Feet First!

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I’m not sure exactly when it clicked for me. The past 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Not just the sitting in silence, pondering life part. I mean the making lists and digging REALLY deep into who I am and who I want to be. Maybe it was turning 44—a mid-life crisis sort of thing. Maybe it was having my dream job and still feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. Whatever started this ball rolling, I am glad it did. I have never felt more empowered, motivated, and aligned as I do right now, in this moment.

This uneasiness I was feeling, this sense of having  no purpose, no path—it literally brought me to my knees. And I’m being completely honest here. I spent much of April and May of this year in bed. In tears. In complete and utter hoplessness. If I had the job I always wanted, the love of my life by my side, two magnificent boys ensconced at top-notch colleges, my elderly parents still alive and living with me, all the material things I wanted, why the hell was I in complete and utter despair? What the hell was wrong with me?

Yes, I’ve lived with depression my entire life. I know its in’s and out’s. I know its lies and destruction. I know how it seeps into your blood and into your soul. I know how that bitch sneaks into your bed at night and steals every ounce of happiness you had, with no reason, no rhyme, no warning. This was beyond that. This was a completely new thing. This was me floating helpless with no idea where I was going. I was no longer just depressed; I was lost. I, the real me, was gone.

I’ve been changing my eating habits and fitness habits since the first of the year. I’ve blown up over the last 18 years. I mean, BLOWN UP. I was about 100 pounds overweight. And I think here is where the moment of clarity came to me. It was on a treadmill, when I thought I couldn’t go any further. I was about to push the “stop” button on my treadmill, when I looked at my time. I was on there for 40 minutes. At a high speed and incline. When I first started in February, I could barely do 10 minutes with no incline and at a low speed.

Wait a second? Did I really do that?  Did I really come this far in a few months?  And I did this on my own. Yes, with support, but ultimately I was in control. It was when I realized how strong I could be physically that I realized how strong I am emotionally and mentally. I have been through so much shit in my life—I mean seriously. And here I am. Still. No matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve gotten through. And there it was, the truth I needed. Everything I needed was inside ME. I didn’t need to look to a job, to my love, to my nice car—-what I needed to thrive was me.

Now, I feel free. Is everything perfect and happy? No. Is my depression suddenly gone? No. But, now I know that the power lies inside me to overcome anything life throws at me. I am scared to death. I’m flying without a lifeline. I’m starting my own business to coach others to find themselves, to harness their power, and to do so with writing. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself.

I’m jumping in feet first! And I’ve never felt so fearless in my life.

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Fluidity

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I went to the water to find peace–

somewhere in the waves,

where the sun fades and the noise becomes hollow.

 

I went to the water to find resilience–

like the aqua liquidity bending and shaping

to whatever it encounters.

 

I went to the water to find a sense of permanence–

like the lasting effect of years upon years of continuous movement,

that leaves its mark on all it touches.

 

I went to the water to find something, anything–

grasping for something concrete to hold onto

or finally letting go forever.

 

I went to the water to find comfort—

but in between the droplets, I found myself.

 

Walking Through Fire

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All my life, I’ve been an outsider. Maybe not on the surface, but I was an inside outsider. I never felt comfortable in my skin. I’ve always felt just a little off somehow. Even as a child of 4, I can remember feeling broken. It’s difficult to explain to someone who has never been there. I had what most would call a perfect childhood—2 loving, married parents. Upper middle class family in a nice neighborhood. My parents were always there, giving me all the love and support one girl could ever need. But, it never filled up what seemed like a black hole inside of me.

The first event I remember was when I was 4. We were on vacation at an amusement park and I wanted to ride a kiddie roller coaster ride for the 8th time. My parents just wanted to move on through the park, but I insisted. When I was given that final “no”, I snapped. I tore off my clothes. Right there. In front of everyone. It was the first real “meltdown” in what would become the normal of my life. I had no emotional regulations. I hated everyone one minute and desperately loved them the next. My emotions had more ups and downs than that stupid kiddie coaster. It was constant. It was exhausting. For 13 years, I plugged my way through school. I immersed myself in academics and books and hid my true self from others. To everyone around me, I was normal. Except I wasn’t and I knew it. I knew there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

Relationships with friends and boys were full of constant drama. I couldn’t keep friends. I had a few long-term boyfriends, but they were mostly clung to out of fear of being alone. I didn’t care about them, I just needed someone to help me. After high school, I was sexually assaulted in college. That was the absolute straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I went downhill from there. I stayed in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship(obsession, really) for far too long. I went crazy on drugs, alcohol, and sex when that ended. I was on a downward spiral with no escape. Till I saw one on my college adviser’s wall and hopped a plane for a study abroad in England.

