Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Laugh or else I'd Cry

My daughter can be a total bitch. I'm not even saying that for effect or shock value or anything. She just can be. Sugar and spice and everything nice? Not this little girl.

Memorial Day was a scorcher and Todd and I really wanted to stay home in the air conditioning and just sink onto the couch in front of a movie. Instead, we took our darling daughter to the park because we know how much she loves being outdoors. We spent a few hours on the swings, skipping rocks into the lake, kicking the soccer ball around, and helping a lost child find her mother. We topped the day off by giving her a Dora the Explorer ice cream bar from the ice cream man. I don't know why I expected Liv to be grateful. I guess it's that stubborn part of my parental brain that only wants to see good in my child, that is resistant to the idea that my little girl has the demonstrable capacity to be an asshole.

"It's time to go now," Todd told Liv as we were walking back to the car. She was finishing up her little treat and her face was all covered in sticky, congealed ice cream residue.

"NOOOOO!" And this she screamed at a decibel most likely heard by the Expedition 20 crew at the International Space Station. Or maybe they weren't even there yet. In any case, somebody in outerspace heard her monstrous, defiant wail.

"Sweetheart, we had a fun day but we have to go home now." This I said in the kindest, calmest voice I could muster at that moment.

"You ruined my day, mommy, stupid bitch." And suddenly all eyes are upon us. Every adult, teenager and child standing within earshot were just staring unabashedly at the lovely little domestic scene transpiring in front of them.

Here's the thing. There was nothing I could have done in that situation that would have been right. If I reacted sternly to my child for talking to me with such utter disrespect then I would have proved myself to be the mean mommy that Liv was accusing me of being. If I ignored her behavior, then I would be the mother who doesn't discipline her child. Truth be told, if I had ever said those words to my parents growing up I wouldn't be alive right now to tell the tale. Lord knows, I got beatings for a lot less than that. Or should I say "beatin's"? For some reason, when you add the "g" it sounds so much more severe.

So, you want to know how I did respond? I probably did the worse thing I could have done. I laughed. Because hearing Liv say, "You stupid bitch" in such a menacing way was one of the funniest things I had heard in a really long time. And sometimes you have to laugh, if only to keep from crying. Liv ended up throwing herself down onto the dirt and had herself a precious little temper tantrum. I think my laughter may have angered her even more. Todd had to carry her kicking and screaming to the car because she refused to come with "bad mommy" of her own accord. When he was carrying her she kept screaming at me to "go away" and not walk next to them. I think she even yelled something about not wanting to see my "stupid face". Of course, I talked to her later about it and explained why it's "not nice" to use bad words and how it's "disrespectful" to talk to mommy in that way. I'm pretty sure she rolled her eyes. She's three years old, people. Three. It's pretty safe to say I'm fucked. So what would you have done in that situation? I know you wouldn't have laughed. I never said I was good at this parenting shit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Can I be tried as a juvenile?

What is it about people cracking gum that makes we want to stab them? My boss' wife decided to grace me with her presence, for some reason, and there she sits fiddling with her email and cell phone all fucking cracking her stupid gum and humming. Did I mention that humming makes me murderous, too? One day, you are going to see me on the news or on Court TV after a bloody rampage. Everybody will wonder why, why?, did this girl commit such a heinous act? And I will only say, "People who crack gum and hum deserve to have their skulls crushed."

I know you are thinking I'm a terrible person. I am a terrible person. But I honestly want someone to put a bullet in my head right now and put me out of my misery from all this humming and cracking of gum. I am slowly losing the tiny will I had to live. My soul is withering to the sound of humming and cracking of gum. I feel like my senses are heightened and the noise is just pulsing right into the nerve centers of my brain. Maybe I have some kind of untapped superpower. Who the fuck knows.

And now the rage and hurricane of negative emotion has subsided. Because she is gone. Don't worry, I didn't kill her. It's like such a relieving feeling for the rage to leave my body. You know that feeling you get when you almost get in a car accident, but then you don't, and it's like your limbs feel all jello-like and tingly? Is that adrenaline? What is that chemically that makes a person feel that way? Anyway, I feel like that a lot in response to situations that aren't even technically life-threatening. It's as if my body is responding as though I were in a life-threatening situation and yet logically I acknowledge that I am not. I tried to explain this to my therapist yesterday, rather inelegantly. Lately, words weigh a ton, like thick bars of lead. They just don't come easy, whether spoken or written. Everything is a challenge. That's my excuse for this shit post.

I finally express to this shrink another odd thing that I am feeling, which is that there is some strange connection between my acceptance of my right to enjoy life, and my sister getting cancer. I know it's technically a coincidence that as soon as I stopped starving myself and torturing myself mercilessly, my sister got sick. But I have this sinking feeling that there is a connection. Or on a broader scale, that my level of happiness is inversely related somehow to the suffering of others. Maybe, "inversely" is the wrong word. It's been a while since I studied that statistical shit. Anyway, I feel like the more happy I am, the more others have to suffer because of it. Like there is payment to be made for it in some way. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So he gets that puzzled look on his face or more accurately a look of concern which conveys: "This bitch is crazier than I thought."

I tried to explain, "I know that logically this can not be true. I'm not a stupid person. But I feel like it's true. I haven't been able to make the frightened feelings and the panic go away when I feel joy for any amount of logical thought."

And then he fucking says, sort of haltingly, "I have to tell you that a lot of your thought processes are very child-like."

When I take affront to that - because it's not my thoughts so much as my fucking feelings that are the problem - he says, "Well that's not necessarily a bad thing."

It's not? I'm almost 34 years old. What part of thinking like a child is not a bad thing? Anyway, he concludes thusly, "I'm not trained in psychoanalysis, but if I had to guess I would say that at some point in your early development something happened that got you stuck there." Fuck you, faux Freud. I don't really think it takes years of clinical training to figure out that my problems are rooted in childhood.

