Sometimes things are as beautiful as a rose

RoseAs we walk around the blacktop, her little hand in mine, I can feel her body tense up.

She was fine all morning, but the reality is here.

We stop and she looks at me. Her new haircut frames her face in the light perfectly and it hits me how completely I know her, how intimate we are without words.

Her eyes tell me all the fears she carries right below the surface.

“I’m scared.”

“Nobody will be my friend.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“I don’t like this.”

I smile at her and then squeeze her hand gently three times in mine.

“I love you.”

She squeezes back four.

“I love you too.”

We walk more. Both of us look forward, lost in our own thoughts and emotions.

Does she know how I feel, I wonder? Are my eyes telling her all the fears I carry close?

“I’m scared.”

“I don’t want to be alone all day.”

“I’m going to miss you.”

“I don’t like this.”

Before I know it, her teacher is playing a harmonica and signaling it is time to lineup. I stand back with all the other parents.

She stares at me from the line and I ask if she wants a kiss. She makes fishy lips and we both laugh.

I walk over, give her a quick hug and kiss, and then stand back to watch her walk to her new classroom.

I follow her like a lost puppy and then I’m temporarily struck.

My little sidekick is going away.

She won’t be with me most of the day anymore.

I’m going to be alone.

I really, really don’t like this.

When we get to the door, I watch her teacher. He stands on his knees so he is at eye level, he takes her hand into his and he welcomes her with so much kindness and genuine love.

His words from an e-mail the night before pop into my head: “I will do my best to take good care of your hearts, and then you will come and pick them up at the end of day.”

Yes.

I take a deep breath and I let it go slowly.

I don’t cry. I don’t even feel sad anymore.

Before I have time to really examine my feelings, this wonderful teacher invites all the parents to walk in and see the children at their desks.

My girl is in the front row, paying attention to him talking and she is perfectly at home there. The classroom is warm, inviting and feels so right.

This is good.

If you’re unfamiliar with Waldorf school, entering first grade is huge. This class will be together until they leave the school in eighth grade. I really couldn’t have asked for a better environment for my sweet, sensitive girl.

This is going to be wonderful.

I walk out and actually feel excited.

For us both.

She will learn to read.

I will learn to run.

She will learn to knit.

I will learn to write a book.

She will learn how to be out in the world and make friends.

I will learn how to have goals and reach for them again.

It’s going to be a good year for us both and I’m really happy.

The first day of Waldorf school includes an opening day ceremony where the eighth graders welcome the first graders with a rose. We are at a new campus this year that only goes up to fourth grade, my son’s class.

When I found out my boy would be handing his sister a rose, it was as if the universe was giving me a gigantic hug.

We all head to the tiny outdoor amphitheater. So many familiar faces, hugs and smiles. The ceremony begins with the teachers and staff singing a lovely song about harmony and unity.

Then my son’s gorgeous teacher, who I adore beyond words, strums the guitar and leads the entire school in singing:

“From you I receive

To you I give

Together we share

By this we live”

rose2

As we all sing, my sweet boy hands his sister a beautiful white rose and they walk together across the stage. I feel giddy, silly and almost break into hysterical laughter.

My life is shifting in so many ways right now and this one moment, one rose given to another, seems to symbolize all that is good and wonderful in my life.

The ceremony is over and I get in my car. I have friends to see, errands to run and freedom to feel.

Yes, freedom.

I’m opening myself up to what might be. I’m saying yes to opportunities, allowing myself to be vulnerable and releasing all the anxieties that hold me back.

This is scary, but it is going to be amazing.

 

The monster strikes at midnight

“Mommy! Mom! Help!”

Jolted awake, I sit up in bed. I look at the clock and think it must have been a dream. Just as I settle back onto my pillow, I hear the most frightening scream.

“Mom! Help me! I’m so scared. Where are you?”

The sound of his voice sends me bolting out my bedroom door. His panic and intensity scares me so much that I almost fall.

I look in his room and he isn’t there.

His voice sounds far away and I start to panic.

“Where are you?” I yell.

“Downstairs bathroom! Hurry mom! Help me!”

Heart pounding I leap down the stairs and run toward the bathroom. As I do, horrible images enter my head and it feels like an eternity until I reach him.

There he is. Sitting on the toilet. He is completely naked. Tears are streaming down his face and he is shaking.

“Why are you downstairs? What is wrong?” I yell.

