Fear me not

***Picture posted on Facebook by Power of Positivity***

As I have detailed on here somewhat brokenly and rawly, I have learned I live with depression and will for the rest of my life. That somewhere along the line, the chemicals in my brain decided to go haywire and there are probably neural paths that have crossed that never should have even come in contact. With medication and previously therapy, I will not conquer and eradicate my depression, but we will live an uneasy partnership. Much like that little spider I allow to live in the bathroom corner.

As I was meandering through my Facebook feed this morning I came across the above quote and it instantly reached out and grabbed my by the throat. Because for so long I did fear failure. And with that fear, I stripped and bound myself with chains, closing off a part of me that is as essential to my well being as breathing or eating is.

I am a writer. I live to create. One of mom’s favorite stories about me when I was younger was how in grade one she received a call about a short story I had written. Not sure what was going on but the story was about a dog who died and a ghost squirrel was his (I am speculating here as I cannot go back and ask my 6 year old self) spirit guide. Not to heaven but beneath a tree in the backyard. I believe I have the story here somewhere  I might have to go back and reread it. It may be a gem of an idea!

However I am digressing.

My forte seems to be writing poetry. I began writing poems (not of the Roses are Red variety) I believe in 1986. I would not hold me to that fact, I may be a little off. But the first poem that I still clearly at least recall the premise of, had to do with the escalation of something between Ronald Reagan (than president of the U.S.) and his counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev (last leader of Communist Soviet Union) and nukes. I was 11 years old and scared. Who knows where the poem is today but that was my start.

I have always used poetry to express myself. As a teenager, struggling with depression and self-image issues and just a whole lot of anger, my poetry was dark and tragic. I wrote a lot about suicide. There was no happiness, no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel.

In hindsight, I was wrapped in a morass of pain and hatred, anger and fear. It all fell from my mind and pen in twisted pathways. Approximately 15 years or so ago, I found all my poetry. And I burned it. But that comes later in this tale. The emotions that bled off the page into the air around me as I read had tears pouring down my face for this poor soul I had been.

In high school I wrote the next great novel. Ha! Three years, a gazillion rewrites later and I was ready to send it off to the publishing world. I had done enough research that I knew I had to send in a query first so I did. And I received some interest back. I had to pay to have them read my manuscript. However the person who had to read it probably earned that money tenfold.

It was a horrible novel. I cringe even now when I think of it. I recently learned that my baby bro found a copy when he was in junior high and had an english assignment. So he took in all 300+ pages and handed it in. With his name on the front. I applaud his audacity but the teacher caught him out and ended up calling my mom. I can only hope that the english teacher never read it because I had had him during my season in junior high.

Needless to say, I did not sweep the publishing world off their feet. What I did receive was a very nice rejection letter which indicated that I had talent which needed to be shaped and molded. That I should take some creative writing courses.

Not sure if anyone can truly know what rejection is like to someone with depression so I am going to explain how it was for me.

First I cried. A lot. Than I began to be filled with this immense sadness. For this was my dream and now my dream was dead. (Yes I was also a tad dramatic when I was younger) I did not focus on the positives that I had read. Strong descriptive skill. Knew when to break with conversation. Talent. Benefit from writing courses. All I saw was that my novel was no good. I did not know what else to do with myself. (And thus started my career in Customer Service lol)

Next I packed up my typewriter. Cleaned my desk of all writing material. All creative works. And I hid it all away. Most of my material ended up being stored at mom’s until she retired and moved but I am getting ahead of myself.

For the next 26 years I wrote sporadically. Limited to poetry for family functions as required. I never showed anyone anything I was working on. I had short stints of productive periods writing poems but again I was harboring this fear. If I showed my works to others they would hate it. I was no good.

In 2003, during another bout of deep depression which had yet to be diagnosed, I found all my poetry. All the short stories. And I watched the papers burn and flutter into the air, ashes carried away on a breath of wind as I once again let go of this dream I nurtured for so long. (Even if I was not actively pursuing it, that small flame was nestled in my heart.)

I won’t bore everyone with the next 14 years of blackness and despair. Enlivened by the birth of my son. The career I discovered I was good at.  But still I feared. So I stamped out anything creative. I still was reading. Voraciously. My outlet. My escape. And I was and still am in awe of the authors I have found over the years. Of their creativity, the breadth and scope of their imagination.