Part of me wants to go in next week and tell him I've been having sexual fantasies about him. Just to make him squirm. Let me clarify, I'm definitely not having sexual fantasies about him. He's a high school English teacher or something. He's not unattractive or anything. Just his demeanor is so...god, I wish I had the words to describe it. But they're too heavy to lift out of my bruised psyche at the moment. But it would be kind of interesting to see how he reacted to that sordid information. See? I'm not child-like. At all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Five People You Fuck In Heaven

By all popular accounts, heaven sounds like a snoozefest. Pure, celibate angels and fluffy white clouds? Come on people, we can do better than that! I'm not a true believer in an "afterlife". I want to believe it, since Amy is dead, and especially lately since I've started plotting my own murder. I'm trying to convince myself that heaven is, first of all, a real place and, second of all, a lot more ridiculously fun place than has ever been imagined. Maybe it's one big party where we're all sexy ghosts, getting drunk on the best beer and liquor God's omnipotence can buy and high on the purest, most mind blowing drugs. And also an orgy. I thought I'd make a list of the people I am going to fuck when I enter the proverbial pearly gates.

1. Kurt Cobain - I hope in heaven he keeps his angst, because truth be told it was the sexiest thing about him. I loved his greasy, devil may care hair, his frumpy flannels, the way he wore his heart on his sleeve. He was an amazing artist who spoke to my desperate teenage soul. He made me feel less alone in the world in 1993, like it was normal to be writing shitty poetry and cutting myself and in a salty mood all the time. I'd really like to pay him back with at least a blow job for that.

2. James Dean - If you've ever seen East of Eden or Rebel Without a Cause then you know what I'm talking about. I'd want to role play. He would be Cal Trask and I'd be that cute girl who used to date his brother. Hot.
3. River Phoenix - I had the biggest crush on him since Stand by Me. I know he was really young then, but it's okay because so was I.

4. Anais Nin - I don't know. I might be bi. How does one know for sure? Anais was the first woman I ever fantasized about and could you really blame me? Her erotica is just stellar and dirty and everything erotica should be. I'd love to smoke some opium and let her teach me in the ways of Sapphic love. (Have you read Delta of Venus? It was the book I hid under my pillow and held countless fodder for many a masturbatory fantasy. Also, Henry and June. Was that a true story? Henry Miller could get it, too.)

5. Jesus - I know he hates me and all but that just makes the prospect of sex with him even hotter. I grew up on Jesus; I knew Jesus better than I knew myself. I'm not talking about the weak, skinny, bleeding Christ on a cross so regularly seen in Christian literature and the like. I'm talking about Jesus, the fucking man. I think my unabashed desire has a lot to do with the fact that I like beards. And also because this is the type of Jesus I was exposed to in my formative years:

Pretty hot, right? Angry Jesus. Mmmm. I found this picture in my old My Book of Bible Stories, which is what I was forced to study as a child. Here's just a few of the reasons why I'd fuck his Messianic brains out:

He's good with kids:

He can fly.

Jesus has got some game:

He can heal you of your every ill with his mad skills. Plus he makes wine out of water.

He isn't afraid of a little man on man love:

He throws a mean dinner party:
I'm a little touched in the head right now. Maybe always. I realize that I'm probably going to Hell now when I die. I mean, if there is one. That sucks but it's still better than here.
So, who are the five people you'd fuck in heaven?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


After Afterbath (of course):

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bumper Stickers Make Me Very, Very Angry

This car in front of me had a bumper sticker on it that read: I'll keep my guns, liberty, and money, you can keep the change. I have only one response to that: Burn in Hell. Seriously, why are people always trying to "educate" me with their damn cars? Leave me alone. I'm just trying to get to work. I don't want to contemplate deep political shit this early in the morning. You know what else I don't want? To get to know you. I don't care where you go on vacation, I don't care where you went to college. I care even less about where your kids go to college. I don't want to know that you think I shouldn't have full control over my own body (pro-lifers) or that Jesus Loves Me. Guess what? Jesus hates me. He really, really does. And your saying that he loves me just twists the knife that much more, it is just rubbing salt into my gaping emotional wounds. Also? It's really sad that your kid has autism and all and that you're a cancer survivor and that you listen to Dave Mathews Band. But I have my own fucking problems. I don't want to hear about yours when I'm driving in my car. That's what therapists are for. I'm not your therapist. I'm not your friend. I have enough friends already. So in a nutshell, stop trying to advocate, educate, pontificate, and all the other 'cates from the bumper of your fucking car.

God, what the fuck is wrong with me? I know I'm over-reacting to that image that I saw with my eyes this morning. But I'm just overwhelmed with emotion as it is. And bumper stickers right now are just the tipping point, you know?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lose Yourself

So, obviously I'm struggling with depression right now. This information is like the opposite of a surprise or secret. There are some good things about being depressed that I don't think a lot of people realize. For one, I'm so anti-social and isolated and fucking lazy that I have lots of time to sit around and read shit on the internet and watch TV. Another thing that's great about being depressed is my lack of appetite. It's a beautiful thing, really, to put your jeans on and realize you need a belt to hold them up. I mean they are my big jeans, but still it's a nice little bonus. I'm going to guess - 5 pounds. Maybe. I realize it feels a little too good, and possibly the reason for my little upsurge in mood the past day or two. It's the teaser. It's like my subconscious (or not so subconscious) mind is saying, "Get super skinny again. And your depression will disappear." And it would, too.

It would be so easy to resort to my old coping patterns. Maladaptive as they were, they fucking worked. Anorexia is a strange little miracle worker that way. Also, a seductor. I punched him in his stupid mouth this morning by ordering a donut with my coffee. And I ate it, too. So, yeah, He's a little pissed at me for spurning him. But I don't give a shit. I mean that asshole tried to fucking kill me and now what? I'm supposed to take him back with all his dysfunctional mind games?

I hate that I don't hate it, though - the idea of going back to the abuser in my brain. I am baffled by the fact that I've kept my double zero jeans in my closet, my child size clothes. Sometimes I take them out and marvel at how small I used to be. I miss the way it felt to take up so little space in the world. Every time I hear talk of my "carbon footprint" or how we are all destroying the earth with our greed and consumption, I have the overwhelming urge to STOP consuming immediately. I get the impression that what they are really saying is that my very existence is impeding the survival of our planet, or something. Everywhere I turn, on my TV, in magazines, in conversations, there is just one big guilt trip after another.

