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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Time Machine

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My Mother’s Day wish this year is simple: a time machine. Just for a few hours. No, I wouldn’t take it back to buy Microsoft stock or witness some historical event. I would go back to an ordinary day….just a typical Wednesday, maybe 2001. I would go back to our humble house on our less than great street. The one I never really liked, but at a young age, was lucky to have. It would be a sunny, nice spring day. I would go back to the morning. When my boys, then 7 and 4, would still be asleep.

I would creep into their rooms, and sit down and watch them sleep. I would take in everything about that moment–each hair on their head, the sound of their sleeping breath, the smell of the room. After lingering a bit, I would wake them up and we’d go downstairs for breakfast. And they could have whatever they wanted—-ice cream? Sure!! Chocolate chip pancakes with extra chips? You got it!!

After breakfast, we would move head back upstairs to our “learning room” to get started on the school day. Lego on the floor?? Again??!!! As the plastic missile makes its way into my foot, I would smile and enjoy the searing pain shooting up my toes. As the school day begins, I remember how difficult it was homeschooling two boys. But, this day, I wouldn’t yell when Holden didn’t want to do his English lesson, because he wanted to read about space and rocket ships. I wouldn’t get frustrated at Harrison when all he wanted to do was look at the photos in his animal books. I would grab all the books and sit with them.

I would do every single thing they wanted all day—-no matter how silly it seemed at the moment, no matter what I had planned for the day. I would hold the hugs just a little bit longer. I would kiss just a little bit more. I would cuddle up on the sofa just a little bit longer as we watched silly cartoons, which I used to think were a waste of time. The extra cookie that they wanted after dinner—I’d give them 2.

As I look back now, fifteen years later as my boys are now a senior and sophomore in college, I realize how much time I spent on things that weren’t important. I complained about things that didn’t matter. I didn’t spend time taking in those mundane moments that become the best memories. I look at them now with their own lives and their independence and I long for them to need me just a bit. I long for days of Sponge-Bob on the TV and Lego all over the floor. Days of rough and tumble boys laughing a bit too loud and being a bit too silly.

Time flies so fast. We are so busy looking to the next moment that we miss the beauty of the current moment. We miss the beauty in the madness that is the day of a mom. Those mundane moments are what I miss the most. Those days when nothing special happened, except it did……I was spending the day with my boys. The two halves of my heart. My eldest, who taught me how to love, and my youngest who taught me that that love was limitless.

They tell you a lot of things when you’re pregnant—what to eat, what you should or shouldn’t do when the baby is born, how to stay healthy. But, what they don’t tell you is how you lose your heart. How you lose part of yourself. These babies that grow inside you for 9 months, take a piece of you when they are born. And no matter how old they are, no matter how far away they roam, they carry that with them. A piece of you will forever live outside of your body, but you still feel it. Like a phantom limb, you ache for it.

Every Mother’s Day, as I celebrate my own mom, I also thank my boys. They made me a better person. They made me love deeper, they made me stronger, they made me who I am. As I marvel at their talents, at their compassion, at their humanity, I continue to miss those ordinary days. But, I’ve learned to hold onto each moment they are with me. Now, if I could only get that time machine…. just for a few hours.

 

A New Silence

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My house is quiet.

Their rooms are empty.

There is no laundry in the hampers.

There are no messes to clean up.

There are no diapers to change.

No faces to wipe.

There are no lunches to be made.

No 3 p.m. drives to school for pickup.

There was no rushing around this morning.

It’s silent. A deafening sort of silence. Almost mournful.

My head is loud.

The voices frantic and scared.

I try not to listen. I try to tune them out.

But they become deafening.

Destructive.

The silence is an unwelcome friend.

Times Long Past

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I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. I hate resolutions. I feel they put too much pressure on me and then I’ll fail and hate myself even more. So, I make personal goals for the new year. I have a list of things I want to do in the next 12 months and then I cross them off, as I do them. Then, I see real progress. Crossing something off a list gives me a momentary bump in my self-confidence. Yay me! I did accomplish something.

I found myself in a strange place this New Year’s Eve. I looked at my parents, during our traditional dinner out and I had this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I started thinking, “What if this is the last New Year’s Eve they are here to eat dinner with us?” Being in their 80’s and having some medical issues for the last 10 years or so, it really is a distinct possibility. Then, I looked at my 21-year-old son and thought, “Wait a minute….what if he isn’t here next year?”  Which, of course, led to me turning that question on my husband and then myself.

It’s true, isn’t it? We aren’t guaranteed anything in this life. Only that life happens. Shit happens. Bad things happen. Every. Single. Day. To every single one of us. In life, the bad comes with the good. The light always turns to dark. In order to live a happy and full life, we have to accept that. And then I realized, that my list needs to be more than a “2016 Goals” list. It has to be “Allison’s Life Goals” list. (Not a bucket list. I hate that term.) For some strange reason, sitting there in a nice restaurant on the last day of what was a very trying year, among the dinner rolls and salad, I had an epiphany of sorts… we are all running out of time. Every day. Every minute.

I mean this is common sense, right? At least it should be. But, with all my issues and my mental illness, it is a concept that is very difficult for my brain to process. I fret about every step I take. I get knots in my stomach at missing keys and dirty dishes. I live my life in a constant state of worry, guilt, regret, and sadness. What a waste of precious time. One of my personal development goals this year is to try to find the color in my days of black and white. Try to embrace the happy and push away the sad. This will be a big undertaking, but I feel up to the task.

I’m not saying that I’m going to overcome my diseases—quite the contrary. I know they will always be there, but maybe I can accept them a bit more. Maybe I can find a silver lining in the darkness. Maybe if I find it enough, it will start to penetrate and permeate into my being. I’m running out of time, and damn it, I have too much left to do. If I’m here next year, then I can celebrate what I did accomplish in 2016. If I’m not, I want people to look back and know I did my best every single day to live a good, full life. And that I refused to let the darkness win.

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.