My nightmares usually consist of post apocalyptic times always with a lot of running and fighting. Sometimes hostage situations of just myself, sometimes loved ones or a combination. Last night, I was surrounded by people who care about me. No matter what I said or did no one could hear me and though it felt all too normal yet, it was different and even more infuriating. All around me people I knew and some I didn’t dressed in dark clothes with red skin around their tired eyes and that was when I saw myself laying in an ugly wooden box. At least I saw my shell or vessel anyway. Dressed in something I would not want to wear for eternity if there was a here after. My best friend and sole god parent to my child walked in with my son in her arms, anger and sadness swarmed her face while he looked confused and seemed to be searching for me.
I listened to people say things such as, ” I didn’t know it was that bad.” “Why didn’t she ask for help?” “How could she do this to me?” With each sentence I grew more angry with their consistent oblivious selfishness until the last question where I only cried. “How could she leave her son?” Once again being overwhelmed by feelings I never could or did good enough for him.
I walked around attempting to poke people or trip them, annoyed I had to attend my own funeral and hear the same stories over and over again. Listening to how great I was or how selfish depending on the private conversation I was listening in on. I sat on my casket looking at my shell thinking, I hope I’m better at this than whoever this mortician was. Picking flower petals and throwing them in the box hoping to freak someone out, mostly out of boredom and on the ground where my son picked them up smiling and naturally chewed on them.
I woke up at the same time as I do every night no matter the context of the nightmares. The first feeling I had was disappointment. I was madly disappointed I had to not only be present in such a nightmare but recall it completely as anything would have been better. Fighting battles, chasing monsters, running from evil entity’s, surviving apocalyptic time and post. The second was a feeling of being filled with an ocean of sadness for my son in. Last, I was angry my brain would have me experience such a thing.
I went back to sleep quickly, no dreaming or nightmares. Shortly after awaking for the next days list of “to do’s” I needed to complete. Still unsure which was worse.
Have you ever heard a song and felt it in your bones? How could this complete stranger understand exactly what I am feeling? Yet, those closest to me can not.
One of the problems of being someone trapped in survival mode for nearly two decades, is time and time again people remind you the only one you can truly count on is yourself. No matter their intentions. Some people I don’t have to speak, they just know what I am trying to say, when I truly need a hand to reach out. While others, don’t.
I have been enduring one of the hardest years of my life and this week has nearly broke me. If I didn’t have my best friends I honestly don’t know if I would have survived this long, or if I would even be alive today. One, offering to take care of my child for a couple of days so I can get a much needed mini vacay up north to see another of my besties. One showed up on my doorstep with a bottle of bourbon and a few hours later another showed up with a jar of her apple pie moonshine. I am so insanely lucky to have these people in my life.
I don’t know how to find the words to make it clear what I want or need for those who just can’t understand, to not only understand but put action to it. Sometimes a girl just needs to be heard and sometimes a girl just needs to be rescued. When you’re not actually Wonder Woman, there is only so long you can rise to those sort of standards.
It had been a long time since I have felt so hollow. When life and people again proved my cynical jaded pessimistic viewpoint as what is and always has been true, how the hell am I ever going to change it? I am not enough. Not enough to change it, not enough to deserve what I need or want. Not enough to be the parent I want to be, friend, spouse, daughter, sister. I fear I am not stronger than my depression, my anxiety, my nightmares. At least not to be a whole person, if that was ever something I even was as I may be that good of an actress. Fooling all of you and even myself.
Don’t hug me and say you’re sorry, I love you too and I already know. Words are not enough, if that wasn’t clear.
When I say step up or step back, it is because I am breaking and trying to breathe under water. Water no one else can see and perhaps doesn’t actually exist. What I want, is for you to step up in all the ways I did say but you couldn’t hear me and if you truly cannot do that than what I need is you to step back so I can get one last breath to fight, to live, to survive.
This is the song in my bones.
Maybe I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing but I am trying to figure it all out. I lost a part of myself I was told I wasn’t allowed to be, leaving me hollow chasing a feeling I couldn’t imagine to be real. A life I never felt I deserved. I fantasized of a life more than this and far worse too. It wasn’t about an unwillingness to risk, more so it has always been the willingness to sacrifice my wants and needs for others to only find it was never enough. It always takes pieces of me and I’m not sure who it is that is left.
