Tag Archives: healing

My sofa, my home

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My sofa, my home

A couple of days ago, I would have been embarrassed by the pizza crumbs I found in my bra; but today, not so much. No longer bothered by the idea of wearing the same clothes for two, even three days, I’m learning to embrace my condition. I’ve come to think of the weight I’m putting on, as a result of stress eating and complete lack of activity, as what will one day become winter insulation. I’ve moved out of denial and am sliding comfortably into acceptance.
After breaking my ankle a week ago, I’ve turned my sofa into nearly my entire world. Surrounded by stacks of pizza boxes, I’ve come to accept this as the space I occupy. I eat here, sleep here, read here, build cities here, watch tv here, write here, pay bills here, yesterday I even recorded a radio show here. I’ve organized my belongings around me: a bag for trash, a bag for clean clothes, a bag for dirty clothes, toiletries, calcium vitamins, medicine, first aid kit, books, batteries, pencils and pens, brush, salt, remotes. Oh sure, I’ve been out in the past week. And certainly I’ve made the trek to the bathroom and I’ve had the adventure of crawling up three flights of stairs so I can take a sponge bath and wash my hair in the sink. But the majority of my time has been here.
Normally, I am a mover. Not in any particularly productive way, just there’s a lot of motion in my life. I go. I would simply stand up more, but my toes keep turning purple. So, adjusting to sitting on this sofa for the majority of my time, has taken some adjustment, but I think I’m over the hump. Maybe I’ll just extend my time here, stay. Perhaps I’ve transitioned to a sedentary life. And in this day and age, I could practically have anything I want delivered just a few feet away from me. Food, clothes, office supplies, animals, more cushions. I could learn to really appreciate the joy of getting to walk out to the porch and listen to the rain, or the birds. Enjoy the hours of solitude. Soak in the slow pace, buy clothing that doesn’t button, zip or tie, calculate how many hours it would take to watch every documentary on Netflix, learn how to make doilies.
In my mind, I am Tom Hanks in Cast Away, dreadlocked blonde hair, my best friend a pizza box that I’ve drawn a smiley face on. I’m learning to weave a hammock from the sofa stuffing and catch slow moving bees for food. I’m scratching tick marks into the window frame to keep track of the days. Rain storms are exciting, and I’m keeping an eye on the horizon for helicopters.
That is, of course, if Tom Hanks had been able to accomplish all that he did in a week. It’s easy to get lost in your own misery, whatever it is. In reality, I’m already halfway through the hardest part of my recovery. I’m truly getting off easy. But we’ve all had a cold, a heartbreak, a sadness that we thought would never end. It’s hard to see the light when you are down the rabbit hole. Sometimes we lose sight of hope and learn to manage the discomfort, and then before we know it, we are well again, we are lifted up, we are rescued.
Bones heal, heartbreak mends, sadness subsides, life moves. I could learn to stay here beyond my recovery, embrace my new sofa culture, order pre made food from the Internet, but in order to do so, at some point I would have to resist a lot of inertia to move forward. When we are uncomfortable, sick, sad, broken, it feels interminable. And fighting these unpleasant feelings probably doesn’t encourage them to pass us by any more quickly. They have their own course, their own pace. Giving in feels like the right thing to do for the moment. Try to find comfort in the discomfort, rest, feel bad. And not so long from now, I will rejoice in the simple pleasure of leaving my sofa and standing in the shower.

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What is the meaning of this!?

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What is the meaning of this!?

