14 January 2017

paragraphs from quarantine

I woke up this morning with my right eye crusted shut, confirming last night's suspicion that I was developing pinkeye. MedExpress opened two hours later (what's this adult thing of waking up at workday time on the weekend?), so I wasted no time in seeking prescriptions to heal it. Now I'm quarantined alone at home until at least tomorrow.

I'm an introvert, and I appreciate my alone time. But there's something different about being told you're not allowed to be around other humans. I value the choice to seclude myself, or to seek others, or to be alone in a place where I might encounter someone. I had plans today! I'm supposed to be somebody's birthday wish fairy! Fortunately, their birthday isn't really until tomorrow, so I have a little time to let antibiotics work and make me less contagious. I'm upset with my body for spoiling somebody else's plans.

I'm reading a book that I'm really excited about. Uniquely Human by Barry Prizant. One of my autism research idols wrote a book reflecting on his 40-year career in the field. He trained as a speech language pathologist, too. It's been a while since I've picked up a book and wanted to keep picking it up until I read every page. The basic drive behind the book is that we ought to stop trying to fix people with autism, and try to understand them instead. I'm positively delighted every time I encounter someone who shares this belief and articulates it meaningfully.

So that's what I'm doing today. I suppose I could provide some life updates, too. I guess the biggest one is that I am legally divorced, as of late December. Happy New Year, indeed. Getting that piece of paper evoked such a complicated mix of emotions. Functionally, it changes nothing. We have lived apart for over two years, and most days, my life does not involve him at all. I am independent. The divorce decree represents the close of a chapter, the conclusion of a long, expensive, and emotionally exhausting process. People expect me to feel some kind of closure, but there is none. This is merely a long overdue legal measure that does nothing to change my feelings about him or the situation, and little to advance the stage of my healing. There is far more to my recovery from my abusive relationship than just the dissolution of my marriage.

An interesting thing happened right around New Year's. This is the calendar year in which I turn 30. Yeah, age is just a number n'at. But something about it feels significant. And maybe it is this realization: I am an adult. Therefore, whatever I do is what an adult does. Having that realization has relieved some of the pressure to act like a grown-up.

I still plan to apply to PhD programs, and I'm going to wait another year. I went to a big ol' speech pathology convention in November, where I made some connections and discovered that my niche is even smaller than I thought it was. I need to learn some more things before I can feel confident committing to spending the next several years of my life in a place. The likelihood of attending school in Pittsburgh is incredibly small. I am putting off confronting the reality of that.

I am okay.

03 October 2016

magnetic poetry 13

Been a while since I've done one of these, hasn't it?

borrow one day
every year or so
love me as the sun does the moon
your shine on my light side
pulling the earth between us
****************************

give me
only loud soft favorite fruit
full and sweet
the tenderest of summers flavor
***************************

get me through every fire
revitalize my garden
let me grow like fresh life
flowers drinking freedom


29 September 2016

Freedom Day 2016

Two years after escaping my abusive relationship, I still...
...think of him every day.
...have a physical reaction to reading his name.
...struggle with feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
...wonder if my finances will ever be what they were before.
...cringe to see his handwriting in my home.
...have a hard time trusting new people.
...double-check my locks.
...double my heart rate every time I see a grey Jeep.
...smile with relief every time I find my car where I left it.
...am not legally divorced.

Two years after escaping my abusive relationship, I now...
...live independently.
...make plans for my own future.
...speak honestly about my experiences.

...have money left after I pay the bills.
...manage my mental health.
...set and maintain the boundaries I need.

...go where I want, when I want, with whomever I want.
...am dating two fascinating people who respect me.
...have confidence I didn't notice I'd lost.

23 August 2016

I'm alive

I have a sink overflowing with dirty dishes, and I had plans to attack that tonight. Living alone means I can put it off another day (or two...or four...) and no one will be upset but myself.

Everything is still good. Legal processes still refuse to end. Life goes on. I have steady work, and I'm looking at going back to school. I've been in my apartment for a year and a half. I painted my bedroom green.

I'm embracing polyamory and striving to do it right this time. I'm learning a lot about myself and others and relationships and boundaries. I remain surrounded by good people. I am taking steps to meet new folks.

I am alive, and life is good. I remind myself every day.

07 March 2016

Neural Journey

I ran out of refills on a prescription and had to go off my meds this weekend. My SSRI. The one that keeps the happy molecules moving the right direction in my brain. Don't worry, I got it refilled today!

I hadn't been off my meds for longer than a few hours since I started taking them 2 years ago. I knew it was going to suck, but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. My first missed dose was Friday night. I planned to run some errands Saturday morning, because I knew I wouldn't feel any different until later in the day. (I bought a new sofa! That was a weird adult experience.) Around 1:00 Saturday afternoon, I started getting a headache, which could also have been attributed to hunger or a nicotine craving. I treated myself extra gently, stayed close to home, and took an almost 3-hour nap through the afternoon. In the evening, I met with a small group of friends to do arts and crafts. By 8:00, it felt like time to go home, where I fell into bed and stayed there.