On no more than two to three hours of sleep a night for weeks now (or longer honestly) I find it difficult to raise to the standards some are used to. It’s much harder to pretend I am alright with little sleep, being awoken by horrific nightmares that continue to haunt me for days. My gypsy soul wants to wander, explore and feel alive but these things are selfish so I push them far from me. So I work toward a better life for the one who needs me most regardless if that is the life that would make me happy. I’m not sure if my happiness has ever been a primary focus in my life though sometimes I’m sure it seems this way to others. I have been trapped in survival mode, enduring so much for such a very long time now. I’ve fooled so many into this strong version of myself unable to rely on anyone the way I truly need I’m not sure who I am anymore or if this is me. If a version of myself free exists some where or if that version is lost forever.
All I can think now at 1 am is, have I stayed up late enough to avoid these traumatizing nightmares? Will there every be a reprieve for me?
I soar out of bed grasping onto hope that what I endured was not real. It wasn’t but it feels so real my body and mind in fact believe it was and so I carry it with me always. The nightly nightmares I bare increasingly more traumatizing and horrific the worse my waking state seems to be. The more fighting or arguing, the more lack of support and help, my dreams feed on it and love to rub my nose in it. It’s strange to me how some people think because the words of support pour out of them without action that is sufficient. Claiming interest in the things you care most deeply about with little to no investment if it is not a shared interest with the expectation of a return on their own passions. Putting in ten percent while lying to themselves they are one hundred percent invested and expecting undivided attention and when its not given turning harsh and cruel. For someone with PTSD (and those without), it adds to the stress and when that person has spent more than half of their life enduring this suffocating existence trapped in survival mode continuously made promises however true at the time that cannot be and never are fulfilled it makes the enduring of this existence much more difficult to bare. This isn’t a blame game, regardless if my bipolar diagnosis is warping the chemicals in my brain to make me two different people shoved in this one broken shell, this shell everyone speaks so kindly about, that isn’t really me is it? With a constant fluctuation of moods and personality traits how am I to know who I am anyway? I was told the darkness within me was evil but it’s the only constant and safe part of my life. It takes a hold and comforts me when I need it most when I am at the point of quitting it all, washing away my tears and sometimes my pain if only for a short while. It never judges me and I wonder if denying it’s existence is the part of me missing that makes me feel whole. I am beyond damaged and more alone than I ever could have imagined trying to pretend I’m something I’m not for the sake to not cause discomfort to those I care most about. At some point they all claim I do not have to do that with them but if time proves anything at all, it proves the fallacy of what they can endure and the fact I can endure almost anything, but with great cost.
How could I possibly trust or rely on another being when time and time again it is proven I must be the strong one? I am so very tired of asking for what I need only to be let down and challenged with the notion I should be grateful for what I have. Unwanted assistance in nearly an opposite fashion to what my mind is screaming for. I so wish that I was loved because those want to love me and not because they need to love me or need my love. I’m tired of being needed. In the beginning of all things I am wanted, chased and at some point I become some burden who is no longer giving them all the things they want. Eventually never enough all while draining the life within me while striving to be what they want me to be with no return.
