(Listing) Fears of My Life

The red book with the scraggly drawings on the cover which is prominently displayed on my living room bookshelf is called Fears of Your Life, and it is written by Michael Bernard Loggins, list-maker extraordinaire. Inside is page after page of Loggin’s fears, plaintively laid out in a simple, bare-bones script that accentuates the earnestness of his endeavor.

I am so enamored by Loggin’s raw truthiness, I decide to make my own list of fears. I start late one night, after several beers and a few slices of pizza.

  1. Fear of drinking until I become an alcoholic
  2. Fear of this nightly tickle in my throat growing until I wake up one morning realizing I have emphysema
  3. Fear of a drone outside my living room window recording and posting candid nose picking shots of me onto Nosepickers.com
  4. Fear of realizing that in jail, I am the bully, or the kiss up, or the sodomy instigator. That I am not the convict with a heart of gold

Mr. Loggins is considered to have a developmental disability. He has found an outlet for his art and writing at Creativity Explored, a visual arts center in San Francisco. They cultivate a platform for artists like Loggins, people that perhaps would be overlooked in a more conventional setting.

There are the usual suspects on Loggins list, like:  42. Fear of Death or 26. Fear of Bees and 13. Fear of Being Lost. Then there are the fears of a more particular variety:

50. Fear of being spank by a principal when a parent give an permission

Fear #2: I fear that those tv. People would take off my favorite cartoon. The Rugrats off the air and wouldn’t be able to watch them anymore for a long long, long time. “Please let well enough alone.” Please don’t take my Rugrats cartoon off the air because I love that cartoon. Let there be a possibility that life with the Rugrats stay put means leave my Rugrats cartoon on tv. Michael said.

I can certainly relate to that. When I heard a (false) rumor that Better Call Saul wasn’t going to be given a second season, I seriously considered writing a letter. Or, Jesus Christ, all the shows that get preemptively cut, and we never get to know the end, the creators ending vision?!? That’s the absolute worst.

  1. Fears that my mental illness holds my husband back and that he would be more successful if I killed myself
  2. Fears of my husband dying before me and I won’t be able to tell him what it is like to live without him
  3. Fears that instead of our lives getting better, our lives will get worse and we will have to survive an apocalypse in our sixties

Sometimes Loggins will tag his fears with “Michael said,” or even write out his entire name. It’s almost like there are just some fears one has to super-double claim.

Loggins lives and moves around in the city, so a lot of his fears involve transportation issues, like:

Fear #5: I’m afraid of my fear of crossing the streets of San Francisco when there are so much safety rules of streets for people to go by the laws and not break those safety rules….

  1. Feared that the bus driver is driving much too fast like if he don’t know how to stop it or he tries slowing it down some so that he wouldn’t hurt bunch of passengers

Fear #7: Only dangerous thing about stop lights they don’t stay on long enough for you to change your mind about crossing the street…

It reminds me of a recurring bad dream where I am driving up a long windy mountain road and can’t stop myself from plunging over the cliff and into the ocean. Cars and transportation are easy access to anxieties about control, and the loss of control, so I can see why such worries take up so much list space.

  1. I fear time will freeze and I will use that opportunity to pinch someone’s nipple, Amy said.
  2. I fear I will fail so many times at the same thing that people will stop believing I am capable of change says Amy Bee.
  3. I fear there is more bad to me than good, more dark than light, more selfish motivation than compassion. And everyone already knows this except me Amy Bee.

One of my favorite fears on Loggin’s list comes at the end, and I find it so sweet and touching and achingly universal:

Fear #45: Afraid this is the last thing that ever occur to me. This is the end of Fears of Your Life page in my book. Tuesday February 19, 2002 is when Michael Bernard Loggins finishes these pages up. So there be the last to be done for Michael Bernard Loggins. Congradulation! Michael my Buddy buddy! Pal you did it you got it done.

