Caged Freedom

I was driving through the country roads last night, looking for the farmhouse that was host to our county’s rural dairy farm social (it’s a big deal around here). I drove 50 miles per hour, instead of the regular 55. I wanted to take everything in as much as I could as I wound through gravel roads I’d never been on before. The wetlands and long stretches of acreage blooming with, now, hefty corn plants and baby soy beans seemed so routine, but at the same time, all brand new. I saw herons fly over the marshy wooded groves along the gravel roads, birds of so many colors sprinting across the sky, catching the plethora of insects also flying just as high.
And for a moment? It felt like I was just as free.
Only
A moment.
See, when you’ve been through trauma, your brain and body don’t let you forget that trauma happened. It doesn’t matter how much you’re enjoying your surroundings, trauma comes in and says, “Hey, remember what he did to you? Remember how long you struggled? Remember the smell of his breath and the names he called you? Do you still feel the weight in your chest of what he took from you?” And right when you’re admiring the birds for their freedom, you feel so caged. So far from freedom when its staring you in the face.
But there’s safety in that imprisonment. I know no one can get in and hurt me like I was hurt before. I’m safe in the cage, even though it is a cage.
And that’s how I’ve been surviving the last 2-3 months. Admiring from the outside, but a prisoner of my past. I have the key to unlock my own cage. But I won’t be using it until I’m ready. Until I feel safer outside of my cage.

I cannot be compromised

Right now? I’m pretty much coal.

I’m lumpy and dark and I leave soot

wherever I go.

 

But right now?

I’m getting pushed

and shoved

and squeezed into

something.

 

And I am ugly and in total discomfort

I am becoming sharp

edgy

 

bright.

 

That’s why it is so important that

 

Right now?

you do not disturb

me.

 

 

Now shit’s just getting silly…

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Look it up. Arm yourself with knowledge to the fact that it’s practically impossible for some of us i.e. me to get pregnant because GUESS WHAT? I don’t have periods. Like hardly ever.

And guess what?

I just got the same thing that is at the end of this sentence. YUP, a period.

I think the last time I had one was in like 2012? I was still working at the college I had also attended.

That was five years ago.

And lemme tell ya, like a period always seems to do apparently (according to a crap ton of conversations I had when I was 13…and 14…and 15….and 16 until my mother got worried and we went to see a OB/GYN who diagnosed me with it), it showed up at a bad time. An epically bad time.

I am at the spit end of a paycheck and I should probably go to the doctor, but I can’t afford to go to the doctor. So as my mother tells me I’m just getting my ladybusiness (at 29 years old), my educated brain says I should probably check things out just to make sure nothing goes wrong, or that it isn’t a ruptured cyst, or that I’m not internally bleeding somewhere inside my abdomen, or that there aren’t alien wombs trying to cling to the lining of my uterus (because that’s how it feels).

And there’s the other fun part! Am I freaking out for no reason? (probably, but don’t judge me) Or am I just having a regular period and I’m just not used to the normal pains that go with one?!

Faaaaack.

So while I’m chugging chocolate ice cream at night to curb chocolate cravings, having illustrious dreams about Brad fucking Pitt, wanting to stick icicles through my stomach just to soothe the pain emanating from my uterus , breaking out like a mutant teenager, and having emotional roller coasters in the back of District Court today (I felt really bad for one recidivist whose abuse with alcohol is just so sad), all the while wondering what the FUCK is going on my sub conscious mind after the HELL I’ve been through in the past month… I’m just supposed to accept that my baby-maker is just magically working for a week?

I’m befuddled. I’m beyond befuddled. I’m befuckled. That sounds like something Ricky from Trailer Park Boys would say, so on that merit, I’m keeping the reference.

That being said, I want to salute to all of you women. All of you beautiful, regularly-flowing ladies out there. I cannot imagine. CANNOT. IMAGINE. this shit happening once a month. Holy butt-bald baboons. I am a fucking baby when it comes to this cramp stuff. I’m I’m hardly even flowing. Keep in mind, those are rusty pipes down there if you know what I mean.

(Full-disclosure, if you’re grossed out, go eat some strawberry yogurt and watch Look Who’s Talking or something, get the fuck out of here and let me talk.)

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Either way, I’m just thankful I can lay low tonight and not be bothered by anyone. Because I would probably kill anyone who tried to instigate any type of human contact right now. Except my kitties.

I love my kitties.

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Now, I’m gonna go watch Xenia and read poetry by Kim Addonizio and listen to Bikini Kill.

Damn pre-existing conditions.

May 28: A hopeful outlook

It has been 33 days.