My husband enters the bathroom right behind me. I hear my daughter calling out now from her bed.

“What is wrong?” I yell again.

“I was going to the bathroom and then this terrible, scary bug came at me,” he sobs. “I was screaming for you forever. I think it’s by the door now. I am so scared.”

We look near the door and see it.

Another fucking centipede.

You have to be kidding me.

I cradle him in my arms and calm him down.

“It’s OK,” I say. “Daddy will kill it. It’s just a bug. Your safe.”

My husband jumps into super protector mode and kills it with a broom. I gather it up with toilet paper and we flush it down the toilet.

I follow my boy into his bedroom. He grabs his panda, snuggles under the covers and slowly starts to settle down.

“Don’t you EVER do that to me again,” I tell him.

“Sorry mommy,” he says. “I was so scared.”

“I know love, I know.”

After his breath returns to normal and he is settled in, I quickly check on my daughter and head to bed.

The second I enter the safety of my room I start to laugh hysterically.

It’s just all so ridiculous.

In a matter of seconds the laughs turn into sobs.

Big, giant sobs that take me down.

My husband looks on in confusion, and I can’t explain it.

Sometimes it’s all just too much.

I spent my afternoon holding a dear friend who had fallen hard into the darkness and weight of depression and pain. It was a dark day and it scared me.

I know that feeling.

I fear it.

I pray it never returns.

I go to therapy every week to keep from letting it take hold of me again.

When I get home I see the news of the death of Robin Williams.

Bam.

Pow.

Ouch.

Here it is again.

Depression isn’t something to be taken lightly or that can be “willed away” by people who love you.

Sometimes all the good, wonderful things in the world aren’t enough.

The pain can be deeper and more pervasive than love.

I sit and weep for my friend, for others who have lost the battle and for myself.

After a few minutes I stop.

I go back to my son, grab him up and hug him hard. He returns it with full force.

“I love you so much,” I tell him. “You know that right?”

He smiles and makes his sweet little cooing sound.

“Yep. I love you momma.”

Today is another day.

cooper

NOTE: I have been humbled by all the love and support that has poured my way regarding “Exposed by my children for what I really look like.” I can’t answer all your emails, but know that I’m grateful to each and every one of you that have written me. May you all see your beauty and embrace it.

What to do when your tires hit the dirt

I should have known.

Most people would have figured it out in about 10 seconds, or certainly after a few minutes.

Not me.

I don’t like to brag, but sometimes I can be completely and utterly committed to making a big mistake.

It’s not that I seek out these little life lessons for myself. It’s more like I just ignore all signs of warning and logic and just keep plugging ahead.

It’s dedicated stupidity of the most spectacular sort.

Yesterday was a brilliant example.

I needed to make a road trip to Topaz to pick up my darling summer daughter from her visit with grandma. The kids stayed home with daddy and I had the car blissfully to myself.

I plugged the destination into the maps app on my iPhone, followed the prompts and indulged in a mini-marathon of my favorite podcast, NPR’s Snap Judgment.

For about 3 hours I listened to stories of lost loves reuniting, people overcoming fear and families reunited after centuries apart.

Then my tires hit a dirt road.

road

Uh oh. This can’t be right.

I stopped, turned off the podcast and looked around.

The road was very rocky, dusty and quite deserted.

This is wrong.

I looked at my phone and it showed me driving 5 miles and then turning right. I was only 30 minutes from my destination.

So on I drove.

Windows and sunroof open, I put all doubt aside and focused on enjoying the ride.

After a few minutes I found this:

mine

I pulled over and read all about the Golden Gate Mine. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Look at me. Being all carefree and adventurous.

Then I came to a little stream that I had to cross.

creek

Then the road got really steep and my tires were having trouble keeping up with the demands of the trail.

Still I had seen no cars. The only house I’d come across was abandoned and falling apart.

Fear started creeping in and I kept saying to myself, “this can’t be right.”

But I was committed to this route. I couldn’t make a U-turn, because then I’d have to drive all that again.

No going back

The road became gravel for a bit and my turn was only .5 miles away. Way to go Bridgette! You made it.

“Turn right.”

I looked all around. No turns.

No other roads or paths or anything. Just the same rocky dirt road leading further up the mountain.

Then I lost cell reception.

Now I was scared.

I got out of the car and just stood there.

“What do I do?” I said aloud.

I’m lost and all alone. Tears started in my eyes and I felt a rising panic in my gut.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.