Loggins knows fear, and therefore, Loggins knows people. It’s as if he has his fingers on the crux, the tender spot of what is us, what it is to be people, what it is to be the same and connected, and yet unique and alone.

So alone.

Fear #?? One night  I finished the beers, I wrote a list of all my fears, and it occurred to me these may be my last thoughts. Oh well, Amy Bee! You did it! You got it done! The End!

*All fears in italics are the words of Michael Bernard Loggins, from his wonderful book, Fears of Your Life

Grievances, INC.

 

 

Mary was the one who told me about Grievances, Inc. It was lunch break, and we were in the courtyard. Mary ordered the Rad Na from the ‘Noodles to Thai For’ food truck. I had my usual tuna sandwich. I was griping again about David from accounts receivable. Today, instead of leaning his arms against my desk so that his elbow brushed my breast, he was now ‘accidentally’ bumping his groin against my hip at every given opportunity.

Mary slurped away at her gravy covered noodles, listening as I bitched. “What you need,” she interrupted, “is a Grievance Counselor.” She fished in her purse and plopped down a card in front of me.

“A what?” I picked up the card. It was entirely gold, with a single phone number etched in the middle.

“It’s a new program I recently joined,” Mary said. “It’s in beta. My friend Frank is one of the creators, so he invited me to test spin it. He said to go ahead and recruit a few friends, too.” She dropped her voice. “Dianne, this program is gonna change your life.”

“But what’s it for?” I set the card between us. Mary was always trying new things, sometimes with negative results.

“Your grievances,” she said, leaning closer to me. “From your smallest quibble to the outright objectionable. You call this number, tell them your complaint, and they will dispatch a grievance counselor to take care of it.” Mary laughed. “It’s quite ingenious, actually.”

“Take care of it?”

“Sure. You remember when my bank was charging me all those extra fees? I called those fucks like thirty times, and they did nothing except give me the runaround. But when I called this number,” Mary tapped her red fingernail on the gold card, “Shit got done, Dianne. Not only did they stop over-charging me, but a thousand dollars was added to my account!”

“I see,” I said. Not seeing at all.

“You’re not getting it,” Mary lowered her voice again. “They do bigger complaints, too……you know, think asshole Dave and his passive-aggressive almost groping.” She pushed the card back at me.

“Do they take care of mother-in-laws, too?” I joked.

She winked. “Just call. Tell them your gripe.” She swung her purse over her shoulder and stood up. “Back to the grind, darling,” she paused. “Just remember to ask for a Maya counselor, not a Jefferson. A Jefferson can be somewhat over-enthusiastic,” she frowned, then laughed. “You’ll figure it out. Ciao!”

That night my husband and I were having dinner with his mother for the fourth consecutive evening. Now that she lived closer to us, she demanded more of my husband’s attention. Pressuring him into these nightly dinners, for instance. Ethel never liked me, and never tried to hide it. If I brought Lasagna to heat up, she said it had too much sauce. If my husband remarked that work was stressful, she berated me for not doing my wifely duties. Whatever I said, was wrong. Whatever my husband said, was my fault. I spent dinners trying to be as quiet as possible.

Her constant complaining got me thinking about the gold card with the enigmatic number. From the smallest quibble to the most objectionable, Mary had said. If I called and lodged a complaint about Ethel, what would they do? Give her a good talking to? Shove her head into some pot roast? I laughed. My husband and his mother stared at me. I excused myself and went outside.

If I was going to see what Grievances, Inc. was all about, I should start with something, someone, other than Ethel, just to get a feel for the whole thing. Asshole Dave was the perfect starter.

I called the number. A thin, dry voice picked up.

“Name,” it said.

“Um, Dianne. Dianne Stevens.”

“Complaint or gripe you wish to issue,” said the voice.

