Liking Her More and More

November 21, 2012

I was a metal-head and a punk, but my appreciation for music goes far beyond that. I was a musician. I guess I should use that in the present tense–I AM a musician. But I have trouble accepting that, always have.

I’m now faced with declined hearing due to the OI. I’m starting to wear my hearing aide more often (I have two but one needs adjustment), particularly when I sing and want to enjoy undertones in music. Going deaf is one of my biggest fears. I often think that I’ll definitely kill myself if that ever happens.

But lately, I’ve been calmer, more generally content–not happy, just content. I don’t like the word happy. My contentment, however, has reached back out to the warm embrace of music, the one thing that has saved my life before.

I picked up my ukulele a few months ago when I was in the dark and the PLDs had moved in again. And though I haven’t played recently, I still plan to play it and eventually maybe write songs again. Most of my songs start off as poems anyway, so maybe (just maybe) I could adapt some of my NaPoWriMo poems as uke songs.

****

Oh right, Lana! So on my Borderline Girl Song Week Thirteen post, I posted a Lana Del Rey Song. Her real name is Lizzy Grant. In that post, I called her pretentious but good. I suppose though, that pretentious is just a label given to any musician that takes their music seriously. So I will back away from that word. I’ve been listening to her more and more. Surprisingly, despite my minuscule stature, I sing better in her register, or rather, women who sing in lower, contralto registers like two of my favorites–Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple.

I’m liking her more and more. I want to sing again and shout out loud. But I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I’ll quit like I have before. I can’t let the fear of my hearing loss take control of my actions though.

Here she is singing live. Oh, yeah, and it turns out she CAN sing very well live. It just depends.

I Miss Monkey Man

July 26, 2012

He was more than a lover, more than a friend. He was a kindred soul; he was family. He understood my pain. I understood his. And we knew each other’s capacity for joy and love.

He hurt me so many times and I hurt him too. But we also blessed each other.

He handed me the biggest heart any man has handed me. And now he’s gone.

Or is he really?

No, I must say. Not entirely.

****

I wonder who kept his Taylor baby acoustic guitar. I want to read his notebooks, his poems, his unfinished songs.

But his father has them.

And well…

I want to go to the ocean and drown.

*minor trigger warning. mention of the death of sometimes-lover/mostly best friend aka Monkey Man L, other general depressive shit and brief mention of self-harm*

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Dear Dotty’s Words of Wisdom: Grieving for the Mentals Can Be Worse  

Dear Dotty was right. There’s something I knew but hadn’t been giving much attention to, not enough attention to at least. A trigger. A trigger beyond triggers, a stressor beyond stressors has set all of me bouncing more and more off the walls, down the corridor, down he street, like a rubber ball down a seemingly endless cobbled stone road. It’s the loss of Monkey Man L.

Yes Dear Dotty, thank you dear. Much of what I’m going through is grief. But how much of it adds to the mental mix dear lovely lady? That’s what I wanna know.

Today marks the second month of his death. JUST TWO MONTHS AGO! ONLY two months ago! Actually, we don’t even know if he died that day or two days before. It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. All I know is that on March 22, I got the horrible call.  What is up with people dying at twenty-seven? Fuck, I’m about to be twenty-seven.

Sigh. I don’t even know if he died by his own hands or if his body just gave out from the combination of his past self-abuses and his present condition as well as the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). His spine was compressing his chest, he’d become a chain smoker, etc.

All I know is that I’d seen him a week before. And a few days after, when I saw the Rapper K, I talked to him on the phone. And that was the last conversation we had. He didn’t pick up my other calls that weekend. I only got a measly text message in reply, saying, “I just want to be left alone right now sweety”. So that’s what I did. I left him alone. And that was the last time I talked to him. The day I’d seen him that week before, he looked terrible.

In the post I wrote about him after the funeral, I mentioned doing my best not to let myself fall into guilt. Well, sometimes that guilt tries to come up and take over.

He was found in his apartment sitting on the couch as if he were watching T.V. That’s all I know. And I keep thinking I could’ve been there; I SHOULD’VE been there. And I know this has me bouncing more that I would have been.