Should I turn around or just keep going? What if the road gets worse and I blow a tire? What if it goes on for so long I run out of gas? What if I lose traction and skid down the hill and crash? I have no food, no water and it’s hot out.

The smart choice was to turn around and head back to the main road.

But that wasn’t fun and I just had to see this through. I’d come too far to turn around.

Dedicated stupidity at it’s finest.

I got back in the car and continued the climb.

Over another stream. Around and around and up and up. I knew I was going to be late now, but I had to see where this went. I kept thinking, the next turn it will become a paved road again.

Nope.

After another 10 minutes of driving I reached the top of the hill. This is what I saw:

mountaintop

I got out of the car and the air was filled with the most gorgeous smell of pine. A breeze blew through my hair and I actually laughed.

Groups of people on horseback were just disappearing into the woods. I walked over to a woman in jeans and a t-shirt that had a surprised look on her face.

“I’m lost,” I told her and realized how funny I must look in my mommy SUV and flip-flops.

“You sure are,” she replied with a little laugh.

She had a beautiful smile and she gave me a big hug.

“You’ve reached Little Antelope Pack Station,” she said. “Welcome.”

sign

She told me about a summer camp they were running for underprivileged kids. The kids get to ride horses, shoot BB guns and learn about nature.

“Want to ride a horse?” she offered. “Something brought you here.”

I used to ride horses all the time and I yearned to take her up on it. The thought actually brought tears to my eyes.

But people were waiting for me.

I have to be responsible.

She told me that I’d have to drive all the way back to the bottom.

No other way out.

I took a few pictures and hugged her goodbye.

“Come back when you have more time,” she said and waved to me as I pulled away.

The drive down the hill was easy and fast.

As I passed all the markers from before, I could remember all the emotions I felt at each spot; fear, excitement, doubt, joy, disappointment and happiness.

Now it all seemed so silly, pointless and wasteful.

I’m very lucky. All that came of my little escapade was a very dirty car and a flat tire (that happened a few hours later).

Things could have been so much worse.

I am tired of moving blindly and innocently forward without questioning things or listening to my instincts.

I’m so stubborn and my craving for adventure and excitement is ridiculous.

It is causing turmoil, pain and regret.

While the beauty I experienced yesterday is something I will always treasure, hopefully this will be a lesson learned.

I am a mother. People are counting on me.

Diversions can be dangerous.

This mom wants her kids to keep fighting

balletLike most 5-year-old girls, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was in love with the idea of twirling in a beautiful costume and I wanted those silky ballet shoes that lace up your legs.

My mom signed me up for lessons and I was overjoyed.

It only took a few classes for me to be totally hooked. I would stand in my bedroom and practice my feet positions. I would try to get up on my tippy-tippy toes and pirouette. In my mind, I was as graceful and beautiful as anyone in my class.

Maybe even more so.

I have no idea how long I took classes. Days? Weeks? Months?

The reason I stopped, however, is engraved in my memory.

One day after class, the ballet teacher took my mother aside and told her:

“Ballet really isn’t her thing. She is clumsy, uncoordinated and ungraceful.”

Just like that, the lessons stopped and my dream was gone.

There is nothing wrong with finding out you aren’t good at something. That is part of life and I accept that.

But for some reason, the labels “clumsy,” “uncoordinated” and “ungraceful” became as much a part of me as my brown hair and hazel eyes.

I WAS those labels.

I became convinced that I could not do anything requiring physical coordination.

Not even the monkey bars.

I didn’t even try.

I can remember P.E. being absolutely torturous for me. I would dread the team selections and always try to find someway to get out of playing volleyball or softball. I was terrified of looking like an idiot and I was convinced that it couldn’t go any other way.

I let those stupid labels rob me of more than just playing sports. I let them dictate the kind of person I would be and the type of risks I would be willing to take.

Fear of failing kept me from so many things.

It’s really rather stupid.

Now that I’m a mother, I’m super conscious of labels. I do not want my children limiting themselves.

I want them to fight.

The phrase “I’m not good at that” or “I can’t do that” is banned from our home.

You can learn to be good at anything. All you need is the desire and practice. That’s what I tell them.

I want them to fight.

I encourage my kids to try new things and to never back out of a challenge. Facing your fear is the only road forward.

I want them to fight.

Yet, here I am still frightened of doing things that require coordination.

