Three and a half months

Sometimes it is hard to think about how much life can change in 3.5-months. Tomorrow, I see my psychiatrist for the first time that I think that he will be willing to sign off on my returning to school (and work). I’m excited and scared. In these last few months, I have come to terms with some very difficult things. I have learned that despite my best efforts that I cannot control Bipolar Disorder.

I have learned that medication is only part of the equation. Limiting stress and moderation are very important. I learned that my force of will could not make me better. It took a long and difficult path to reach that point. I learned that it was okay to admit that I was completely unable to control my world or even my emotions, even a little.

But, I also learned as I got better that I needed to determine the person that I am deep down inside. Not the person trying to be what someone else wanted. Not the person pretending to be stronger than she was. Not the person who reacted badly to being hurt and wanting to hurt someone else back.

Working with my psychologist has been great for this, but my trip to New Orleans taught me so much more about myself. It taught me that I am self-reliant, but that I love my family and value them. It taught me that while I am very good at reading people that I am not always good at judging them. I am far too likely to give the benefit of the doubt. It taught me that I seek safety because I have so often been afraid. It taught me that despite the voices in my head that still plague me from time to time that I want to live. Most importantly, I have learned that it is okay to just be me. As odd as I am, as introverted as I am, as much as I care about my clients, as passionate about social issues as I am, and equally passionate about my religious beliefs. Even my complete disdain for the Evangelical movement (if you are offended, I’ll be happy to explain why). I despise Donald Trump and his Cabinet. Yep, I’m saying it now, worst president since Andrew Jackson. Maybe even worse than Andrew Jackson.

There is a wonderful world out there and I want to be there as my children experience it. I want to travel with my husband before his knees give out on him.

More than anything, after 3.5-months I look forward to waking up each day with the Queen in our new home. A home that is free of damp and mold. A home where her two loving parents are happy, and her brother and sister are working on it. Where her mother is finally healthy.

Moving

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We closed on our beautiful new home on February 10. For the most part, the house is exactly what we were looking. However, with my penchant for older homes, it was only to be expected that there would be interesting problems that would need to be worked out. For instance, if an addition is built onto your house in 1969, there is carpet in that room, and even if there is hardwood floor in part of the room… it’s a lie. Two-thirds of that room will be some kind of floor boarding that must be ripped up and hardwood put down or recarpeted. Budget wise (and resale value) the hardwood just made more sense.

Or, the kitchen where we have been working to meld my sweet husband’s ultra modern stainless steel and my more classic era of the house elements. I think that we finally worked that out. For the moment our kitchen looks like a war zone, my appliances are hanging out in the living room. Hey, at least the washer and dryer are set up and ready to go.

Perhaps the best thing about this house is the large fenced backyard, with a huge dog pen. There are plans in the works to get another dog for Byron to train. There is also a huge playset that the Queen thinks is the best thing EVER.

 

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Cooking is good for the soul

I taught myself to cook during my 2nd year at Georgia Tech. My mother had bought me 1000 Vegetarian Recipes, an inexpensive set of pots and pans, and the necessary implements to cook. She promised to replace my starter set if I learned how. I sat down with a set of then sticky labels and marked the recipes that I wanted to cook, and then with another set of labels the ones that I thought I could try to cook. I remember that the first recipe that I cooked was Rattlesnake Stew. It was named so for the rattlesnake beans that were supposed to be in the soup. These beans are nearly impossible to find, but adzuki beans are a nice substitute. It was wonderful, and I thought, maybe I can do this.

In the beginning, cooking was like math, which I am very good. If you follow the recipe and the recipe is not written by an idiot then your recipe is going to turn out. Baking is chemistry, and I struggled with chemistry. This is the reason that I avoid baking if possible. Now, I am more comfortable in the kitchen, I trust my palate, and I can cook from my experience and not a book. Of course, I love my books. I also have an amazing number of kitchen gadgets and beautiful pots and pans thanks to my Mom. I learned how to cook and she kept her word.