It's difficult to find that balance and make sense of all the mixed messages coming from without and within. Everybody's always trying to lose more of themselves, like there's some magic in it. As if being smaller or fitting some mold equates to more happiness somehow. People love it when you lose weight. It's like suddenly you are this big star with a special secret. "You look great! How did you do it?" I see people on diets everywhere - people that don't even appear to have a weight problem. That has to mean something, right? There has to be some value in dieting for everyone to take to it in a religious fervor. But a diet is like a drug for me and I know that it is a dangerous endeavor for me to take on right now. Or maybe that's just the way I justify being and staying a glutton. Who can tell? I'm so confused. Maybe a fast would be a good thing for me right now. Restart my brain, purge myself of toxins. I'm kind of exhausted from trying to crawl out of my skin.

Oh, anorexia, you sneaky little bastard. Well played, my old friend, well played.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Magical Thinking

I saw a mother goose and her three goslings trying to cross the Turnpike this morning on my way to work. Now I will worry about them all day. I've adopted all their woes in my mind. It will be my fault if one of them or all of them is squished by a passing truck because I failed to shepherd them to safety. I know that seems a small thing in the scheme of things, such a tiny dot on the landscape of life's horizon. But still I heap it on me, all of it, one event after another until I am suffocating beneath a mountain of guilt.

I read recently over on Jung at Heart, that perhaps some of us would rather be bad than weak. That some us would rather create a fiction in our own minds that we have some kind of omnipotence over all things, over the actions of other people. In this way, we can carry the delusion of power around with us and we don't have to admit that, in actuality, we are helpless. It is so much easier to point a finger at myself or others than to admit that there was nothing that could have been done. I see it everyday, not just in myself but in the world at large. This principle reenacted over and over and over again. When some catastrophe occurs the first thing I see is people trying to figure out why. Piecing all the facts of the case together, hoping the puzzle presents a clear picture of the reasons, what went wrong, who messed up, how can we stop it from happening again.

Somebody always has to pay. And maybe that's justice, I don't know. Of course, people mess up and need to own up to what they've done. But there are times when that shit just happened and it's nobody's fault. The world is fraught with dangers. We are never safe. As I write that, I feel the panic swell up inside me, in my chest. I need to breathe slow and deep. It's hard to admit that all our solid institutions are founded on chaos. It's hard to acknowledge that random events in a tempestuous universe brought us all here, to this place together. When I think too much about that, I start to feel an unreality, a disconnect with solid ground. Sanity, insanity. Order, chaos. Mind, body. Everything starts to blur together in a massive whirl. Who are we to say what's real for somebody else? Who are we to define someone else's reality for them?

Holding on to the guilt, the illusion of control over that which is inherently uncontrollable is easier than accepting that I am a seedling on the wind, that I am a seashell tossed about in an unfathomable ocean of things I can never understand. It's easier to be bad. It's easier to think I killed those geese, strangled their scrawny necks with my bare hands than to think I couldn't stop them from dying no matter what I did. I mean, even if if I pulled over my car, got out, pulled them to safety on the other side, something else will eventually kill them. Later today, tomorrow, next week. I can't stop it from happening no matter how hard I try. I'm tired, so very tired from carrying these countless burdens of guilt on my back like a pack animal, like a fucking beast of burden. But I need to learn another way of living, of negotiating the world, before I can release them. What terrible things will happen once I give up my super power? Will the world as I know it come crumbling down if I relinquished my unique ability to bear responsibility for every bad event that has happened or will happen?

I just realized that by posting these thoughts I have released them. I'm still alive. The world is still spinning quietly on its axis. Disaster has not ensued. The institutions around me are still standing as they always were. I am still able to assess reality with a sane mind. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Right before your very eyes. Does it ruin the magic a little to see how the trick works?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do Not Leave Me in This Abyss

A while ago, I was having too much red wine with an old friend. Drunk, we were or bordering on it. I love being intoxicated with a friend, just the two of us, alone. The buzz of alcohol dismantles the walls, opens everything up to the brutal truth. And also very juicy stories and secrets. There's nothing that intrigues me more than a weird sex story, an open window into private, primal moments.

"So we were doing it and all of a sudden he me right across the face."

"Ok...what?" This is so good. I can't believe how good this is. I'm giggling with the juicy goodness of this confession."Let me get this straight...he was fucking you all normally and out of nowhere he just hit you in the face?"

"Yeah, it was insane. And I sort of stopped moving, like what the fuck, you know? and he was all, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry' and I was like don't apologize just give me a minute to...process this...figure out if I like it or not."

"So did you? it, I mean?"

She hesitates just a moment. Then she gets this funny little smile on her face, leans closer and whispers conspiratorially, "Yeah, it was really hot."

What is about sex that brings out the best and the worst in some of us? The act of sex renders us so vulnerable, so utterly and completely exposed. Tenderness and violence nest on a razor's edge in those carnal moments. I remember all those Wild Kingdom-esque shows I watched in childhood, the viciousness of the mating ritual, two animals in turmoil. The female resisting and surrendering, in equal measure. The male insistent, sinking his sharp teeth into her soft fur, a yelp, insertion, and something is finally made alive. I thought maybe it was just that way with animals. Surely human beings had evolved. Surely, human sex was pure pleasure and tenderness and moonlight and soft as velvet. I didn't understand until much later that sex could hurt in the good way. That it could be sand paper and sharp tools and shades of black and grey. I didn't know until much, much later that I wanted it that way. To be the truth, even if it made me cry.

We don't know about the sex maps in our brains in the proverbial morning of our sexual awakening. We don't know there's a map then, let alone a route, a way to go to get to orgasm, to touch god, achieve the paramount of pleasure. We start the trip innocent of it all, so unaware of the true destination. I remember knowing what I should want, what I should like. Most girls of thirteen had crushes on the cute boys, popular boys. The types of boys I couldn't have, who wouldn't notice me if I was standing stark naked in front of them. But I was a weird girl. Instead of longing for the living, breathing boys, I hung the whole of my heart on boys that never even existed. Protagonists of novels, characters swollen with mystery and outlined in dark, hazy edges. Characters like Jean Valjean, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Cal Trask. The darker the heart, the behavior, the more strange the arc of his story or redemption, the more I obsessed over him, let him penetrate my vulnerable brain. I recall lazy afternoons, on my belly in bed, propped up on elbows, devouring Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff was my favorite darkling of them all.