Then there’s the added factor that I was ALREADY falling, spiraling into a deep depression–I don’t even like using that word, “depression”–but that’s what we’ll call it and that’s how I was before his death. Depressed. And now what?

February was hell, then March came with the news. “He’s gone”.

This. THIS is one reason why I’ve been so much more mental than my usual mental. That, and in terms of this week, it could be the hormones added to the mix. I think this week I’m having the PMSS. That extra S was put there on purpose. It’s what I call the Premenstrual Suicidal Syndrome. It’s when my suicidals get more intense just before the cycle. I know the APA has a name for it, it’s premenstrual dysphoric disorder but fuck their labels and their making everything a disorder.

I’m just bouncing too much. Off the charts…

Looking back on that trigger my brother’s girlfriend set off when she innocently mentioned Vicodin, I realize it was actually a double trigger, no a triple trigger. One, it reminded me of what I’d done to myself the Sunday before last–or was it Monday?–anyhow, it reminded me of the incident. Two, it reminded me of my own problems with painkillers in the past. Three, it reminded me of Monkey Man L and his addiction. And that, THAT was the ultimate trigger because I was fucked for the rest of the night (it wasn’t the good fucked, nope).

No one prepares you for what you’ll feel when you loose someone you cared for so much. No one. We were co-dependent. We had an intense, tumultuous relationship. No one prepares you for grief just like no one prepares you for the feeling you’ll get when you become a parent. Sure there are books out there on parenting and on grief (what a lovely combo no?) but they don’t actually TEACH you how to FEEL about being a parent or how to FEEL  about a LOVED ONE when that loved one is no longer there to say anything back.

This was not my idea of “(mis)adventures of a mentally unstable” mouse. When I started this blog, I had meant to write about my past misadventures not my present ones. But life has a funny way of throwing more at you. They say things come in threes and they did. First, my face and the Bell’s Palsy; then, my arm, and lastly, my L.

Threes. One. Two. THREE. I wonder if there’s some sort of cosmic thing in that or if we’re just trying to make sense of what seems so incomprehensible.

Then after Dear Dotty reminded me, I began to think about mental illness and grief–there’s another set of words I don’t like to use “mental illness”. I think my dislike for the term has something to do with my Christian Science upbringing, though I suspect it’s much more complex than that.

****

But is it really much more difficult for a mental? This grief thing. I mean, can it send an already distraught person over the edge? Of course it can! If it can send a non-mental over the edge, then fuck… Then again, I think what makes the most difference in grief is the nature of the loss. I had such a turbulent relationship with him and I know this will make my grief more complicated. Also, the the fact that he died so tragically at such a young age complicates the grieving process further. The nature of this grief is inherently complicated.

After the incident last week or the week before last or god knows when (I forget), I talked to the New Male Therapist-Who-Is-Really-a-She and told her what had happened, the freaky dream about him, the thoughts, the pills, more or less descriptively than here. I find it easier to write feelings out than to talk about them. My writing is stronger than my verbal communication. Maybe that’s what makes me a “poet”, ha, then again, maybe that’s just what makes me become more mental. Anyway, I told her, strangely enough, that the week before last, I’d began obssessing about my hearing loss again–something I hadn’t done in months.

“Could it be I’m combining my griefs?” I asked her.

“Yeah, possibly,” she replied.

****

Stages of Grief

According to the Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages to grief . They are:

  1. Denial (a funny one that denial)
  2. Anger (my best friend who’s no good for me… Actually, that’s not entirely true. In small doses, anger is motivating. Anger is part of our innate autonomic response to danger. It tells us a lot about our experience.)
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression (oh look another friend)
  5. Acceptance (when? six months from now? a year? years? a lifetime?)
Yesterday, after a family friend was over, I found myself crying in the bathtub again. Why does washing dishes and showering go so well with crying? Anyway, I found myself BARGAINING. Of all the stages, that’s the one I said I wouldn’t get into. Silly me, saying what my brain will or won’t do. It wills itself sometimes.