Here’s the hardest part of all of this, I need help. So do many of you. I have a psychiatrist, therapist, trauma therapist, neurologist etc. Helping me fight for my right to not only endure or survive this life but perhaps live it. This isn’t the help I mean but clearly the help I do need will never come. I wish others would do the same, fight for themselves rather than live in a different sort of darkness they refuse to climb out of, playing the blame game attached to an idea that life or people owe them something when they don’t. If only they took care of themselves rather than adding their baggage onto my back and wonder why I’m breaking and unable to help them, they may heal and maybe I could too. We are here to love, to live. “…All I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you…” To live… what a beautiful fantasy like three moons shinning over a clear blue sea, and sand between my toes. I am suffocating and trapped and every step forward I fight through the chains and weight of a thousand worlds attached at my ankles and yanked yards backward. I need my own space, I need more time than most to myself by myself, uninterrupted and not to be treated that what I need and want is not valid because it hurts someones feelings or offends them because fuck that bullshit. Learn to love yourself, be alone with yourself, survive on your own as I have done. To many being alone is a curse or the worst punishment of all but to me as a survivor I can always rely on my self to endure, to survive to fight through every god damn thing thrown at me. It’s people who break me. With intention to do so, without intention to do so. Does that part even matter? Being alone is where I can find peace in a world so horrible and filled with chaos and selfishness. I haven’t been alone with myself in so many years, taken from me just as the control over the chemicals in my brain has taken my control over my emotional and mental state. Taught wanting such a thing is wrong and cruel to those who surround me, smothering the light inside of me wondering why I feel so vacant. I have a gypsy soul and that was snuffed out too. So we are left with this shell, the shell everyone seems to love and I despise. Somewhere in the darkness I am screaming and clawing my way out, if only I had help. If only it mattered more than…
I don’t remember the last time when I spoke the words “I’m tired,” and that was all I meant. Whether it was to someone or to myself. I’m tired has replaced I’m okay, I’m all right, I’m fine which often was retorted with, “Are you sure?” Sometimes followed with unsolicited advice which honestly was never much help in climbing out of that headspace. I’m just tired has replaced I’m exhausted. It’s replaced I’m sad, I’m depressed, I feel broken. It’s replaced I feel hopeless. I’m not sure at what point I am tired became so much more in those two words. It creeps in the darkness of the night stealing sleep or causing nothing but sleep. It has no shame on a warm sunny day and still keeps coming at you with clenched fists. Frankly, most times talking about how I feel traps me there and I want to escape it and I have therapists for that sort of thing anyway.
I suppose I may not just be tired and after so many years like this it feels as if this is who I am now. It’s not all days but it’s closer to that being true than not. Sometimes saying I’m tired, is to not burden those you care about with something you can’t help feeling. And after so much time has passed and those feelings are still there the compassion dissipates from the ones you need it from the most. It is not intentional to hurt but the truth is, sometimes it does.
Maybe I don’t have anything positive to say and I am a jaded, cynical pessimist. And life experiences and jacked chemicals in my brain created the monster I feel I am now. So no, I won’t complain about my day, the physical pain I’m in I try to ignore and fight through or for the mental warfare inside of my head just to be told to chin up or buck up or to play the one up game with people I’m not trying to compete with, especially a game where every one is the loser. To be asked how I am and for the response to my reply to feel like nothing more than a brush off, an obligation to ask but no substance behind it. And yes, I already know that someone else has it worse than me but I still have to live this life in this body, in this mind.
I miss truly enjoying things, things I used to or even new experiences or even something so simple as chasing after dreams. To be trapped in survival mode only because the chemistry in my brain is faulty. Some days, not all days, I go through the motions only to get to the next day and only to do it all over again like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day or Sammy in the “Mystery Spot” episode of Supernatural. But I haven’t given up yet and that should count for something shouldn’t it?
So yes, I’m tired.
The short answer? Hell yes.
There is a difference between being supportive and understanding. Someone can tell you they support you and even mean what they say without putting forth much effort into understanding where you are coming from. The problem which lies in this is without the understanding of your dreams, goals, trauma, illness (etc.); is their support will never be fully committed if those things inconvenience them. For example, if your time for this supportive person becomes less so you may focus more on any of the list above or others. The inconvenience to them may make them act less than supportive and although they want to support you they do not want to sacrifice or have anything taken away from them. When someone does not understand your illness or even your dreams you might assume they would look further into it. Order a book on kindle explaining it in more details so they can actually have an understanding on a level closer to your own and help ease their own feelings about the situation or future situations that may arise. It amazes me how a little empathy can go a long way and how many people do not know the true definition of the word. I find people who suffer from empathy (as that is how it feels for me) often have a clearer understanding of what someone else is enduring or even enjoying. True empathy is a gift and a curse.
We all have to live our own lives, needing to take care of ourselves and sometimes others too. We all have dreams, goals and aspirations and some may never come to be. Many of us struggle; it’s hard to endure and it’s often hard for others to watch. Sadly, we live in a world where “I” and “me” trumps all things. A world where people care more about power, greed and social media like’s. A world where other people’s problems and struggles are an inconvenience to our own lives. A world where it sometimes seems is filled with the Violet’s and the Veruca’s of Willy Wonka’s, who think “I want” is the same thing as “I need” and won’t compromise such things for what someone else may need. We live in a time where people want things easy and do not want to work for anything, even if it would be worth it in the long run.