“Well, there’s this guy at work, Dave,” I said. “He’s always brushing up on me, you know, to touch my butt, and my, um, bosoms. I’m sick of it. Why do men think they can just get away with shit like this? And I can’t expect my boss to do anything because he—“

“Sexual harassment has been noted. Please indicate counselor Maya or Jefferson.”

I suddenly felt nervous. “Maya.  But, don’t you need to—”

“Preference for Counselor Maya has been noted. No further information is necessary. Expect initiation between 2-4pm tomorrow. Thank you for calling Grievances, Inc. Your account will be billed accordingly.” The voice clicked off.

The next day, when I saw the tall, stoic-faced woman dressed in black, wearing a silk fedora and Morpheus sunglasses, I knew it was Maya.  She strode out of the elevator and headed straight toward Dave’s desk. I hid behind my computer and watched her come up behind Dave. He was talking to his two buddies and holding his hands palm-up in front of his chest as if he were holding two large cantaloupes. Maya reached around Dave’s paunchy waist, unbuckled his belt, and pulled down his slacks and boxers in one swift motion.

“Whoa,” Dave cried out. She grabbed Dave’s hand and folded his arm behind his back. His shoulder popped and the office went quiet. Except for Dave, who began to shriek. Maya held Dave in a choke hold and kicked his legs apart, stretching his arm back toward his ass. Co-workers collectively gasped as she began to plant his balled up fist into his own anus.  First, his fingers disappeared. Then his palm. Then his wrist. His arm finally separated from his shoulder and hung from his ass for a moment, like a morbid monkey tail. Then he crumpled to the floor, screaming.

The whole encounter lasted maybe a minute. It took much longer for someone to think to call 911. By that time, Maya was long gone. All I could think was, holy shit, Maya was supposed to be the less enthusiastic one. Imagine what the other one would’ve done to Dave.

 

Later, I cried all the way to Ethel’s. I couldn’t believe I had called that number, let Dave get hurt like that. And to think I almost unleashed Maya on my mother-in-law. I parked and rifled through my purse, looking for that fucking card to rip up, but it was gone. I probably left it on my desk and promised to burn it at work tomorrow.

Once inside, I heard Ethel murmuring in the dining room. “In here, dear,” she called. I bristled at the word dear.

The dining table was adorned with several lit candles. The rest of the room was shrouded in darkness.  Ethel sat at the head of the table. Only one other seat was set for dinner. She had an odd look on her face. A cat-ate-the-canary look.

“Where’s Robbie?” I asked, squinting my eyes. I thought I saw a movement in the corner.

“He’s been sent on a business trip. Never you mind, dearie,” Ethel patted the chair next her. “It’s time for you and me to work some things out.”

I saw the gold card on the plate first. Then I saw the man emerge from the shadows. A heavy bat hung in one hand. A pair of pliers in the other.

“Who’s that?” I asked, knowing.

“Oh yes!” Ethel exclaimed, clapping her hands. “I met the most wonderful man today. I invited him to dinner. His name is Jefferson.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Parts in Revolt

That’s what my essay which recently appeared at Salon should’ve been titled. But I didn’t think of this perfect title until my essay was already turned in and on its way to legendary viral status. Some of that last sentence is true.

Instead, the essay was published with my placemark name- “The Menopause Checkup.” Right? Cringe. Who knows how many people missed my awesome story due to a lame title?

I hope you’ll go ahead and read my essay Lady Parts in Revolt over at Salon, and forgive me the title. In it, I discuss a surprisingly personal interaction I had with a medical technician as we tried to figure out why I’d been bleeding for months and months with no end in sight.

Thank you!

 

Spaces with Men

*Friendly advisory: domestic abuse*

A Job

I’m an assistant manager working the graveyard shift. Every night I organize the aisles, count the cigarettes, stock the cooler. They hired Gary to help me out; to take care of customers and clean the store while I make orders and reconcile the register. An assistant for the assistant. Gary is an old Harley guy who will smile when I ask him to make the coffee and call me a bitch once I’ve turned my back. He is a man who whose ego is easily bruised, so I humor him the way all women have learned to humor men. I play distraught by tasks so that he can think he is saving me rather than taking orders from me. If he can portray not just daddy, but sexy, virulent daddy, he is temporarily soothed, and I can get my work done. If he catches any whiff of actual competence from me, it’s back to calling me bitch.

