Parallel Lives

Does the term ‘parallel listening already exist’? If not, I’m going to take it upon myself to give it a definition. I am a parallel listener. Meaning, while I listen to you, I don’t necessarily absorb what you are telling me. It’s like when you read a book but after a while you realise that you haven’t absorbed any of it. Your eyes read the words, but their meaning doesn’t reach your brain. The same goes for how I have conversations. I hear the words, but not the meaning. This of course, can cause problems for me. I have trouble retaining directions that I’m giving, my attention span is short, and I have issues recalling simple facts about the people that I should know fairly well. I am constantly inwardly focussed, and I only came to realise it when I was recently called out on it.

I was called self-involved, narcissistic, egotistical, and standoffish (all by the same person). Unfortunately for me, these are all right – it is part of being a psychopath. I couldn’t even defend myself; it is all true – and it needs to change, but how? I like talking about myself (obviously, see: blogging), and when I talk to people I often drift off into thinking about myself, or what I would do in the situation that they are talking about. I honestly don’t do it on purpose, and I am trying very hard to change that. I am asking more questions, not talking to so many people at once, and trying not to respond with something about myself. It isn’t easy, and I’m sure everyone I know is extremely tired of it. My memory is terrible (thanks, depression!) so often I am repetitive. I ask the same things over again because I either wasn’t paying attention, or I was but can’t remember. Wow, being friends with me seems like garbage when I write it down!

Another contributing factor to my parallel listening is my lack of energy. As shallow as it seems, it takes a lot for me to want to engage with others, and when conversations go on too long I peter out and can’t focus. I find that not many people can relate to me, and I can’t relate to them; either. My life has been so different from most of the people in my age and peer group. I can’t connect because I haven’t had the same experiences as everyone else. I have three kids; most of the people I went to high school with are just now getting married or buying houses. The peripheral friends that I have are few in number – the friends I have who actually have life experience that I can relate to are even fewer. I don’t really fit in to the military wife community, but I certainly don’t fit in to civilian life. I’m not a typical PTA mom, but I still want to be involved in my kids’ lives. I’m in my own category and it isolates me from all of the communities I should be able to connect with.

Trying to connect with people on a deeper level takes actual physical energy. I get tired, and sometimes I have to withdraw and not talk to people for a few days. I try to be a good listener, but most of your struggles are foreign to me, and some feel like a waste of time to listen to. I feel bad for saying that, but my priorities have become so different over the past 6 years that I don’t understand where people are coming from anymore. Something that is a big deal to you feels trivial to me, and I have trouble getting past how I would feel in that situation (see: narcissist). I know that being outwardly rude would lose me the friends that I do have, so I try my very best to listen, and give opinions or advice should the situation warrant it. (Word to the wise, never take my advice).

Long story short, I’m sorry that I’m a shitty listener. I promise that I’m working on it, but I don’t know that my level of narcissism will ever change. I have a lot of things going on in my life that I want to talk about, and like you, I feel like the things that I have to say are more important. I know that some of you reading this are also parallel listeners; I have started noticing it in my conversations with people lately. I’m seeing what I do in some of you, and I don’t fault you for it – we’re all self-involved to a certain degree, n’est pas?

I don’t want to be shallow, and I want to set the best example that I can for my little ladies; I’m terrified that I will pass on all of my personality defects to them – but how do I avoid it? So far my answer to that is:

  • By staying self-aware,
  • by critiquing my behaviours and trying to modify them,
  • by being as honest as I can with my doctors
  • by thinking before I speak around them, and
  • By talking to them about their feelings, likes and dislikes, and really listening to what they have to say.

These answers will evolve I’m sure, and there are days when I fail miserably at being the example that I want to be; but I am committed to taking life one day at a time, and waking up each day with the desire to try again no matter what happened the day before. Each day I am waking up with the intention of listening to the things that matter to my loved ones, and I’m trying to appreciate that everyone’s story is important – just because we don’t go through the same things doesn’t mean that it matters less, your story is important to you, and if you matter to me, it should be important to me too.  I’m slowly coming out of my hidey-hole…but sometimes I need to go back. It’s where I keep my Spock Snuggie. Please forgive me the days when I can’t control my interest levels, it really isn’t anything personal. I’ll figure this out eventually.

Here are some signs that you may be parallel listening:

  1. You respond to a message with something completely unrelated to what the person is talking about
  2. If you don’t find the topic interesting, you wait long enough to respond that you can change the subject without making yourself look bad
  3. You respond with an anecdote about yourself in relation to the topic that doesn’t really contribute to their side of the conversation
  4. You have NO IDEA what’s going on with your friends even though you talk to them daily

Any of these sound like you? Can you come up with any examples of this behaviour?