Which brings me to another heartbreaking point, when no one notices you fading away or your love for things dissipating. When you are too exhausted to sleep and respond with doing the bare minimum and it still seems to never be enough. When someone makes you feel worse because, “they are not enough to make you feel happy or better.” When you are told someone supports you or wants to help you but their actions do not correspond.
Just know, you can survive anything and you are enough. Though people may not like it, you have the power to change your circumstances. I won’t say it’s easy as it rarely is but it is within your power to change yourself and your circumstances. Waiting for help, relying on other people is a fairy tale or a day dream. People can change of course but if you wait for them to change for you, you will be waiting a very long time. People change for themselves.
I looked at the ground, my heart broke. It took a deep breath in and tried to retain all the pieces it seemed to be in now. It didn’t. It couldn’t but be damned it still tried. Sometimes in life you are sitting still as the world rushes by you. Others, you don’t have enough time for all the things you need and want to do. Sometimes you are in motion at a steady speed until something hits you like a boulder knocking your ass back to the start line. Similarly, I had been struck with a still force across my entire being. I mourn the loss of something dear to me and feel as though I always have and will again. So many times I have roared back to life and tried again and again to reach a goal I fear I will never achieve. In this, my illness wreck’s havoc on me as it is the only constant in my life. It is cruel and meticulous. The noise in my skull is chaotic most of the time, especially this moon phase. You fear the darkness but its deep within me and all around me and feels like, home. Many don’t get it and I didn’t expect you too. Yet, I was hopeful. Something that has never, not one time, ever paid off. Time and time again, the girl who thought Westley and Buttercup’s story was what true love really was or could be, reminds who I am today of the possibility, it could. So incredibly cruel. Another cycle burns through the night and I play a game within myself of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. No matter who wins, this sliver of my heart in my hand cuts me, deeply. A reminder of what happened here as to never forget, as if I could. Another toke, another drink, another pill. Numb. Wanting numbness to take hold, to give ample time to heal before I feel. My will laid at the waste side, unable to help me now. Endure. Survive. Endure. Repeat. As I reach up and feel my wet cheeks I know what I feared all along was true. My soul is in love with the idea of true love and I am far too jaded to play along anymore. As I am now as alone as some days I feel, I have the ability to do as one does when this sort of thing happens. For now I will recoil to the darkness that stalks me as it is always the same, always safe no matter how bad it is for me. Never lost I glide through the darkness until I catch the corner of a dresser. I open the top drawer and slide the shard into it, gently. I close the door and let the darkness absorb me until I am no longer present in this moment. Silence. Endure. Survive. Repeat.
I rock my son in my arms as if we were listening to a sweet melody. His cries bounce of the wall begging for me not to coax him into sleeping. He loathes napping and bedtime as if I were kicking his favorite little puppy. He whines, pleading that I stop trying to make him as sleepy as he actually is. I lay him down in bed with a bottle and his favorite blanket, whispering sweet words to him. He fights, arguing every step of the way as if sleep was his mortal enemy. His eyes grow heavy and in reaction his hand reach up to rub them. Will he sleep? I wonder.