So let’s talk about the swarm of lethargic bees that invaded my home in the first 24 hours following my recent fall. But first, a bit of backstory will provide you with the understanding that I’m terrified of bees. Once as a lanky preteen I cartwheeled over a bee in my yard that promptly stung my finger. The old house that I grew up in frequently had wasps nests in the attic fan and as soon as the weather got warm enough, they would fly into our home and hide beneath the bedsheets. I once got a nasty sting on my thigh, through a pair of brown corduroy pants that I was wearing to keep warm in bed. As a curious four year old I picked up a paper wasp’s nest in my yard, only to discover that makes wasps angry. And yes, these are mostly wasp stories, but the pain of a sting doesn’t discriminate between species.
But these current trespassers are slow moving, crawling, bees that just march about my floors or buzz casually in my window sills; they are easy targets for a can of raid. These are low quality bees to be sure. So, it’s not so much the quality that’s an issue, but the quantity. And the fact that when it comes to exterminating bees, I don’t have a leg to stand on. Haha, get it, because…so I called in reinforcements, to help, with the bees.
Ani DiFranco says, ” life may imitate art, but Art imitates TV”. There must be a deeper, more symbolic meaning in these infestations, these minor upsets to my current condition. May friend J suggested I look to literature to search for meaning. Because after all, literature was life experience first.
I certainly can’t avoid the obvious analogy that these normally busy, active creatures are slow. They don’t fly, they walk, as though their wings are utterly useless. “Busy as bees”? Not these guys. They might as well have their wings propped up on an old sofa watching reruns of “Arrested Development” on Netflix. It is no secret that it is impossible to move quickly on crutches. Even when I’ve gotten up a little speed, I’ve nearly caused new injuries when I’ve been forced to over correct. The only way to get up stairs at the moment, is to sit down and lift myself onto each step, slowly. So perhaps the universe has sent this analogy to mock me, ” Look at these bees! They are hardly even bees. They crawl about (like you) waiting to be eliminated.” That seems a bit harsh Universe, so maybe it’s something else. Something more positive and less self-loathing.
Bees have jobs, some bees go out and collect honey, some clean the hive, others care for the larvae, and of course the queen Bee holds the hive together. Essentially the hive is an exploded version of a parent. I am carpenter bee and caretaker bee and queen bee. I may have mentioned, “things” are in disarray in my hive. There is an appealing array of mucky, greasy dishes scattered throughout the house. I swear my youngest daughter is just pouring dog food onto the floor to feed the dogs. And I’ll not even go into detail about the indoor water balloon incident. Slow moving bees would be horribly inept at keeping up with an active hive. Honey would rot (if that’s possible), larvae would shrivel. Ironically, bees could thrive in the clutter of my kitchen; lackadaisically walking on dishes of old strawberries and whipped cream.
However, perhaps the most striking parallel is that a hive, even this “low-rent” hive that has taken up residence in my room, isn’t a single bee. There are many, many bees, doing lots of jobs. When the queen is down, the other bees rally around and take care of hive to ensure its health. Both Hillary Clinton and Starman were right…”it takes a village” and “when things are at their worst, people are at their best. ” Even though some bees are solitary, for the most part bees are social creatures. They live in hives, work together and take care of each other. I’d image, there are bees back at the hive that are moving a lot faster, taking up the slack for these slothful bees. So, I’m learning to accept help and help is being graciously offered.
I suspect the reason for the lazy pace of these bees is actually the recent warm spell (which was also related to my recent fall; warm weather caused me to wear impractical sandals, impractical sandals caused me to fall on the sidewalk). I believe there is a hive in the air conditioning duct. When we turned on the A/C, the cold air blew them out into the house, but it also felt like winter to them. Blasted by cold air, they move slowly, as though birthed in winter. Our solution was to just turn off the air conditioning, which seems to have worked, for now.
I am concerned that the bees are just hiding in the walls, curled up in their hive, binging on nature documentaries. Hopefully by the time they decide to emerge once again, I will be healed and ready to do battle. Thanks to a very helpful hive, I am indeed healing every day.

2001: A Full Shining Lolita

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2001:  A Full Shining Lolita

