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Down the Rabbit Hole

I watched my man-child at baseball practice tonight. His lanky body deceives the power he keeps coiled in his developing muscles. No one expects the huge hits and long-range missile throws from this slender, mild-mannered teen.  When he breaks out his shy, dimpled smile, one cannot help but adore him. His size easily intimidates his smaller teammates (and possibly coaches) until he quietly engages in conversation with a witty, if not goofy, reply. Like me, they do a double-take before laughing in surprise and delight. In many ways, he is still my cherub of a toddler … after imbibing the Wonderland potion, making him a giant among boys, in heart and body.

I have debated for a week now about posting this piece.  It has been written and read and reread.  Today, I decided to quit hiding. Some of you will not be surprised about this “revelation” while others of you will be floored.  If you brave a comment, please remember that I am still the same sharp-tongued, opinionated, assertive (see how I chose all the POSITIVE versions of the adjectives) woman I have always been.  And obviously it has been a rough week or else I would have been content to remain in my comfy cave.

 

I know everyone is still reeling from the news of Robin Williams’ suicide.  The news was a shock to me — not that he killed himself to escape the evils of depression — but that this wonderfully talented, amazingly well-loved icon could not overcome the wrath of one of life’s greatest monsters.  It gives me pause, because I wonder now where is the hope for me and others like me?

It may or may not come as a shock to you that I suffer from depression.  Doctors would not make the real diagnosis while I was in my early to mid-teens, but I finally had a doctor that had the balls to do it when I was in college.  During my middle school and high school years I was prescribed different medications to help lessen the “side effects” of my traumatic car accident.  Eventually, I learned to perform brilliantly and disguise these side effects and no longer used medication to make me seem normal.  I learned much more complex means of burying depression than by washing it away with a pill.  Hell, I got so good at playing the game of being normal, I sometimes forgot I wasn’t.  Until my brain would decide that life was too boring being normal.  Before my body would start failing to do simple tasks like eat or sleep.  My mind would forget that I had class.  Or it would forget my parent’s phone number … because the one person I had not successfully fooled in “Hide the Depression” was my own mother.

I have often wondered why the diagnosis of depression does not deal you a “Get out of a Trauma Free” card.  Because with depression, you label yourself as being too weak to be able to handle mundane life, much less the God-awful, turn everyone’s life upside down episodes of life.  In my life, it was during these crises that I truly began to hone my skills at appearing normal, if not actually possessing incredible super powers.  I became the rock that my family and friends clung to for support, for strength, for common sense survival tactics.  I soon became the “strongest person” everyone around me knew.  This really seems to piss off the Underworld as well as the depression gods as it becomes a challenge to see just how much this deficient chick can handle before she breaks.

Some days I handle these challenges gracefully with the help of an anti-depressant.  But most days I do not.  Handle life gracefully or take medication.  I seem to be born with a defective gene that not only plays with the chemical hard wiring in my brain, but it convinces me that I should not rely on medicine to function.  Now, I only apply the medicine rule to myself — not to anyone else in my family (or friends).  I often let my thyroid medication lapse — and um, unless I want to be comatose, I really, truly do need it to live.  But I despise feeling dependent on a drug to keep me alive and/or sane.  And despite what some people believe about people who suffer with depression, we do NOT want to be devoid of our emotions.  We want to experience the beautiful ride of life — punctuating the curves, hills and valleys with the appropriate laughter, tears and pride.  We want to FEEL … just not suffocating sorrow or anger.  We also don’t want to be numb — to not care that our children scored a home run or made an A on a spelling test for the first time in their dyslexic lives.  We don’t want to PRETEND to be something we are not.

I find that my number one physiological complaint is exhaustion.  I’m not exhausted because I sleep all the time or because I never sleep at all.  I am exhausted because of the immense amount of energy it takes to emotionally be present in the lives of my friends and family.  I am exhausted because of the immense amount of energy it takes not to cry when I feel like doing nothing more… or less.  I cannot begin to imagine how exhausted Robin Williams must have been.  I am no comedian and while I try to inject some humor into my children’s lives (often at my expense …. okay, maybe at their expense, too), I am unable to bring forth the laughter, the joy, the peace that Robin brought forth in MILLIONS of lives.  Not just the life of those immediately around him, but in my life and your life.  The burden of that is beyond me — all the while he is battling a demon that has him by the throat day after day, night after night and no one is even aware.