We are in the middle of this humiliating dance when a neighbor calls to say she saw my Ex climbing into the bedroom window of my apartment. I cradle the phone with my shoulder, watching Gary’s face grow red as he takes apart the nacho cheese dispenser, angry at doing women’s work, I suppose. His fingers leave cheese prints all over the steel counter, the nacho trays, the backroom sink. Like a little boy waging petty revenge against his mother.

I thank my neighbor and hang up. I’m sure my own face is raging red now, thinking of my ex, sitting in my apartment. Waiting. Maybe with the T.V. on. Maybe smoking my pot. The fucker.

“Gary, I have to run to my house,” I say. “You are gonna have to do the rest of this yourself.”

Bitch, I’m sure I hear as the glass doors swoosh shut behind me.

 

A Home

How could I have fucked this guy, this asshole. Sitting on my couch. Watching my T.V. Smoking my pot. How could I have let him move in with me. What was I thinking? Things are going well, so let’s throw a bomb into the mix. And he is a bomb; a dirty bomb ready to spray chunks of metal and hatred onto anyone standing in the path of his kamikaze suicide. And here I chose to be the one standing in the blast range.

There are half-eaten nachos on his lap.  Nachos from my store. A greasy drop of cheese hangs from an arrogant grin. He knows. He knows he’s pushed me too far, and he likes the feeling. I reach for the tray; I want to spill that shit all over his weasel dick. But he is faster than me, up and over the coffee table; shoving me against the wall before I can even begin my tirade. He’s been ready, waiting for this moment, who knows for how long. Maybe forever.

I fight back at first. I bite his arm when he throws me to the carpet. He grinds my face so far into the beige shag that I can taste the litter my cat trails into every room. I struggle, but he isn’t just angry, he’s crying, wailing, waging war against demons much bigger, much older than our measly affair.

I go as slack as I can; I will wait him out. I will let him call me dyke and bitch and cunt and whore. I will stay as silent as can be. His hands wrap around my throat, holding on for dear life, repeating like a prayer: “I hope I gave you AIDS.” We are frozen in our embrace until the cops come banging on the door.

 

A Place

Only drunks get put in holding cells. The rest of us sit on the kind of plastic seats that plague DMV’s or waiting rooms. A sort of purgatory where time is suspended, and you are left with only your dark thoughts and your stupidity to keep you company. The walls are white, and there are no clocks. There are no windows, and there are no friends. We wait. For our mug shots. For our fingerprints. For our onesies the color of processed cheese.

The cop that arrested me was apologetic. The domestic violence laws in Colorado, he tsked. When I gave him the weed from my back pocket, he seemed to care for me a little less. When I said I lived alone, paid my own rent, and the fucker over there broke in, his face grew stoic. When I admitted those were my teeth marks on that asshole’s arm—but I was defending myself!—he took my tears as supreme female manipulation. In the eyes of the police officer, we are both culpable. He will let the system sort it out.

It’s not my first time in this place. It’s not my last. There will be many more times than this one where I will undress in front of someone I’d rather not. I’ll try to look tough. Unaffected by my circumstance. Too far removed to really be touched. Chin up, as they say.

If you’re quiet and follow their direction, chances are good they won’t pick you out. Don’t bother with logic or question their motives. It’s safer to shuffle along; keep your wrists slack so the cuffs won’t bite. They will be unimpressed by your story or your narrative or your traumatic history that led you here. They’ve heard it all before. You’re not new or unique. You’re just another woman in jail.