I have very little fight.

Yesterday we met some friends for ice-skating. My kids have never been and they were excited to try something new.

“Are you sure?” I said on the drive. “We only have one hour. We could go get ice cream instead?”

“No!!!” they both cried.

All week, I had been telling myself that I was going to ice-skate with my kids. That I was going to allow myself to look stupid and fall. It is OK to fail. I can do this.

Yet, the fight left me the second I walked in the door.

“I’m not going to skate after all,” I told them. “We can’t afford for all of us to do it.”

“Awww,” my daughter said. “Sorry mom. That’s not fair to you.”

No it’s not and it has nothing to do with money. That was the logical argument I made with myself to get out of trying.

It’s not fair that I won’t fight.

Clumsy. Uncoordinated. Ungraceful. For. The. Win.

How I wish I could just play catch, volleyball, jump on a trampoline or kick a soccer ball around without it filling me with a sense of dread and anxiety.

As I sat on the cold bench at the skate rink and watched my children my heart was bursting with joy. There they were. All by themselves trying to figure it out. Pushing buckets around the ice with big helmets on their heads. They would fall, get back up and try again. No tears. No frustration.

Determination.

Belief.

Fight.

Maybe I will never have enough fight for myself, but seeing my kids fight for a life without fear is more than enough.

ice

The hardest dance of my life

As we walk into the door of the karate studio I can feel the tension that has been building in the car reach a climax.

“Please mom,” he pleads quietly in my ear as I sign him in, “don’t make me do this. I just can’t do it.”

He has been begging me all afternoon to let him skip class. He was blaming the sunburn on his back, but I know it’s more than that.

At home, in front of dad and sister, it wasn’t as desperate as it was in the car. He tried everything to get me to turn the car back around. Now that we are in the building and it is time for class, the panic has intensified.

“You can’t do this,” he says. “I’m in pain mom. I can’t do it. I really, really can’t. If it was my old class I could, but this one is hard.”

He whispers the words in a rush with tears in his eyes. He is holding himself back from screaming and I can see his little body tense with fear.

“You have to go into class and tell your sensei,” I tell him calmly. “If he excuses you then we will go home.”

He throws his body on me and I try to hug him. He wiggles away and looks at me with anger.

“Time for class,” his sensei announces.

He tries one more please, but I don’t make eye contact or respond. He takes off his flip-flops and throws them at me.

“Pick those up,” I say. “That is not OK.”

He picks them up, stacks them beneath the chair and walks into class.

I take a deep breath and start texting my friend on the phone for support.

Did I do the right thing? Did I push too hard? What if I just damaged our relationship?

I look up and see that the class isn’t doing basic stretches right and the sensei is making them do extra burpees. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a pushup followed by a jump into the air. I’m so worried about his back.

For a few minutes I consider walking into his class and saying, “please don’t push my boy too hard today. He has been very emotional and he has a sunburn.”

Then I see my boys face.

He is smiling.

Really, really smiling.

My eyes fill with tears. He not only is doing it, but he is amazing.

This little boy of mine is killing it.

His back is fine. It was just his fear of doing something hard and failing.

This is what being a parent is all about.

And it sucks.

I often feel unprepared and caught off guard with the intensity of his feelings.

My heart hurts and I constantly have to tell myself that I cannot save him from pain.

I am not here to make his life easy and happy.

Ugh. I hate that.

My role is to help him find his path and allow him to become fully himself.

He pushes away from me, yet still needs to feel safe and connected.

I try to give him freedom to make choices about his life, but I can’t let him give up when things get hard.

I have to balance my urge to protect and shelter with his NEED to be pushed and challenged.

This dance is exhausting.

And it’s just begun.

At the end of the class he walks out, puts on his shoes and hugs me.

“Sorry mom for how I acted,” he says. “Thanks for making me go.”

boyandme

Something is happening here

All the windows were rolled down and the sunroof open. My hair whipped about my face and I was smiling.

Really smiling.

The kids and I had a fantastic morning highlighted by a delicious breakfast, lots of book talk and my daughter squeezing “I Love You” into my hand in the secret way my grandma taught me when I was her age.

As I sang and danced alone on the drive back home, I could sense something different about me. Something is happening.

My fears about my depression deepening again seem to be subsiding and I’m feeling hopeful.

Summer is coming.

I painted a picture of the sun and decided to turn it into a Summer Countdown.