Sunday morning, I woke up--more or less--at 8:30. My head felt foggy, almost like I wasn't in it. My bed was the only good place to be. I knew I needed to get up for a cigarette, coffee, or breakfast, but I couldn't tell which one. Somehow, I managed to make it through a morning routine of all three. It felt like I was moving my limbs through thick air. Initiating movement became difficult: Once I crawled back into bed, there was no getting up. I hid in caves of my blankets, playing in my phone. At one point I watched a 30-second video of a couple dancing to Bad Romance at their wedding reception, and I burst into tears. I barely moved until almost 3 PM.

I was surprised to realize in the midst of Sunday morning that I could tease apart what was withdrawal, what was depression, and what was anxiety. I worried about unlikely things: What if the doctor's office has to cancel my appointment? What if this new doctor won't write my prescription? Anxiety! I didn't want to leave my bed, and even when I was in it, moving was hard. Anhedonia found me again. That deep, dark place where there is no joy. I felt guilty and worthless for doing this to myself because I couldn't just make an appointment before the prescription ran out. I felt helpless. Depression. I'm not sure if I remember saying aloud, "Who unlocked the cages on these beasts?!" It was a solid reminder that I need these pills for more reasons than just avoiding physical withdrawal. I had been starting to question that. I wrote in my journal, "Life is ugly when my serotonin is fucked. My brain doesn't regulate that on its own, so I need to take medicine to help it."

I had saved an emergency dose for sometime Sunday so that Monday morning didn't have to be so awful. Within 5 minutes of taking it, I knew that I was going to get my brain back. Within 30 minutes, I felt like I lived in my own body again. What a simple solution for a brain disease that kills thousands of people every year, and almost killed me.

16 February 2016

To Peter, on Lady Gaga

Dear Peter,

I just watched Lady Gaga's tribute performance to David Bowie at the Grammys, and I wept. I wish you were here to talk to about it. Gaga's androgyny recalled Bowie's perfectly. Her high accented cheekbones were not a portrayal of conventional white femininity; they honoured Bowie himself. The line of her cleavage left no doubt that she was presenting female, but the minimized breasts beneath it reminded us that there is more to gender than hypersexualized femininity/masculinity. Gaga's tenor was remarkable: She sang everything in Bowie's range with depth of sound and feeling. Her broad-shouldered white jumpsuit and laced oxford dancing shoes... They teased "Under Pressure" but didn't sing it, and I got really disappointed by that.

I want to talk with you about it. I want to smoke a bowl and watch the video twice in a row, once in silence and once for critique. Then I want to listen to Ziggy Stardust on your record player and recognize you as a teenager. I want to read the Pitt News article you would have written reviewing the Grammys, with specific emphasis on her performance.

We never read much of each other's writing. How ironic.

We did go to that Lady Gaga concert together. I remember you telling me, "This is like seeing Madonna at the height of Vogue. We'll be able to say we were there." The Monster Ball, after the "Born This Way" single had been released. That poster is still waiting to find its place in my home. You looked so happy dancing there.

I miss you. I love you.
K

11 January 2016

Goodnight, Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie makes me think of Peter.
Disclaimer: My knowledge of Bowie is unfortunately limited. I saw Labyrinth once, when I was about 20. The only song I can name is Under Pressure. 
Bowie was one of the 80s icons Peter emulated in fabulousness. The blatant disregard for gender roles. The habit of saying only the right thing at the right time. The hair.

Hearing news of David Bowie's passing evoked memories of Nelson Mandela, of Maya Angelou, and of Peter himself. Peter would have been the one to tell me, simply and with urgency. He would expand my knowledge by sending me exactly the right link to the perfect video that would fill me with understanding of Bowie's cultural and personal significance.

All grief is the same grief. One loss feels the same as another loss, on a primal level, even though each experience of grieving is unique. Peter is David Bowie is Freddie Mercury is Nelson Mandela is my grandmother is the breeze and the waves and the stars. Once you have experienced grief, it never leaves you. It becomes part of your everyday life. You learn to live with it, and it fades into the background, until you experience another loss. All the loss feelings are connected, and one experience evokes memories of another and the feelings deepen in intensity. And you grow in your ability to manage it and to live with this part of your life. Our losses shape us. Grief teaches us. The ways we handle grief mark how we've grown.

She texted me, "If there's anyone who can make you think there's someplace to go after, it's him. I imagine there's a raucous concert going on right now." I replied, "David and Freddie are rocking Under Pressure in non-linear time. Peter is headbanging in his soft human way." "And that grin."

Let's all sing our hearts out from the midpoint of gender and the absolute certainty of our worth, not caring what they think of us because we care too deeply about our own Truth. Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love...