Reading that book...well, it changed me. I learned that I wasn't the only person all hunched in dark corners, trapped in strange, unbecoming places. That's what drew me to those books, those characters. They stirred me up, tickled those places inside me, excited me in embarrassing ways. So I'd visit with Heathcliff, long and often. My Heathcliff, brooding, wicked, sullen and accursed with potent passions. I pictured his luminous black eyes piercing my pale skin, his strong hand taking mine to roam the moors, his intensity of feeling impaling my pliable mind. I envisioned him standing beneath my window, wet with rain, screaming "Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!" I wanted his brutality and his tenderness. I wanted his masked goodness to seep out despite himself; I dreamed the real Heathcliff would emerge from beneath the cruel exterior drawn out by his great love for me. But certainly not before he ravished my naked body in numerous torrid fashions.

Obviously, I did not learn about sex from classical literature. No, that job fell to seedy romance novels my girlfriend lent to me, with the dirtiest pages marked with a creased corner. The mechanics of sex I had known, early on, whispers on the playground, "he puts his thing in you", nervous conversations with my mom, "he puts his thing in you". Nobody ever explained how it would feel to want that, how it would feel to actually have it. Nobody ever told me about that ache, that bottomless ache, about that painful longing to be filled. Nobody warned me that I would begin to feel that emptiness, especially at night, especially when I had free moments to contemplate those luscious, intimidating characters I encountered so regularly in books. And then it happened that the desire boiled to a level and bubbled over, and finally my hand would take its slow travel under covers towards the emptiest place on earth, fueled by fresh and enigmatic longing. When it was over, I was still just a girl lost in that immeasurable abyss.

An orgasm together is so much better than an orgasm alone. Hand to hand, mouth to mouth, pelvis to pelvis. Tender at times, rough at others. I'm not going to say if it's right or wrong, but sometimes dark things happen between lovers. A growl, a bite, a slap. Just animals navigating their personal twisty map. I'm going to venture to say that all of us are fucked up in our own beautiful ways. Flawed creatures trying to get off, trying to fill aching voids in our hearts and bodies. And when we are there experiencing that collision of power and surrender, sometimes we can't hide those nasty, primitive parts of ourselves. To this day, I must have sex with the lights turned off. It is the only way I feel safe in that intimate embrace: shadows and squeezed eyes. I take any form in the dark. Drive him mad. But in that abyss, he can always find me.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am the gracious receiver of many gifts. Anytime I receive an email, a comment on my blog, a phone call, a visit, I accept it as a precious gift of time and effort. Beautiful gifts from beautiful people giving me hope that there's something in me that matters, possibly something worth saving. I'm trying to focus on those wonderful little things in life, small kindnesses, a smile from a stranger, my daughter insisting that My Little Pony is the Boss of Monsters (wouldn't it be awesome if she was right?). I know I've been blessed with amazing friends, both in the real world and on-line. I've been blessed with a loving and sexy husband, a gorgeous and interesting little girl, a family that knows how to laugh when it hurts. So many gifts, so many blessings. The trick is getting that message through to my heart so that I can open it to joy again, so that I can allow myself to experience the sensation of being happy.

A few months ago, I met a woman on Facebook, Shelby, who was about to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy, the same as a I did just a year ago. We began an email correspondence and soon discovered that we had a lot more in common than our BRCA2 mutation. I feel so blessed to have "met" her for she is a brave woman with a glorious soul. Shelby is also a generous and thoughtful person who reaches out to me during my darkest moments despite her own pain.

A couple of months ago she sent me this necklace in the mail. She said that it reminded her of me, the way you can find something beautiful inside of twisted things. I wrote her today, "I am wearing the necklace you bought me. I'm thinking about that beautiful stone in the midst of all that twistedness. That's what I'm seeking - the good stuff amid all of this horror." Thank you for the beautiful gifts, Shelby, the necklace, the friendship, the life rafts, the right words at the right time, and most of all for being you.

You want to know what else I like? That there are so many people who know me so well, not just well, but to my very disturbing core. There are people who have seen that I am capable of destroying, of raging, of hating and yet they love me anyway. It is a comfort to know that. My favorite aunt gave me an awesome gift a few months ago. And really, she couldn't have selected a more perfect object. This sign, I hang proudly in my messy kitchen:

You know you want one. Admit it. Thanks, Renee, for putting up with my bullshit and loving me anyway.

I did that 25 things about me meme about 5 months ago and in it I wrote about my nostalgic love for the scent of Playdough. I love the smell of it, the way it can bring me back to some creative moments in my childhood. Not long after I posted that blog, I was driving home from work and that Sade song came on the radio - By Your Side. God, it reminded me so much of Amy. I lost my mind. It hurt so bad to hear it and I cried the loneliest tears. I actually said out loud to myself, "You are so alone." But when I got out of my car and went to my front door, I found a thoughtful gift from my friend, Sharon:

It wasn't just the perfume that made me smile. It was the thought of a friend reading my blog and acting on some little detail, some tiny part of myself that I had shared. I love you, Sharon, for that and for all your amazing ways of being in the world.

On Mother's Day, my husband gave me the best gift of all:

An empty photo album is a promise of so many tomorrows. It's his way of saying, "I love you. Let's make happy memories together."