So let’s jump ahead now. To today.

As I stated about I found this quote in my Facebook feed this morning and it resonated with me. Because for so damn long I allowed fear to rule my life. The words and sting of rejection so firmly entrenched in my thoughts that I feared to try anything. But all that has changed.

I began blogging back in December. And at first it was hard. What do you write about? Plus I had a lot I wanted to purge. I mainly began with blogs like this.

Talking about myself, my life. My son.

Yet as  I wrote, my imagination began to peek out. Unfurling herself from the cocoon she had woven in protection when I tried to excise her from my being.

Everywhere I turn I am inspired. I awaken from a night’s sleep with lines of poetry dancing through my mind.

And I no longer fear. I move forward, writing for myself and well those of you who are joining me on this amazing journey. Nine months later and I can say I am not in the same place I was in when I began this blog. And I hope nine months from now that I will have evolved even more in my writing. In my life.

Fear me not, for I tread among the stars. Illuminated with golden light and blessed of imagination. Travel along side and enjoy this journey with me.

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My Ex

A while back I wrote about how my ex and me were getting along and I realized how much I had matured. Well today I took that one step further. Today I looked passed the man who made me unhappy and spoke to my friend.

This is a man who at one point and time I loved. It is not his fault nor is it mine that in the end we just were not happy together. We are such very different people with little in common. 

Today was the first time that we had a conversation in a long time. And we both laughed. Not the fake ‘yeah get out of my face you are annoying me’ laugh but a real laugh. One that sets the other to laughing. 

We also still have inside jokes and can say things to one another that we are unable to say to anyone else. There have been a few times, where I have been spitting mad and the only one I can vent to is him.

In talking with a girl friend today, she informed me that I was taking the mature route with him. All I had said was his girlfriend was good for him.

And I no longer had to take care of him.

This man is helpless as a baby attempting to organize a tea party. I sent him numerous texts regarding the dates he had T over the summer. I also sent him several screen shots of my calender so he had it. Finally his girlfriend messaged me asking what the dates were. 

That is only one example. 

I can afford to be nice and decent to him. I am happy and in a great place in my life. And I really am working hard to let go of negativity.

It was easy to be angry with my ex when I left. I was blaming him for my unhappiness. Which really is unfair because I had a hand in my own unhappiness. I could have stood firm when I tried to leave three months prior to everything imploding. 

Now though…I am in my own space. I am writing daily. My relationship with my son and mom are amazing. 

So yes, I can afford to be kind with M2. And I even like his girlfriend even though we have not really spoken. But she is excellent with T and that more than anything makes me like K3.(Lol too many K’s- best friend, Auntie and now M2’s girl friend. M1 being my bestie.)

M2 loves T with all his heart. And at the end of the day that is all that is important. He is doing his best to be a great dad. Our failure to make our marriage last aside he will always be my friend. 

Opportunities

*Photo is mine taken today.

I watched the sunrise today

with silent tears on my cheeks

not from sadness you see

but for all the opportunities.

How many sunrises have I missed?

Because of time needed elsewhere

of responsibility and

well, just life.

I am also crying tears-

Tears for the girl I was,

for the woman I thought I would be.

Tears for the woman I became

and tears for the woman I am becoming.

Tears of sadness,

forgiveness

and welcoming.

Tears that cleanse my heart

and my soul

allowing me to embrace

all my opportunities.

©Jay-lyn Doerksen

 August 29/17

Birthday Eve

Today is August 28th. In slightly more than 24 hours I will be 45 years old. I did not actually arrive in the world until 8:20 p.m. so am not “really” 45 ’til than. 

I am looking forward to turning 45. I am not the same woman I was when I turned 44 last year. I am by far a much better and stronger version of her. I have taken my life and where I could have continued along the path of destruction I was on I changed. Slowly at first. But as the changes became good changes, as my outlook and feelings became harmonized and less disjointed I welcomed the changes.

I have documented my cycle of depression and how I had to claw my way back. I have an amazing support group who have been with me since I started on the new journey to me.

