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.

White flip-flops in the rain.

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First off, I am writing once again after a few months break. No matter what I do, I tend to fall back into my same old patterns of bursts of creativity interspersed between lulls of writer’s block. The past few months have been busy, but really….I have no excuse. I’ve been doing everything BUT writing this summer. My son will be a senior in high school, so I’ve had college visits, getting ready for senior year, driver’s license, etc. I just haven’t felt INSPIRED. I have so much on my plate, emotionally, right now that quite frankly, I haven’t felt like getting out of bed most days. My mom has been having more bad days than good. Most days I am walking on eggshells, which is exhausting. I’ve been stressing about my youngest being a senior.The thought of having him out of the house in a year has been weighing on me.

I feel like the only day I have to relax and forget about all the things that weigh on me is Sunday. So, the past few Sundays, we’ve been taking my photographer son on road trips to find some interesting shots. Anyone that knows me at all knows that I am NOT an outdoorsy girl. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing things outside. I’m not a couch potato. But, I don’t like the great outdoors. I like being in a city. I like exploring shops, bookstores, cafes, food markets, etc. I do like the beach, but in small doses…..under an umbrella….with a drink in my hand. I hate woods, hiking, camping, mud, rock climbing…well, you get the picture.

So, when we do these outings, I sit in the car and wait, while my husband takes my son on hikes. I’ll go on a paved path, if it’s a short trip. But, that’s about it. I keep a pair of “walking” shoes in the car, just in case. Yesterday, we found a cool overlook that is a hawk/raptor watch. It said easy hike. Our car was parked in a bit of a remote area, so I felt a bit uncomfortable sitting there and waiting and since it said easy hike, I figured why not.  I went for my “walking shoes”, but I had taken them out of a car when we packed for a trip a few weeks ago. I was wearing typical “me” shoes—-white flip flops with bows and jewels on them. I thought, ok…why not? Well, easy, short hike it was not. It was a rock climb, uphill.

Yeah, I could have turned around, but I thought….what the hell? If I can make it up this rocky hill in these shoes, I can do anything. When I’m told I can’t or shouldn’t do something, that’s when I’m determined to do it. So, on I climbed. I stopped a few times to catch my breath. By this time, it had started drizzling rain. On I climbed. I stopped and sat once, but then I noticed all the little crevices that snakes and insects could hide in and I jumped up and kept moving. Yep, hate all the creepy crawlies that live out in the wilderness, as well.

I reached the top of the lookout and may I just say, the climb was totally worth it. You could see for miles. It was spectacular. Just as I stepped up on the rock to take in the view, the heavens opened up and it started POURING!!! So, back down the slippery, wet, rocky trail I went in my white sandals. My husband held my hand the whole way down, as now the rocks were soaking wet and very slippery. I made it back to the car, looking like a drowned poodle, I might add. Seriously, my underwear and bra were even wet!! I felt miserable, yet accomplished at the same time. I had stepped out of my comfort zone for a brief period of time, all while wearing my stylish, yet impractical shoes and it felt good!

I will never take up hiking, camping, outdoorsy things as a hobby. I will continue to keep my walking shoes in the car for SHORT walks. But, knowing that I COULD do something kind of pumped up my self-image a little bit. I tend to get stuck in a rut. I love adventure and new things, but those things always tend to be within the same circle. This time, I was waaaay out of that place where I feel like myself and you know what? It was okay. I was okay. I think the reason I’m telling this story is that I feel like a lot of people I know get stuck in that purgatorial place of never really taking a chance. The older I get, the more I have been trying to take more chances. Live more fearlessly. I know that climbing a rocky mountain in flip-flops is trivial. But, one small step can sometimes be a giant leap, even if you’re not wearing the proper shoes.

Shards

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I was doing so well keeping up with this blog. I was doing daily posts, writing poetry, etc. But, just when you think it’s safe to get back in the water, so to speak, along comes more water. And more water….and more…and…..well, you get the picture. Last year–we just finished in November of 2013, actually– we did a huge remodel on our house including $20,000 on the basement. Well, with the enormous amounts of snow and then torrential rains that we have been getting here in PA, our brand new basement flooded. The first time was about 6 weeks ago, then last Wednesday, it happened again, only this time MUCH worse. Thousands of dollars worth of damage. Today, everything was finally dry and all the rooms cleaned up. Except my youngest son’s room, where the floor is completely ruined and has to be replaced. All in all, there was thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

Now, I know that I should be thankful it was just things, no one was injured, etc. And believe me I am. But, when I struggle most days just to get out of bed and face the world, things like that throw my entire well-being for a loop. I always feel like every time I’m on the right path again, like I’m feeling better and stronger, something always happens that throws me back five steps. It’s this never-ending vicious cycle. I have learned, over the past 4 years, how to stay stronger in crisis—-because of my husband. Sometimes, I feel like no matter what I put out in the universe, it always comes back to me in a negative way. OK, no pity party here. Just simple facts. But, life goes on , so on I go.

 

Shards

by

Allison Cline-Saia

My reflection looks cracked in the shiny metallic

a fractured nondescript visage—

human, yet not quite

scrambled features.

.Each time the demons arrive

they throw rocks—

breaking the smoothness

causing distortion.

Pieces of glass falling

to the floor–

dangerous and sharp

drawing blood.

He walks across them

time and time again–

feet oozing red

searing pain.

