Thursday, September 24, 2015

walking on spiderwebs, or cage / page / stage / rage

I live caged gently in charts. Little black grids on white pieces of paper. Or black marker on a white board. I write in tally marks, numbers, skill descriptors. I write in red pen. These grids contain my feelings because my feelings are too big and threaten to overwhelm me, shut me down, reduce all forward action to zero, leave me in a valley of couch and comforter and unending ache. I am somewhat afraid of my feelings. So I give them numbers. Anxious, zero to five. Sad, zero to five. Happy, zero to five. Suicidal ideation, zero to five. Zero to two is for passive death wishes; three is when I start searching for my safety plan. Where did I put that again? Self-harm urges, zero to five. I have been in recovery for self-injury for seventeen years. I know this because i have a cat who is seventeen years and I got him as a kitten the year I went into recovery. Cats have finite lives though, and this one is doing less well than I would like, but he's okay. He's around right now. 

Sometimes i have to live in the right-now because the bigger landscape of my life towers over me, distorted gothic thing that it is. The sky looms big and heavy like it will come down to suffocate me with cloud. Buildings are *so* tall, they sway in my vision like they want to fall down on me. 

I like it in my apartment. It's safe here. I can hear my neighbors' muffled conversations. The woman down the hall has a dog, a big one by the sound of the bark. I'm glad my cats haven't taken umbrage in such a way that would involve fluids.

I have to push to go outside most days. The gaze of strangers is unsurprisingly yet somehow unexpectedly searing. I walk with my eyes cast down, looking up in little flicks, half-second increments. It is illogical how I reduce the field of my vision even further than it naturally is (natural about 5% of "normal" seeing). This is how disabilities collide. I blind myself further. 

My father always told me to keep good eye contact with people; that's how they know you are trustworthy. But if good eye contact is a learned skill, then how can you tell people are not lying to your face? 

I can't see faces very well. I have to stare and stare. My eyes point in different directions. My pointed stare makes people who don't know me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable too, so much raw visibility on everyone's part, so I don't do it that often.

This is not "some days" for me. This is my every day. 

I find a deep joy in writing, in running my journal, in being with my friends and my husband and reading books and petting my cats. But I am alone a lot. It takes self-discipline to do work, because I don't have the structure of an office, the white noise of other workers working. I go to coffee shops a lot to simulate this environment, but they are not without peril. The screaming toddler(s). The man who wants to talk to me despite the fact that I am clearly working. Internet that suddenly goes down. 

Discipline and responsibility. I hear the voice of my father when I say those words in my head. 

Yesterday I went outside to do work, but today I think I will stay in. It's not good in my head right now. I mean, even relatively speaking. I have a whirlpool of fear and self-doubt sucking at my heels. I have an enormous work task that seems possible or impossible depending on what moment I'm inhabiting when I look at it. I am pretty much motivated by fear right now. I can't reach joy today. 

I'm scared of being a disappointment, always, eternally, not good enough, frantically working to keep up, keep my secrets, keep going.

I pretend I'm good. I pretend I'm well. I'm really good at pretending I'm well. Therapists even have a fancy phrase for what I do, something about performing better than I actually am...I call it "masking." It happens unwittingly. Haha. I was just having a moment there. No, I'm not that sad. No, I'm not that scared. Let me say something funny to make us comfortable. 

[Apparently people-pleasing is a maladaptive coping mechanism. But my superiors in the workplace really like it when I am consistently pleasant and do what they want. People in positions of power do not express concern for my needs, my differences, or my emotions. Those things get in the way. 

I would like to say that I believe I am smart and capable as others tell me. That I am up to the challenge. That I will continue to be up to the challenge. (Am I being unclear? The challenge of living in the world.) There is a steel thread in me that I was born with. It's thin but strong. It grew with me in early childhood, when I learned the pattern of being absolutely terrified, all the time, and having to act anyway. Act: do, move my limbs, move in the world, think, react, be capable, don't let them see how weak and afraid I really am, achieve, achieve, achieve. As I grew into a young adult, I built a core around the thread--a core of self, not just survival. Creative acts saved my life. Art and writing saved my life. As I grew into a woman, teaching helped me locate myself deeply as a giver and a guide.

