Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Be kind....for Robin Williams.

I haven’t felt the need or even wanted to write in a really long time.  Until Robin Williams took his own life.  And now my fingers can’t seem to type fast enough.

What do I plan to say about it that – let’s face it – every magazine, newspaper and blog – hasn’t already said?  Nothing.  I mean nothing new at least.  I honestly have no idea what I want to say about it other than to say please be kind.  None of us really knows who is dealing with mental illness.
When I was 15, I lost the only man that mattered to me to suicide.  I swear to you that up until that point, I was a na├»ve enough kid to not even know that taking one’s own life was something that people could or would do.  Least of all this man that I loved.

I had never known such grief and then anger in all of my life.  I didn’t go one single day without crying for him.  I thought it would never end.  The pain.  The fury.  The questions.
But as my life went on, the pain subsided.  There were many months that I didn’t even think of him or the pain I felt over his death.  But then there are family get-togethers and too much alcohol – which then comes with usually thick walls coming down and emotions coming out and the topic of this man’s suicide always comes up. 

Nearly thirty f*cking years later and his siblings and loved ones still can’t get past it.  30 years later and some of them are still not sad.  They are still just pissed.  I myself, literally just learned more about his letter he left behind.  His state of mind.  The fact that he indeed planned it ahead of time.  And on and on. 
I think it hurts worse now than it did at 15 because now I understand it more.

People can be pissed instead of sad or understanding or empathetic – when never, ever in your life have you suffered from anxiety or depression.  You can judge and say insensitive things like, “Why didn’t he just ask me for help?” or “How could he leave me like this?”
You’ll never get it.  Hell – I didn’t get it.  I asked all those questions and more – every damn day.  I accused, hated, and judged until I was blue in the face.  Had I known that one day – I’d be in the exact same spot as my Uncle – I’d have shut up real quick.

It is inexplicable.  I have never, ever found a way to describe what severe depression feels like.  Had I been battling a drug or alcohol addiction in addition to severe depression….well…I wouldn’t be here today.  As it is – I am amazed I survived.
That’s the thing about addiction and mental illness.  You survive it, tolerate it, treat it and deal with it – but you never, ever cure it or get rid of it.  You can go months and years without a single symptom and then one day – find yourself literally bed-ridden.  Unable to shower.  Or comb your hair.  Or drink water.  Or eat.  Or even open your eyes.

And you spend every single second of your life begging God to kill you – because you don’t even have the energy or fight inside of you to take your own life – so you find yourself pleading with God to do it for you.
The pain is unbearable.  Excruciating.  And you can’t see a way out of the darkness – no matter how many flashlights people keep handing you.  It is worse than any physical pain I have ever felt and it is something I’m not even sure I’d wish on Satan.

Crazy pills and Xanax have become as normal as the word “the” in our society and we laugh about missing a dose or needing a straight jacket….and it’s funny – except it’s not.  Without “crazy pills” I am dead.  No longer breathing.  No longer a mother, sister, or wife.  I am gone from this world.  My own f*cking body will not let me live. 
The job I love, the house I love, the children, husband and family I’d give anything for – cease to exist.  Depression takes away the feeling I have for anyone else.  It turns me into a selfish asshole who literally can only thing of the next minute and how on Earth I’ll ever make it through it.  I can’t remember why I should eat.  What my passions are in life.  Who I love.  Bills I pay.  The car I drive.

Nothing.  Depression wipes it all out – in one swipe.  The next thing I know I’m laying in bed – unable to sleep, eat, move and sometimes even talk – and my mind cannot process anything but dying.  No matter how much you try to get me to eat, sleep, talk or drink – the only thing my mind can feel and say over and over is “PLEASE GOD – let me DIE.  Please.”
You know you’re hurting everyone who has ever loved you and you can’t do a damn thing about it – which only intensifies the need and want to die.

It is indescribable. All-consuming and life-altering.  To feel it and to watch someone else feel it.
So please – be kind.  Don’t ask questions about why he felt the need to end his life – because even Robin Williams doesn’t know the answer.  It only adds to the family’s pain.  I have always said and still believe that the grieving and after effects of suicide are worse than almost most kinds of death.  You go to your own grave still asking why – and that’s a heavy burden to carry.  It’s downright exhausting.