I cooked multiple times a week until my sweet husband and I married. We had 3 children living in the home and none liked my style cooking. The didn’t like that one day would be Indian food, the next Italian, and the next something that I came up with off the top of my head. Then I became pregnant with the Queen, bed rest, and I stopped cooking altogether.

I also hated the kitchen, with the lack of counter space, and glass top stove. I hate a glass top stove. When we moved south, the house that we are renting also lacks counter space and has a glass top stove. I just can’t make myself cook most of the time. However, the kitchen in our new house has a wonderful amount of counter space. The meals that I look forward to cooking.

Friday or Saturday, let’s be honest I have no idea which one, I commented on Facebook that reading and watching Julie and Julia with my current abdominal ailments made me want vegetables, butter, and cream. Tonight, I decided that misery be damned and I made my Spiced Cauliflower Soup, dairy (butter, milk, and sour cream), chipotle powder, and onions and shallots. It was delicious, so very delicious. The type of meal that leaves you full and happy. However, I’m up at 1:20 writing this due to the misery of my decision. But, I am not complaining, it was worth every bite and swipe of bread.

I look forward to the next meal that I cook. The catharsis of cutting up vegetables. The first bite with family.

The snake

In Native American teachings, the snake is seen as a symbol of transmutation because it sheds it’s skin once each year. The snake is enigmatic as it embodies sexuality, psychic energy, alchemy, reproduction and immortality.

A tarot reader reached across the table after our reading. He said that the snake was a real person in my life. He told me that I must get this person out of my life no matter what.

I am not a believer in the occult. I had done the reading on a whim while walking through Jackson Square in New Orleans. However, before he spoke, I saw the face of the man that he meant. Over the next few weeks, I tried to extricate myself from the relationship  (loose term). I somehow always failed, but I kept trying.

Then I remembered, certain personality disorders will always want there own way. They can’t stand to be challenged and they certainly can’t stand for you to continue to do what they don’t want. So, I set things up to do just that. It was personally painful as I had to pretend to engage, pretend to be hurt, pretend to care about a relationship that was as interesting to me as paint drying, and pretend that my little heart had just been broken by a shitty friend. It worked though, and I’m glad to be done.

I wish that my path to cleansing didn’t include apologies and truth telling to some others. But, that too, was necessary.

Take my advice when you think someone isn’t acting in your best interest, don’t wait until it takes these lengths. Don’t wait for the grizzled hand of a psychic to bring you to your senses.

Clearing my head in the smelliest place in America

This blog is stream of conscious. I apologize to those that are bothered by this style, but I knew of no other way to write it.

I had a panic attack at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. There were just so many kids there, buses full of them swarming everywhere. It didn’t help that I was coughing like someone with consumption and hadn’t slept for days. It was one of two touristy adventures while in New Orleans, and a repeat of a much-enjoyed experience with my sister 14-years ago. When the docent found me hiding behind some plant life and digging desperately in my bottle of sedatives, he merely said, kids, and walked away. Even after the drugs kicked in, the trip was rather ruined, and there were still swarms of children. I walked back to my hotel shaking my head and lamenting that nothing is ever as good as you remember it.

I am a realist and have never placed any stock in psychics and the like. With the exception of ghosts, I definitely believe in ghosts. So it shocked me when I was drawn to stop at a tarot reader on the northwest edge of Jackson Square. I sat down in front of him, and not wanting him to “read” me, said nothing and took a neutral body posture. His first question was, “Are you descended from an Indian tribe?” I answered simply, “Yes.” He looked at me again and said, “Creek” I shook my head, yes. He handed me a deck of cards to shuffle, and when I handed them back he said, “I don’t need to read these cards for you. You know what they say.” As he placed the cards on the table, I felt impressions. As he read the cards, I realized that he was absolutely accurate. Then he said, there is a man in your life that you must get rid of forever.