A journey that has seen me rise high enough to realize I was in an unhappy marriage and find the strength to leave. To my mistakenly believing all my problems were solved by the dissolution of my marriage and I went off my meds. I began to rely on alcohol to get me through the days. 

My crash, which scared me so badly because I had allowed myself to be tricked into believing I was okay. Our brains are wicked when presenting one with deceptive illusions.

Even after I resumed taking my meds I still continued to self-medicate with alcohol. Finally July 1st I decided to stop. I went six weeks without drinking. And when I did, I woke the next morning disappointed in myself. 

I have had some again but there is a difference. One that I can see and feel. It is no longer a need. There is no desire to negate the feelings I did not want to face. 

So tomorrow I am turning 45. 

 I am eating better. I am sleeping better. I am exercising. I have quit drinking to self-medicate and find that I do not miss it. 

Best of all I am writing again. I am more secure in the voice I have. I am letting those wonderful words combine and emerge like a waterfall from my finger tips. I believe in magic again. 

At 45 I am beginning to emerge from the cocoon of the past. I can see my present but the future….that is a dream still waiting to be dreamed.

Why you won’t want to date me

What one can expect to find if they continue after reading and understanding the rules:

My heart enclosed. The gates locked. Bridge is up and the moat is full. With vicious crocodiles. And piranhas.

As I sit here, pouting like a petulant toddler who’s discovered she has to share her candy, I realize how hard I am to please. I have always been the caretaker. That role, after doing it for years becomes exhaustive.

Every single relationship I have been in I end up being in total control. I am the one making all the plans, paying all the bills and ensuring that life continues along tickety-boo. And now I have independence and the only ones I need to worry about are T and myself.

So I have come up with 10 things I need to warn the opposite sex of. About me. And my requirements. For my non- relationship. With a man who can take care of himself.

1) I do not want a relationship. However I do not want to share you. So get use to it.

2) I want a text. Not a thousand times a day but a good morning, a hey in the afternoon and a good night. So I know I have flitted across your mind.

4) I want to hang out with you. But I don’t. So just sit there until you figure it out. I will continue to read my Kindle.

5) I want to talk to you. Sometimes I will actually want you to participate in the conversation. Wait for the extended pause and dive in there.

6) I am a little bit crazy. But just a little bit, most of my friends will tell you it is barely noticeable.

7) I have anxiety attacks. There is no rhyme or reason they strike from no where. Just talk to me calmly about anything so I can focus and ask you questions.

8) I am not certain I want overnight company. I now sleep diagonally across my king size bed. Debating if I want to share.

9) I live with depression. That means some days I am sad. There is nothing you can do about it. Give me a hug and kiss and I will be okay. Some cuddles are nice too.

10) I am extremely emotional. I cry at commercials. I get mad at stupid stuff. I feel things very differently.

Truthfully, I am forwarning most men.  I am a weird woman. I want my independence. I want to be taken care of. I want to be respected.

T and me had a conversation recently. He wanted to know when I was going to get a boyfriend. I phfft’d and said I did not need a boyfriend.That I was more than capable of doing what was needed. He looked at me and asked ‘ you just needed one to help you put together my bed, right mom?’  (I so could have put his bed together but a friend with a drill is much more helpful)

Parenting Styles

Of late, I have been thinking about this a lot. Not in respect to friends or aquaintances, but rather with regards to myself and my brother.

My bro and me are 7 years apart, with myself being the elder.

By the time my brother was born, my parents were already living in seperate homes. By 1982 they were divorced, truth be told I believe in was as early as 1980 but that is neither here nor there. What happened was, our dad took a long walk off a short pier. No, he did not commit suicide, but he dove into a bottle and remained there until the day he died. My brother and me, blips on the screen and only when our mom really stuck to her guns. For the most part, she allowed his parenting responsibilities to slip because well, he wasn’t a parent. Or rather not a great one.

So, I was an only child until I was 7 years old. Than he came along. LOL yes, I am referring to my brother. I was ecstatic I had a brother. A wee part of me, okay like a massive part of me wanted a sister, but hey what do you do? Once they come out it isn’t like you can return to sender, according to my mom, it just does not work that way. So I made do. Yeahhhhhhhhhh a baby brother.

And I did love him. I protected him. I raged for him. Until the day he decided he was smarter than me. Than the war was on. And well, I am the knowledgeable fount of information that no one wants to know, so that makes me so much smarter. I am laughing and digressing at the same time.