Each ray of sun gets us closer to the freedom of lazy mornings, swimming with friends and staying up late.

Each ray of sun stands for another day that I’m working on myself and learning how to undo years of twisted and negative thinking.

Each ray of sun is a possibility and a chance to make things better.

Summer is coming and I’m no longer afraid.

I’m excited.

Bring it on!

14148903946_eb8f24e28f_z

Fish Tank and the Fear

The first thing I noticed was this very tiny little crab inside his shell. He was moving slowly across the bottom. I could not see very much of him, just a feeler here or there.

I tracked his movement and tried to focus on matching my breath to the rhythm of the water.

“Sheila.”

The only other woman in the room left and I was alone.

My breath quickened and I stood up. My legs and arms were restless and I felt ready to bolt. Walking all around the tank I took in the variety of life contained within the glass walls.

I tracked three blue fish with yellow tails as they chased each other the distance of the tank.

A tiny clownfish skidded out from behind a rock and then disappeared into a green sea anemone.

Two red critters with a handful of long white feelers and two beady black eyes scrambled up and down the rocks. They stayed in constant motion and appeared to be eating the algae.

spikeThen I see him, a big ball of sharp spikes. Very slowly he moves out from behind a rock. He is huge compared to the other life in the tank. His spikes look hard and sharp. Nothing is messing with this guy.

I peer in closer and I’m taken aback by his one orange eye right in the middle of all the spikes. This bulging eye is surrounded by microscopic hairs with a bluish tint. As I watch, he slowly blinks.

“Bridgette.”

My turn.

“Its been a really long time since we’ve seen you.”

“I know. Four years.”

“Well, we are glad your here.”

I sit down in the chair and grip both armrests. As I’m lowered back and I open my mouth for the x-rays, I try not to think all the horrible thoughts that have been swirling in my mind.

This is going to be painful.

I’m sure I have thousands of dollars of work that needs to be done.

We can’t afford this.

What if they have to pull all my teeth out?

They are going to see how badly I have neglected myself.

Embarrassment and fear threaten to overtake me and I try to remember to breathe.

“Are you okay?”

I nod and try to stop shaking.

After the x-rays she starts cleaning my teeth.

My mouth fills with the taste of blood.

The taste of neglect.

The taste of fear.

My mind keeps returning to the Spike Ball in the tank. Is that even an eye? Are his spikes for protection or purely camouflage? Does he have a consciousness?

Scrape. Rinse. Suction. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

At some point it is over and the dentist comes in. I close my eyes as he looks in my mouth and then at my x-rays.

“You OK?”

I nod.

“I know it’s bad,” I say.

I start to say more.

Maybe I should tell him about my depression and the days that I just couldn’t do anything. Should I make excuses about being busy…or being a mother…or…

He chuckles and stands up.

“We are done here. You have no cavities. Your gums are inflamed from lack of flossing, but that’s easily fixed. Floss and they will heal. See you in 6 months.”

He smiles, pats my arm and walks out.

All that fear that I’ve carried.

Four fucking years of it.

Gone.

I’m stuck feeling lucky and unworthy of such good news.

How many hours have I spent in self-loathing and disgust about my mouth?

My body?

My everything.

I know I’m not alone in this crazy, fear-induced way of thinking. This twisted ability to take the worst case scenario and let it keep me from getting the information I need.

I can’t exercise because I’m too fat and out of shape.

I don’t want to see the doctor about that pain, because what if it’s cancer.

I’m not going to see a therapist because what if they want to medicate me.

I’m not going to finish writing my book because nobody will want to read it.

My spikes of fear grow and flourish as I feed them misinformation and lies. They grow and cover me in a grotesque shield that doesn’t protect or hide me, it just traps me.

I make a cleaning appointment for November and silently promise myself to keep it.

Walking out I stop by the tank to check out my spiky friend. I find him near a current of water. He winks his eye at me very slowly. I see that his spikes are moving gently in the water. Maybe they aren’t as hard as I thought.

“See you later friend.”

And then I lost my mind…

Walking to my car I was so engrossed with my phone that I didn’t even realize I had arrived until I bumped into it. I unlocked the door and continued my texting conversation without missing a beat.

That’s when I saw a shadow.

It was just a moment of darkness and then the light returned.

Immediately I locked the doors and started my car. I set down my phone and returned to reality.

I was in a parking garage.

Downtown.

Alone.

Late.