I have so many reasons to be grateful. I have been given so much undeserved kindness and love from so many people. I only hope that I can survive this god-awful depression, find my way out, emerge from the abyss a shiny, new person better at loving and giving to others. I only hope I can pay everyone back 10-fold for the things they've given me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Twig for Tears

Yesterday, Liv and I spent a good hour playing in the field behind our home. It was nice to be outside for a little while since I've been hibernating and hiding from the world as of late. Watching my daughter play outdoors is quite a nostalgic experience. Liv just loves playing with natural things as did I when I was little. Little Gwen, maker of a mean mud pie, keeper of caterpillars, huntress of bees. My sister and I would pull onion grass from the ground, roots and all, to make some homemade "soup" for our "restaurant". We had blackberries that grew wild by the back fence. And, of course, the honeysuckle. I'd pull the thin strand of a hundred flowers for that tiny drop of nectar on the end of each one. There was just so much to discover in our small yard, so much opportunity for pretending. And that outside place became a refuge from the storms raging in the inside place.

Sometimes I'd sit on one of our swings, holding tight to the chains and dragging my feet in the dirt, praying for the screams to stop. Praying that God would forgive me for the fight I surely must have caused. Praying that no one could hear the violence in my home, the sound of anger echoing throughout the neighborhood like a mad locust's love song. It was all I could do: Pray and wait. Pray for forgiveness. Wait for the quiet and a chance to make it right. My father would have left by then, bewildered by the conflict. I'd hear his car pull out of the driveway and I'd make my move. Creep up the stairs clutching a bouquet of wildflowers, following the sounds of sobbing. And then, the tender, tentative whisper, "Mom? I picked you these flowers." Crying. "Are you alright?" Crying. Crawling beside her shaking, wailing body. "Every thing's alright, mommy. You're going to be alright." Tandem crying. Tears in her eyes and in mine.

I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I thought the problems of grown-ups were simple, something easily fixed with an apology and a bouquet of wildflowers. I honestly believed I could fix it if I only tried hard enough, behaved well enough, said the right words, was the right kind of child. I wanted so badly to heal the wounds, stop the hurt once and for all. I carried it around in my heart, heavy as the boulder embedded in the ground in our backyard. My mom didn't ask me to. I raised my hand for the assignment. I swallowed the heaviness whole, buckled under its weight all those years. It's no body's fault. It is what it is.

Yesterday afternoon I watched my daughter digging into the earth with her bare hands, a pile of collected rocks at her side. I thought in that moment that she was oblivious to everything but her seeking, her private mission. Until:

"Mom, why are you crying?" Shit. These days the tears come unbidden and unwelcome in the oddest moments. They well up and there I sit, leaky as a faucet.

"Don't worry about me, sweetie" I said, trying to collect myself, "Mommy's just a little bit sad."

"Why? Why are you sad?"

"Because I'm silly." I got up and chased her with my tickling hands. I grabbed her at the waist and we fell in tandem, laughing. My eyes were still wet with tears, but I willed myself to stop making them. Not here, not now. I laid on my back while Liv went back to her play.
A few minutes later, in the midst of the very heavy work of not crying, Liv ran back to me excited.

"Look what I found, Mom!" She was holding a small, curved twig in her hand.
"Wow! What is that?" I said, over-enthusiastically.

"It's a smile. A smile for you." And she took her little smile-shaped twig and pressed it against my mouth, willing me with all her precious heart to be happy.

"Now you won't be sad no more. Now you are happy!" My sweet Liv stood in front of me with a belly full of pain. My pain. She has swallowed that heaviness and it breaks my heart.

It is the hardest thing in the world to pretend that I am whole for my child when I am all fragments and loose parts. I ask myself the question over and over, "Is it better to have a crazy mother or no mother at all?" The jury's still out on that one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Middle Age Suicide, Don't Do It

"I mean, you haven't been thinking about, like, suicide or anything have you?" Todd asks as we talk about my depression and it takes me by surprise, his sudden insight into my psyche. His swift entrance into the dark place. Do I let him go there? Do I take him with me into that weird little world? Will he turn away in fear or disgust in the face of all that I really am?

There I envision myself laying in a field of wildflowers on a warm day, feeling the sun hot on my face for the last time. The blue sky hovers above me like a coffin lid. Birds chirp - a funeral hymn. It is all lovely the way a dying should be. I have a baggie full of blue pills in my left hand. It is hot with sweat because I have held it so tightly in my fist. They are sweet little harbingers of death, my escape. They are the jump over the wall. They are the tunnel away from feeling, terrible feeling. I take a pill out of the baggie. It is a pretty thing. Baby blue just like my last sky. Nothing is sacred anymore. And yet everything is.

Right before you die, I imagine the world suddenly looks changed, like an old friend you hadn't seen in years. You meet up, have a nostalgic moment. You remember when it mattered and it's glorious and you somehow make it so much better in your mind than it ever really was in actuality. Then the moment arrives when you have to admit that there is nothing left to be said. Your coffee is cold. Your mood is sour. There is nothing left to be done. That is the way it is when you die. Goodbye. The pills are hot. They bleed their blue on my fingers as I touch them. One by one. Not too slow. Not too fast. I find my rhythm. And then, sweetly, I die. It's like fading and twilight and in-between. Hazy brain. First you are laying in a field of wildflowers and then you are a field of wildflowers. That is my death. And it is forever. How do you like it?

"Ok...I've had some thoughts about killing myself lately. But, seriously, I'm not suicidal. There's a huge difference."

"Jesus, Gwen, if you're thinking about killing yourself then you are suicidal. Maybe you need to...go somewhere for a while. Like a loony bin or something."

"Jesus Christ, Todd, stop. Just stop..." I'm laughing at the discomfort of it all.

"What? Honestly, only seriously disturbed people think about that shit....people fucked in the head."

"Well then I'm fucked in the head. Your wife is fucking fucked in the fucking head."

I want him to punch me in the face. Or spit and curse at me. I want him to look at me with disgust and then turn away and hate me forever for saying the bad thing that nobody wants to ever hear. Because that's what it is: The Bad Thing. It is dark and it's all I know right now. It is all I can think about. I am, like, fucking obsessed with these scenarios. I can't help it. There is a loop in my brain. The end of me.

And it's selfish. God, it's fucking selfish. I am a despicable person to harbor these ideas, these morbid fantasies. I deserve to have the shit kicked out of me. I deserve to be called vicious names. I deserve to be laughed at until I cry. I deserve to be locked in a room and starved until my stomach bloats and my lips crack and my heart gives out. I deserve to have some sense shaken into me. I deserve to be told a monstrous lie. I deserve to be destitute and alone. I deserve any nastiness Todd is capable of sending my way. I expect it. I set up the blows and eagerly wait for them to fall.