But he doesn’t stop

doesn’t hesitate to pick them up—

putting on a bandage

he walks through.

 

Life in Lists

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Yesterday was the first time I posted in months. I always think I’m going to keep on top of things, but somehow life gets in the way and my writing takes a back seat, as usual. I’ve decided that as of April 1st, that’s going to change. I am no longer going to let me and the things important to me take a back seat. to anything. This is my life and let’s face it….I’ve only got one. So, from now on, I am concentrating on me and what I need and want. The best thing I can do for my family and the people who count on me is to take care of myself. If I’m not happy or healthy, I am of no use to anyone else. I have put myself first and it feels good.

Everywhere I look lately, anyone and everyone is blogging. There are a lot of good blogs out there. Ones that make you laugh. Some make us take a better look at ourselves or at our lives. Some offer sound advice. But, one thing I’ve noticed that really irks me is blog posts that are all lists: The 100 things that girls should know before going on their first date. 50 things to do before you eat dinner. Everyone seems to think they know what’s best for everyone else. But, honestly the only person that knows what’s best for you is you. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that.

I spent so many years of my life worried about everyone else. What they thought of me. What they thought I should do or who I should be. But, when I was forced to take control of my own life. When I had lost everything and was at the bottom of the barrel and had no one there to help me climb out, I realized that I was honestly the only person I could truly count on. I know that sounds harsh. I know I have support from lots of people, but they don’t know what’s inside me. They don’t feel my feelings, see through my eyes, hear with my ears. What may be right for them, may be wrong for me. Variety is the spice of life, right? It’s what keeps this world so interesting and full of color. What list may be right for you to follow, may not be right for me.

So, in honor my anti-list blog post, I encourage you to make your own list. Make a list of what you want out of life. Make a list of things that make YOU happy. I don’t like to use the word “Bucket List”, because I think the small, everyday things count just as much as the big, once in a lifetime things. Some days, I’m lucky to put matching clothes on…that in itself, is a good thing on a bad day. Make a “Happy List” Try to do one every day. If it’s a huge, monumental thing that you’ll never do again, cross it off, add one to the bottom. Make your list alive. constantly changing. Let’s face it, what may work for you at 25, won’t work at age 40. Keep the list in a constant state of evolution.

Make it something you turn to every day. On good days and on bad days. Here’s a part of mine:

1. Write something every day. (I have started on so many novels over the years, but my latest one, I think has a huge chance of being great. IF I just work on it)

2. Always have great looking nails and never miss a nail appointment. (Yes, it’s shallow, I know. But, it makes ME happy.)

3. If you can have Mexican food, HAVE Mexican food.

4. Buying a new pair of shoes or a new dress always, always, makes a bad day better. (Thrift shop finds count!!)

5. Gummy bears make me smile and always make me feel better.IMG_20140403_152121

 

 

 

6. When no one else loves you, remember your dog does.

 

 

CAM000477. When it comes to food, the spicier the better.

 

 

8. Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer will brighten up every day.

9. Hugs are magical cures for everything.

10. It really is ok to listen to that ONE song 100 times in a row.

What’s on your Happy List??

Forever 21?

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I was browsing one of those cool young women’s stores. You know the ones? Where the sizes are small, tiny, and minuscule? I kept seeing stuff I liked. Skirts. Cool, stylish dresses. Adorable summer shirts. But, I knew at my size I couldn’t even fit an arm in them if I tried. And then I noticed her. She seemed to follow me wherever I went, always looking me up and down. Then, I stopped for a minute to find out just what this middle-aged woman wanted with me. Then, it hit me. That overweight, middle-aged woman wasn’t stalking me. That woman WAS me.

In my head, I’m still in my 20’s. I look at clothing in these stylish young people’s stores and think “Oh, yeah” that would be great, if only I could lose those 50 pounds I’ve been struggling with. But, on this day, I realized even with a 50 pound weight loss, those young, fun things will never be me again. I’m 40. Those days are over. I am no longer that young, trendy girl I use to be. I am a mature woman with one son in college, one about to turn 17. I have a mortgage,  a house, a career, aging parents…..dare i say it?  Responsibilities.

This past year, as I have written in previous blogs, has been filled with so many life changes. Entire house remodel, which meant moving back in with my aging parents. Son going off to college. Health issues. Dealing with a parent’s onset of dementia. It’s been a rough one to say the least. But, with a phenomenal support system of a husband, I’ve dealt with it. Well, almost all of it. But, something keeps feeling ‘off’. I literally cry at the drop of a hat. I sit and pour over old photos. I thought it was the loss of my boys that was doing it. My eldest has flourished at college. I guess the mom in me was hoping he would be a bit more helpless, that he would call on mom a bit more than he has this year. But, I’m thrilled that he has become his own man. My youngest is now 16 and a junior. He wants nothing to do with his mom anymore. He want independence. In fact, I’ve been told, in not so many words, that I embarrass him. So, I am no longer needed as a parent on a daily, nurturing basis. But, on this particular day in this trendy store, I had one of those “A-Ha” moments that Oprah is always spouting off about. I wasn’t mourning the loss of my boys’ youth. I was mourning the loss of mine.

Yes, of course, our children growing up is difficult for any parent. I realize that is part of my problem. But, It’s more about what their maturation means to my mortality. I have so much left I want to do with my life and I feel like I’m running out of time. I guess the only one who can change the course of that is me. It’s time to get busy living, or get busy dying.