So, my question is — if he finally laid down his sword and told the demon, “I surrender” — how will I not do the same when I become too exhausted, too broken, too frail to play the game any longer?

Waiting

The little girl sat in the bay window, surrounded by pillows.  She leaned her head against the paned glass and looked out into the misty blue dusk.  She let out a sigh that was much too mature for her seven years.  Her raven hair looked like wet ink spilled down her white cotton nightgown. Her eyes were the color of raw honey and they searched the prevailing darkness earnestly.  “Oh, please let him come. I do miss him so,” she whispered.  She was still sitting there, eyes glued to the velvet beyond when her mother came to check on her.  “Darling, I’m sure it won’t be much longer now.  Be patient.  Give it another night or two.”  But even the soothing tone of her doting mom could not draw her from the vigil.  Her eyes grew heavy as if weighted with the worries of the world and her shoulders began shaking with silent sobs of a broken heart.  As she tried to pack away her disappointment in the remaining sniffles, she lifted one fragile hand and held it against the glass.  And just as she was about to wish him a good night, wherever he may be, he lighted against the tip of her index finger!  It was the first firefly of summer!!  The light from his luminescent glow could not compare to the radiance of her welcoming smile.

Song of My Future

I want the melody of my future

  To contain the deep timbre of your chuckle

  And the smooth comfort of your voice

I want the rhythm of my future

  To keep time with the beating of your heart

  And the strokes of your hand over my hair

I want the lyrics of my future

  To repeat the words you whisper in my ear

  And the vows we spoke at the altar

I want the harmony of my future

  To rely on the strength of your arms

  And the devotion conveyed in your shining eyes

I want the song of my future

  To be sung each morning as we open our eyes

  And on the day my soul slips away to Heaven’s gate.

___Eric_Northman____by_NeuralDefektAssignment 2 of this course requires a detailed description of a serial TV character of our choosing.  My character was originally introduced in a series of books that was ultimately made into a television series.  I prefer the literary depiction of this character but based the profile on the serial character as requested.

Physical Description: Tall, muscular and sexy.  A walking/flying 6’4” hunk with bluish green eyes and dirty blonde hair.  His bad boy smirk is a trademark move that enthralls many female viewers.

Gender:  ALL MALE

Age: approximately 1000 years old

Personality: Charismatic, egotistical, well respected and powerful

Ambitions/Desires: “My destiny is to answer to no man.”

Loves: Blood (esp. Fae blood) and Sookie

Believes in: being loyal to the ones he loves

Trusts: Godric, Pam

Fears most: the final death

Fights for: the ones he loves

Hates: The man that massacred his wife and children (Russell Edginton)

Most important event in life up to date: Massacre of his human family/final death of his maker, Godric

Most influenced by: Godric, Sookie

Best friends: Pam, Sookie

Worst enemies: Russell Edginton

Relationship/family: Prior to vampire life, married with six children; has one vampire child, Pam.

Social/Ethnic background: Scandinavian

Occupation: In human life- Viking warrior; Vampire life – Sheriff of Louisiana Area 5, Owner of Fangtasia

Special skills/talents: Vampiric speed, strength and fighting skills enhanced by his age

Flaws: loyal to the ones he loves

Disabilities: suffered a brief bout of amnesia due to a curse

Special quirks: Maintains constant eye contact, enjoys very close physical contact

Style: He is wealthy but dresses casually and sensually.

Name: Eric Northman

TV series: HBO’s True Blood

** artwork courtesy of NeuralDefekt at deviantart.com**

ImageI am currently enrolled in iversity’s Future of Storytelling.  My first assignment is to recall a story (written, heard or seen) that greatly impacted me.  After summarizing the story, I have to explain the context in which the story was important to me or influenced me.  Below is my response to this assignment.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is a children’s story that explains how a toy can become real through a child’s love.  The Velveteen Rabbit begins his stay in the nursery as the laughing-stock of all toys because he is an old-fashioned stuffed animal with no modern-day mechanics or tricks.  He actually sits neglected for a long while until he is used to replace the boy’s missing bedtime toy.  The boy becomes attached to the Rabbit and takes him everywhere.  The Rabbit becomes shabby in appearance but does not mind because the boy believes the Rabbit is “real”.  The boy becomes sick with scarlet fever and the doctors insist all the toys and bedding must be burned or thrown away, including the boy’s beloved bunny.  The Rabbit cries while mourning his fate.  The nursery fairy then appears and bestows upon him some magic to turn him into a “real” rabbit that he has seen in his forays into the forest with the boy.  The Velveteen Rabbit is overcome with joy at being able to run, hop and play with the other rabbits and still remain close to his boy.