It was just what I needed. I got myself together and in the process, got pregnant. My English boyfriend and I got married out of necessity and started a family. I thought having a baby might be the catalyst to bringing what was broken inside of me together, but it didn’t. Nothing did. Those years were full of screaming, crying, throwing of objects, etc. and that was me, not my two toddlers at home. My marriage stood no chance and neither did I. During our separation, I went to counseling for the first time in my life. I never even considered it before, as I was raised to be a strong woman and never ask for help. This is where I got my answer. Borderline Personality Disorder. This was 6 years ago, at age 37. I had walked around for 37 years thinking that I was just fundamentally broken.

As I read more on this disease, I finally understood myself. I understood I was not alone, but felt hopeless, since many of us cannot hold jobs, friendships, and marriages. I was destined to be alone. But, I was in for a surprise. The universe threw my high school freshman boyfriend into my orbit. I kept trying to convince him that I was too damaged to love. Too broken to put back together. But, he persisted. He read everything he could on my disease, bought books, joined online support forums. And in the process, he became the light on my darkness. My now husband walks through hell and back every week because of me and my BPD. I’ve learned through the years and DBT on how to try to control my emotions and quiet my meltdowns, but it’s always there bubbling under the surface.

I just need to thank him.

For taking care of me.

For loving me, no matter what.

For understanding me when no one else does.

For being the one that wipes the tears from my face.

For stepping away from me when he knows I need space.

For ducking when I throw things.

For putting his arms around me, even when I push him away.

For never giving up on me.

For seeing me as imperfect perfection.

For walking on eggshells and knowing my triggers.

For walking through fire and broken glass and never complaining.

For simply being my light through the broken cracks.

For pulling me back from the edge every day.

Stranger at my Door

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Even when life is looking up, I still have a difficult time looking on the bright side. I could list 50 things going right, but I dwell on the 10 that are going wrong. That’s just me. That’s just my nature. No matter how hard I try to change, it feels like on a cellular level, that’s just who I am–just part of my DNA. I’m just never ENOUGH for anyone or anything. For myself.

I’m starting to compile my poetry for publication in a book. I’m over the moon excited about it, but as usual, my old friends, doubt and depression rear their ugly heads and I can’t seem to find a way to be happy about it. I have a job i like, but it’s still difficult for me to get out of bed most mornings and do my work. I have to force my feet onto the floor and force myself to sit down at my computer and do my daily duties. I’m still happily married and my husband is the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life, besides my sons. But, I always feel like I’m not good enough for him. Like he deserves so much better than this borderline, roller coaster, hurricane of a person that I am.

Stranger at My Door

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Allison Cline-Saia

I wonder if I would recognize happiness if she showed up on my doorstep

Like an old friend in faded jeans and a t-shirt

Holding a plate of cookies and a bottle of wine.

I hear the doorbell ring and slowly move the curtain

Peering  through the glass pane

She’s standing there with a face almost familiar.

Like someone I may have known in another time, another place

An old acquaintance perhaps?

A faded memory runs across my mind like an old movie reel.

I think I know her from somewhere long ago

In days of sandboxes and water sprinklers,

A time before I walked into the darkness.

Maybe she won’t see me standing there,

If I don’t answer, she’ll give up and stop trying

She’ll leave me alone and let me be.

Anyone But Me

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“I wish I wasn’t like myself.”

My husband is accustomed to hearing my weird musings. He’s known me for 25 years and been married to me for 5. He just kind of looked at me and smiled. I elaborated a bit on what I meant by that. And that’s what I want to do here.