Sitting in the chapel of Christ Church Cathedral waiting for the 12:15-weekday service, the vicar told me about the church, when it was built (1840), and how it had to be built outside the city limits of New Orleans. Episcopalians were not welcome in a city filled to the brim with Catholics, but evidently, there were enough of them that they built a magnificent cathedral.On the trolly ride back from the Garden District, I reflected on being an outsider when your beliefs were only slightly different. I mean, we are the Anglican Catholic Church after all. As someone who has always been an outsider, I found sitting in that church strangely fitting. I could imagine myself a hundred odd years ago worshipping in a way that my neighbors would not approve. The only place that I ever “fit-in” was in Austin and that is because no one “fits in.” We are all a bunch of misfits who find other misfits that we like enough to tolerate.

If you can’t sleep because you are coughing so much that you are afraid that the neighboring room is going to complain about the noise, you might find yourself reading and watching a great deal of television. At some point, though, you have to admit to yourself that you are getting sicker and call your insurance for permission to go to urgent care. And what an urgent care that it was! It had 18-foot ceilings with plaster walls, marble floors, ancient wooden benches, worn smooth by wear, and leather chairs. I saw a doctor within 5 minutes of arriving, was given prescriptions for an antibiotic and the good cough syrup and was out the door in 15 minutes. Lesson learned, you are not invincible at 40, and if you are coughing like a crazy person then you shouldn’t be walking 8

Checking out for my sanity

My friends, I admit it, I checked out sometime early last week and I’ve yet to check back in again. I enjoyed New Orleans, talked to no one but shopkeepers and waitstaff. It was blissful. More than anything, I was able to knit together some of my still unraveling ends. Sometimes, you have to admit to yourself that you aren’t at 100% or even 50%. That you are climbing your way out of a very deep hole and there are some things that you can’t handle yet. You have to leave it to others, who you trust to act in good faith, to carry on the good fight.

Because, right now, I can’t afford to read, watch, or listen to the news. I know what’s at the bottom of that shaft. I’m not sure that I will make it out again, and my legs are still wobbly and my hands are still shaky. I will get stronger. Until then, know that I love each and every one of you. Each voice, each post, and each protest. Someday soon you will have a sister in arms again.

Not quite mid-life

Earlier this week, a friend called and congratulated me on being middle-aged. I assured her that I wasn’t as I planned to live long past 80. Since she and I both trained at The Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin, you see that this conversation became boring very quickly to the casual observer.

It did make me think. What does it mean to be “not quite mid-life?” I look at my closest friends from college, and we all have young children (under 5-years-old). There are years of jiu jitsu, ballet, art, etc. classes to drag children. Eighteen birthday parties to plan, throw, and remember the specific allergy of each child. Years of school plays, class parties, teachers’s presents, and school supplies. It’s difficult to equate that with the traditional idea of middle-aged parents, who are either empty-nesters or have children in high school. Where do we fit in? Hmm… I’m trying to determine that. I’m 40 and I have a 2-year-old.

 

 

All my little princelings

“He should appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, kind, guileless, and devout. And indeed he should be so. But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how ” – The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

I have been thinking about Machiavelli, and I think that he got a bad rap. Sure the first part of The Prince is a royal bore these days, but the second half is pure psychological gold. That man understood human nature in a way that most people haven’t the capacity to comprehend.

In the quote above Machiavelli acknowledges that a person must be capable of all things. That appearance is as important as actuality. But, more than anything that it is important to know when it is time to change tactics and to do so with grace.

Though my favorite piece of advice is one that every mean girl learned in elementary school, it is better to be feared than loved.

Walking the edge

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.

Don’t tell me that even you believe.

Loneliness makes you both blind and dumb

But that doesn’t last forever.

I’ll always be the truth teller

The harsh reminder of flaws

It’s the way I live my life

I know exactly who I am

The flaws of my life

I am my own harsh reminder

2017, I have no hopes for you

First, I apologize for the lack of proofreader.

In past years, I have begun January 1st with either hopes or trepidation. However, this morning, I woke up with an empty feeling inside and realized that I have no hopes 2017. No good. I merely have a feeling that things may go terribly wrong, that our country is being run by those with no concept of history or politics, and that we should all be afraid of Vladimir Putin. Then again, why should anyone listen to me when the greatest political and academic minds of our time worldwide have been warning about this for the last 6 months.

My final statement on the new year is that I hope to see you all in 2018.