 

 

This is What the Trail Teaches Me:

Enjoy it now, it only gets harder, I think twenty, thirty times a day. The dusty ribbon of dirt I follow winds through dry, prickly plants intent on leaving faint tracks of blood along my shins as I pass by. Fist sized rocks appear, scattered on the trail as if spilled from some impetuous child’s toy box.  I climb rugged hilltops while tiny black flying monsters loiter between my sunglasses and face. I picture shade. I manifest ‘downhill.’ But no. The trail brazenly slashes up a cliffside. Perilous switchbacks zigzag toward a horizon determined to leave me burdened, awed, humbled.

*For NewshoundToNovelist new  Prompt Pot feature

Independence Day

*This flash fiction was published by NANO Fiction Issue 10.1 in 2016

 

What is it about small towns, I wonder, eyeing the girls in daisy dukes, cautionary tales of meth and boredom. It’s Utah. It’s hot. The tow-truck drops us off at a roadside Motel. A dusty parking lot full of cracked up cars. A forlorn tire swing listless in the weeds. Our home for the night.

It was supposed to be an easy goodbye. He’d drive me to Vegas, and I’d be gone, into the unknown. California, probably, then north. North is the new Wild West; I told dubious acquaintances. He understood. No messy farewells, we agreed. Now we are stuck, I guess. Stuck here, with too much time.

Our room has a stench. The swamp cooler sputters and clicks off. Through the window I see people at the park. I see checkered picnic tables and potato salad. I see women with aprons and men in uniform.  “Looks lame,” I say.

“Let’s go,” he smirks.

Our feet kick up dust as we cross the street; our faces collect an instant sheen of sweat. We want to laugh at these people, to pity them and enunciate all the ways we are not like them. We want to tsk-tsk their backward ways: their homogeny, their apple pies, their flags. We study the brittle aged, the angry teenaged boys, the flies on the melting watermelon. We want to feel superior, but it’s too sad to ridicule.

Back in our room, we take off our clothes. We are sad, too. As sad as the shabby carpet. We move slow, as to not startle the other.  He is long and slender, arrogant and clever. Too beautiful for me: my best friend. Outside I hear bottles clinking. The methed out girls have found the angry young men. Together we all stifle in the deadlock heat.

Time Machine

 

Remember Tic-Toc, the mechanical man
from the Wizard of Oz?

(Does Everything But Live.)

He had to be wound up
to operate, and eventually,
his inner workings would slow
down like a roulette wheel until he stopped;
Stuck inside a frozen body. Looking out
through unresponsive eyes;
alive, but unmoving.

Life in a tin can.

 

 

Foster Home #2: The Well Intended Couple

*This is an excerpt from a longer essay titled, “Into the System.” (W.I.P.)

 

They live in a rich community, and they can’t get pregnant. They feel sorry for me. They bear a vision of how I will be, with just a little polish and shine.

Their house looks like a furniture brochure. I look like a dust ball on their carpet. Stephanie takes me shopping. Blouses and pantyhose. A haircut and new earrings.

I get my own room upstairs, so clean and white. I can’t relax. I tip toe to the bathroom. I steal salami from the refrigerator.

I dream that they will adopt me and we’ll go on exotic vacations. They’ll fix me, and I’ll be their daughter. The child they couldn’t have.

Stephanie instructs me how to make lemon meringue pie. We talk. My voice sounds thick and unwieldy in the stainless steel kitchen. I strive to dazzle her with my charm and wit. I’m obedient. I’m a quick study. I’m worth keeping.

Sometimes I make her laugh. Sometimes I think she likes me.

I stay away from Bob. I don’t want to be alone with him, just in case. He works all the time. I wonder if I’m here as Stephanie’s project. I don’t mind.

Things are looking good for me.

She lets me have a sleepover. I show my friends around, proud. See what I landed. See how big my room is. See my new pretty family with sophisticated tastes. They are my family now, all mine. I get comfortable.