I like me. I like that I’m passionate and stubborn. I like that I’m a kickass writer and editor. I like that I have red hair and the personality to boot. I love fierce and fight fierce. I’m smart, funny, quirky. If I wasn’t me…I’d love to be friends with me. But, I don’t like how I am….who I am, yes….how I am…not so much.

As any of you know that follow my blog, I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I also suffer from Anxiety and Depression…it all kind of depends on the day. On bad days, both rear their ugly heads. That is what I was talking about. Those bad parts of how I am…they aren’t who I am…they are how I am, what I do.

I don’t like that the smallest thing will set me off…either on a murderous rampage or on a cry fest that last for hours. I don’t like how when I feel unappreciated by someone personally or professionally, I doubt everything about myself.

I don’t like that when I sit and think about my sons being away at college, every single doomsday scenario floods my mind—maybe they’ll get mugged, shot, hit by a car…you name it, I’ve thought it. These unrealistic feelings make me sick—literally.

I don’t like that I feel neglected by my husband if he’s working. I start to question where he is or what he does. I know he loves me and is committed to me, but doubt creeps in all the time. God, he has to love me…..he puts up with me! No one would put up with a BPD with Anxiety and Depression just for the fun of it!

I don’t like that no matter what good things happen in my life…and right now, it’s really good…..I look for the dark clouds. I can’t bask in the warmth of the light and the sun, because I’m always afraid of the dark storm clouds looming to the west, even though they may never rain on me.

I feel like I can never just enjoy life….I’m temporarily happy in the moment, but I’m still always waiting for the next shoe to drop. It’s really is exhausting. I want to stress that I am NOT suicidal. God knows, I have been in the past, but as I mature and progress, death has become one of my greatest anxieties. It’s kinda like Freddie Mercury said, “I don’t wanna die…I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.” But, that’s only sometimes.

So, I keep on keeping on. I keep on trying to be a better version of myself. I try to change what I am, what I do, not who I am. I kinda like that girl. I just wish I wasn’t like myself sometimes.

A New Beginning

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He looked at me and kept walking. Too wound up in laughter and conversation with new friends to acknowledge Mom. A knife through the heart, yet a heart bursting with overwhelming pride and love.

So, was my day yesterday. My youngest son had college orientation–a 3 day event including scheduling, fun, and just getting to know his new home. We went to pick him up and pulled in front of the auditorium where he would be coming out. I wanted to walk with him to his dorm and help him pack up and come home. There he was, my boy, walking out among the other college freshman with wide eyes and wide smiles, knowing that this was the start of a new chapter in their lives. He was surrounded by a group of new friends, but the way they were chatting and smiling, you would have thought they knew each other forever. I yelled for him, so he knew we were there. He looked around, then kept walking, kept talking. My heart hurt. He was in a new city, but seemed completely unfazed and completely courageous.

We drove to his dorm. There he was standing outside, bags in hand, like an old pro. He jumped in my car with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, full of stories and excitement. He didn’t just like his new home, he LOVED his new home. “It’s kind of weird,” he said, “we come here and then go home and have to wait another 2 months to start college.” He wanted to be there now, no waiting. He was ready to fly my nest. His wings were dry and he wanted to soar. I just smiled.

It’s what we are supposed to do, isn’t it? We are supposed to nurture our children, give them the right tools to be successful adults, then send them on their way with encouragement, But, somehow when that time comes, we want to stop it. We want them safe at home where we can protect them from the ugliness of the world. But, it’s in the ugliness that they find their beauty. Things have to get messy sometimes in order to become harmonious. I wonder why it hurts so much when it’s what I always wanted. I wanted to raise 2 successful, creative, intelligent, funny, interesting citizens of the world. I wanted them to face life with enthusiasm and sheer abandon. And I did. I should be proud and happy and move on to this new phase in my life with a sense of adventure as what will come next, not just for them, but for me as well.

And I am….but it still aches. Aches for the little blonde boy picking up bugs in the yard and worried for their safety. Aches for the little redhead who loved Elmo and wanted to read every book he got his hands on. Aches for the blonde boy whose first word was “firetruck” and who insisted on becoming a vegetarian at age 5 and still is, by the way. Aches for the curly red-haired boy who asked the principal on the first day of Kindergarten, “Where’s the science lab?”