As I drove down the ramp toward the exit, a tiny little whisper entered my mind.

“What if that shadow was someone in the parking garage about to rob me?”

Good thing I locked the doors.

I’m safe.

Inserting the parking ticket into the machine, I exit the garage and wind my way through downtown to the freeway.

Time to get my dance on.

“If you feel like happiness is the truth…”

Not this song AGAIN! I snap off the radio in frustration and enter the freeway.

Some quiet is a good idea.

“What if that shadow was someone in my car?”

Wait…WHAT? Stop it.

“What if they are waiting until we get far away from the city to stick a knife to my throat?”

NO! Stop it.

“What if I never see my children again?”

AHHH!!!! Stop it!!!

The thoughts start spiraling down into a deep, dark place filled with regret, fear and panic.

Sneaking looks into my rearview mirror becomes too scary and I almost pull over on the freeway and run away from my car.

Stories I’ve heard of women being raped and left mutilated on the side of the road start playing in my head. Every image of abuse and death that I’ve tried to suppress start playing like some absurd, grotesque slide show of my impending demise.

“How could you be so stupid to not check the car?”

There it is.

The reason it all started.

I didn’t check the car. I paid no attention to my surroundings.

STUPID PHONE.

I almost roll down the window to chuck it, but realize it might save me if I am indeed sharing the car with a murderer hiding in the third row. He could easily be under that giant karate duffel bag back there.

Don’t look back. Don’t look back. Don’t look back.

I look back and it seems the duffel bag has been moved from where I remember seeing it last.

Panic time.

I turn the music on and off for several minutes trying to decide which is worse, hearing my attacker or being surprised when he jumps up to kill me.

Every passing car I search their faces to see if they are signaling me that they see someone in the back.

I swear I can feel pressure in my back, like someone leaning on my seat.

Now I’m crying.

My poor kids…would they know how much I loved them? Would they remember all the little things I did for them? Would they forever be haunted by the memory of me leaving them to see a play?

How could I be so selfish to go see a play without my family?

What is wrong with me?

The freeway exit is ahead and I’m now convinced this is the moment my attacker is waiting to pounce. He has enjoyed watching me panic. I can almost hear his breath.

I exit and stop at a red light.

Should I run? I could just leave the car right here and run for it. The gas station is right there…

STOP THIS.

I turn on the interior lights and look around the car.

I’m alone.

The duffel bag is against the back door and nobody is behind it.

Light turns green and I drive the rest of the way home in a daze.

***
In just two days I am flying on an airplane without my family.

I am headed to Florida to stay with a very dear friend and her beautiful family. It is an early birthday present from her and I’m so grateful.

Yet…

The fears that spiral in my mind have gone into hyper drive. Untruths are being yelled in a voice so loud that it’s hard to hear anything else. I’ve been tempted to cancel…to crumble and fall into a heap so I can feel safe.

Yet…

I am going. When I am quiet I can picture the beach. I can see their happy faces and almost feel their hugs. The break from my life that I so desperately crave is just within my reach.

Yet…

Fear feels like such a part of my skin that I can’t seem to shake it.

It is following me as I count down the days and is clouding everything I do this week. I’m not going to share all the horrible, ugly things that keep surfacing.

Trust me. It’s stupidly dreadful.

Yet…

I am going.

Yesterday my sister heard my panic and did something amazing. As an early birthday present, she took me shopping and bought me a heap of adorable clothes that fit. I’m more grateful to her than I can even express. Feeling better about how I look is helping me to shake some of the fear loose.

My kids are going to be fine. Daddy and grandma have fun things planned. They will be loved up and safe. This is their chance to miss me and I them.

Fear and guilt are my two favorite punishments that I live in daily.

They are making me so tired.

My body and mind are craving this trip.

Sun.

Sand.

Friends.

Change.

Rest.

I am going.

See you soon.

Candle in my oatmeal and other such things

Stumbling from my bedroom in a half-asleep daze I made my morning rounds.

“Good morning,” I say to my daughter. Her room, which was clean when she went to bed last night, is covered in doll clothes. One doll is dressed fancy and sipping tea, while another has pajamas on and is propped up receiving medicine.

“Good morning,” she responds without looking up. “Eva’s sick. I’m doing all I can for her.”

“OK. Headed into the shower,” I mumble back.