As I lounge, with my purple cast propped on a pillow, looking over the chaos that has erupted in my house in the last 24-48 hours, I realize what I normally do all day; Clear Cheerios off the counter, close boxes of crackers, throw away Puddin’ Pouches, put stray forks and spoons into the dishwasher, rinse dishes, feed the forgotten animals. My home looks like the scene in the movie after the girl has broken up with the guy and he holes himself up in his living room, surrounded by pizza boxes and empty whiskey bottles. Shades pulled, he reclusively resides amongst a sea of damp towels, waded up newspapers and filthy socks.
Breaking a body part, particularly one of the ones you use for propulsion, forces you to face the world from a particular point of view. One that is slower, lower and less capable than you were even the instant before you stepped ineptly on the uneven sidewalk in your impractical shoes. Even the most simplistic task becomes a chore of such gargantuan proportions that you spend significant time contemplating if it’s completion holds enough value to bother. Whatever is not near you suddenly feels launched into a universe that is too distant to comprehend; approximately the location of the horse head nebula. And walking up a flight of stairs has never before been appreciated for the sheer accomplishment that it is, nor has the defeat of realizing my toothbrush is three floors up ever been so poignant. Also, I don’t feel terrible about eating a handful of Bac’N Buds because they were left on the coffee table and therefore are in arm’s reach. And you should know, I’m not particularly good at accepting help. So I’ll just enjoy this new (albeit temporary) perspective on life.
A relatively minor injury, like breaking an ankle while,well, walking, isn’t such a big thing. It will be a delineation of a particular era; “oh that party happened right after I broke my ankle” , or ” oh! That’s right, I couldn’t drive then because of my ankle.” But mostly it only gives me these few moments to experience life from my sofa, or to gather perspective teetering atop a pair of crutches. But it’s important to remember it could be worse. There was no surgery, no metal pins, my toes are free, it’s only 2-3 weeks. I am a survivor and figuring out how to accomplish these mundane tasks is a challenge I’m willing to accept. Except showering, that’s just the dream of a crazy person.
There’s an interpretation of these recent events that practically writes a Stanley Kubrick flick. Particularly when you fold in the swarm of lethargic bees, which I’ll address a bit later, who have invaded my bedroom. This bedroom is tragically, on the third floor. Laid up from the simple act of walking, unable to drive single mom of three, her house infested with bees- slow bees-lays wrapped inside a single blanket on the cold porch, her wild eyes searching the landscape as her calf twitches inside her cast.
But I think there’s more humor to be found here than tragedy. For example, I’ve been using my bra as a carrying pouch. And I “butt-scootched” up the steps to the third floor, only to become so comically panicked that the house would catch on fire or that the slow-moving bees would leisurely surround my bed and form a bee beard on my face while I laid powerlessly on my back, that I had to make the disagreeable, protracted trek back down the stairs. And watching me try to maneuver this iPad out onto the porch was comic gold. Imagine a one armed sea otter learning to juggle for the first time. Mistakes were made. Comedy happened.
I’ve given up on my appearance almost entirely. I am very interested in purchasing those sweatpants that unbutton down the side. I think athletes wear them so they can rip them off in a moment’s notice to go jump in the game. I’d like the option of awkwardly tearing them off so I can pee. Earlier I did splash some water on my face as I stood wobbling over the bathroom sink. But even that feels inadequate, although difficult, enough to not even be worth it. My daughter brought me a warm dish towel to encourage me to at least rinse off, but as I slowly become more entrenched in the sofa, it just seems like an act with no meaning. Comically without meaning, of course.
And here is perhaps the most comic part of all, the person who is so graceful that she fell while walking, is now forced to encounter the world while precariously balancing on one foot. Her counterbalance a heavy, non weight bearing purple cast. Just try not to laugh when I have to pick up a sock off of the floor or when I try to suddenly change directions or when I tear off my athletic pants like a one-legged stripper during a Sunday matinee.
There is often comedy in tragic situations and it’s certainly better for my psyche to view it through this lens. Besides, I’ll have lots of time to write and catch up on some reading. Who doesn’t enjoy forced down time? Now you’ll have to pardon me, I’m planning to watch A Clockwork Orange, it’s just so relatable.

Without pants

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Without pants

My nine year old is yelling at me from downstairs insisting that all of her clothes are too small, she needs new clothes. A part of me believes there are numerous pants of the correct size strewn about her cluttered floor. The sofa alone houses nearly 9,000 mismatched pairs of socks at this moment. But she is growing and one complication of transformation is not fitting into the old things, the comfortable things, the available things.
Growth is hard, ask a seed. It utterly destroys you. I think that’s part of why we avoid change so desperately, even in the face of powerful evidence that staying complacent in slowly killing us. How many people can we all wisely observe from afar and discern that they are all making tremendous mistakes in their relationships, in their lives. Why do they stay? We would never do that. Compromise myself ? Pish.
Obviously I joke, it’s one of the many tactics I employ for avoiding change. Do you suppose the seed feels complacent while roots and stems are bursting through it’s hard outer shell? Perhaps the butterfly holds tight to its legs, having wings will just be too terrifying. But for the seed, or the butterfly avoiding change means to actually cease to exist. We don’t have the luxury of forced transformation. We can choose to stay in our comfortable cocoon forever. Stagnation carries it’s own pain though, and there is a price to pay for sitting still. Can’t go around it. Have to go through it, painful and uncomfortable though it may be. The good news is there is a reason to push forward, endure the transformation and reap the rewards: authenticity.
She found pants. They make her legs itch. Horribly itch. Itch with the fire of a thousand flames. Holding on to the old pants has become too painful. Only one thing left to do, change.

Transformation #375

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Transformation #375

Once, as a child, I made a bad choice and was sent to my room for an hour. At the end of the hour, my mother opened my door and said that I could come out. My response? ” it’s already been an hour!” I was in the midst of playing something that involved an old zip up suitcase and my play sized kitchen sink. My imagination was my best friend, I preferred it over most humans for many years to come.
I am a fiercely independent only child and survivor of many things. I have numerous friends, and have entertained (hopefully) many people. I adore making people laugh, I delight in the stories that people share, I enjoy the buzz of parties and I am more comfortable on a stage in front of a sold out house than most any place.
I am happy eating alone, watching a movie alone, spending the day alone. I have traveled throughout the United States, Amsterdam and Germany alone. I have bought cars, and houses, drawn up wills and settled estates alone. I have raised my daughters virtually alone, not every moment, but the majority of the day in and day out, the midnight terrors, the early morning breakdowns, the fears, the hopes, the disappointments.
I have done some of it by choice, somethings by necessity, some by habit. I have taken pride in some of it, responsibility for most of it and when things failed, I have taken it hard. I have actively avoided help, slyly ignored offers, purposely pushed people away. Not always because it was best, but because it felt the safest. I made bad choices that made good relationships hard and worse choices that made bad relationships easier. Being fiercely independent, is the opposite of being vulnerable.
That fierce independence has served me well though. It has protected me in the worst of times and kept me in the survivor column. But it has also caused me to miss out on real opportunities for real love. It has left voids where deep friendships and connectedness should be. There are many ways to be alone, closing yourself off to deep connection is only one way.
Fifteen years ago I flung myself into the fire, with an openness to love and a deep desire to be a mother and a wife. I wasn’t as careful as I needed to be, I didn’t keep my eyes open. I loved boldly, though. I earned that deep connection.
And the time has come to love boldly again, to be vulnerable to the other honest-hearted souls, to love fearlessly, but wisely. I’ve grown and I’ve sheltered, I’ve healed and I’m healing. And the time has come to open up, loosen my heart, feel the warmth of intimacy, the comforting embrace of another. To give.
And I’ve taken my first baby step, by being vulnerable to each of you.