But then something else happens.

"Please don't do that. I love you. Please don't ever do that." And he hugs me very tight. "I'm here for you no matter what. If you're sick, we'll deal with it. We'll make you better."

I know I don't deserve that love. I've done nothing to earn it. I've attempted to destroy it with my twisted thoughts and my raw, unravelling emotions. And yet...I have it. Unconditional, undeniable. Why can't I just be happy? Why can't I just be grateful for the beautiful life I've been handed, this beautiful man, this precious child? Something is awry in my cognition. Something is broken in here.

As we sit down to watch TV together, Todd jokes about his crazy wife. We laugh about the prospect of committing me. It is funny, too, when you really stop to think about it. All we've been through already. This is just a "drop of water in an endless sea."

I need to work out my thoughts on death. I think my obsession may have a lot to do with my fear of it, perhaps a deep-seated wish to control it. I want death to be my bitch, not my master. And what's weird is that this is exactly what I did with food years ago. I was so afraid of it, this innocent substance. I was so fearful of its mystical powers, its hidden agendas, how it could hurt me in a thousand ways. The only way I could quell my fears was to control the food, to become its master. And then it happened that the food started to control me, and I coudn't get out from under its terrible yoke. I hate food. I hate death. I hate me.

But somebody doesn't hate me. He is sleeping peacefully. I love to listen to his soft breathing in the long sleepless nights. I don't deserve an ounce of his love. But I have it anyway. I'm going to enjoy the moment. Fold into it the way I used to do back when I wasn't made wrong from top to bottom, when I wasn't all twisted up inside.

God, let me have it. Please let me have it.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.

The Song of Solomon 2:5

I can't think of a more perfect object than an apple. They are beautiful orbs full of life-giving nutrients; Satisfyingly heavy purveyors of gravity; Aesthetically lovely in all forms in their various shades of monochromatic greens and reds; Blushed reds fading to greens; Deep reds mottled with green freckles. Shiny, clean, perfect globes. My mouth remembers the lucious sweetness of a Red Delicious, the powerful tartness of a Granny Smith, the candied goodness of a Honey Crisp. But of them all, my palate prefers the McIntosh. Eating a McIntosh apple is a flawless experience. I love the sound it makes when my teeth pierce its rough skin. A crisp sound. Like thunder condensed to fit in the palm of my hand. The crush, the violence of peel in teeth, the bittersweet flavor of apple meats tumbling against the tongue.

"You know, your grandfather loved McIntosh apples, too." My mom tells me this one day as I devour one.

"He did?"

"Oh yeah. In fact, when he died, they found apple cores lying all around his body. I guess he had a McIntosh apple feast before he passed away."

My mother's father. My grandfather. He was simply terrifying in his mystery. When I was a little girl there was nothing more foreign and intimidating to me than an older man, particularly my grandfather who I swear was a thousand feet tall. The tributaries of hard years were etched into his face and his skin was saturated with the scent of tobacco. I recall the mutual reluctance of our infrequent hugs. "Go give grandpa a hug, Gwen." He didn't want to and neither did I. It was a strange, scary embrace and I can still feel the way his rough, dark face would scratch mine. Sometimes, instead of giving me a hug he would press a wrapped candy into my little hand with his large one, a consolation prize.

Every summer, we would visit him at his upstate Pennsylvania mountain retreat. He lived in a small, beat up trailer in the center of 20 acres of untouched land. Like his land, he was reserved and quiet, mostly. When he did speak, his voice was deep and raspy, made raw from decades of cigarette smoking. It made me jump. I don't remember anything he ever said to me. I just remember the sound of what he said to me. I would look down at my shoes in embarrassment. There I stood and did the thing I always did the best. Close my eyes and wait for it to be over. I couldn't wait to get away, run outside of that claustrophobic space and go exploring his vast property, swimming in the crick, collecting crayfish and salamanders, and hiking in the thick woods.

He died when I was 10 years old. My dad came and picked Amy, LJ and me up from school in the middle of the day. It was a Thursday. He waited to tell us what was wrong until we got home.
"'s the thing...umm...your grandpa died today." Dad said this tentatively, I think maybe because he was unsure of what we knew of death. I think he was worried about what else he might have to say or explain.

I knew he had been sick. Emphysema. I thought it was his fault. But nobody is supposed to die when you're ten. I started sobbing. It was the weirdest thing because I wasn't even sad. I wasn't sad even a little bit about grandpa dying. One second, I was perfectly normal and the next, I was falling into a puddle of tears. I remember how everybody just looked at me surprised at the severity of my reaction. It was grandpa. He was scary and he died and it was his fault, but I cried for a long time. Somebody held me, I think.

Many years later, I talked to my mom about grandpa. What is weird is that I never thought of him as her father, as her daddy, as the man who raised her until she began to tell the stories, until her brutal stories about their relationship started to unravel.

My mom grew up in the Appletree section of the suburban sprawl known as Levittown. Her dad was a war veteran like so many other 1960s dads. Maybe the war is what made him the way that he was: Stoic, unaffectionate, authoritarian. He supported his wife and five children. Made a home for them, provided the material things they needed to survive. I see pictures of the family at Christmas. A normal family surrounded by presents, an evergreen tree full of ornaments. A picture of my mom in her Easter dress with a little smile on her face. Grandpa with a girl on each knee. The proud, protective daddy. I hear stories of grandpa chasing my dad down the street with a shotgun in his hand and bullets out the mouth, "Stay away from my little girl if you know what's good for you!" He was a man full of sweet and sour. Shades of dark red fading to light green. A man full of lightness and darkness. He was just a man. But what a simple man does can hurt for a whole lifetime. It can haunt the mind of a woman and make it painful to live.

