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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Move Along

Some days I still expect to come home, cry out, "Babies, I'm home!" and wander in the living room to find Cory curled up on the couch with Church huddled in an afghan.  Whatever stage of grief I'm currently in, I'm still bitterly disappointed that this never happens anymore.

When I'm driving for work, I want to call and check in, "Hi Cory-Girl.  How are you?  Did you eat?  Did you take your meds?"   One of my work routes takes me right by her cemetery, and it's like being kicked in the stomach every single time I go by.  Her monument is amazing and beautiful, but I still hate it for existing.   I kick and I scream, and the days go by without her.

 I read a bumper sticker the other day that said, "If you don't like where you are, move.  You are not a tree."

I get it.  I'm supposed to accept her death and go on living my life happily.

Give me my girl back, and we'll talk.  I'll take every college class you want.  I'll pay my taxes on time.  I'll stop buying pens and paper.  I'll be a better person.

But keep going without her?  I can't promise you anything.  Everything is so black.  I look ahead to the future, and hopelessness just looms.  Happy without her?  It's just not gonna happen.

Misery surrounds me.  My moods go up and down with the nearness and distance from the "difficult dates" on the calendar.  But most every day is a bad day.  Some are worse.

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself what is the point?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Show me That Trick, She said

So here's the neat trick my counselor, Lady, showed me today.

Trauma makes the part of your brain that responds to fight, flight, or freeze get stuck or at least overstimulated.  Part of recovering from trauma is creating places, internal and external, that make you feel safe, so that your sensory-laden short term memories of the traumatic event can be organized, and stowed away, puzzle like, in your long term memory.  This makes you able to walk through life without becoming easily startled, over anxious, or just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Supposedly.

So today, I drew a safe memory as Lady asked me questions about what I drew.  My safe memory?  The kids and I at the Chinese restaurant, the one where we always ordered the same thing, the one where we laughed and took silly pictures, the one where everything felt ok.  Lady asked me what made this safe?  That was easy.  We always knew everything that was going to happen.  Sometimes I think that should be the definition of safe.

Living with bi-polar disorder means the unknown swoops in and out of your days, stirring things up and catching you off guard.  Living with someone who has it means you ride the rollercoaster with them.

But back to trauma.  Lady told me this memory that I put on paper was in my brain, in my body, just the same as all those gruesome pictures from the accident and the funeral.  With a little effort, I can conjure it or many others and create a sense of safety at any moment, if I'm feeling anxious.

It wasn't until I got home, and unfolded my piece of paper to add it to my journal that I noticed, I had chosen a time when it was just the kids and I.  No Bob.  No Tim.  Just me and my babies.  At least, I know if I felt safe during that time, it's likely that Jake and Cory did, too.  So I did okay on my own.

 I did good.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

120 and gaining?

So the new med that has helped me so much to restore my former patterns of eating and sleeping has a side effect of weight gain- about a pound a week, give or take.  When I got to 119 (16 pounds over my pre-accident weight, and 9 pounds over my post-accident weight), I decided to call my relationship with Zyprexa quits.  I had done some research and discovered people sometimes gain up to 35 pounds their first year on this medication.  I have long been described as the skinny blonde, and although it's not the best descriptor in the world, it was definitely mine.

Over the course of the first two months of taking Zyprexa, I watched my frame fill out with curves I've never known.  Everything was going to my boobs, hips, and butt, which is better than straight to my mid-section, but still...119?!!

Over Spring Break, I stopped taking the med and fell into the well once again.  I couldn't get out of bed.  I was starting to feel hopeless again.  After about six days of bad thoughts, I started taking me med again.  I mean, honestly, what would Cory say to me?  Choosing vanity over mental health?  For shame, Mom!  For shame!

At my last med review, I explained this to the nurse, stretching out my arms in wide exaggeration to describe my certainty that Cory would be most unhappy with my decision to let the cost overcut the gain...Really, Mom?  Really?

At the end of this appointment, the nurse asked if my memories of Cory were becoming more pleasant to experience, which seemed like an odd way to ask a person how they are doing with their grief.  It gave me pause.  I've always had so many joyful memories of my girl.  Since day one.  That's what has made this so very difficult.  Does that make sense?

I will agree that the fullness and richness of these overstuffed, techni-color, high def resolution memories have squeezed my old heart for all its worth.  Is it easier to remember being with her?  No.  But I do find myself smiling sometimes when I think of her.  Before, I could only cry.  "Is that progress?"  I asked the nurse.

She said yes, and her smile and eyes were kind.

So for the meantime, I'm still taking the med that keeps the flashbacks and nightmares at bay, and embracing my new behind.  It may be a little fuller, but it's mine, after all.  When Tim dropped me off at work yesterday, I told him to be sure to watch me walk away.  He burst out laughing, and I put a little extra wiggle in my walk.

Cory would approve.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sweet Dreams

I had the dream again last night.  The first responders had made a mistake.  She had not died, after all.   She had been injured, taken to a hospital in their ambulance like an actual human being, and treated.  In my dream, she'd healed and we joked in a most scary way about her supposed death.  I remember thinking in my dream not to say such awful things aloud because if there was a God, he might kill her to shut my mouth.  Dream-Cory grinned at me and patted me with her hands, a mother hen if ever there was one.  I reached out and touched her again and again, marveling that her flesh was warm...she was warm just like me!