“Good morning,” I say to my son. All I can see of him is the back of his head peeking up slightly under the covers. He is on his tummy reading. I see him raise his finger up in the air for me to wait, a gesture I recognize well.

“Just needed to finish that paragraph,” he says a moment later without looking up at all.

“Just saying good morning,” I say. “Headed to the shower.”

“Good morning,” he says and promptly begins reading again.

As I stood in the shower, I started belting out the Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime.”

“Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by
Water flowing underground”

Some days I honestly have no idea how I got where I am. I can retrace the steps and go over the facts, but the reality of my life is strange to me.

* I have been married for almost 15 years and our dating anniversary of 20 years is this summer.

* My children are not babies.

* Depression has been my cloak and shield and I’m having trouble letting it go.

* My parents are getting older.

* I still feel like a teenager who doesn’t understand the world and how I fit in it.

* Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog.

All of these truths have different feelings attached that are mixed-up and hard to separate or express thoroughly.

I was challenged this week to come up with a 30 item Bucket list. Should be an easy thing to do, but I found it painful and nearly impossible. Why?

I have stopped dreaming.

It is scary to admit that I want things because then I have to work hard to make them happen.

I might even fail.

Just re-read my very first blog entry and here is how it ended:

“She put it out there. Would people read? Would they care? Would they even notice?
It involved a bravery that she didn’t know if she had. She took a deep breath and just went for it.”

I remember being so scared to write anything. Worried people would find me self-centered, stupid or just boring. As scary as it was, I have been grateful daily that I did it.

My blog is still so tiny compared with the size of others. A baby really. But it’s my baby. I birthed it and I’ve been feeding it and nurturing it for an entire year. Amazing things have happened because of it.

* I have had an outlet for working out some major issues that otherwise might have stayed dormant and hidden.

* People have reached out to me and shared their truths. I’ve inspired a few people to start following their dreams, which I find unbelievably amazing.

* I was published on Mamalode and might even get a little check from that.

* I’ve been featured on Cap City Moms and I’m looking forward to helping that website continue to grow and be a positive place for woman to tell their stories. Plus, I’m crazy for the founder of the website. Seriously, Jill is all kinds of awesome.

* Just got an e-mail inviting me to write for a non-profit organization that promotes empowering women to follow their dreams.

So, things are happening and I’m excited/terrified/nervous/thrilled/proud and many other things. I’m a mixed up jumble of nerves and it’s not a bad place to be.

Nothing good happens from staying stuck.

So, I’m saying Happy BlogBirthDay to myself in a matter that seems fitting.

oatmeal

Now, it’s about to get real sappy (come on…it’s my BlogBirthDay, so I get to do what I want!)

For everyone that has read Bridgette Tales, even once, thank you a million times over.

You have no idea how much it means to me when you read, comment or share my blog. It is confirmation that I am doing something worthwhile and that people are touched, entertained, inspired or moved in some way. It has helped me in ways I can’t even begin to express.

Sending you all love from my heart to yours.

I am OK and stuff like that

treeYesterday I sat in my car for 30 minutes and stared out the window.

I had stuff to do, but really not much time. So instead of being productive, taking a walk, making phone calls, running errands…I just froze. I literally watched some birds in a tree fighting for branch positions.

People keep asking me if I’m OK. They say it with a little head tilt sometimes, and I know it’s out of concern.

I don’t really know how to answer.

“I am doing better,” I say. “Things are good.”

And that is true.

Every morning I get up, do laundry and cook breakfast. I pack lunches and get my kids off to school.

I have set a budget, cut out Starbucks again (a major feat for me) and have focused on really listening to my children when they talk to me.

My house is clean, mostly, and I have started crocheting again.

All good things.

But there are lots of unhealthy choices I am making. I have lists of things to do and really no desire to actually do them.

What I do, instead, is just pour myself into being a great homemaker and mom. I do everything I can to make their lives easier and keep them happy.

The entire time I am doing things, however, this very ugly voice likes to whisper truths to me.

“You are so lazy and fat. Why can’t you take a walk every day? You have time. You are just lazy.”

“You know people who work 3 jobs AND do all the things you do. Maybe you are too stupid to do anything else.”

“Do you realize how freaking lucky you are? You are privileged and you sit around and whine about your life. You are a spoiled brat who doesn’t deserve friends.”

“Don’t meet with people. If you talk to them, they will find out how boring and ignorant you are. You’re a fraud and it is just a matter of time before you are found out.”