I was there crying, “Dear god, I’ll take his place. No, wait, I’ll take the six fractures he had after that accident last year. I’ll take more. Fuck, fractures are nothing, I’ll take as many as it takes. Just bring him back!”

These stages aren’t quite lined out in chronological order. I mean, mainly they are, but you can experience them simultenously or even switch from one to another and then back again. I found I’ve just gone all over the place. It’s my style of doing things.

But I’m too lazy to go all out and write about these stages. Besides, this post is getting long and I’m opting for non-monumentally long posts at the moment.

So here’s a great little post by Sailor Carrie titled “The Five Stages of Grief”.

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Emotional Instability, Repression and Acceptance in the “Borderline” Mind

Another dear fellow blogger’s recent comment brought something else to mind. Well, two things: 1. I have no close friends or FEEL like I have no close friends and, 2. I don’t know how to open up to people which is why I feel like I don’t have close friends.

Isn’t it funny that I find it easier to run a knife down my thigh than to tell my dad “I’m upset”? Or that I find it easier to pop a dozen pills than to call a friend and say, “I need someone to talk to”?

Yeah, quite funny P.

The support network we mentals generally need but often neglect or just plain don’t have, that’s what came to mind. We often lack support strategies or non-destructive exit-strategies, coping mechanisms, distress tolerance, or call it what you will.

If I didn’t have maladaptive coping mechanisms and maladaptive friendship patterns, I wouldn’t have been in therapy in the first place. That’s what the therapist was for–for DBT, CBT and retraining on how I can reach out to people more effectively.

In responce to said fellow blogger’s comment, I said, ” I have trouble with communication”. I was a communications major; another funny thing P. But that’s what’s at the core here. Fellow blogger suggested friends, which is great, but I have trouble with friends. Aren’t people too busy to talk to nowadays anyway?

Getting myself to actually TALK to friends was something I was working out in therapy before Young Therapist had to leave. See, I said in my comment, “a ‘healthy’ coping mechanism someone without a dysfunction might have is to run to a friend in time of deep distress. I do the opposite. I run into a hole and throw on a cover and don’t let anyone in, which only makes it worse in the end. Despite knowing this, I find it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to just reach out and say ‘I’m desperate…'”

A therapist can do something a friend can’t but a friend can do something a therapist can never do–be a fountain of mutual support. That is, if you have a good friend and therapist to begin with.

Why do I have such a terrible difficulty reaching out to people? Why can’t I express negative emotions besides anger?

Here I am, deeply in need, needing to confide in a friend all the while feeling completely unable to. Sadly, I can’t think of but one friend I’m comfortable talking about this “suicidal” stuff with and she’s pretty mental, so I can only let her have so much. She’s the BPD friend I mentioned in earlier posts, the one who I keep at close distance. Besides her, there was L and well, fuck, he’s gone! ha. He’s the reason I started this post.

Not being able to talk to people about my emotions, or just not reaching out and having enough social interaction to begin with is what the Young Therapist was trying to get me through; it’s what we were working on, finding solutions for. Sure, I can talk to people at parties or in social situations. I seem “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) but really, I’m not. I’m constantly thinking, “Oh my god, I wanna get out of here, I wanna get out of here,” and if I’m not thinking that, I’m thinking something else that’s pretty similar to that.

I just can’t think of a friend I can confide in and that just made me very sad to think about, realizing how lonely I’ve let myself become. I’m glad I live with my parents and little Luna is the best, but I’m becoming uh oh, here it goes, “empty”?

B., a friend from college came by last week. I wasn’t able to make it to his graduation so he stopped by. How nice of him, right?  And I wasn’t able to tell him about L because he came by with his mother who just came in from AUSTRALIA(!) and well, I was being a good host. I was meeting his mother for the first time so telling him was out of the question.

Eloise, who lives in Florida, was the only person I’d told but well, she lives in Florida. She called me last week and I haven’t been able to muster the courage to call her back. Yes, it actually takes some courage from me to call people! Even the close friends like Eloise (oh wait, I do have a close friend)! Because calling people gives me anxiety!

