke turns out not to be a great basis for lasting friendships, sadly, and worse, my drinking increased, and even worse, my personality change when drinking nearly caused my S.O. & I to break up several times.

I know I have a problem because while quitting is easy, it’s the staying quit that’s hard. As Mark Twain quipped about quitting smoking: ‘… it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seeing a video of me drunk was uncomfortable, but it gave me the boost I needed to stop.

Sadly, I’ll miss all the drinking games every time the President says something stupid, but then I’d never be sober, and I need to focus…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

There’s No Common Ground

Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.

I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.

I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.

America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.

Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.

Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!

Cheers!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Endings Bring Beginnings

I don’t catch on quickly when I’ve been friend-dumped, unless it’s overt. It’s the ‘nice’ friend dumping that eludes me. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when it felt like the friendship was real.

But here’s the thing about friendships: they’re not commitments. They’re not contracts, they’re gifts.

An old saying about friendships coming ‘for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ is useful. I’m a fairly loyal friend, unless our values are so different that we oppress rather than uplift each other.

That time has come, and probably has been there for a while, but I didn’t want to see. I also relate to another saying that ‘everything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it’.

It’s painful – and I understand life is pain, but I do my best to avoid it. It’s all about lessons, though, right? I gained from those friendships, and I hope they gained from mine too.

It’s embarrassing when they’ve moved on and I didn’t notice. I just thought they were busy, or dealing with life stuff.

Of course it’s something we all go through – and get through. I hate that platitudes start churning through my brain – my effort to feel better – to find meaning and understanding, but there’s nothing to understand. I did nothing wrong, but it feels like I did. Sadly, my trauma brain, that old, worn, neural pathway tells me I fucked up, and I need to make it right:

…Then the beatings will stop. Then I’ll get what I need. Then I’ll be worth liking and loving.

The only way out is through. The only. way. out, is through.

I’d like it to not effect my whole life, so I must remember that my trauma picks untrustworthy people to try to make trustworthy so I can heal my hurt.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I have to build new, unsullied, neural pathways – and then make them stick. You know, easy-peasy…

Not everyone is honest. Some people just want superficial friends, and there is nothing wrong with that; I just wish they’d wear a sign so dense people like me would know.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Living Nightmare

So, the goodness I thought would reign didn’t manifest, and the people chose darkness.

They chose hate, fear, misogyny, and it’s the first time a known sexual predator was elected to the highest office in America.

We are lower than we’ve been since John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassinations.

Healthcare – such as it is – will be repealed, and people won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions.  Women’s rights – even the right to vote – risk decimation.

Supreme Court justices who are anything but just will be installed, and America will not get over this ruination.

President Obama barely got us out of the hell President George W. Bush got us all into, but at least we were making progress.

The bully elect will knock down and crush the building blocks so painstakingly erected over these last 8 years of a do-nothing Congress, that America also saw fit to continue.

I am bereft, bewildered, and sad for my fellow Americans, especially us women, and for the children who will wonder why we did this to them.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

So Much Nothing

I’ve had a tough time writing lately.  Maybe depression has set in – apathy leading the way.  Nothing feels interesting or worth investing in.  I could look happy and present, but whether or not I am, it shifts quickly.

Is living for the young?  Should twenty to forty be the only important part of life?  After forty the pain began.  It has only increased since.  Different issues, more work & time to address it – the ‘free ride’ over.

The problem is the lack of appreciation for a body that feels good & functions well.  It’s inspiring when people born without limbs, or other horrific problems, live high-functioning lives.  It shames me & I’m so tired of living shame.

Even the love of my life can’t breach the gap.  It’s not his path, even if he loves me with all he has.

In my wildest imagination I am alone: succeeding, happy, fulfilled.  I’ve never seen it with someone else – just me.  Maybe that’s due to trauma – neglect & abuse – I don’t know.  I decided that no one, NO ONE, will take anything else from me.  I lived that life and I’m not able to continue helping someone else do well at my expense. I mean emotionally.  If I had billions I could give most away without issue, but I’m tired of people who want to take my soul.

That’s where I am today.  I’m sure it’ll change tomorrow.  Cheers.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Life Collage

Magazine cut outs pasted on a board – a forward view of life well-lived.

An ocean cruise, me and you dancing on the deck with the smell of the sea and the sultry tropical air.

Stars winking above – atmospheric interference – but nothing in the universe is really fixed.

A wedding gown never worn peels away from the bottom of the poster – our hearts never became one because the darkness couldn’t depart.

I should have left it blank except for the words love and acceptance.

Was there ever a promise? Why did I expect more, or better?

Stories told, lies believed.  Sadness and sorrow linger.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Which Way To Here?

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

I don’t know who coined that phrase, but hearing it changed my life.  I bring me with me – moving away never solved my problems, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.  Looking back to my 20’s and 30’s, I’m surprised I survived.  Even if I had tried to off myself, I would likely have been unsuccessful, and then maimed for life.  So life would still suck, and I’d be scarred, or worse.  Great.

Getting over self-preservation is no small undertaking.  No one makes it out of here alive, so there’s that reasoning, but what we might do here goes beyond us.

A therapist told me that if I kill myself, I give my son permission to end his life too. I fluffed that off, but since I know 3 people who were successful in the last few years, it’s been working on me in whispers at vulnerable times.

‘You’ll never get out of debt, loser girl.’  That’s one of the lovely names my inner asshole has for me.  The ‘girl’ is a nice touch – colloquial and derogatory at once. ‘You’re worth more dead than alive’ – true – as long as I can keep paying the insurance, which looks less likely each time the payment’s due. ‘You’re aging now and you’re losing the little looks you had, and you’re worth less and less.’  ‘You’ve failed everything you’ve tried, and it’s too late to make it anywhere.’  ‘You can’t even get a regular job! Not one interview, and no prospects.’

The most significant, however, is the voice that tells me that I’ll end my pain.  No more suffering.  No more challenges.  No more heartache.

Except, wherever I go, there I am.

Maybe I’ll have a consciousness, maybe I won’t. I’ve never died before. I’ve read lots of books and studies on people who have died and been revived, and they usually talk about bright light, and seeing loved ones who’ve passed on, or of spirits – ghosts – that seem to be stuck in the thoughts and feelings they had when they died.

Finding work I can do has been the bane of my existence. Clearly, I have to get entrepreneurial, but figuring that out is the rub.

The positives of staying alive are seeing the beautiful land where I live, hearing birds trilling, and flying around, watching the fireflies this time of year, and listening to tree frogs and crickets.  Cats and dogs don’t care what I look like as long as I can scratch behind their ears and feed them. They aren’t body-based, or judgmental, but humans sure are.

And when depression’s shroud descends, none of that matters in my messed up head. I don’t care about anyone, and that disconnection is bizarre to witness.

Grandma Moses said: ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.’  She began painting her quaint village scenes in her 80’s, and she lived another 20 years, so not only do I have those phrases to shore me up, but Yogi Berra‘s: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’, is another adage to hang onto.

So, wherever I’m headed, I can’t escape myself – and I prefer self-love over self-loathing, but there I am – whatever it is.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current