I thought my childhood and teenage years would be the worst thing that would ever happen to me. By far. No close seconds. But then my mom suicided (three years ago Sept 21) and that perspective changed. I can't know what's ahead. I can't worry enough do enough rituals enough compulsions pile on enough covers to protect me from the future. << It's been three years and I'm still like this.

I heard somewhere it's National Suicide Prevention Month. 

The reason I'm putting this on my blog instead of deleting it is to say fuck you to mental illness. To stigma and judgement and appearances and people-pleasing and the bottom line. I am alive. Sometimes completely; today barely. But I am alive. 

I wish it genuinely felt like enough to celebrate being alive.

When someone with mental illness or a disability says fuck you stigma, there is a rallying cry from allies. Oh yes. Fuck you stigma. We should be more open about these things as a society. But only in the most abstract ways. When it comes to the practical details. Well. That's tricky. No one wants to really deal with that.


I don't know if I'm re-starting this blog or not, for real, or if this entry is just a one-time deal. But I do know that I began the blog with this theory of RADICAL OPENNESS (fuck you stigma). I began this blog not even imagining what was in the future for me. And somehow I'm still here. Straining my neck. Chin bobbing just above the surface.

Here's a video. I'm teaching a class pretty soon and I want to do a section on sublimating trauma through poetry. I found this amazing talk and poem by Rachel McKibbens. It allowed me raw access my emotions, for once. It gave me permission to write this. I churned out work like a demon yesterday. I don't know if I am capable of doing any work today, but...I listened to her talk and it gave me permission to write this, at least.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Donne said that no man is an island

Recently a friend wrote this sentence in an email to me: "I used to be a HUGE oversharer before social media was a thing." I thought about social media. Lots of people just put up pictures of their vacations / parties / marriages / children at their finest moments and call it a day. I actually know of numerous people who have deactivated their Facebook accounts b/c the competition got to be too much. They feel like everyone else is saying, I have the best vacation, the best husband/wife, the best baby. With the implication of, and you don't. I got the feeling that this friend who emailed me feels like sharing their life, in all of its dimensions, is frowned upon.

I have a problem with the term "oversharing." Also, the word "needy." "Oversharing" assumes that no one wants to hear your personal stuff, that it's impolite or socially wrong to share your personal stuff, that we should all walk around projecting only positivity and the more shallower dimensions of our lives.

Everything looks shiny; no one allegedly has to feel anything except YAY YAY YAY.

When really, I think it's a continuum. At my old job, I sure as hell would not share personal things with certain people. Especially administration. Most jobs are like that. But I think it's okay to share things with people who are your friends or close colleagues. Because what the heck are friends for if you can't be there for each other during the positive *and* negative times?

My friends are some of the best people ever because they have listened empathetically to me and really been there for me, especially over the past year-and-some-months, when things happened with my mom. Or they have distracted me with wonderful things like coffee and Indian food and visits and children and simply the beauty of their presence. I never feel judged by them. And I in turn feel special and honored when they come to me with important emotional things. Like: wow, they trusted me enough to ask me to listen. I feel capable and strong when I can support them.

The word "needy"gets kicked around a lot, just like "over-sharing." "Needy" pathologizes the idea of interdependence. As a culture, we live under this delusion of self-sufficiency, like that's the ultimate thing to strive for. It's very American. Or United-States-ian, I should say. But when you dissect it, the idea of INdependence is fundamentally impossible unless you decide to become a hermit on top of a mountain. And then what happens if you break your leg or need to go into town for food?