Careful what you wish for

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Careful what you wish for

I believe in karma. Meaning, I believe what you give out to the universe, is what you get back. Maybe that’s not karma exactly, but it’s the word I’m going with, much like alanis mortisette’s use of the word “ironic”.
So I am fairly careful about what I specifically wish for, I think the universe has a way of allowing you to learn your lessons the hardest ways possible, so you don’t forget. I suppose I imagine the personified version of the universe much like the cigar smoking uncle in the Christmas Vacation movies with Chevy Chase. “Ok, you want a date that’s footloose and charming well here’s your philandering pharmacist, stupid. ”
The trouble is, thinking you know what you want, and not REALLY knowing. The universe is happy to oblige by sending you what you asked for, but seems remarkably absent when you try to return said request when it implodes in your face. Like rubbing a magic lamp, better be sure of what you wish for.
So what do I REALLY want? I want what I believe we all want: to be happy. So what does that look for me? I think this is where things get sticky. I had a very specific version of happiness, or at least I thought so. I met, fell in love with, married and had three beautiful, smart daughters, with a brilliant, successful, kind-hearted man. Who wouldn’t be happy!?
Of course, Chris was more complicated than that short list of adjectives and the challenges came in the spaces in between all of that. But I believed that was ALL I needed. So coming up with a NEW list, feels terrifying. What if I don’t know what I need to be happy, or worse, what if I don’t trust that I know what will make me happy?
Before I go too much further I believe it’s important to clarify, I am happy. I am human, I am struggling at times, I am healing, but I am happy. And I love to say to my girls, “No one can MAKE you anything.” But there are people who come into our lives that make it easier to choose to be happy and people who make it harder to choose to be happy. So what I’m really asking for is a partner who will make choosing to be happy easier. And I think the real challenge for me still, is trusting what I feel when I meet that person.
It’s a little like buying a car…you make a list of features you’d like, you save your money and you shop. You’ll like some cars, some would do fine, but one day you find the quirky, little, blue Mini Cooper and you just know that you’d be heart broken if you came back and it wasn’t in the lot anymore. Buying cars is easier than trusting my heart still, but as I keep saying, I’m learning.

Left turn

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Left turn

Last night I had a dream that an ex boyfriend and I were making out when he abruptly got up and walked outside saying he wanted to look at the stars. I followed him, naturally, to discover huge crows with human faces out in the trees. My ex didn’t seem to be moved by this sight, but I found it frightening. He laid in the bushes ” watching the stars” , but I knew he was just purposefully ignoring me. Eventually, after one of the crow/humans walked into the roadway, displaying a row of active teats, a passerby took some pictures that I thought were going to be amazing. In the meantime, my ex had put on some Spider-Man PJs and was crawling back toward the door of the house. One of the crow people was standing next to me and I said to him, ” I think he’s leaving me. Will you hold my hand?” He did, dutifully for about 30 seconds.
That is most likely the result of sleeping for 30 hours on and off and not eating, but that is apparently what my brain does to symbolically represent my emotions. A psychologist friend of mine once said to focus on what you are feeling during the dream. I felt rejected, both by my ex and the crow person, afraid of the crow person, who I then had to ask to support me. I also felt excited that the lady got a picture of the wild creature. Finally, I felt regret that it had all fallen apart.
If there’s anything I despise it is regret. Regret means, you had an opportunity and you lost it. But consciously I don’t feel that. Not really. Maybe a little. But I want to believe I’ve done my best, and I’m taking the lessons and learning. Looking back should be a reflection of what happened, what I gained and perhaps what I lost, so I don’t miss that the next time.
Nursing mother crow people and spider man pajama wearing exes can not define my future. Don’t worry, I have no idea what that means. But I’m going to assume it’s part of the healing process and take it from there.