Tat Tvam Asi (Sanskrit: You are that)

There’s never an appropriate time to say goodbye. I had to just decide and then do it. All while knowing that it would be the last moments I’d ever be able to cradle him and look into his eyes.

On the day he got sick, he had to be rushed into emergency surgery, because it came out of nowhere. He made it through surgery and would need to be monitored for the next two days at the 24-hour clinic to ensure he was healing properly.

It quickly morphed into the type of stress that leaves pit stains and leads your thoughts to dark places when you’re supposed to be doing other things.

I visited him at the clinic, and he was becoming very ill. He tried to jump out of the cage to be with me. It shattered my heart. I spent so much time telling him how beautiful his little, pink nose was, how I was eternally grateful for the gift of his life and what happiness it had brought me. Then, it was time for the inevitable.

I think about him every day; his little box is on my shelf, and recently, I purchased a stainless-steel necklace I could put some of his ashes in. It never feels like enough to just think about him every day or wear him near my heart.

His last days are forever extant in my mind, and it haunts me the way not having closure does. I feel the same kind of sadness over lost items that were lost too soon—like a favorite headband I dropped in the woods when I was drunk as a freshman in college. Or, a set of yoga blocks I bawled hysterically over when my mischievous baby clawed them. They were a gift from my sister, and the pristine concept of them were now battered and destroyed.

But it’s not like that at all. Those are just things.

It’s more like the time I told my mom I didn’t want to go to church with her. She’d often go without the rest of the family, and I would sometimes accompany her. I told her no, and then spent the entire time, until she returned, in the driveway crying, because I lost the opportunity to be with my mother—I may have hurt her feelings.

It’s like the time when I was thirteen and I threw a piece of pizza at my sister’s head while we were arguing and then immediately burst into tears because I could never take it back.

It’s like the dozen times I didn’t reach out to old friends and just let them slip away.

It’s like the loss of my best friend, after choosing a boy, who decided he didn’t want me anyway, instead of her.

Those things are irreparable. They can’t be rewound or edited. They are what they are.

You want to protect those you cherish. Everyone always tells me that he felt so loved and had a good life, but on the day he first got sick, I pushed him off the bed really hard. I didn’t know he was sick. He was pestering me for food, and he was a total nuisance. Sometimes, I had to be forceful about getting him off the bed, and I shoved him roughly. I could have ruptured his bladder. I feel so much overwhelming guilt about that moment. His momma was supposed to protect him, and, instead, I may have hurt him.

I can never undo that moment.

For the past three years, I have held my baby’s ashes each night for the near week of hell he went through before he passed away.

I’ve made a promise to him and to myself that I would keep him by my side me during the days I couldn’t be with him at the clinic. So, since Monday, I have slept with his box in my bed. I have the necklace of his ashes around my neck. He will never have to be alone on these five days ever again.

He’s not here. Truth is, he is resting eternally, and he is okay. I am the one who is not okay.

Along with the necklace of his remains, I am wearing a necklace today with the Sanskrit phrase “Tat Tvam Asi,” which means “You are that.” I see others in myself and myself in others. Maybe this is my urge to protect him postmortem, because, in actuality, I’m really protecting myself.

No mother always does the right thing or can keep pain away from her baby. Yet, like the little girl crying in her driveway for a moment that will never come back, I clasp and cradle his remains, because I made a promise.

I’m Back

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve stopped taking my medication.

My anxiety may have been shelfed, but my depression and lack of motivation were at an all-time high. If I could win an award for quickly approaching total train wreck, I would have won two.

I weaned off my anxiety medicine with the intention of starting a different one. The one I have been on since January has slowly given me bowel complications and suicidal thoughts. Getting up in the morning was difficult, even though I hadn’t realized it until this past week. I wanted to crawl into bed the moment I got home, too. It was in the middle of a bustling, beautiful summer when I reached the apex of my inability to “human”.

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve stopped taking my medication, and I’m thinking that I may not start the new one. Not just yet, anyhow.

The first thing I noticed come back to me were tears. Not depressed, sad tears. Emotional tears. If a movie is poignant, I can cry again. If someone sings with an ethereal voice or I hear a cheesy proposal story, the waterworks start.

My libido is back.  My “vagisis” is over. (I coined the term several months ago when I realized the medication affected my nethers, and I was in crisis mode over it.)