Maribel also knows. I told her only because she’d called me to tell me her mom died and she needed someone to talk to. Funny, I can be the support but not reach out and ask for it.

It would be nice if L and I had mutual friends because then I’d be able to call them up and say, “Hey man, yeah, you miss him too?” But we didn’t have any mutual friends. Not one.

Only A.F., his stepsister, but she lives all the way up in New York City and even so, she hasn’t called me again after I called her and we had our last talk a month ago. She’s probably really busy with her little three-year-old and the baby.

I can’t even talk to my brother about most of this. I mean, sure my brother’s been kinder to me. He’s a sweetheart. But we are just beginning to rebuild the bridge I’d burned between us last year. See, six months ago, my brother and I were not in speaking terms.

“I’m not talking to your fuckin’ crazy ass again! Don’t contact me, just don’t!” he’d said.

Yeah. I’d pushed him away again.

I know telling him some of this might even make our rekindling stronger, but then I get discouraged. Every time I try to bring up the BPD diagnosis, he seems a bit aloof like he’s not really listening (of course, that could just be my misinterpretation). I haven’t even been able to muster the guts to show him that Five Faces of Borderline video I posted, which I think he’d find funny. I just, ugggh. I mean, I listened to him rant about his OCD. Why is it so difficult for me to simply do this?

Emotional Acceptance

I started looking up information about BPD and the inability to express certain emotions. I found these really good, really simple and straightforward  links:

How Accepting Emotions Can Improve Your Emotional Health (from about.com)

Defining Invalidation as a risk factor for developing BPD 

Post Traumatic Stress, BPD and Suppressing Emotions (from about.com)

A common string I’ve found connecting a lot of this BPD literature is the notion of invalidation. Invalidating environments is a hallmark for BPD.

See, I always assumed invalidation equated to neglect. But “I WAS NEVER NEGLECTED” I’d say to myself. Yet I realize invalidation can come in so many flavors. For L, it WAS CLASSICAL neglect. His mother would get high and leave him on the toilet for hours. She’d forget to feed him. Yeah. My parents ALWAYS made sure to feed me. When my mother couldn’t, my grandmother would. Even at our hardest times, when my dad was getting bread baskets from a local church, I WAS ALWAYS fed. Well fed!

So what flavors did my invalidation come in then? I wonder. My parents never outright said, “Don’t express yourself P! Don’t talk about your emotions P! We don’t wanna hear you crying P! None of that in this house P.” No, not at all.

Then I begin to think, of course! My invalidation is definitely there. I can see it. I can see it in my Christian Science years. I can see it in my mom running away when I screamed in agony in the hospital beds. I can see it before then. I can see it in a very subtle way. Invalidation for me was not overt.

I’ll give you an example. By the time I became a toddler, I stopped crying when I’d break a bone. I mean shit, after you’ve had your fiftieth fracture well before your fifth birthday, you just don’t cry about that shit anymore–unless it’s a femur, because femur fractures FUCKIN HURT LIKE HELL!

So my parents interpreted my not crying about fractures as: “This here is a brave one! Much braver than her wimpy brother! She doesn’t cry about ANYTHING.”

And I interpreted that as: “I have to be the brave one. Be BRAVE P! BEING BRAVE IS ALL YOU CAN BE. Braver than my cry-baby hermanito! I cannot let people discover that I DO cry. I cannot let people see me cry or else they’ll see I’m a faker! And no one likes a faker! I’m a mean challenger!” I think that’s more or less how I started to develop my calloused sense of self.

Then there was my mom’s bullying. “And blah blah blah smack, blah blah, BLAH BLAH BLAH, smack smack SMACK, SMAAAACK.” You just can’t let a bully see you cry. That would only give them power over you and you wouldn’t want that.

Just yesterday my dad asked me, “Have you been crying?”

“Yes, but sometimes I cry you know,” I replied trying to be assertive of my discovery.

And he replied with something about him not being able to withstand my crying because it tore him up inside.He didn’t say this in a way to hurt me. He said this as his way of expressing his OWN hurt, sure and his love. It was a bit selfish though. It’s maladaptive but he doesn’t know better. It works for him. He was hurting when he saw my swollen eyes.