I don’t know how old I was when I first read this story but I remember that I began to place a lot of sentimental value on all of my stuffed animals.   I did not drag my toys around or even play with them enough to lose their aesthetic value.  I did remember the occasion in which I acquired each animal and I used those toys as a never-ending bond to the giver of each one.  When I was twelve, I was in a car accident that required a hospital stay and subsequent surgeries.  I racked up quite a collection of stuffed toys during that three-year duration.  Even though I was well into my teens and had outgrown the security of my many plush toys, I refused to give them away or trash them.  I was emotionally invested in the toys merely because of the circumstances in which I received each one.  To me, they were all “real” in that they represented real people who had shown me real compassion at a time I needed it most.  In ridding my room of these toys, I felt I was dishonoring the memories of those that had loved me.  When at last I was married and acknowledged the need to sever my ties to these childish items, I passed them on lovingly to other children that I hoped would love them and make them “real” in their own hearts.

Parental Struggles

dyslexiaI find it ironic and extremely frustrating that I have two children that have learning disabilities that inhibit their ability to communicate effectively.  I always excelled in writing and public speaking throughout my childhood and college years.  I even majored in Communication Studies (after the evil administrators at UNC-CH thwarted my desire to go into television.  But that’s a blog post for another day).  I realize that I take for granted my ability to put my thoughts to paper and, more times than not, effectively speak my mind.  David was blessed with the writing ability but struggles with the public speaking only because of his lack of confidence.  Once Hunter’s speech delays were identified in first grade, I had imagined that he would blossom into a vessel of self-expression.  It was upsetting to acknowledge and embrace that there were neurological causes for him to struggle with reading and writing.  While he can speak his mind, he now lacks the confidence to do so with conviction because of his issues with dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Hunter has made ASTOUNDING progress in the past year to overcome these obstacles academically.  Tests show that he is now reading on grade level, but tests do not illustrate the amount of effort it takes him to do so.  His writing abilities have improved as well now that he utilizes a computer for most of his school work.  The keyboard does not present the same challenges as a pencil to his dysgraphic mind.  It is by sheer force of will and work ethic that Hunter has achieved so much.  We are fortunate that he is surrounded by teachers that believe in his abilities and do everything in their power to assure Hunter that he is much greater than any of his disabilities.  I struggle as a parent in walking the fine line between wanting to make school work as easy as possible for Hunter while making sure he/we do not take advantage of any modifications to his academic work plans.  It is also a struggle for me to understand what Hunter experiences because the written word has always been so easy for me.  Luke seems to be on the same path as Hunter.  We diagnosed Luke’s speech developmental delay at four and began his speech therapy two full years ahead of Hunter.  While we have seen vast improvement with Luke’s speech, we know it greatly affects his relationships with peers his age.  Adults attempt more patience at conversing with Luke.  Other five and six-year olds don’t have time for that!  Since beginning kindergarten in July, it is has become obvious that he has issues with recognizing letters and numbers.  He is currently well behind his classmates in his writing and pre-reading skills.  Luke will have several diagnostic evaluations completed this week so we can determine what other services may benefit him.  Of course, whatever we discover with Luke, we have the advantage of having “been there, done that” with Hunter.  I can’t help but wonder how I have failed these two children — they are extremely intelligent, outgoing children that should not be hindered in their abilities to interact with the world.  I know there is no fault to be assigned, just as there is no miracle cure for their issues.  While I grieve the opportunity to wield my red ink pen on their assignments, I am grateful that they have not let their learning disabilities define the boys they are and the men they will become.

Novel Excerpt

It is no secret that I have been working on a novel for the past several months.  This journey is much more difficult than I ever imagined.  I have become emotionally invested in my characters and have a very difficult time deciding their fates, as I want to protect them from heartbreak and pain.  In a lot of ways, they have become like my children.  I am struggling with the direction of the novel because I am trying to follow my literary instincts instead of emotionally manipulating the outcome.  Since I have hit a wall of frustration, I thought I would share a short excerpt from the story.  I am hoping that if I release some of the protectiveness I feel for this story, I will free myself to write more effectively.  Plus, I just can’t get enough of Devin.  :)  

Devin propped his long legs on the weathered pallet that served as a coffee table on his private dune-top deck. This was his favorite place in the world.  Well, second favorite, barely losing out to being in his bed wrapped up with a beautiful, voracious lover. He brought the chilled bottle of Buckshot Amber Ale to his lips and drained half the bottle, lost in his thoughts.