The past two days I’ve been cooking. I love to cook but have had very few days in the last 365 where I’ve felt inclined or motivated. My home-made pesto pasta and pizzas may not have come out as I had desired (I’m a bit rusty), but I still felt excited to come home and get things done.

I thought I’d be a mess without my medication, but maybe (and I don’t know yet… it is an elusive maybe) I just needed the boost for a bit, and I’m back on track. I don’t think medicine is evil, but I also know it’s not a panacea. I wouldn’t be able to wean at this point without the behavior therapy that is helping me be more in control of my life.

All that said, nothing has been making me happier than crying endlessly lately over every sappy moment on television or in my earbuds, as I listen to podcasts.

It might sound absurd, but all this crying has got me in a great mood.

Here’s to more tears (and smiles) in future months to come.

No Shame

I felt excitement. Genuine excitement. I didn’t need drugs or alcohol for a high. I wasn’t recovering from the titillating heart palpitations after a passionate entanglement under the sheets. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas Eve.

For the past year, and perhaps even longer than that, I have been mostly quietly drowning in depression. I get the winter blues, but I felt it in the summer and spring, too. I had always been able to bounce back from the lows, but something shifted in the last year. I just… couldn’t anymore. For possibly the first time ever, I believed that my happiness wasn’t completely under my control. Sometimes it is hormones, sometimes it is chemicals.

I, honestly, realized this a little sooner. Maybe three years ago, or so, when after two years of hysterical fits, suicidal thoughts, and crying jags that lasted hours at a time, I learned that I have PMDD (a hormonal imbalance condition that can be treated with birth control). After attempting to hurt myself, I finally took steps to take care of it. My hormones could change how I behaved.

Once again, here I am, realizing I am in desperate need of help.

A few weeks ago, I started seeing a therapist. She’s not the kind who prescribes medicine, but we are starting to form a relationship as I unravel details about my past.

She has been encouraging me to take small steps to reach attainable goals. She suggested I get a physical. I haven’t had one in probably eight or ten years. I get terrible night sweats, which might be related to the hormonal imbalance, but it could also be something else. I have an appointment in a week.

Last week, she gave me homework to write a letter (I will never send) to my ex-boyfriend about everything that hurt me and made me angry about him and the relationship. I’ve been living the last several months in a pained sadness, missing all the wonderful things, like a wonder-starved child seeking pleasure in dreams. And although I know that won’t go away, because there truly were remarkable things about our relationship, I am still recovering from the arguments, mistrust, and just the broken-heartedness of someone who lost a man with whom she saw a future. I’m allowed to dispense my anger in a way that won’t hurt anyone and can only help me. She is helping me to see this so I can gain back some of my self-esteem. So I can enliven some of the courage that has been hibernating deep within me.

She also mentioned that tanning during the wintertime often helps people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have been stubborn against considering this an option, because of the obvious risks, and I don’t advise that it’s for everyone, but I was running out of hope and ready to try anything that could possibly help.

The past week has been pretty hellish, with the New Year starting with some intense anxiety attacks and insomnia. I dealt with most of it surreptitiously on my own, only telling a couple of people, because I was so ashamed at my inability to pull myself together as an adult. I felt terrified, swaddled in heaps of blankets, sweating and moaning for days in between the random moments of unconsciousness and the blank hours of feeling absolutely nothing inside except a tightness in my chest. I can liken it to the book I’m reading, “The Last Unicorn”, where once caged, the iron bars hissed at her mockingly because the unicorn had no power of her own to escape. It was a place I wish not to return to.

Last Saturday, I overheard a couple, who live beneath me (and whom I have never met), have a very intense fight that lasted hours. It occurred directly below me in their bedroom. I was already in bed. She screamed and sobbed for an unending amount of time, and his dampened murmurs indicated that either he was trying to rationalize with her or had already given up. She screamed with desperation that she was sorry over and over. Finally, it stopped, and I was able to sleep. I worried about the two of them for days. Prayed for them. Welled up with tears in my own eyes as I imagined her grief over something I didn’t know. But I could feel it. Deeply. And it has stuck with me.

I’m pretty sure that none of this has been very helpful with my mood.

So today, one of my closest friends and I went to a tanning salon she’s been to in the past. We decided to dedicate Sundays to “girl time”. I told the lady at the front desk I would start with 12 minutes since the full 15 made me nervous; even though I am olive complexioned, I haven’t been out in the sun for a while. I shed my clothing and climbed into the inviting glow of the tube.