I get careless.

I want to be good for Stephanie. But I can’t tame my hair. Or my anger. Or my crying jags. I can’t smile all the time. I’m not organized. I’m not obedient. All the nice stuff they give me does not cover up the dents and dings.

I sense her disappointment. She is pulling away from me, finding new ways to occupy her time. I hide in the bathroom. I steal cold hot dogs from the refrigerator.

After school, I find the Social Worker on the couch with Stephanie. Stephanie has some issues. She has some concerns. You don’t clean your room, Stephanie says. You don’t use soap in the bath, she says.

I used the gel, I say. That’s for shaving legs, she says.

I’m sorry, I say.

She’s talked it over with the Social Worker. They think I would do better somewhere else. They are not the right people for me. I panic and beg. I plead until I run out of breath. I promise a spotless room and a clean body and perfect grades and the right attitude, anything if I can just stay.

One more day, I cry.

Go get your things, they say.

But I have no things to bring.

 

 

 

Remember These Things

I don’t know why I remember what I was wearing: tie-dye tank top and loose shorts past my knees no bra no shoes I went barefoot everywhere and that day the bus was empty I sat in the back just one long seat taking up too much space looking out the window smudged from greasy foreheads or fingers maybe a little girl’s head pressed against glass making hearts with peanut butter and strawberry jam hands? And that was the day my breast was sore from tiny marks around my aureole left by his braces. Train tracks he called them. It wasn’t love but it was fun and the bus hit a bump an empty beer can rattle-rolled back and forth in time with my belly sick and dizzy and full of fear I remember that rattle but I don’t know why.

I don’t know why I remember falling on the sidewalk, I just do, I do remember it solid cold grating against my cheek like a five o’clock shadow all those pebbles green and silver and yellow and tan making white concrete when you’re standing upright and I needed to be upright and not facedown tonguing the ground so I pushed myself back up into the world. It was a quiet day a perfect sunshine day a tiny breeze ever refreshing and all the quaint houses with their little green yards and beds of bright poppy flowers and sprinklers tick-ticking away a lovely neighborhood so lovely and not mine, I remember now it was the wrong bus stop and if there was a reason, I don’t know why.

I don’t know why I remember these things.

I don’t know why I remember these things about my mother: tarot cards, skinny jeans, a roach clip, a cigarette ember, white musk, a suitcase and a gun. She called me pumpkin. She divided my dark hair on each side to yank and braid and smooth and tie to perfection. My friends had a secret club they wrote her love letters and when she read them she smiled, happy for once. I remember swimming all day long, no I rode my bike all day long riding over to their houses to eat their food to take a bath in their tub to try on their clothes, play their games, any games they had so many like race cars, teddy bears, baby dolls, soccer balls, family nights, movie nights, please let me stay the night! Let me go camping with you! Let me go to the amusement park with you! I’ll even go to church! I remember a night at one house frozen on the hardwood floor no pillows or blankets or room on the bed and their house creaked so scary the shadows like claws on the walls wishing for my room my bed my mom I loved her so much I wrote her love letters, I remember. I remember my love red hot a terrible inferno.

I don’t know why I remember the bus number: 58. Route 58 from Boulder to Lafayette and back again every half hour from 6 a.m. to midnight except Saturday and Sunday good luck finding a ride then. It was the right bus the wrong bus stop. I had a little cry on the ground and heaved myself back into the world. Bold colors everywhere even on my ugly tie-dye. I wandered through the stupid fucking streets with the crappy little houses full of asshole people. The heat oppressive and my heart jackknifing in time with my heavy feet. Then there was the rattle in my pocket my fingers rolling back and forth across the label the scratch of fingernail to paper and plastic a ball of lint caught between my pinky and ring finger. Why would I remember that? Or how it was bright enough to want sunglasses and hot enough to want water and easy enough to swallow a bottle of pills all cotton mouthed and chalky throated and kids playing in the park, kids laughing and moms watching and dads working and all the people doing all their things and I told myself to remember it, I told myself…

…I don’t want to remember this next part.