Each in their various ways, my mom and dad raised me to believe that self-sufficiency was the ideal. In  reality, they were not self-sufficient, but I was raised to believe that I should strive to be. I think they thought they were doing me a service. This created a schism in my thinking which still continues. On one hand, I feel the old emotional pull: do it yourself at all costs. Appear strong at all costs. If you can't, that's bad. Other people will take advantage of you OR You're weak. Incapable. Less-than-adequate

On the other hand, I know my reality, and I try really hard not to judge myself for it. Ahem, I'm not saying I succeed in being nonjudgmental, but I try. Yeah, sometimes I need. Everybody needs. And sometimes I NEED. And everyone in their life goes through a period of that NEED too, whether they admit it or not.

I think about need, and sharing, and interdependence also as it applies to teaching. I think about it a LOT. When I went through teacher training in grad school (ages ago… yikes!) I was taught that students are people, that learning is collaborative (students learn from the teacher, students learn from each other, the teacher learns from the students), that each student will have a different learning style, that it's okay to be honest with your students when you don't know the answer, that it's okay to be vulnerable and to expect (and accept) your students' vulnerabilities.

Then… I taught at a certain place for awhile and it really made an impression on me. The culture was rather the opposite of the way I'd learned to teach. Not necessarily through word but through example, the ideal classroom was presented as: the teacher makes the rules, the students follow the rules, the students get punished if they don't follow the rules, each student is an information bucket into which you deposit key skills, and then they somehow translate those skills into a well- or poorly- written paper and then you grade them. Nobody needs to be feeling their feelings all over the place b/c there's no room for that in the syllabus.

I really tried to be that latter teacher and I did not do well being that teacher, and it burned me out. I had colleagues who taught at that place, and still do, who somehow managed to be a combination of the former teacher and the latter teacher. Or colleagues who were so untouchable (some concept called tenure of which I know not) that they could be the former teacher and the administration could go… fly a kite.

If anywhere I thought I could succeed as the former type of teacher, it would be in the teaching of writing. Whether you are writing poetry or a thesis-based argument, the idea of empathy is important. The ability to accept  and not vilify emotions is important.

Now that I'm feeling a lot better, I'm going to start revising / submitting my own work again in January. I'm also thinking about teaching (as a concept), because I really miss it. But, especially given my geographic limitations, I don't know where the right place is for me, if any.

Monday, November 11, 2013

20 things : Positivity

So for those of you who read my blog and think that I've fallen into an abyss of morbid reflection... you may be right. However, DBT is all about the "and." Simultaneously acting on behalf of your recovery while accumulating and acknowledging positive experiences. I wanted to make this entry b/c I need you to know, and to remind myself as well, that there are positive things in my life. These are in no particular order.

1. I helped Mike re-jigger his office set-up in the apartment last weekend, which involved the purchasing of a desk, the disassembling of another desk. I felt... well... helpful and not burdensome. It was a really REALLY good feeling. And the new set-up, although it will not be complete until December, is already looking smashing. It unblocks some energy in the apartment, allowing for new openness and flow.

2. I've taken advantage of National Novel Writing Month to write a poem a day. The official NaPoWriMo isn't until April, but I wanted a project for November to push through my writer's block. In regards to beginning a draft, Stacey Waite said "writing ain't no thing." Because all my emotions have been so weighty lately, it's bled into my attitude about writing as well. Every possibility becomes too heavy, too important. When you write a poem a day, they just can't all be important. So far it's working out well. I'm eleven poems in.

3. Autumn: the colors, scents, tastes, sounds... except the sound of leaf blowers. Use a rake, dammit.

4. I lost a lot of weight and thus dropped some sizes. I went from a size 12 to a size 6 or 8. Probably I'll opt for 8 because I like things to not be too tight. I like jeans better now. So I bought myself some pairs of jeans. The losing weight did not make me happy or sad --I did not intend to lose the weight. But I'm trying to keep it off. The reason this qualifies for Positivity is the jeans. Jeans are nice sometimes.You can just put them on. I forgot. (for those of you who don't know me IRL, I wear dresses and skirts).

5. I've been making a lot of progress in my healing process. I don't really want to talk about it right now though. But I can notice the progress, which gives me hope for the future.