“Your kids are going to turn out to be entitled assholes if you keep making their lives so ‘easy.’ You need to stop it. You are not helping.”

These things do not motivate me to do better.

Nope.

But the loop plays anyway and I just freeze and watch birds out my car window like a moron.

Yep.

The other fun thing I have been doing is allowing myself to be drawn into other people’s chaos and disorder. I get wrapped up in it and spend more hours than I care to admit thinking about them and wishing for them to be happy.

I can’t do it anymore. I have said this before, but now I have to make it stick.

I have to.

This is not healthy for me and I don’t end up helping them anyway.

The craziest part, is that I have really amazing people in my life that always take a backseat to the drama. I never have time for them because I wrap myself up in all this other stuff.

I think I’m starting to understand.

It’s ugly people.

You might want to look away.

First, I am drawn to the chaos because I NEED to feel special. I want people to rely on me and trust me. I’ll be the one person you can turn to. I’ll be there when everyone else turns away from you.

Notice how it’s all about ME in this situation? It is not about them at all. I need to “save them” so I can feel better.

I can feel superior even.

Ugh. That realization hurts.

Bad.

Secondly, I am scared. Fearful that I am so damaged that I am not worthy of true friendship.

So. Not. Cool.

I don’t think I am a terrible person. In fact, I like me. I try to find the good in everyone and I REALLY do want to help others.

Trouble is, I don’t know how to do that and I am really bad about boundaries and saying no.

Really bad.

As a result of all this, I have pulled back in the last few years from everyone that I was close to. I have shrunk down inside this depression and kept others at bay. I make excuses and hide behind my kids.

But I am trying.

Really. I am.

My kids had a break from school and I invited over someone I admire and who inspires me. I was nervous. She had never seen my house or met my kids. She is a loving, caring, kind and amazing person. She is the kind of woman I want to be and who I should be around.

The fears were gone the second she came through the door. We had such a lovely, comfortable tea party.

It was so nice.

Last week I invited myself and my kids to another woman’s house that I adore and who I see as an incredible role model. I was very nervous, again. But I fought past those fears and did it anyway. I am so glad I did. I ended up being able to help her re-home her dog to some friends whose dog had died.

None of that would have happened if I had stayed tucked inside and safe.

But I have so much work to do still.

I was supposed to attend an Oscars party. I was excited and looking forward to it all week. I love the Oscars and have never watched them at a party before.

As the days got closer, I started wrapping myself up in self-doubt. I worked myself up into a frenzy of nerves.

“I don’t know what to wear. I have no idea what appetizer to bring. What if I say something stupid? What if…?”

Some friends stopped by a few hours before the party, and I used that as an excuse to just not go. No time to get stuff together, I have to cancel.

My husband knew I really wanted to go and tried to convince me. But I froze. He watched the Oscars with me, but I kicked myself all night. I should have showed up in my sweatpants with some bananas and just not stressed about it. Ugh.

This is stuff you are supposed to have learned in your teens or early 20s…yet here I am.

I see people try with me. They invite me places, they offer to help me and they are kind beyond anything I am worthy of…and I often blow them off.

I don’t mean to.

It just happens.

When I think about myself in the past, I don’t see myself as this introverted person who fears everything. But as I get older, that is exactly who I am becoming. All social occasions now are hard for me to face. I am so scared of what will happen that I’d rather have regret then face my fear.

It’s ridiculous nonsense. All of it.

To all my friends that keep trying with me, please don’t give up. I love you. I do. You have no idea how much. Your phone calls, hugs, texts, FB messages, even (since I’m being stupidly honest) your FB “likes” of my pictures, all help.

I don’t know what happened that made me become this fearful and stuck. Not sure it was a “thing.” It just is.

Yesterday, my daughter and I were waiting for her brother to get out of school. I didn’t want to walk on the campus and talk to people. I was just not feeling like I could do that. I wanted to sit in the car and space out. She was not having that.

She convinced me to take a walk with her. It was a short walk. We walked about five minutes to a spot where we could glimpse the river. She found her favorite hill. She kept going to the top and running down full speed.

“Come on mom,” she said. “It’s so fun! You might crash into a tree, but it’s soooooo fun!”

I climbed to the top of this tiny hill. I saw all the ways this could end bad for me. I could trip in the mud. I could sprain my ankle. I could fall on my butt.

I took a deep breath and ran down as fast as I could.

It was worth it.

hill