He had visited the Kindred Spirit mailbox that afternoon and enjoyed perusing the many entries that filled the journal’s pages. Most days he just skimmed the random musings but today his attention had been drawn to the sweeping lines and curves of an eloquent, cursive handwriting. He had run his fingertips over the pencilled words that flowed over the page like calligraphy. He was curious what the passage contained and imagined a flowery pledge of love. He was touched by the plea hidden in the artistic writing. This Genesee woman seemed to be lost but intent on finding a direction forward.  Devin knew better than most how helpless a soul could feel when discovering your life’s compass had malfunctioned. Devin’s desire to gain back control of his life had led him to Sunset Beach ten years ago, against the wishes and demands of his family. Somehow, the day he first crossed the pontoon swinging bridge, he knew he had found his way home.

In all his time on this island, he had never bothered writing or responding in the Kindred Spirit notebook. Today, he succumbed to the yearning to offer some solace to the mysterious Genesee.

Dear Genesee,

Our Kindred Spirit is still in residence here. At least that is what I tell myself when I feel there is no one else to listen to me. I hope you enjoyed your wine and were able to celebrate the breathtaking sunset yesterday. I must admit I find myself very skeptical of the everlasting love and soulmate quest. Perhaps the closest we ever come to that is another Kindred Spirit passing through our life … for a few weeks or even a few decades. Enjoy your return to Paradise, my forever home. I will raise a beer and toast you moving forward in life.  In Passing, The Wanderer

As Devin finished the last of his beer, he surveyed his island home.  For far too long he had been plagued by a sense of deja vu while walking through the dunes and down the barren beach at Bird Island. He often felt there was a deeper pull for his life to be anchored to this place but so far he had been unable to figure it out.  He set the empty beer bottle down, settled back in the wooden swing and let the ocean breeze and lapping waves of the low tide sweep away any lingering thoughts.

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Mighty Fine Men

I cannot deny that I have always been a bit “boy-crazy”.  In preschool, my free play consisted of bullying the cutest boy in our class into playing house with me.  In kindergarten, recess was spent dragging scared, innocent boys behind a tree so I could kiss them.  (Not to worry, guys.  I didn’t go to Bunn until the middle of first grade!)  I fondly remember each of my elementary grades by the boy that I was crushing on or “going with” at the time.  My parents memorialized my first love by wood-burning into our front porch railing my pathetic cry of “But Mom, I’ve loved him since the third grade!” when I found my heart broken once again in the sixth grade.  Amazingly, I even had boyfriends during middle school while I was in the midst of ear and facial reconstructive surgery.  High school opened up a whole new sea of possibilities for me as I found myself attracted to various jocks, nerds, skateboarders and smokers.  Even though I may have treated each break-up as a world-ending drama, I can honestly say I never had a bad break-up.  Yes, we may not have spoken for a few weeks or even months, but each boyfriend ultimately remained in my heart as a friend.  Since the end of high school, only two men have taken hold of my heart and I married both of them.

Looking back at all the guys that I have given a piece of my heart, physically there are very few similarities among them.  There has been tall and dark, short and red-headed, lean and blonde.  But it’s the qualities that we can’t see outwardly that made each of these guys special to me.  You will have your own list of non-physical “turn-ons”.  This is mine:

1. He must be able to look me in the eyes.  I’m not sure if it is my Aquarian nature or just a genetic glitch, but I can discover a lot by looking into a person’s eyes.  The eyes can show dishonesty when words ring true. Eyes shine with passion even with the body makes no moves.  Eyes show pain when we plaster a smile on our faces.  If a man is unable to look me in the eyes, then he and I will have nothing to build a friendship on as hiding one’s’ eyes is more obvious than wearing an unwelcome sign!

2.  A man that makes me laugh is sure to be a quick friend.  I have appreciation for humor that ranges from goofy slapstick to dry, sarcastic wit.  While it is rare that I am impressed by gross body noises, I do have three sons and know when a well-timed snort is appropriate.  Laughter breaks down walls, erases insecurities for a few seconds and allows our hearts to extend outside our bodies.

3. I am a talker.  Seriously.  And I happen to be opinionated.  I enjoy having a conversation with a man that has opinions and can intelligently discuss them.  I also appreciate a man that understands that while I will engage in controversial conversations, there is no need to attempt to convert me — in politics, sports, religion or philosophy.