I realize that now. He just doesn’t know how or understand how someone like me can twist those words up; how someone like me can distort them so. He doesn’t know how to effectively express his hurt while acknowledging and validating my hurt and my need to let it out.

That’s my flavor of invalidation. The child me, years back, would’ve seen this as, “Oh no! I must NEVER ever let him see me upset again or cry in front of him because it will DESTROY him! TEAR HIM UP INSIDE! And I don’t want to destroy dear daddy. No, I cannot kill my papi.”

********

I’ve been thinking about texting Warrior D. She’s a friend who also just graduated. Just got her masters in Social Work. She’s someone I’ve been getting kinda close to in the last year or so. Oh yeah, she’s the other person I told. She’s great at listening. Trouble is, I tried to get her to meet up with me after L’s death and she got back to me but didn’t follow through with plans. I understand she was in the middle of her end of semester mayhem but it hurt me to wait, expecting to talk and go for tea and then not. So now I’m hesitant. This is why I feel I do need therapy still. Young Therapist would help me find ways to deal with this situation and call Warrior D. Truth is, I said in my last post that I’ve gotten along all these years before without a therapist. But come to think of it, I JUST BARELY got by.

I might’ve/might end up like L if I would’ve kept getting by the way I was.

****

addendum: I went swimming yesterday evening at my mom’s friend’s gym and it was awesome! Took pictures of the cold, cold water.

I asked November to be kind
because it’s always been so vicious.

And for the first time,
for the very first time
in three long years,
it was.

It embraced me and
I embraced back, embraced
its orange falls,
crisp curls,
crackling thunder.

Then December rolled in with
it’s contemplating chilled breath,
like an angry drunk,
smacking me around,
lying me down.

January inebriated me
with its Atlantic breeze.
But I showed no
remonstrance.

February just hit my face
harder–paralyzing it–
again and again–then,
it cracked my porcelain
bone. And I crashed
once more.

I laughed at her though,
laughed and threw my finger up!

Then, I asked, I
crawled, I begged
April,
“Will you be kind to me
dear April?”
because March had been
so cruel, because
I didn’t know my own
will, my own strength–
two poets dead,
one beside a bed we’d
shared. He had been
the one I loved.
The other, I admired.
(how funny for a poet to
be dead)

One had lost control too many
months before; that one was
a mystery.
The other, a man of his people,
faced death a year ago–death
came in the shape of an
idiot’s pistol.

April was warmer;
she held my head up,
gave me water, refilled me,
showered me as I drained. She
carried me by her teeth like
a bitch carrying her pup
to safety.
But I was a disoriented pup,
loose skin still
too stretched
to move.

And May.
May,
what did she say?
I haven’t heard.
I’ve gone deaf.
What should I ask of
you my May, when I’ve
lost nearly all sense?

As I search franticly
for more questions to
collect, I cannot ask her
to be kind to me,
no, not like April.
How could I,
when I haven’t been
so to myself?

Will June heal me
as it’s done countless
times before?

What else, what more
can I ask these months?
I wonder.

*****************************************************************************************************

Facundo Cabral was a singer/songwriter/poet and activist from Argentina. One of my favorite folk singers. He was shot last year. Not long before that, he’d done a free concert for peace in Colombia.

And well, the other “poet”, Monkey Man L. … if you’ve read much of my blog, you know about that one. I think it’s really helped the grieving process to write about him on here, so please forgive me in advance if I don’t shut up about L.

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This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It’s not his original but his rendition of it is my favorite. It’s called, “Thanks to Life” or “Thanks Be to Life”. Here’s a translation of the lyrics: http://www.williammorin.com/graciasalavida.html

Oooh look. An illustrated one, LIVE version duet with some other singy dude named Edwardo Soto, oh, and a PIANO! A PIANO!

And this is one of his many sarcastic poems about humanity’s idiocies and follies. “Pendejos” means something akin to “dumb asses” or “idiots” and so on and so forth.