When people say what my Uncle did was selfish or he’ll got to Hell for taking his own life which wasn’t his to take….I have to walk away.  I know right then that the person mouthing those words has never been where my Uncle was.  Where I’ve been.  Where Robin Williams was.
Be kind to people.  And pray to any and every God out there that you never ever have to eat your misdirected words about suicide or mental illness because you suddenly find yourself in the depths of your own mind hell with no way out.

Robin Williams didn’t take his own life.  Depression stole his life.  If you want to be pissed at someone - be pissed at depression.  It took away his very breath and will to breathe.  Imagine such a pain.  And then remember to be kind.  You never know who is dealing with this.
RIP Robin Williams.  My heart aches for you and your family.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are you important?

What is the definition of a person’s importance?  If you’re loved by one or loved by one million – does that make you important?  I mean – the fact is – we are all replaceable.  Even the people we think are most important – aren’t really.

The Pope, the President, rulers of countries and diplomats and celebrities – are all just who they are for a moment – until the next one comes along and slips right into their little slot that they thought was important.  There’s always someone waiting to take your spot when you’re done – and sometimes even when you’re not.
I struggle with “importance”.  I’m an accountant by nature and I’m good at my job but I’m not stupid enough to think there aren’t a bazillion other accountants out there who can do my job too if I was gone one day.  Quite a few of them would probably even do it better.

I don’t help anyone daily.  I don’t make a difference.  When I balance a general ledger, no one’s life suddenly gets better.  If I were to say I was quitting – no one would sit down in my office and beg me to stay…because I’m not that important.  It’s numbers people.  It ain’t rocket science and even if it were – there are plenty of other rocket scientists out there who could fill my place just the same.
I have a creative mind and a giving spirit but there’s no room for that in Accounting.  So what then?  Move on from a full-time job that I love that pays me well and offers me flexibility and a million other things?  Nah.

It’s the same with the 2 part time jobs.  Accounting.  Good money.  My terms, my way.  But do I make a difference or make anyone’s life better?  Nope.  Not even on a good day.
And even if I had every resource in the world and someone told me to go hand pick my dream job – I don’t know what it would be.  I’ve lived too long and become too cynical for those dreams.  As a kid I could have thought of plenty – writer, farmer, artist, therapist, etc etc.  Now the dream job is the job that pays the bills.  The dream job is the one that I love but could easily let go of.

It’s not important – the “what” that I do…and therefore it’s left me feeling unimportant as a human – career-wise.  I never set out to not be important or non-difference-making.  It just so happened that my skills and talents dealt with numbers and not choosing that path seemed like a silly move out of high school.
I don’t regret the path – I just wish I knew in my heart that I changed some lives or helped more or gave more – daily.

There’s always been a part of me that’s wanted to be more and do more but I can never figure out what that “more” is.  I’ve never had the balls to take the risk to find out.  And 99% of the time – these thoughts aren’t on my radar.  99% of the time I’m at peace and content and know full well that my life is indeed what I’ve made it. 
But 1% of the time something happens and it makes me question where I’m at and what I’ve done and haven’t done.  1% of the time I know that I’m not giving everything I can and I’m just letting life pass me by with the daily grind of jobs.  Good, responsible, stable jobs.  The kind I love but not the kind that make my heart soar.
During this 1% time, I have to take a step back.  Re-evaluate who and what I am and decide if I want to be something different.  I have to decide if I’ll have regrets if I do nothing and just keep going.  I have to decide what is enough for me.  What I’ll accept and what I won’t.

So while this inner turmoil feels kind of icky for lack of a better word – it is good.  Years ago I would have let these feelings just depress me and I would have spent my time just trying to rid myself of them.
Now?  I’m older and I can see the feelings have a purpose.  It’s good to re-evaluate your life and what it is or isn’t.  It’s good to feel a little inner angst because it can be the feeling that drives me to make changes. 

I’m trying to sit with the feelings and decide if they are worthy of action or just a passing thought or self- pity party.  I’m trying to decide if at my core I know my importance or if self-importance really even matters.
I think we all want to feel important though realistically we all know our importance isn’t forever and when we’re gone our space will be eventually get filled.  It’s a catch 22 for me – wanting it and knowing it doesn’t really exist.