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You’re Always Right. Now, Shut Up!

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Believe it or not, I know some things about some things. I’m certainly not the smartest person, but I am pretty OK at general things. Have a question about Canadian labour practice? Want to know what a specific political party’s running platform? Have a question about European history? Ask me! If I don’t know the answer, I more than likely have a book that I can reference to find it. My level of intelligence is directly related to my self-esteem. I take great pride in having a good education that I worked very hard to achieve. I had no free rides, and I put a lot of sweat and tears into improving myself, and proving to myself that I was capable of doing it. I LOVE debating things with friends and loved ones, I love learning peoples opinions, and I love defending my own. Friendly debates are healthy and mentally stimulating and should never hurt feelings or cause anger from any party involved.

I’m sure we all know that one person who knows everything – and no, I’m not referring to myself. That one person who will argue you until they are blue in the face – and when you prove yourself right? They are pissed at you and refuse to keep talking to you. They are the bully on the playground who takes the ball and leaves when he is called out. So here is my rant to you; oh brilliant one who has all of the answers to the questions of the universe, oh wise and omniscient know-er of all facts, including the ones that pertain to subjects you know nothing about. Are you ready? Pay attention.

Does my brain intimidate you? Good. It wouldn’t if you didn’t think yourself inferior to me. I’m starting to like that you get so frustrated that you resort to mindless insults or silence. You’re giving me a superiority complex. I don’t make you feel that way, you do. Being alive longer does not guarantee that you are smarter than anyone, and age does not entitle you to always be right. No one wants to discuss anything with you because the risk of making you mad isn’t worth it. The last time I tried discussing politics with you, you got mad and had tears in your eyes. How is that defending your opinion? If you think you’re right, fucking prove it! Use your knowledge of a subject to teach me something new! Change my opinion! We don’t have to agree on everything, but if you can’t appreciate that I have an opinion, I won’t respect yours either. The real kicker for me is that we have a mutual acquaintance who acts the EXACT SAME WAY as you, and you constantly bitch and complain about what an arrogant asshole he is, and how irritating it is that he has to always be right; but you are NO DIFFERENT. You’re both in the same category as  far as I’m concerned. The only difference between the two of you is that you shower occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with me thinking that I’m smart, everyone should celebrate their intelligence. I’ve worked DAMN HARD to know the things that I know, and I continue to learn and evolve daily, why can’t you do the same? If you aren’t interested in changing your beliefs or opinions based on new evidence and facts, at least have the courtesy not to yell at me every time you ask for my opinion and I give it to you.

You are also incredibly smart, and talented in a variety of areas, but your own unwillingness to accept other people’s talents tarnishes your own. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to tell you anything, nor should I downplay my successes to make you feel better about yourself. There are always going to be people in your day-to-day that know a multitude of things that you don’t know, and that’s not wrong. Your high horse is growing weary under the weight of your ignorance.

I love you, and I look forward to the day that I don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings over trivial events or conversations. Until then, I will continue to make you feel inferior because you think I do it to you intentionally. Just remember, it’s not me; it’s you. I’ll keep forgiving you because I have to, but I’m running out of patience and fucks to give.

Now that I have gotten that off of my chest I will admit that I sound completely arrogant in this post, but come on – there’s only so much I can take. EVERY WORD that comes out of my mouth is an affront to this person. They are the type of person that asks me a question and then argues over the answer I give. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t discuss a TV show without it ending in a fight and the silent treatment. Why ask my advice or opinion if you just want to rip me apart? Or is that what this is about? You feel intimidated and that upsets you, but you can’t figure out a way to refute my arguments, so you resort to anger and rudeness in the hopes that I will stop sharing with you and you can go back to feeling superior. I get it, I personally love feeling superior, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t – but part of actually being a superior human being instead of just thinking that you are is acknowledging that you are not the be-all end-all of the universe, and that quiet intelligence is always more attractive than loud arrogance or ignorance. The point of being educated is not to rub it in people’s faces, but to all exchange information and learn from each other. Being superior is knowing that you can learn something from everyone.

The bottom line is this: I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to make you feel bad about yourself; but I also don’t want to make myself feel bad to try and appease you. I have self-respect, and I cannot allow you to get in the way of it. Instead of bullying me, why don’t you take a look inward and see what it is about yourself that is causing you to attack me constantly. I get defensive easily, just like you. You try to make me feel bad, I will make sure that you feel bad. I don’t like that part of myself – I can admit that. We deserve to be happy around each other. Can we please work on that?