And than things happened. I got older, he got older, but I was a teenager. Do you know what it was like to be a teenager in a single parent home in the late 1980’s? If you weren’t born than, than no you don’t. If you were, you remember it was unpaid hell. You had to look after the younger sibling sometimes up to three times a week for free! And not only that, they could say you twisted their ears off, and despite evidence to the contrary because they still have both ears, you were the mean one. And the infant child is coddled while he/she smiles the evil smile of all younger siblings.

I use to swear up and down that our mom parented my brother and me differently. With me she was strict. Bedtimes, weekends home by 8:30-9 p.m. and no later. I was tangled in the leash as she tried so hard to protect me. And than there was my brother. Oh how my mom and me fought about the differences in parenting. I screamed and raged that she was so much tougher on me. That she allowed my brother to get away with murder. She did. And even when she did put her foot down, it was kinda like my bro knew how to talk his way around it.

All of this is not a criticism of how our mother raised us. I am the woman I am and I have the morals and a compass by which I lead my life all because of her. Essentially, how would my mother deal with this.  My brother, he too has morals and a compass that guides him, and he would not be the man he is without our mother. Having said that, my grandmother (mom’s mom) and my mother had/have both apologized to me for how a) grandma always insisted that mom treated us equal when she so did not and b) mom apologizing because she admits to having been more permissive with my brother than me. But she was playing the role of both parents and it is a heady one.

All of this leads me to my current topic. The differences in how myself and my brother and me raise our children. Despite the fact that he is younger than me, my niece is now a teenager with my nephews coming right up behind her. T is 8. The one thing my bro will ever be able to hold over me for being first, having kids.

And suddenly I see the differences. My brother and sister in law, they are hands on parents. They know what their kids are doing morning day and night. They know who all their friends are. They spend their time with their kids. My niece watched Netflix one morning without permission and my bro wrapped her device in layers of tape and bubble wrap. Yet she spent the afternoon at home with him unwrapping said device.

Their boys are in baseball, basketball and play video games. All with their dad and mom, in their corner, being there for them. Bro and nephews play a lot of video games together and yet all three of those kids are verocious readers.

Part of me wonders, is he so reactive and so involved because our mom was permissive? Do not get me wrong, she was involved with his sports and encouraged him. But in some cases, there were parameters that were missing.

Than I look at myself. I talk a lot to T. I am always talking and bugging him to talk to me. I tell him that us having conversations is how I know what is going on in his day to day life. Never mind that I miss two weeks of that life every month. I sit outside (now that it is warmer) reading and watching him play. Because that is what he wants of me. Not to hover over him. Not to intrude, but just to be there.

Inside, he likes to play with lego. Watch Youtube. Play his Scrap Mechanic. He creates, and draws and I am there. I have asked him about that. I will say to him we never do anything and he always responds to me with the same thing. Mom you are here, you are beside me. You are always in the same room as me, always within reach, what more do we have to do?

And we are happy with that.

For the longest time I have compared myself to my bro and his parenting style.

I also know that our mom, and my bro, they think that I am permissive. And I am. Which leads to the whole point of this blog. Which actually has just turned into a reminiscent of my childhood.

Our mother was very strong handed with me. Curfews, knowing where I was and who I was with. My bro, he went where he wanted and came and went as he pleased. And I truly believe this has lead to how we each parent. Neither one of us is better than the other (although were you to ask the bro he would tell you it was him) we are just different. And there is nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it is how come each and everyone of us is unique.

 

 

Who I am

“You haven’t seen the raving me. The belligerent me that pushes the limits. The dark and despairing me that can’t stop crying. I don’t share those facets with people because look what happens when I do.”

I have been doing a lot of thinking and redefining myself this week. I am not only my illness, I am a wonderful vibrant woman with a lot to offer. But what exactly is that?

I do not know who I am. Who at the very core of me, is me. I have always been somebody;  child, daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother. Co-worker. Boss. Those are all designations that describe a being but they do not describe me.