I just am who I am – doing what I do – and I want that to be enough.  Though I’m not sure it is.
How do you feel important in a sea of people in your career and home and life?  Does your sense of importance come naturally or do you have to work at it?  Does it even cross your mind?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moments...either stolen or given.

Life is a shitstorm of crazy most days.  For nearly every single person I know.  Everyone you talk to these days is all like, “I need a vacation.”  “Work is swamped.”  “I can’t remember what my kids look like.”  There’s never enough time in a day is the understatement of the year.

So what’s a girl to do?
Steal moments.  That’s what.

Rambo has 4 jobs.  He’s the definition of busy with a side order of sleep deprivation.  When he works 15 hour shifts for days in a row at the prison and then hops in the semi for another 15 hour day and then goes and helps a friend after that because he’s too damn nice to say no – we miss him – terribly.
So we steal from him and we don't even feel bad about it.  Like last night – after the girls finally came inside from playing and after we ate supper way too late and after we finally sat down way past the girl’s bedtime…I told them they had to go straight to bed in 5 minutes.  And then I saw both of them piled up in Rambo’s lap. 

Yah.  5 minutes my ass.  20 more minutes won’t kill anyone.  Stay where you are because I’m going to pretend that I can’t tell time.
Later it was my bed time and I knew Rambo had to stay up so he could sleep all day in preparation for the night shift so I stole another 10 minutes from him.  I said I was going to bed.  Kissed him goodnight and said, “Tuck me in?”

I went to bed and waited.  I knew he’d be in.  He crawled in beside me, wrapped me in a blanket and squeezed me tight.  For a good 10 minutes we just laid there and talked and laughed – and held on.  It might be all I have for about 3 or 4 days – but it’s enough.  It’s more than some have after all.
Stolen moments keep the world turning for me but you have to be open to them.  Like when my friend out of the blue texted me a simple, “I love you”…I knew it wasn’t simple or random.  I know that right now her heart is breaking and she needs me and she needs to say I love you to someone because right now – she needs to hear it back.  She needs to say “I love you” to someone in the middle of a Tuesday out of the blue without that someone asking why.  She needs to know she’s not alone…even when she feels like she is.  I can’t be with her physically – but we had a moment – and she’s holding on to that.

I can’t always be the Mom that I want to be but I can give moments to my kids that they aren’t expecting….like this week when I texted my teenager and simply said, “I luh you pookie butt.”   When she responded immediately I knew she’d keep that text forever and that I made her day.  5 words, less than 5 seconds.  A moment that lasts a lifetime.
When I put down the laptop Monday night so my 8 year old could wiggle into my lap and laugh with me about stealing my blanket – I gave her a moment.  When I whispered to her that it was bed time and she said back, “Awww – no Mama!”…I didn’t move.  I didn’t make her get up or insist she go to bed.  We both laid there until we fell asleep and I had to shake her awake.  In the morning when she hugged me and said, “I fell asleep on you last night, didn’t I?”….I knew – I had given her a moment.

Even at work this week – I gave someone a moment.  A guy I work with and respect walked past me and we greeted each other as normal except he was wearing an awesome purple dress shirt and tie and I loved it.  Without thinking I said, “Love your shirt.”  The look on his face was priceless.  He literally lit up.  I could tell I surprised him but he was ecstatic.  He just said, “Yah?  Thanks.”…and moved on with a smile plastered on his face.  I made his day….and it didn’t even take planning or money or time.  It just happened.
Every single one of these moments didn’t have to be what they were.  All of them could have overlooked or stopped or not given or received.  I could easily have not given a compliment or made my little girl get up and go to bed or not texted or gone to bed without asking to be tucked in. 

You have to look for, ask for and give moments – or life will swallow you up.  Moments exist all the time, everywhere for everyone.  And they’re important.  They are what makes sharing 7 jobs and kids and lives and families – worth it.  They remind you why you do what you do.
For me – they are the reason that peace exists in my soul when I close my eyes at night.  Because I have moments that become etched memories and they’re mine.  I’ll take them to my grave…and the rest of my life’s journey will stay behind.  Because the moments and memories are all that really matters.  The other stuff is just window dressing as they say.

How about you?  Have you stolen a moment lately?  Given one?  Received one you weren’t expecting?  Did you miss one that was right in front of you? 
Open your eyes…and your heart - because moments are there for the taking and memories are there for the making.  I promise you won’t regret it.