Why I remember. Out of all the things I could remember: I wasn’t wearing a bra. I had no shoes. That my legs were hairy and I wanted to say sorry. That they were going to find the train tracks: it wasn’t love but it was fun. Everything was white lights and needles and loud machines: their hands, my head. My head especially firecrackers of blooming white flash bulbs of emergency crowding around me with distant voices and solemn faces looming full of slurred and silly gibberish. What a nonsense thing to remember but I do doctors and nurses and interns and my mother off camera and I was there too!  I was there black coal fizzing out of my throat the tube so cruel to my tongue and sucking up a swirling mess sick like on a swaying ship and no balance (no bra!)I’m choking on ocean I reach for the air, or wait— I grabbed for the rail—it was metal I think, no, no—it was a wet noodle it was a fish I couldn’t catch it was a pinprick in my arm and it was a little red balloon no a little green monster no it was blurry blubbery snotty fear no more voices no more white I hear them fuzzy through a tin can and I remember the earthquake feeling a terrible shaking a volcano ripping me like an inferno a tidal wave a bitter black heart that only I could see.

*This Essay was published in the March 2017 issue of Indiana Voice Journal. Check it out!

A Letter to My Therapy Group

Dear Group,

This illness has been my single most defining force, whether I wanted it to be or not. It has destroyed the last decade of my life, aged me beyond my years, worn me out and separated me from people I loved and from people who might’ve loved me back. It has always chosen the hard path, the path of most resistance, the quick escapes and easy ways out. It has shrunken my brain, widened my body, sagged my cheeks and dulled my eyes. It has stolen me from myself, stolen my time here on earth. It has been cruel. It has been unforgiving.

I sit here today, one hot mess.

I have been on medication now for two years, a.k.a. “managing my illness.” Progress has been slow. Before I finally admitted my illness and accepted help for it, I spent 10 years sequestered in my apartment. I’d go weeks without leaving or talking to anyone other than my husband. He was my only friend and my only family. Everyone else had abandoned me, some of them for a good reason. I simply did not feel like I deserved to be alive. I felt like I had failed as a human, and it was important to keep myself away from people so that I wouldn’t hurt them, and so they wouldn’t hurt me.  Isolation was my self-medication. It was my truth, my life, and my slow, tortured attempt at suicide.

Things have changed in the last two years. I am not constantly in the grip of my illness and medication has created a window of opportunity to think before I react, a skill impossible for people with bipolar to master without help and practice.  I have done a lot of healing and learning.  I am starting to want things for myself, and sometimes I even feel *gasp* hope.

I am better now, but here is the thing I need to share with you:  I am full of fear, and in spite of help and medication, I am continuing to punish myself through isolation. I recognize that I am at the stage in my recovery where I need to forgive myself, and rejoining the world is part of that process. But, group, my heart still believes that I don’t deserve life, friends, family, or a chance at some kind of self-fulfillment. I am paralyzed by the notion that I am unlikable, that I won’t be accepted, and that I have nothing to offer the world or myself.

It’s been so long since I’ve had relationships with other people. I am afraid that I will manipulate and hurt and sabotage them like I did so long ago. I am afraid to connect to people, feel close to them, go through the good and bad of what relationships have to offer.  I am afraid to find out that, even with the illness managed, I am simply not a worthwhile person.  That I am too needy to be a good friend. So far, I have not found a way to forgive myself, and I’m afraid I will never be able to figure out how to do so. It’s an infuriating and willful place to be.

That’s where I am, group. I’m lonely, I’m scared, I don’t really know who I am without the grip of mental illness defining my personality.

Thanks for listening,

Amy                                                                                                                      June 12, 2012 

(found while cleaning my desk)

*Photo Credit: Porsche Linn