Temper tantrum over. For now.

#ilovesentencefragments

The Darkest One

*This post originally appeared on my Blogspot in July*

‘My reality’ VS ‘actual reality’
The world in which I exist is a circus-style microcosm of the world that you live in. My emotions are heightened by senses. Smells, colours, and sound are exaggerated and burned into me so quickly that sometimes I break down. My senses become overloaded and I cease to exist on any plane, and become enveloped in every emotion I have ever felt all at once.
I am constantly parallel to you, but we will never reach an understanding on anything, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. We can both look at the colour red, and though I know you say it’s red, my mind will tell me that it’s something different. I prefer blood, you prefer cherry.
It’s not wrong that I am hyper emotional, in fact, I believe that sometimes it makes me a better decision maker. To see abstractly is to see from all sides, and to pick the prettiest one. Or more like me, perhaps, pick the darkest one.
The kicker is this: knowing that I am more emotionally aware than you puts me in the position to find everyone that isn’t like me confusing, hard to reach, and sometimes not as…evolved, as I am.
 I fear spikes in my emotions and senses because I know that no one understands them. I am not dramatic, I am not a raw nerve, and I’m not an emotional wreck. I feel and love and hear and taste with my whole body and soul, and I know deep down that this is a beautiful gift that I must nurture.
But there is a cycle to this beauty, a cycle that leaves me feeling bloodied and angry – and it never ends. To fit in I change the way I express myself – sometimes subtle things, to let you know that I can cross the tracks and enter the ‘normal human reality’.
Repressing these colourful flaws causes panic that rises from my chest and chokes me in the throat. Anxiety attacks, they are terrifying, and I’m learning slowly that to not have so many, I have to not try to impress anyone with how normal I am.
When I’m angry, I am the angriest person you will encounter. I have no filter on how to control myself when I feel threatened. When I feel loving, there is nothing that would stop me from making you feel like the only person who’s ever been loved.
My point is this: just because the apple I bite tastes sweeter than the one that you bite, doesn’t make me a freak. You can throw buzz-words and pretend psychology at me, but it won’t stick anymore. I am allowed to live my emotions, regardless of if you feel comfortable or not – I am not damaged.
I am always open to hearing your feelings. If I have hurt you, I want to know. I crave openness with all of my loved ones. I crave honesty and hugs and the knowledge that we are all better for having each other. We are all beautiful, and I’ll stop calling your emotional volume too quiet if you stop calling mine too loud.

From The Archives: Reaching Out

*This post originally appeared on my Blogspot in August*

How do you approach a loved one on the topic of their mental health? This post has no answers; I am reaching out to my community for support and guidance in the hopes that we can open a dialogue on a touchy subject, and hopefully pass on the knowledge that we have to each other to piece together a better understanding of mental illness.

If you have read my blog before, you are no stranger to the mental illnesses that I live with. I try my best to be completely transparent with my symptoms, sufferings, and downward spirals, in the hopes that I can encourage others to be honest with themselves and others on the topic of their mental health. So what do I do when I recognise symptoms in a loved one? My concerns have been mounting for several years, and I always try to counter my own arguments to avoid projecting my own symptoms onto this person. However, after a few years of studying, I feel confident in saying that this person IS suffering from mental illness, but does not realise it. I have tried bringing it up in conversations about my own mental health, bringing up genetics, talking about the similarities that we share in personality and the way we react to situations, but so far, nothing has clicked. The biggest problem that I find blocks us from making any progress is, this person believes themselves to be somewhat of a psychology expert – an armchair psychiatrist even. They are quick to point out the damage that they see in me, and even offer ideas on ways that I could improve myself, but refuses to recognise these symptoms in themselves.

Sometimes these conversations are infuriating. I am not always the instigator, and to be told sometimes relentlessly that I am damaged goods, and that I need more help, and that I don’t see in myself what this person sees, eats at me, and causes me extreme anxiety. My first instinct is to lash out, respond with extreme anger (as I am prone to), but I try very hard to repress these feelings, mostly so that I don’t prove this person right. I get so offended at the implication that I don’t know my own suffering. I have been dealing with some of these problems my whole life, and have been very proactive in finding ways to help myself, how dare anyone tell me that I am not trying hard enough? I am tired of receiving ‘advice’ from this person, but at the same time, I understand that they are also suffering; probably more than I am, because they don’t realise that anything is wrong with them.