But those boys are still here, they are just in the guise of extraordinary men, ones ready to conquer the world. The blonde boy now shows me his visions through his lens, a lens that now captures the bugs and the firetrucks with a love that permeates and radiates through the photos he takes. The redhead that sits for hours on his computer, coding games and creating fantastical lands and creatures with that enormous creativity. They are still there and I am still their mom.

So, as they continue on their journeys on the streets of Pittsburgh and the walls of the Corcoran, they know I will always be their number one supporter, unconditionally and with my whole heart. In an odd twist of the universe, there is a bird’s nest on my front porch, inside a hanging basket. I’ve been watching it for the past 2 months, from egg to chick to bird. I watch the mom and dad hover over their babies, feeding them and squawking away at invaders. I watched as the babies began to grow and fight for space in the nest. Today, I looked out, as I do every morning and they were gone. They had left the nest. They were now soaring off to new adventures, creating their own lives. But, there was mom in the tree, chirping away as usual. Ready for her own adventure.

Thank You

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Once again I find myself in this unwanted position—the mother of a graduated senior. It feels like I was just here and now three short years later, I’m back here again…..for the last time. I’ve sat through my last parent/teacher conference, read my last report card, attended my last awards ceremony. The past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been happy one minute, a sobbing mess the next.

I’ve heard a lot of graduates talking about gratitude and thanking their parents and teachers for helping them get through the 13 years of school and supporting them all the way. As I sat at the Graduation ceremony, a few nights ago, I thought about how thankful I am to both my sons. So, I write this to them.

Dear Holden and Harrison,

I want to thank you. I know I should be soliciting gratitude from both of you. I mean, I did create you(well, I guess your dad helped). I did nurture you both for 9 months, through 2 high-risk pregnancies. I did spend excruciating hours trying to birth you into this world…..years of breast-feeding, late nights, bumps, bruises, hospital visits, temper tantrums, etc. etc. etc. Then, let’s not forget the 11+ years I home-schooled you both. Some days, I just wanted to send you to the principal’s office, but that wouldn’t have done much, would it?  Oh and all the money spent, time given, tears shed, did I mention money and tears? But, through all of this, there isn’t one moment I would change. Not one single tear, I would take back. Every second being your mom through the years has been a pleasure. It’s an honor being the mom to two such magnificent creatures.

Today, though, I want to thank YOU both. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love truly is. You taught me that I have a capacity to love that I never dreamed I had in me. You taught me to laugh more. Thank you for the laughter that was always around both of you…..from Holden’s squirrel friend to Harrison’s love of my credit cards(inside jokes), there was never a shortage of fun around the house.

Thank you for showing me how to be a nerd. I had always liked sci fi and all that geeky stuff, but you both opened me up to a whole new world of geekdom and I couldn’t be happier. I love watching tv with you, going to all those superhero movies(who likes those crappy rom-com’s anyway).

Warning: Mom is going to get serious now. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being the lights in my darkness. I know having a depressed, Borderline mom has not exactly been a walk in the park, I know. I know it’s been extremely difficult some days. I know it’s felt like Mom is crazy and the craziness was spilling over into you. But, it was never about you. It’s just me. Always has been. Always will be.

The days I couldn’t get out of bed. The meltdowns. The tears. The screams. When I was in the darkest recesses of those caves in my mind, there were these 2 points of light that always hovered around me. When I was on the edge, contemplating whether or not to jump, there was always something tugging on each of my legs, pulling me from the brink. That, my beautiful sons, was both of you. YOU saved ME.

The thought of not seeing those blue eyes. The thought of never hearing the word, “Mom”…..that is what pulled me back to reality. My reality. Not perfect, kind of broken, but MINE. You were my salvation. My saving grace. So, while I may have given you life. You returned the favor.

As you both continue on this journey of life, take with you my absolute gratitude. You made me want to be a better person. You made me want to survive. You made me want to live. Because, in giving you life…I found mine.

I love you both to the moon and back times infinity.

Love, MOM