6. I've had the fleeting desire that it's time to consider making a plan to go back to teaching.

7. I like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And my birthday. They all take place in November and December. It's like bathing one's brain in mulled cider to make January and February go down more smoothly. Not saying it works 100%. But I'll deal with January when it happens.

8. Friends. They are good to me. I value them like family. I love them. I need them. They mean more to me than words can say. 

9. Shutterdown <<< this is a friend's project. It's also the music of dream alchemy. You should click / listen / support.

10. I made soup for the first time this year. It's possible that I made soup for the first time in two years, because I may not have made soup at all last year. Now I have a lot of soup. Chicken soup anyone?

11. The art community at Polyvore. This site may look commercial and material on the outside but once you peel back the layers you find many amazing sub-communities of collage artists.It's not actually all about clothes.

12. Our apartment keeps getting cuter as we make improvements to its layout and decor. I'm tentatively planning a crepe party for my birthday. Like, I make crepes and everyone brings a topping and then there's a lot of eating and celebration.

13. It's a year since I started IOP and I can notice how much better I am. I'm listing this one separately from #5. [It's my blog and I can list stuff how I want to.] It's just that... at the time, I didn't / couldn't see ANY way that my life could get better. It was all raw emotion. There are still days when I take life in hourly chunks. Sometimes minute-ly chunks. But that is okay.

14. I've gotten back into yoga. Yoga is good.

15. I can read stuff again. You might not know this b/c I've kept it quiet, but a year ago my concentration was so bad I could barely watch a half-hour sitcom without getting restless and amped up. I wasn't able to read a magazine, much less poetry. Reading poetry made me cry. It reminded me of how much I [thought that I had] lost in a short period of time. But last week I read a fucking essay on poetic theory by Lyn Hejinian, and it made sense to me --relatively speaking-- the argument was not very accessible. So yay for the restoration of cognitive function. Therapist N said it would come back.

16. I had both kitties with me on the couch the other day. 

17. I've managed to not fall off the DBT wagon, and my last IOP stint ended in early August.

18. My hair came out this really unexpected, pretty color the last time I dyed it. 

19. I've made the decision that in January, I'm going to start again to send work out on a schedule. Last January I was not ready. I'm taking it slow this time. Planning two months ahead. I'm excited that my psyche has / will have mended to the point where I can actually consider a work schedule again and not just make stabs at it and beat myself up when I don't fulfill my expectations. Even though January 2013 did not work out so well, the month of January has momentum. I broke away from university and started my full-time devotion to writing in January 2012. It feels like longer. Can you believe I only got seven months into my one-year [ha!] sabbatical when my mom did what she did? I was at the top of my game. It was like being smacked down by a force of nature. 

20. My dad and Pam said they were gonna come to Pittsburgh and visit me. Maybe it will be near my birthday. I really miss my folks and although they can probably only do 48 hours, it will still be good to see them.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

20 things : Radical acceptance is going to drive me more crazy rather than make me more serene

1. I was riding the bus home (of course?). The second leg of the ultra-annoying-because-it's-cold-and-two-buses-early-morning-Tuesday-yoga commute. 

2. I felt rather centered. 

3. Plus, I'd been in terrible pain all yesterday evening and this morning. We did some serious shoulder stretching that actually relieved it.  

4. As we lurched along, I reflected on my progress of late and thought I've been doing pretty goodI have been SLOWLY desensitizing myself to the World of People.

5. In order to get better, I have been doing these things, in order: therapy, meeting friends, poetry stuff, and yoga. Every week. And it's still challenging to get most of them to happen --everything except meeting friends.

6. But I'm starting to feel good because it's less challenging now. Thought I'm frustrated with the crawling pace, I'm also starting to be more okay with that too. 

7. So I'm contemplating these thoughts, and I go to get off the bus. 

8. As I'm walking up the aisle, I let go of a pole too soon, the driver slams on the brakes, I severely unbalance and run into a crowd of old people waiting to get off at the front.