It is dark. I wake up to a warm, wet sensation underneath my body. Not again. Not this again. "Daddy, I wet the bed. I'm so sorry." I hear the water filling the bathtub. I hear his deep voice, rumbling. It is angry sounds but I am looking down at my feet, embarrassed. I am naked as I am thrown roughly into the freezing water. Not again. Not this again. I am shivering, crying, and ashamed. Daddy is angry. I am a dirty girl. I am a bad girl.


Sent to bed without supper again. I don't even know what I did wrong. I sulk in my room with an empty belly. My stomach grumbles loudly. My mom takes pity on me. She sneaks me a couple of apples from the tree in our backyard. "Here take these. Don't let your father catch you with those or he'll be angry with the both of us!" I am grateful as I taste the bittersweetness of the apple meats on my tongue. I fall asleep with hunger still, but with the juice of apples on my lips.


The family has gathered for dinner. Dad says, "How do you like it?" I say, "Oh, it's good." And then he laughs wickedly and says "Well, it's Hopper." I feel my stomach lurch. I run into the bathroom and vomit out my pet bunny. I can still hear Dad laughing in the kitchen as if he just told the greatest joke.

I think about grandpa's corpse sometimes. I have this image of him, laid out with only his creased face visible beneath a heap of apple cores and cigarette butts. A morbid blanket of the things he loved. A polarity of that which nurtures and that which destroys.

Grandpa loved McIntosh apples. And so do I. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. What else that was in him is also in me? How much of what is good in him did I inherit? How much of what is cruel? I know I have darkness in my veins, something twisted and uncomfortable pulsing through me at intervals. It feels inescapable like destiny, like roots implanted firmly in the soil. Some days, I wish I could pluck myself off of a tree like an apple. Take a bite. Swirl the taste of my own soul like apple meats on the taste buds of my tongue. Know once and for all, whether I am sweet. Or sour.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pain, Pain Go Away

I'm sorry for yanking this post earlier. Yes, it was a self-censure. I question the value of this post. While it is my accurate experience, it is definitely representative of what my reviewer deemed as me exorcising my pain. This type of blog post feels indulgent and therefore of little value. I get afraid of offending my readers and alienating them. But fuck it. I'll repost. I guess I need to have a little more faith that the readers of my blog can withstand these emotional temper tantrums

Ye Be Warned: This is Dark. And it's a total regression for me in "blog quality". Too long, unedited, self-indulgent, wah-wah-wah. And if you are not at all interested in my psychological assessment experience, that makes two of us. But I kind of have to get this shit off my chest or it will eat me alive. If you prefer to read something more lighthearted and possible funny, check this oldie out.

"There you are my sweet, sweet painkiller. Oh, how I've missed you...What's that? I just saw you this morning? Yeah, this is kind of hard to say...but...ummm...I'm kind of in love with you."

Fucking migraine headaches. I feel one coming on and I'm devastated. This is why I should never, ever cry. Every time I allow myself the luxury of what I like to call the "sobbing cries" I end up curled in a fetal position begging for somebody to shoot me in the head. No, really. I've actually asked for that. And if you ever had a migraine you are nodding your head right now saying, "I totally get that." Because migraines are much, much worse than death by bullet. I don't know anybody who owns a gun, though. So no one has ever granted my request. Lucky me.

I'm never going to cry again for the rest of my life. It's just not worth the hours of nauseating pain that inevitably follow. So what terrible event prompted my sobbing cries? If you don't want to hear the answer to that then go look at those pictures of what Pos describes as very disturbing kitty cats. Otherwise here is another excerpt from the chapter known as "Gwen's incessant bullshit".

I'll have to start you where I left off the other day which was on the threshold of some major psychological intervention. I couldn't even tell you the color of Dr. O's couch. I can only tell you that he did, indeed, have one. Dr. O himself is a pretty non-descript fellow. Mid-50's, average height, average build. The first 5 minutes of our session he told me that he was married, that he had a 15 year old son, where he lived, where he grew up, where he went to school, what degrees he had earned, what jobs he has had. I mean he told me even more stuff about himself but I was too stunned to even process it all. I have never had a therapist just give me that kind of information unprompted before. It was just bizarre and yet...I liked it. I liked peering behind what is typically this inpenetrable wall, that hard stone wall the therapist puts up lest you discover that he is, in fact, also a human. So, score one for Dr. O.

The session consisted of him asking me a bunch of uncomfortable questions, which I fully expected to be asked, and me answering them the best I possibly could, and mostly as honest as I could. I couldn't really lay all the crazy out on the table all at once. You have to work up to that. So, yeah, I told a few white lies. Sue me. I was honest about the really important stuff, the extreme vagaries of mood, tendency towards social withdrawal, and most importantly I confessed to the suicidal ideation. And, of course, as soon as you start talking about bridge jumping and shit you can just see the panic swell up in the therapist. It makes me feel bad because, really, handing a person your suicidal thoughts is equivalent to handing him a squirming handful of maggots. The doctor then started with the requisite, "Do you have plan?" Schtick.

Now, if I did have a plan (I do not) and really wanted to carry it out, I sure as fuck wouldn't tell a person who could stop me from doing so. Why in the name of all that's holy would I do that? I tried to explain to him that I am a very rational person, generally, who has been having disturbing thoughts come unbidden and unwelcome into my mind. That I am a person who has been plagued by intense emotional pain and bizarre thoughts my entire life, but recently it has all gotten progressively worse. I am to the point of breaking. "Things fall apart. The center will not hold."

He was freaked the fuck out by me, I could tell. When I jokingly said, "So, am I officially crazy?" He laughed nervously and then after a pause, a long drawn-out "Nooooo". He said, "But I am going to need you to see a psychiatrist for a consult."

"I'm not going to be taking any psychiatric medication. So, I don't really see the point of that."

"Well, given of your problems...I would just...uh...umm...feel better to have a second pair of clinical eyes evaluate you. It won't hurt to get a second opinion."