This dream from last night carried me on the crest of a positively jubilant mood for nearly 13 hours.  I wore makeup today, an updo, and balanced my newly acquired 120 pound frame  on some cute little wedge heels.  I was on top of the world.  Then, like a sugar high, my good mood plummeted.

She's not here and I fucking hate everything.

Not that it matters, but it's just not fair.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just a line. Or two.

The pain is unbearable...and yet, I am bearing it.  Sometimes I hate myself for it.  What I wouldn't give to be out of this mess.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Dr. Z once told me that being in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder goes like this:  "I love you to pieces!"  "I hate your face!"

He is, as in so many other instances, dead on.  When things are good, you have to soak it all up and tuck some of those memories away for later like a squirrel saving up nuts for the winter.  The time will come, again, when things are bad, and you have to try to remember why you continue to put up with the behaviors that come with the illness.

A person who has bipolar disorder may tell you that you're their sole reason for living and the reason their life is miserable within the same 24 hour period.  After spitting out the meanest thing they can think of to say or perhaps just pretending you don't exist in their world, they will eventually apologize.  Profusely.  Sincerely.  And usually with tears.  I saw it with Cory.  I saw it with Bob.  I see it with Tim.

You are then faced with the decision to be compassionate while simutaneously opening yourself up for the next attack or to stand firm that no matter what the underlying reason, the behavior was still hurtful, and your feelings mean just as much as theirs do.  Self-preservation, if you will.

It was extremely difficult to parent a child with these symptoms because you always had to carefully, from an emotional distance, sort out the intentional behaviors from the illness, and choose whether or not to lay down consequences.

That was hard work.  Because she was always sorry.  It's no easier to do with an adult in a committed relationship.  Are you compassionate and that's why you're drawn to be with men who have bipolar or are you just an easy mark?  Are you tolerant or are you stupid?

It's hard for me to deny someone I love an apology, no matter what the circumstances, when I have their naked, tear covered face in front of mine.  My first instinct is always to comfort someone who is upset.  I think that's how I've ended up accepting treatment I wasn't really okay with if I thought there was hope.

There was that look that I've seen on too many loved ones' faces that said, "I screwed up again.  I'm sorry I'm bad.  Do you still love me?  Should you?"  I'll do anything to make that look go away.  It hurts my heart.

The sad thing is that even when a person with bipolar is in treatment, there will still be waves.  There will still be episodes.

And I stand behind what I told Bob many years ago, "Whether or not you meant it doesn't change the quality of the pain for the person you hurt."

To Go

It's easier to go out to eat at places Cory had never been, especially if I'm with Jake and Tim.  We were hooked on a Greek place in town for awhile, and that was a refuge because I could eat there without being overtaken by memories of her laughing beside me.  I'm still parked at the junction where memories hurt every bit as much as they comfort.  The scale remains poised between the two, and it's a difficult place to live.

Music was different from the very beginning.  I wanted to hear her music.  It washed over me and said she still had an active presence in my life.  The only songs that were very difficult to hear for a long time were the ones that played during the service:  "Fix You" by Coldplay and "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry.  When either of these showed up on shuffle or on the radio, I would lunge to shut them off.  Only recently can I listen to them, and then only rarely.  When I do, it's a spirtual sort of experience, where my chair or my seat in the car disappears beneath me, and I am sitting on a pew waiting to say goodbye to my heart, hungry to see her face, wanting desperately to drag a chair up there and gaze down at her for every moment available because the lid will shut all too soon

A month or two ago, I got a craving for Chinese, not just the buffet I sometimes frequent with a friend on my lunch break (at a restaurant I never visited with Cory), but my usual Cashew Chicken with extra cashews, crab ragoon, and noodles of perfection.  Cory and I were hooked on these noodles in the worst way.  This particular restaurant was also one of the only places I could take Cory when she was very paranoid around other people.  It was a safe place.

We always sat in the same booth, in the corner, well away from others.  It's a family owned restaurant so we always had the same waitstaff.  We always ordered the same thing.  It was blessed predictability for my girl.  She'd always get the Kung Pao Chicken, spicy, with extra baby corn, and our favorite noodles.

Tim, Jake, and I decided to give it a try.  Of their own accord, my legs led us to the familiar booth.  By the time our drinks had arrived, I was crying.  Tim asked if I wanted to leave, but I could not ruin this for the boys, so I said no.  Every time I lifted my head and saw Tim and Jacob sitting beside each other, talking and laughing, across from me, the emptiness of the booth beside me was magnified.
I have pictures of Jake and Cory sitting beside each other in the very same booth.  We came here often when it was just the three of us, our little family.
When the food arrived, I expected it to taste empty and bland.  But wouldn't you know, those noodles of perfection were every bit as delicious as I remembered?  There I sat, tears streaming down my face, cramming the noodles Cory had loved in my mouth.  My heart was breaking...again...but I couldn't stop.  They tasted so good.

Life prevails.  It's selfish that way.

I've had the noodles again since then, and I'm sure I'll have them again.  But from now on, they will be to go.