9. I could feel myself fall forward, try to stop myself, know I'm going to hit them. I'm helpless in my momentum.

10. I hit them.

11. I rain a hail of apologies on them. Not just like sorry but SorrySorrySorrySorrySorry! 

12. This old man turns to me and gives me the look of death. Like, "you're nothing." Like, "I curse you and your future generations." And then slowly looks away.

13. The bus doors open. They get off and proceed to the intersection. 

14. I stay farther up the street and have a panic attack. 

15. Finally I make my way to my apartment, barely able to keep it together.

16. During my, um, surrendering process, this thought occurred to me: what would it be like for me to be able to forgive myself? Especially for stupid shit. Stuff I can't help. Stuff that's an accident.

17. I monitor my every move. I'm choreographing all the time. I rarely stop being self conscious. 

18. Monitoring and choreographing is a life-long trait. That is not a Jill-had-a-setback-after-her-mom thing. The self-loathing I feel when I slip up is also perpetual. Post-mom-suicide, the amplitude is higher.

19. But, you know, what if it weren't? What if I could somehow stop hating myself so viciously? [I can't believe I'm blogging this to the entire goddamn internet. Well, theoretically.]

20. I see no concrete way forward to this goal. It's like saying I'm going to build a rocket from recycled cereal boxes and shoot myself to the moon.

Here's a photo:

Choose Life

Friday, September 20, 2013

20 things : the group

1. I feel such a sense of relief, having experienced the first iteration of the Survivors of Suicide support group last night.

2. I was worried that the group was only going to be heavy, crushing, scary, and not show its helpful aspects immediately.

3. I want to give an indication of my experiences without breaking the confidentiality of others... so no details about other group members. Which means that I probably won't blog about the group much other than this first week.

4. I feel I owe it to those who were extremely concerned after my last blog entry to show that I am feeling somewhat better. I feel guilty about making others extremely concerned. I don't think the last blog entry was particularly extreme, considering all I've written about. Joanna's voice echoes in my head right now we are not responsible for other people's feelings. We are responsible for our own feelings.

5. But sometimes, with loved ones, the boundaries blur. About who is responsible for what. So I write this entry, in part, because of that. To reassure others, and to assuage my own guilt.

6. I mostly want to talk about the philosophies of the group leader regarding suicide. To me they are unusual and comforting at the same time.

7. She believes that suicide is not, in fact, preventable. She has research to show that with or without psychiatric treatment, the suicide rates remain the same.

8. She believes that suicide is its own illness, a  massive failure of the frontal lobes' executive function--separate from depression, bipolar disorder, and so forth.

9. She believes that the idea that is prevalent in society "suicide is preventable" leaves the survivors with a huge amount of guilt over what they could have, should have done to save their loved ones.

10. This idea is, in one way, immensely comforting to me --because I am still obsessed with what I should have done to help my mom. If only I had been more aggressive about talking to her doctors. If only I had taken charge and flown her up to Pittsburgh.

11. You see, I'd had this idea that at some point, I would have to move her up here and take more of an active role in her life, sorting out her myriad problems for her. Because her decision making skills had been going downhill for decades, plural. Talk about failure of executive function.

12. But we could never have lived together, ever. Because of how toxic our relationship was when we were that proximal. It was not good for me.

13. I had been trying for years--half my life--trying to and succeeding in repairing the damage that --to be frank --she either caused or set me up for.

14. So I had been putting it off --offering to move her to Pittsburgh --b/c I knew it would cost a lot of money to set her up and she has none. I also knew that much of the time it would be like taking care of a child. And I also knew that the relationship had the potential to quickly turn into me = caregiver and she = a mean, combative, even at times violent child.

15. And I've been struggling with this idea of I PUT IT OFF FOR ME ME ME. And so I let her die. I chose me over her.

16. Ironically, I wonder if my relatives in Georgia thought they were doing the same thing when they moved her down there. Like they could swoop in and fix a truly unfixable situation.