I imaged ocean waves and the sounds of plucked ukulele strings, as a warm breeze swept over my face and the heat of the lights made my body feel as though for a short period of time I was lying on the beach in Maine at my parents’ condo, or in San Diego, visiting my sister. I felt summertime penetrate my skin.

When it was over, I put my clothes back on and we got in my friend’s car. I told her I still felt warm and toasty, and she agreed that she did, too. When we got back to my apartment, we laughed, listened to music, tinkered with the piano, and played childhood board and card games. I taught her the strategy to one of my favorite logic puzzle games, and even after she left around dinner time, I was still filled with happiness and energy that I haven’t felt in months.

I don’t know if it was the placebo effect of going tanning or it was the actual UV rays, but today has been different. I have not wanted to move off my couch for over six months, and today I ran around my apartment in excitement, needing to show her games I had, and I actually wanted to play them.

Before I sat to write this, I started reading a new book. I have not willingly participated in activities like that for most of the past years with a few rare days of clarity and energy that perforated through.

I hope this isn’t a fluke, and I know it takes more than one day of tanning to become the whole person I used to be. However, I am dually frustrated I waited so long and so relieved I’ve finally taken the steps.

Living your life as if you’re waiting to die is no way to live, but I had become comfortable with that. I miss the woman who enjoys her own thoughts and loves being creative. I am hoping that I find her again through all this searching and recovery. I am seeking happiness with a side-effect of a nice tan for the winter.

Discarded

The strange thing about heartbreak is that the loneliness never gets easier.

Yesterday at lunch, my coworkers talked about ravioli.  You and I will never make them with your grandmother’s pasta maker.

I haven’t watched the newest episode of “This Is Us” and often feel compelled to wait for an imaginary time when we’ll watch it together.

I think about making pizza in the flour-filled air of our kitchen. I miss the taste of the seasonings you melded into the crust.

I drive by the old apartment that we lived in for less than a year. Soon someone else’s bed will be where our bodies held each other every night.

I want to tell you how there’s no way to lose the “Zen” mode in my Bejeweled game. How that’s why I have millions of points.

Or how my car starter battery was only dead and now it works great from far away.

Or how Aum was being so cute the other day.

Or the fact that I had my parents pick me up from a party last Saturday because I was too sad to be there.

It’s been over three months, and it literally feels like yesterday that you were mine.

I have moments where my deluded mind tricks me into believing it’s not done.

And the crash to reality from those moments is always so indelicate and raw. Like poor stitching being pulled apart so it can be redone crooked and wrong.

I’m full of pockmarks and broken threads.

I live in this loneliness of forgetting that you are never coming back and that when I wake up in a panic, it’s because you are not mine and never will be.

That I was just another tragedy. Scrap swept aside to become trash.

Somewhere in the landfill of my toxic thoughts and brooding heart, I am lost. Unless reclaimed, garbage never becomes anything useful again.

That’s the kind of lonely this is.

Miss You (7/30/18)

I miss you.
All the goddamn time.
Even when you’re in the room,
I miss you.

I once told you this,
but now that luxury is gone.

I suffer alone
with the immensity,
the missing.

The knowing that everyone now gets
more of you
than I ever will again.

Always Been (8/16/18)

I think of the irreversible damage of a mother not holding her child;
of blame and abuse from birth–
and I know no one really is ever okay after something like that.

Then, I think of myself,
loved and rocked from womb to walking–
showered in affection and praise.

I naively fall right onto men’s laps and into their arms–
not understanding the harm
that is incurred later in life when you used to trust
and now know it’s always been a lie.

Dysphoria

The heartbreaking ease of going to sleep with tear drops blanketing my face is like a familiar song. Although I feel so alone in those moments, I know every verse, every note.

I’ve hummed it my entire life.

This has been the longest breakup. He broke up with me July 8th, and it is only today, September 26th, that I wake up no longer having to worry about the old apartment, the storage unit, or any of that. Of course, there are still a couple loose ends to tie up, but it is so close to being final.

I have been telling myself for months that things will be better once it is all done and I am no longer breathing in the air of purgatory—stale, tepid, and apathetic. I also knew that once all the pieces were put away and our lives were once again separate and unknowing that I would feel the panic of isolation, erasure, impermanence.

Both are true.

So, I am left in a wind-swept tunnel, clear of the physical presence of him, but every molecule in the air is vibrating with the verse I sing myself to sleep with.

I will slowly forget the words, and new words will fill that space. The song will never be gone, but it’s nice to get it out of my head for just a while, if I can.