And I can see glimmers of hope, if I stay focused.

I’ve been reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” by Mark Manson, plus I went on a three-day retreat to Deerwood, MN where I learned about Positive Community Norms, a type of positive-based thinking approach to pretty much anything in life (but this, specifically, is directed towards prevention in teenage alcohol abuse) by Dr. Jeff Linkenbach. Cool dude, incredibly insightful. It’s my belief that the series of events I’ve experienced in these past 33 days along with the combination of exposure to the relevance of the book and the retreat to what is going on in my mind has created the ability to pull things into perspective.

That sounded long-winded, but this is more for my own record keeping than anything else, so there’s that.

Dr. Linkenbach’s work is based in this framework of “Spirit, Science, Action, and Return” along with his “Seven Core Principles” of what he calls Science of the Positive, which are Be Positive, Be Present, Be Perceptive, Be Purposeful, Be Perfected, Be Proactive, and Be Passionate. These two areas of his work actually work together. It’s incredible that I was given an opportunity to learn this information. So, quick shout-out to the state of Minnesota and their Department of Human Services- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. It really opened my eyes to how I, myself, view things in the world and what a jaded perspective I have on some areas of my life. This specific retreat was about data we had collected from students in our school district and how to share that data with the public. And there’s a lot of communication between the grant work and the public so we were kind of learning how to talk to people, if you will? And it was beneficial to see. When someone gets defensive about something, I now have a way to respond without getting defensive, myself. That’s kinda cool.

Here’s some more info on Dr. Linkenbach’s work, if you’re interested: http://www.montanainstitute.com/what-is-the-science-of-the-positive/

And, during one of our activities, we were asked to share some struggle we’d met and share it with someone else so we could practice being empathetic. I saw one of the gals I’d connected to pretty well having a pretty hard time with this exercise in particular. It was a moment I hope I don’t forget. We’re pretty much strangers, and I saw her crying, her peers were gently rubbing her shoulder, but I could just tell she was looking for a way out of the room, so I went to her and asked if she wanted to go outside for a smoke. I don’t smoke, but I know she did. So we went outside and I’d found out she was going through a world of hurt, herself. There’s more to it, but the main point I wanted to get across was that being human to one another comes first, above anything else. It’s EASY to show anger, or frustration, sorrow, and sadness, but empathy and compassion and understanding take more work, and thus, are seen far less frequently. And those traits are essential to our humanity.

Photo on 5-28-17 at 3.21 PM.jpgAnd the book I’m reading is showing me how I can narrow my need and desire to care about so much in a progressive way that gives me direction and intent behind it. Mark Manson talks about the scientific nature of why our minds have become shaped in the way that they have. He speaks that we all have had diversities in our lives that have jaded our perspective and made us privileged in even the most basic ways in our thinking.

It’s helping me to see how to categorize my angry, depressive thoughts and use that energy with purpose. These tools are also showing me that mistakes are going to happen in life, and we truly must try to learn from them (no matter how painful the experience) and live a life with intent instead of mindless meandering.

It’s funny. I think that’s what my mind and spirit have been doing for quite some time. And I look at the title of my blog, “Finding meaning in the mundane,” and it’s true. Without purpose, or intent, or a need to give a solution to a problem, we are in a constant state of dissatisfaction and flux. And that’s totally okay. But that should not stop us from finding that meaning in the most basic things.

For example, yesterday, I got a cake for my friend Steven. He’s moving to Tennesee. I also got party hats and party favors and bubbles. It wasn’t a big deal to celebrate, but it was something to be silly about. And the bubbles. Those bubbles have been putting so much joy into everyone who has used them. I got a big beach bouncy ball for tomorrow’s Mullaly Memorial Day picnic, too, and I was having fun in the backyard with that, as well. An opportunity to have fun is to be embraced, for that moment is fleeting. It’s okay to enjoy, without self-sabotaging yourself with bad habits and temporary highs. We have to take those moments when they come and embrace it. And potentially even share it with others.

It goes back to my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.

“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you may come back with self-respect, new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” -R.W.E.

Just a good reminder that not all days are bad. Since I came back on Thursday from this retreat, I’m going to be positive and present and perceptive and purposeful all while not giving too much of a fuck about things I can’t control.

Everything hurts

Each day that passes, I try to distract myself from the images that replay in my head over and over. My senses have dulled. The depression is so unbearable. I feel like I can’t do anything right. I can’t do anything without someone else’s approval. 

How do I break this cycle? Where do I go from here? How do I get out of this paralyzing dread? It’s only getting worse with time.