17. My mother had a real talent for inspiring this kind of We Will Save the Day kind of help... and then TOTALLY resisting 99% of the help. It. Was. Truly. Maddening.

18. The DBT version of helping me with my survivor's guilt is : waterfall. I may have blogged about this before. Joanna asked me one day to come up with an image that would snap me out of the rumination (dwelling-on) trajectory that I've just described.  I came up with waterfall. Not because it was a beautiful example of mother nature's creation... but because it was beguiling yet destructive. If you stand under Niagara, you will be crushed. The water surges forward under its own power, cutting a channel into the rock because that's what it does. You are just a brittle bag of bones compared to the power of the waterfall.

19. According to our SoS group leader, my mom's brain slowly stopped being able to make the decisions necessary to keep her alive. Complex decisions, but also decisions that we all take for granted. It is a radical idea. However, I'm considering it. Not only do I want to believe it because it lessens my guilt, but it also makes so much damn sense when I look at the course of her life over the past twenty years. If you think about it, it actually connects to waterfall. Well, okay, it does for me.

20. So that's what I got from my first week of group. I'm glad there are only 20 things. It tells me when I can stop writing. B/c I'm exhausted now. Whew. Time to hop in the shower and start my day!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

20 things : what to do with the dead

1. My mom's death day (like the opposite of birthday) is coming up on Saturday.
2. I am looking for distractions.
3. The first person whom I asked an opinion about distractions said that I should think how I can memorialize or honor her instead.
4. I don't know if I'm ready to do that.
5. Maybe I will take her ashes out of seclusion and find a place in the house for them.
6. On Thursday, that is TOMORROW, I am joining a support group called Survivors of Suicide. It is the first session.
7. I am grateful for this opportunity to talk about what happened, because I don't really talk about it with anyone, except Mike or therapist N sometimes.
8. Not with friends, certainly not with family.
9. I don't know how to begin the conversation or what I would say.
10. I do envy other people's ability to talk about the dead.
11. Perhaps I am imagining this ability.
12. I think the not-talking-about-it has kept me corralled in a certain area of my mind, so to speak.
13. I don't even feel comfortable blogging about it.
14. Like : that time has passed. Like : no one wants to read that.
15. My favorite cactus died last week.
16. I couldn't tell if it was b/c of over- or under-watering.
17. I think it was under- but the internet says to under-water a cactus is much less common than overwatering. I conducted obsessive internet research but found no good answer.
18. I wanted to conduct an autopsy, but instead I had Mike take it out to the faraway trash, pot and all. I couldn't bear it.
19. My anxiety and OCD started to get so extreme on Tuesday that I only went out of the house to take down the used cat litter, and that made me so paranoid I was hyperventilating by the time I got back. 20. This morning I have already predicted my own death in five ways. The OCD is an unwelcome divination.

EDIT: After having gotten some unexpected responses to this entry, I want to clarify #20. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder leads the individual to have compulsive, uncontrollable thoughts--obsessions. It is common for those thoughts to be troubling, even violent, in their content. The person with OCD deals with the stress elicited by those thoughts by acting out compulsions or tics. Stereotypical compulsions would be hand-washing, checking 20 times to see if one has locked the door, etc. My OCD is torturing me with death thoughts this week b/c of the anniversary and b/c I am joining the support group. It does not mean I am acting violently toward myself or anyone else. Deep breaths.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Water and No Water

When I was a kid living in rural eastern PA, we had a well. As a child, I didn't really understand the mechanism of the well, just that it was underground and through a series of pumps and pipes, provided all the water for our house. I think it may have also required electricity to run. Which means that when the power went out, so did the water. 

I remember the feeling of panic that took hold of me whenever the power went out or there was a mechanical problem with the well. The panic was connected to the sudden scarcity of something I took for granted. Bear in mind too, that for someone with OCD--which I've had it since I can remember--it's important to keep clean. No water for going to the toilet, no water for washing hands, no water for taking a shower. Frightening brown sediment would rise up into the toilets and sometimes the sinks. I didn't know when the water would come back on, only that the forces were completely beyond my control. 

