An Echo Off a Mountainside

mountains-2011776_1280
Image via pixabay

It feels like an avalanche. That’s what I told my best friend last night. It’s like an avalanche and when it happens, it buries me.

When it happens, it feels as if there beneath a pile of snow, a piece of myself dies. That there’s no getting out from under it all. I give up beneath the weight and whatever finally emerges is a colorless ghost of what remains below.

I’m trying not to think in those terms anymore. I told her I really want to try to instead imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top. Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’d never described shame in these terms before.

Mainly because it isn’t something I ever talk about. With her or anyone else. Even in therapy.

My therapist knows it is something I struggle with. But I’ve never shared details about the things that invite that avalanche. The desires and emotions that feel like screams against a snowy, fragile mountainside.

I don’t know how it got to this point. I only know that radical acceptance feels like the only answer.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

I told my husband once that those are the only words I want to hear. When I share some part of myself with someone, those are the only words I want to hear in return. Anything less, anything different, and I’m awash. I’m rolling backwards down that mountainside.

Buried once again.

I’m the girl in a corner somewhere being screamed at, spittle flying because the many ways I’m a disappointment, and a failure, and a slut, and a cunt, can’t even be described in any manner that’s calm. They have to be shouted with a vitriol that’s physical and dripping with disgust.

Those words, that screaming, never happen in any way in my life now. Nobody treats me that way now.

Except myself.

I climb halfway up a slippery, frozen mountainside just to admit something I desire. Something that isn’t what society may say is normal.

I finally voice it. Not in shouts, but in whispers.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

If that isn’t the echo that answers my whisper, if those words aren’t on the wind that rolls back in reply, it begins.

An avalanche of shame that buries me anew.

I’m trying to imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top.

Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’m trying to keep whispering. No matter what rolls back down the mountainside.

I’m trying.

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Image via pixabay

 

You’re here, he says. You keep coming back. Let’s acknowledge the bravery in that.

I nod. Silent.

How does it feel for you to hear that?

I’m not brave enough to answer.

————

A friend mentioned fearlessness to me today and it hit me. That word doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary.

Fearless. Brave.

Those adjectives are fake storefronts propped up in an effort to convince anyone approaching that there isn’t a paper shack hidden behind, ready to blow over in a breeze. The truth is I keep going back to therapy out of desperation.

I keep going back for my kids.

I keep going back because I’m afraid of the alternative.

I keep going back because I don’t have insurance and they accept sliding scale fees.

Because so long as I feel as if I’m doing something, anything, to get better, I’ll hopefully keep putting one foot in front of another.

Because I don’t feel like I have a choice.

—————

That word fearlessness especially worries me. Maybe because my anxiety tends to translate into feelings of fear for me. So I would never ever use that word to describe myself.

I think I have sporadic moments of bravery and I think I can be tenacious. Calling for my first appointment took six months of working up the nerve after a two and a half year depression that rendered me barely able to answer a text, let alone ask for help.

Moments of bravery.

I’m determined to see this through until there’s a moment where I feel like I’ve done it. Like I’ve made sense of most of what I’m struggling with. I know there is never a finite end to working on all this stuff.

Well, except for death.

But I am hopeful there will come a time where I feel as if I’ve got enough tools in the toolbox, so to speak, that I can move forward without therapy.

Or at least without so much of it.

All of that, for me, comes from a place of fear. The fear that if I fall into a deep depression again I won’t make it out. Ever. Or alive.

—————

Another friend and I discussed self-acceptance.

Radical self-acceptance.

Refusing to compromise one’s identity.

That, to me, is where fearlessness and bravery take flight.

My wings are not yet feathered.

At Sea

 

at sea
Photo Courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk
I’m trying to stay afloat.
Huge waves toss me because I’m nothing. They’re not enough to drown me, but enough to remind me I’m small in the face of it.
I flounder and kick, trying to right myself. To fling myself out straight onto my back, where I can bob atop the turmoil.
Get lost in the stars.
“I feel as if it’s behind me, but I can’t get away from it,” I whisper in therapy. “It’s this looming, grim reaper-type figure that’s always there. Always casting a shadow only I can see.”
So I seek the stars, knowing it isn’t there I’ll find relief. I just need something bright that’s all my own.
Something that will burn beneath my skin upon capture.
A guide to light my way.
The waves still and I remain silent. Prone.
The struggle ends, for the moment.
But the silence is where it’s hardest to breathe. Where my breath becomes shallow and caught in the small space between the top of my lungs and the base of my throat.
Caught there with my voice and all the words I cannot say and everything that longs to break open on shore.

My Mechanic’s Broken Thing 

Photo by Allison Bedford

He patched and painted the ceiling in the dining room after I took a step in the attic without the knowlege that one must only step on the beams.

One year, our Christmas tree just would not stay up. Until he screwed the stand to the floor. Right through the carpet.

I’ve watched him open up computers, fiddle around, button them back up and suddenly they work again. But once they’re loaded up, he’s got no use for them.