This is humiliating to me. This request. But I tried to follow through on it, after arguing with my insurance company for an in-network list, which took several phone calls. The first couple of people I talked to told me that there weren't any in-network psychiatrists in my area. I had to call back several times before I got someone who I could coax out of her idiocy. After much annoyance, I had the list in hand. I called about 15 people on the list. And every one I called was either not taking new patients or couldn't see me for several months. One bitch sighed loudly when I told her the insurance I had (Blue Cross/Blue Shield). When I asked her what the problem was she said, "Well, we've been having problems with them paying. But that's not your fault." Of course, after she said that I started to feel like it was my fault, like I was this big fucking problem. I am big fucking hassle to everybody. Why would anybody want to help me? Of course, no one wants to help me. I'm just annoying everyone. Who the fuck do I think I am? Somebody that actually matters? See. This is how I unravel from one little comment. "It doesn't take much to rip us in to pieces."

I can't do this. I'm more stressed out and hopeless than I was before I began this process. I feel like shit about myself. I feel this tremendous weight of guilt for even embarking on this pointless endeavor. Of course, nobody wants to fucking help me. They can hear it in my voice that I am a fucking black hole, a bottomless, vile pit of need.

Dr. O. called me a few minutes ago. "Umm, hi Gwen. I think I gave you the wrong time for our appointment Monday. I can't see you at 2:45 after all. Could you come at 2:15 instead?"

This is the part where I realize that I am a piece of shit, worthless human being that is just inconveniencing everybody's fucking lives.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Couch

I have about 4 hours to go until I'm on the couch. I know it's probably going to be a normal couch, most likely beige, with a few pillows thrown about in non-garish colors. I would really prefer an old-fashioned pyscho-analyst couch. They're crisp and clean looking. Not soft, but comfortable. I'd like to lay down on one of those and close my eyes. I would not have to face this other human being while I humiliated myself. I wouldn't have to look in the eyes of the person who is privy to my rapidly unraveling psyche, my irrational opinions, my pathetic dead or dying dreams.

Therapy is like confession, only there's no privacy screen. I want that privacy screen. This whole process would just be so much easier if I didn't have to look directly at the doctor's face while I said, "I'm fucked up."

I'm worried about this encounter. I'm afraid that he will say, "You are beyond help or redemption. There is nothing to be done." I am worried about a strategically placed box of tissues sitting on the coffee table and the baby tears that its existence invites. I am worried about my ability to form a coherent thought. I am worried about boring him with my rambling. Because that's what I do. I fucking ramble when I'm nervous. I behave weirdly and girlish. I apologize constantly for stupid shit. Dealing with me, on any level, is just exhausting. This poor fucking guy. He has no idea what he's in for.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Olivia, Electra

My Olivia has gone and got herself a nasty little Electra complex. On the way home from our anniversary celebration Thursday night, Liv piped up from the backseat and asked when it was her turn to have an anniversary.

"Well, you'll have an anniversary when you grow up and get married."

"When I grow up I'm going to marry my dad."

"Oh honey. Daddy is already my husband. You can't marry him because he's your daddy. You'll find a boy of your own to marry when you get big."

"NO! Daddy is my husband. Not yours. Daddy is my husband."

I don't even know how to respond to something like that. I know it's just a silly little whim on the part of my daughter. But it kind of freaks me out. I don't remember ever having these types of feelings about my father. I recall the first time I read about the Freudian/Jungian Oedipal theories and how I laughed dismissively. Penis envy? For real? Why in the hell would I want a piece of flesh dangling vulnerably between my legs? I like my tucked in, protected genitals just fine, thank you very much. I'm not so crazy about the aesthetic quality of the vagina, but the containment is just divine.

I don't claim to know more about the human psyche than Freud or any other great mind of human psychology. Obviously, based on my daughter's feelings and behavior, there is some truth to the theory that little girls have over-attachments to their fathers at some point in their early development. It's comforting to read that her feelings are completely normal and temporal.

"Liv, I have a feeling you might change your mind when you're grown."

"No, I won't."

Sigh. She's only 3 1/2. It won't be long before she's a teenager and hates her Dad and me with equal venom.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My 2 Cents

I'm about to tell you a little story and by the end of it I will have exposed myself to be a fucking cheap-skate. I don't care. I've had it with these fuckers.

Every morning I buy a cup of coffee and a bottled water at Dunkin' Donuts. It comes to $2.98. Well, I hand the cashier $3.00, the cashier takes my money and puts it in the drawer and then closes the drawer. I stand there for a second or two and the cashier looks at me blankly until I walk away. For a while, I didn't even know what it was that was holding me in the spot. I'd walk away feeling like a moron. And then it occurred to me. These fuckers have decided that they don't need to give me my change. Yes, I'm aware that it's only 2 pennies. I'm aware that my annoyance at being denied 2 pennies in change qualifies me as a penny-pincher, and puts me in the same league as my grandmother, who still feels excited when she finds a discarded penny on the sidewalk.

I don't even know if the issue is even about the pennies themselves for me. Although, if you think about it, two pennies stolen, 5 days a week is a dime per week. At 52 weeks a year, that's $5.20. So Dunkin' Donuts is basically stealing $5 a year from me. How many more people are they ripping off on a daily basis? It's the principle of the thing. If you want to charge me $3.00, then charge me $3.00. Don't tell me it's $2.98 if you're going to charge me $3.00. Fucking fuckers. Give me my god damn pennies. It's bad enough they leave a little tip jar out begging for extra money. Like why in the name of fuck should I pay them a tip for pouring my coffee? I pay for coffee and now I'm supposed to give a tip to the cashier for actually pouring it and giving it to me? I don't get it.

The other day I had had enough. The cashier said, "That'll be $2.98." I handed her $3.00. She took my three dollars, put it in the drawer and closed it. I stood there with my hand out. She stood there staring at me blankly. She looked at my hand, then she looked at my face. She was confused. A fellow worker sidled up next to her and said something in a language I don't understand. The cashier sort of chuckled and finally, after about a minute of utter confusion, took a couple of pennies out of the tip jar and handed them to me. And she laughed while she did it, with such disdain and mockery. As in "this woman actually wants her own fucking money! Oh the nerve". I felt like shit for wanting my 2 cents.

Whatever. Maybe I'm cheap. But I shouldn't be made to feel like an asshole when I ask for my own change. In fact, I shouldn't have to ask for my own change. They should automatically and without mockery give me the change that is fucking owed to me. That is all.