I can hear Joanna-therapy-voice interject here: sometimes a child is just born sensitive.

One time I remember my panic was overwhelming, and my mom tried to distract me by reading a book about horses together. A love of horses was one thing we had in common. This book had all different breeds of horses in it, their historical origins and the countries they came from accompanied with fantastic illustrations. I remember Lipizzan horses capable of astounding grace, stocky Clydesdales, tall and rangy Tennessee Walking Horses, Arabians with their unusual concave faces... although the panic never went away,  the stories slowly replaced it in the forefront of my mind.

[I wonder what my parents thought about my panic. I wasn't diagnosed with OCD until I was 18 and certainly neither of my parents knew what it was before then. What did they think of my strange tics and ongoing anxieties that rarely seemed to ease up?]

* * * 

This morning when I was in the shower, suddenly the hot water cut out and there was just this unmitigated torrent of cold water sluicing down on me. This can happen in apartment living of course... one just has to shimmy to a corner of the tub that is mostly out of the shower stream and wait it out... but this torrent went on and on... finally I dove in and turned off the water entirely. I turned just the hot spigot back on. Nothing. Somewhere a pipe knocked dully. 

Perhaps in response to my stream of compound-complex swear words, Mike asked if I was okay. I imagined the cold shower causing all my muscles to seize up and the fibro ache lasting the whole day. I requested a washcloth so that I could rinse off from the tub faucet and not the shower. 

When I turned the cold water spigot back on though, there was no water coming out of there either. More distant knocking of pipes. I had the feeling there was no water anywhere nearby, although Mike said there was still some coming out of the kitchen sink--probably what was left in the lines. He brought me a bowl of water.

We called the management office and they said that maintenance had to shut off the water for "an emergency repair downstairs" and they didn't know when it would be back on.

* * * 

No Water changed The Plan. 

Regarding The Plan: have I mentioned my recent strategy to tamp down my constant panic with structure? I visualize each of my days as a box. Each day has A Plan. As The Plan is executed, I picture little colored strata start to fill the box. At the end of the day I have made it through. The box is filled. 

Where did I get this visual? I think there was a video game in the eighties involving colored lines slowly filling in or draining out. If anyone knows, leave it in the comments. 

So I have this strategy, but I'm not great with changes in The Plan. For today, The Plan was housecleaning in the morning, vacuuming, washing and wiping, doing the catboxes, in the meantime having loads of laundry going on the second floor. Additionally, I told myself had to rock today's Plan, because I was practically useless yesterday: semi-functional in the morning but in the afternoon and evening, tearful and trapped in a pit of self-judgment.

Last night in the middle of hysterical sobbing I thought look at my fucking life now --my mother did this to me. One last strike so we could both go down together. These thoughts are pretty close to my worst thoughts: the fear spiral that leads to places too dark to blog about.

How strange that she could be so kind one day, so unmerciful another. I mean it: how strange. I thought it was strange at eight. At thirty-eight my mind still can't get around it.

I think of that eight year old girl, vulnerable and not in control of her world, trying to provide structure with rituals, which came along with horrible tics. Today, I lost my shit when the water went off. 

* * *

When I taught at University, I shepherded my students through a campus lockdown because there was a shooter on the grounds. There were three incidences of gun crime at this school during the six years I taught there. This never kept me from going to work. 

If you would have asked me, I'd have said yes, it's scary, but there's nothing I can do about it. The people who are in charge of doing something about it are doing something about it.

Fast forward 2.5 years and I'm totally couchlocked, blogging about waters and wells and horses and my child-self because I can't even execute PART of today's Plan. See, it has to go a Certain Way, follow a certain procedure and it can't with no water and... and... I feel like eight-year-old-me.

All I can do is deep-breathe and say it's scary, but there's nothing I can do about it. The people who are in charge of doing something about it are doing something about it. But I can't get off the couch.