He has six children. Six times (Daddy, fix this times the number of toys each child has owned and/or touched and/or played with) plus (the number of friends who have visited our house times all the toys they’ve broken while here or brought because the toy was broken and they wanted him to fix it) equals roughly a metric fuck-ton of broken. 

No child has ever walked away without a working toy and a hug.

Ever.

He’s fixed tons of motorcycles, including that one I wanted to try. That little Sportster a woman rode. So I said, “Hey I bet I could ride that! Let me walk it into the garage!”

He stood back. I hopped on, kicked up the kickstand, took one step forward and then just keeled over to the side, unable to hold up the weight of the bike.

He fixed that, too.

Cars. Appliances. Skinned knees. Bruised egos.

He’s fixed all that.

The one thing I love the most, I can’t fix.

He’s said that to me a lot over the last three years. With a sigh and a sense of regret so thick I sometimes can’t breathe in the same room with it.

It’s not your job to.

That’s always my response. With a sigh and a sense of shame so thick I feel my throat closing.

Only I can fix me. We both know that.

But I’m no mechanic.

I flounder, searching for things that will work. Things I can manage. Things that will stick. 

Therapy and vitamins. BDSM and yoga. Old friends and new. Reading and writing. 

Changing how I view myself and the world around me. Changing how I confront the things that make me uncomfortable. Changing my life and how I want to live it.

That’s a lot of change to try and understand, let alone embrace.

He can’t fix me.

But every time he hugs me and tells me he’s proud . . . 

Every time he sits with his discomfort while I flit about in the breeze . . . 

Every time he lands a kiss on my forehead and a good girl in my ear . . . 

Every time he supports and encourages . . . 

He helps put a piece back in place.

He’s a mechanic who loves nothing more than when things are fixed. 

Except me. Even if I’m broken.

I’m Here to Find the Moments That Matter to Me

I want to wring every potential miracle from every fleeting moment.

I don’t mean the biblical style miracles or the stuff of fairy tales.

I’m talking about the real ones.

Miracles . . . like life where once was none.

An empty vessel that suddenly houses a being that kicks at my heart from within. The warmth of a tiny body and the grip of ten tiny fingers. Eyes that blink up at me from my breast and greet me with a familiarity bred within my soul.

Miracles . . . like love that gives without motive.

Love that says tell me what you want. Listen to what I’m hearing. Share with me what I have. See all that I gaze upon. Drown with me here in this bed. Let the sun fill our lungs with a new day.

Love that says ride this out in my arms.

Miracles . . . like friendship that feels like family.

People who come along and recognize in you something they feel in themselves. Moments where they turn their backs to their own lives to share with you in yours. Then invite you to share with them in theirs. Histories that weave themselves together so completely that the whole world can see you were cut from the same cloth.

My miracles . . .

. . . like the sun on my face . . . or words that seep into the air in my lungs . . . or a photograph that captures a memory I’ll never have to say good-bye to . . . or music that makes me soar . . . or ache . . . or dance . . . until the world falls away and I’m just me.

Not a mother or a wife or a friend or a label. I’m just me, smiling, and breathing, living that one moment. And loving it.

My miracles aren’t yours. But I want you to find yours. And love the fuck out of them.

It isn’t always easy. At my lowest point it became next to impossible to find one in any day.

But I’d hear a giggle from a loved one.

I’d feel his warmth at my back.

My phone would ring and I’d hear a smile. I’d hear it. A smile from a friend because she was happy to hear my voice.

Sometimes I’d have a hard time finding my miracles.

But they’d always find me.

I’m not here for any one purpose. I’m here to live. And maybe my way of living isn’t balls to the wall. I’m not traveling the world and jumping out of planes or rocking stadiums.

Those miracles are for someone else.

My miracles are here for me and I love living them.

I’m not here to achieve any one thing. I’m here to achieve as much as I can. To live every day cognizant of how miraculous it is that I’m here, that I’m healthy, and that I get to smile as much as I do.

I don’t worry about what will happen when I’m gone. What I’ll achieve or not achieve before my time runs out. But, if asked, I’ll tell you what I hope to leave behind.

A reminder.

Not of me or what I achieved. Not of who I was or what I did. Not of where I went or what I left behind.

A simple reminder for you who still lives . . . to keep living for as long, and as true, as you can.

A reminder for all who still live to keep finding your miracles . . . and keep letting them find you.

She Won’t Fall Away

Slivers of heartbreak slide down her cheeks
Her breath stutters
Caught in the turnstile of her emotions
She circles through the blackness
Arms outstretched
Hands open

She seeks strength she forgot she possessed
Waiting to be conjured
Trapped beneath the corners of her soul
It calls to her
Begs of her strength
And waits

She’ll be the one to rise anew
Wrought with a new understanding
And empathy
Her path paved with stones carved from pain
Echoes of solitude
Die in the silence behind her

Tears fight their way from her eyes
She won’t fall away into the dark
It’s how I love she whispers
And she clutches the phone
A voice
Whispers back, You’re not alone.