I hold my son gently in my arms reminding myself that this is just one of the many gifts that come along with children. Exhausted my hair lay a disaster, high above my head. My eyes are surrounded by a dark blanket, a sign that I have been without sleep for far too many days in a row. A nap could change my entire day and the only thing standing in the way of that is the perfect bundle of joy wrapped in my arms screaming bloody murder. My socks are mismatched and I was sure the substance on my shirt was either spit up or formula but not entirely sure to which one it was. Reluctantly, I lay him in his bed as my arms feel as if they will fall right off of my body from the length of time I held his weight in them. I tried to hold him until he fell asleep, but I was in no condition for an endurance run against this little man. I glanced in the mirror to see my disheveled appearance knowing this wasn’t the first nor the last time, I wasn’t going to give two shits about my reflection, mocking me. I sat waiting for him to tire himself out and fall asleep into the much needed nap he deserves, I deserved. As I am just about to give up and free him as he wishes the space around me silences and I know he has finally passed out. I dance in celebration. I debate on taking my own much needed nap or one of the other million things I could do while he lay sleeping. I peer into his crib to see his sweet angelic face, at peace. I crawl into bed and close my eyes, excitedly. Minutes pass and there I lay awake. “No, no, no.” I growl at myself. After I had made a mental note of my future to do list and had dwelled sufficiently on the past twenty-nine years of my life, I begin to drift asleep. “Momma.” I hear from cage that holds my son. My eyes snap open fearfully and as his soft voice begins to babble I sigh and pull myself from my bed and approach my son. I find him siting, staring up at me with a smile that could melt the coldest of winter’s. Even his baby blues were smiling, as if to say, thank you mom. I needed that. I reach in and lift him up into my arms and he holds on to my neck before I bring him to the floor to escape and cause whatever havoc he will, on the house. His laughter fills the house as he plays with his favorite toys and though the circle’s around my eyes darkened slightly from the ordeal I throw my hands up in defeat. There’s always bedtime, I think to myself. Who needs showers?
I was standing in front of a small group of youthful ears answering questions about how and why I chose to write. I said, “I didn’t choose to write, it’s something I just have to do.” The teacher smiled and asked if there were any techniques I could share with her students or words of wisdom and I looked around at the room and said this,
~“I want you all to think about the worst day you have ever had. Some might say, you’re worst day…” I pointed at a student. “Was worse than say yours,” I said as I pointed at another student. “This though technically on someone’s scale may be true, it is not. No one has the right to tell you your worst day or any moment is not worth as much as or worth more than someone else’s.
When you write a sad scene in story don’t write careless emotionless words on a page and hope it hits. You need to pour your soul out, pluck your sorrow and bleed on the pages you create. Moments such as those are then directly tied to your work. What you felt that day twists and turns and erupts in the sad moment you create. Experiences in life impact your work as they often do to your own lives.
Let’s say the main character is a young man or a young lady and her best friend or his mother has died and the funeral has just begun. You’re not going to say, “oh mom died, damn.” Perhaps he is being strong for his sister and father, trying with all his might to hold them up. Begging himself not to cry as he watches the box that holds his mother’s shell, lower into the ground. His palms sweat and he tries to force a smile as people in her life pay their respects, numbing him to the core with each empty hug. He waits behind after everyone has left and he curses at the sun to himself, that the world has no right to look happy and joyous when he felt as if something was being ripped out of his insides. Long after the dirt and sod had been thrown onto the casket he remained standing, silently. All day he stood there, late into the nightfall. Staring in such disbelief that it all was real. A middle-aged man with scraggily gray hair approached him. The man said, “You only know you’ve truly loved someone by the hole it leaves in your heart when they are gone.” The young man felt his throat closing up on him, threatening of a possible breakdown. He sighed shakily before leaving on unsteady limbs to his car. He climbed in and as the door slammed shut, he faltered. His eyes rained despite his protest and as he let the loss consume him a new feeling of intense rage began to painfully boil in his blood. Soon guilt of all the things he never had the chance to say or do attacked him relentlessly. His mind was at war with his heart and soul and he was weak from the battle. If you listened quietly, you could actually hear the sound of his heart shattering into tiny pieces, slipping through his hands. A bang on the glass jogged him back to his numb state he had prior to this, grown accustomed to.~
Each student connected with a different aspect of the short story and had a million questions. I smiled as one asked, “Who was at the window?”
“Well,” I said, “Whoever you want it to be. It could be his father or sister or perhaps a high school sweet heart or new love interest even the old man. Someone who may break his heart far worse or may heal it. Each of us would write the next scene completely different and none of them would be wrong. When you tell a story a piece of you, however small, leaks into your book or story and that is not a bad thing. Your reader wants to feel something and to be taken on a journey. The point here is this, every moment in your life matters. As does every moment in a book. What you have felt, enjoyed, suffered through, its shapes you as a writer and as a human being. Live your life and don’t be afraid to allow your past experiences to linger in your work. The story you have to tell matters and your life is an asset to storytelling. And your life experiences are a part of what makes your own writing style unique. Good luck, keep writing.”