The first time I should have been diagnosed with depression, in looking back with my great wisdom and knowledge of behavior, was in my early teen years. Oh the rage that I exhibited, the anger, the hatred, the words that streamed from my mouth ripping into the souls and hearts of those nearest to me. I indulged in self-destructive behavior, attempted suicide, not successfully nor even whole heartedly once my imagination kicked in. For in one moment I lay in a coffin looking up at the haggard and weeping features of my mom and my brother, and knew that I could never inflict that pain on them.

The demons that I fought throughout this time, while not the same demons others faced, were still just that. Demons that had some how found their way into my brain and their words were chillingly accurate with regards to how I felt. A failure, unworthy of love, so stupid, the ruiner of all that is good. I did not know than that it was a tape on a loop. Words spoken to me as a child that buried deep in my psyche would reappear when things got tough and I was unsure of my ability to handle the situations around me.

The second time was when I lost my daughter. I was five months pregnant. She was still born. I remember a lot of drugs, a doctor who wanted me to carry my child to term or rather until my body went into labor on its own. Despite the drugs I was coherent enough to tell that doctor that there was no way I was going to carry my dead child in my body awaiting nature’s course. No one knew what I was going through. I pulled into myself, slept twelve to thirteen hours a day, stayed up at night reading until my eyes burned. I was afraid to live, to be alive. I could not move forward nor was I willing to accept the help that others offered to me.

I wrapped myself in pain and misery. I refused to speak of her. I cried a myriad of tears for her and pushed my than companion away as he tried to comfort me. Again the words that cut flew from my mouth, darts finding the target and puncturing, tearing away the love and relationship we had.

My early twenties forward becomes a blur. I self-medicated, alcohol, drugs, men, anything that would fill the void that yawned within me. I looked everywhere for satisfaction, for fulfillment that can only be found when you look within. When you accept that those warts and funny bumps are all you, good, bad, facets of your being that become melded into the core essential being of self.

My thirties are a longer story. Marriage, a child, the first diagnosis of depression. Counselling and a better understanding of what was going on within my head. But even with medication it was not getting better. I was still seeking, still yearning for that elusive something.

Three years ago this summer I crashed. A variety of external circumstances colluded with my growing despair and belief that I could not do anything right, lead to a deep depression. I awoke one Saturday afternoon after a night of drinking and the blackness was there gathering around. I despised myself. I sat on the toilet, wrapped in a towel, shuddering sobs wracking my body and chanted over and over how I hated myself.

Monday I saw the doctor and was immediately placed on medication and sent off. Tuesday saw me unable to function. I had consumed muscle relaxants with my ativan and I could not even remember my name. How I got home I have no idea. Wednesday I was on leave. My than boss exacerbating the feelings of ruin and unworthiness.

It took two weeks for me to stop crying and sleeping all the time. My son worried nonstop about me. Trying desperately to make me feel better, to cheer me up. I would fall asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. and not awaken until 9 or 10 a.m. the next morning. I had no desire to eat. I took my pills, I counted the days and I began counselling. Slowly but surely, I began the road to recovery.

I faced some of those demons who had been getting a free ride all these years. I forgave and released the hold my father had on me. Even in death he was still whispering his vile words into my ears. I allowed myself the freedom, the ability to be angry with my mom for things that occurred and we did not speak for months. I needed time to grieve and heal. I began to realize that I was a good and decent person. That the looped tape and those others who tried so hard to put me in a box of their devising, it was alright to ignore them, to move forward and leave them behind.

So well was I doing that I stopped taking my medication in October of 2015, and for awhile there it was good. I was doing well. And than began that slow and inevitable dive into the waters of pain, fear, self medicating, the disbelief in self and worth drilling through the facade I had erected. And I fell. But that is okay. I had a safety net this time. I became aware of what I was doing, how I was sabotaging myself and I needed to stop. A visit to the doctor and the conclusion that this was to be the last time. No matter how great I feel, no matter how well the world connects around me, I must remain on my medication. I do not want to fall further, I do not want my son to feel as though he needs to be my caretaker.

This continues to be a journey of wonder and exploration. To finally see who I am. To see once the layers of all the characters that I am are peeled away; who I am at the core of my being. A writer, a dreamer, a prankster. A reader, a designer, a mother of one. The facets of me are varying and bright, dark and dangerous, and I look forward to seeing how they will all merge, becoming me. I await me, with hope and bated breath.