4.  I really like  a man that is unafraid to show affection in public.  No, that doesn’t mean I am drooling over your man if he holds your hand in the grocery store.  It does mean that I know that your man is very secure in his feelings for those he loves.  In church, I find myself mesmerized by the men that unconsciously rub their partner’s shoulder or pull their wives/girlfriends closer while singing a hymn.  Of course, I was a huge supporter of PDA’s, even in kindergarten.

5. Compassion for others.  Wayne is probably the best example of this particular trait.  And I will suffer from sharing this so publicly … no more PDA’s for me for a long while!  Wayne cannot watch any commercials, telethons or charity concerts that show people in need.  Whether it is a child that is suffering from leukemia, a family that needs a mosquito net in Central America, or a woman that is starving in Africa, Wayne’s heart bleeds for these strangers.  There are many times he has been brought to tears and it has stunned me to my core.  The Youngsville Blue Coach Pitch All-Stars witnessed Wayne’s tenderness when he was so choked up during his final speech to the team, he was barely able to speak.  I have needed men like this in my life to teach me to be more empathetic.

While my husband embraces all of these qualities and I’m certainly NOT looking for anyone else, I do appreciate these qualities in my friends’ husbands, my boys’ coaches, the school dads and our extended family.  These men are the ones that I seek out to be role models for my own sons.  These are the ones that helped me make it to forty with my heart intact.  These are the finest men I know.

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Reaching Out

ImageI must admit I am completely stunned and humbled by the response to yesterday’s post.  I never imagined how many of my friends would be affected by my story.  I also never realized how many people cared for me during that time in my life (and years afterward) and never found a way to share their feelings with me.  As youngsters, most of us had insecurities that prevented us from sharing such sentiments.  But what is our excuse as adults?  What drives us to bury our thoughts, feelings, desires from those we cherish the most?  

Many of you know that I was blessed to marry one of my best friends, Christian.  Before we dated, we shared everything with each other.  I knew all of his secrets (yes, he had plenty) and he preserved all of mine.  As friends, we hurt each other with selfish actions, but we never doubted our love for each other.  As we grew older and our relationship changed to one of intimacy, we became more guarded with our feelings.  We were hesitant to share our moments of sadness, fear, regret, temptation, etc.  Eventually, our conversations grew less meaningful, our silences became more profound.  When I felt Christian withdraw emotionally from me, I responded by building a concrete foundation to secure my own doubts and pain.  After a  time, when Christian found that he needed to reach out to me, he was unable to cross the barriers I had erected and I was too stubborn and prideful to tear them down myself.   We lived in the same house, but there was an ocean dividing us.  

It wasn’t until Christian’s dreadful diagnosis of lymphoma in 2002 that we were forced to “get real” with other.  We had an infant to think about.  We had to put aside the years of mistrust and decide how to move forward to secure a future for our son.  There were attempts at complete reconciliation, but the time for us to mend our internal wounds for a successful marriage had passed.  We poured our hearts out to each other, claiming responsibility for our marital carnage.  We extended a friendly truce to each other, not just for David’s sake, but for the sake of two kids that had once been the best of friends.  When Christian died in 2003, I was distraught.  I was unsure how to make it through the days without hearing his easy-going voice or endless jokes.  The one thought that made Christian’s death more bearable, was knowing that he and I had made peace with each other.  I have never had a single night of regret that Christian did not know how I felt about him or that I would have to live on this earth without his forgiveness.  He and I had overcome the worst of circumstances to become the best of friends again.  But we had to throw away our insecurities with each other, open wide the doorway to our vulnerabilities and lay claim to the love we could resurrect from all of our years together.  

A life-threatening illness, an innocent child and a wrecked marriage motivated our conversations.  You would think that I would have taken that to heart and used that as a learning opportunity to never let another day pass by without telling everyone I love — on whatever level — how much they mean to me.  I should know not to overlook an opportunity to express gratitude, extend a congratulations, share heart-felt sympathy, say a simple “Love you”.  But that childish fear holds me back, makes me question how my sentiments will be taken.  Will they be embraced or thrown back in my face?  Will I be laughed at or turned away?  Looking into that 12 year old girl’s face yesterday, I realize that I have faced much worse in my life.  No one can make me feel as small, lonely, and terrified as I did 28 years ago.  I have nothing to lose by reaching out to those around me.  And honestly, neither do you. 

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