To be direct with this person is out of the question. Confrontation is not their strong suit, unless they are the confronting party; and being confronted even gently about any subject causes them to shut down and regress into a very angry survival attitude that is unreasonable and impossible to deal with. I have tried to introduce the common-denominator theory to them, obviously with no success. In case you aren’t aware of the common denominator theory, I’ll explain it quickly: If you have more complaints about life, people, work, weather, etc. in a day than the people you normally associate with, then the common denominator in your poor day is you. (A very simple way of putting it, but I think that gets the point across). I have also entertained the idea of staging some sort of mental health intervention. After giving it a lot of thought, I have determined that if it were I that were being confronted about my mental health by a group of people, especially after decades of refusing to see the problems within myself, it would likely cause a large emotional breakdown at the least, and violence, extreme rage, or even suicide at the worst. No one wants to hear from a group that they are questioning your mental stability, no matter how much they need to hear it.

So what options am I left with? Guided discovery hasn’t been successful, hint-dropping hasn’t been successful, and asking them to read articles about mental health has only lead to them finding more problems in everyone else. I feel like I am running out of options, which is a scary feeling. I love this person very much, and I care deeply about their well-being. Their treatment of me and their constant chipping at my own health is wearing me down, however, and I fear that I won’t be able to control my own anger for much longer. I don’t want to cause this person any damage.

I am going to include some links on this page for some helpful resources regarding mental health. I know that the person doesn’t read my blog, but I am hoping that if enough of the people surrounding them have a good understanding of signs and symptoms, it will be easier to help them find their way to acceptance, and ultimately, help.

If anyone reading this has ANY suggestions for how I can better help this person, please leave me a comment or reach me on Twitter (@thesagemum).

My goal is not to shame this person or make them feel the stigma that I have lived with for most of my life, but to offer them support, love, and an understanding person to talk to about all of the new things they will be dealing with as a card-carrying member  of the mental illness club.

CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION – UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/

THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY for BIPOLAR DISORDERS

http://www.isbd.org/

ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA – FACTS AND STATISTICS

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

A link to my favourite poem about war-time: And Death Shall Have No Dominion, by Dylan Thomas

Some of my family went to the cemetery where my granddad is buried and put their poppies on his memorial tree. Had I been home, I would have done the same.
Some of my family went to the cemetery where my granddad is buried and put their poppies on his memorial tree. Had I been home, I would have done the same.
The high-browns of the Mountie who stood guard at the Cenotaph today. This is where my daughters and I placed our poppies.
The high-browns of the Mountie who stood guard at the Cenotaph today. This is where my daughters and I placed our poppies.

My Remembrance Day started a few days ago, when I asked my husband to have his uniform dry-cleaned for the service. Each year we argue over whether or not he is going to wear it, and each year he pitches a fit; but I always prevail, and he wears it to the service. This year, he didn’t, and it threw everything off for me. I tried to explain why it was important to me, but I am not always great at expressing myself when it matters. Both of our families are rich in military history, and when he wears his uniform he is a visual representation of everyone that I have loved who has served. I can’t be with them to hug them and see that they are still here (for the ones that are in fact, still here), but I can be with him and see his uniform as a representation of everyone else. That’s the best that I can explain it. Maybe I should have explained it that way to him. My mama compares my marriage to that of her parents quite a lot, and this situation reminded her of them at this time of year. Every year my grandmother would argue with my granddad about wearing his uniform, and every year he would stubbornly say no. I understand that a lot of our members choose not to wear their uniforms because they don’t wish to draw attention to themselves, but I feel like for one day a year they deserve it, and the rest of us deserve it too. We need to feel that they know how much we appreciate them. Selfish? Maybe. Don’t care. I want my pride in him to be validated by a sea of civilians who respect and admire the sacrifices he makes that others cannot. He works hard and deserves his one day of accolades, n’est pas?

Remembrance Day is emotional for me for various reasons. The most obvious being that my husband is an active member. (See: paragraph 1). The next reason is my granddad. He died in 1978 when my mother was just 11 years old. Before the war he was a farmer, and during the war he sent money home to his father to help out. When he returned from war after storming the beaches of Normandy, being shot twice, watching his friends and brothers die in front of him, he came home to nothing. The farm was gone, the money was gone. A resilient man, he worked at the CN Rail yard until his death. Every year we mourn his loss on his birthday, death-day, and Remembrance Day. It is a day of great sadness as well as pride – pride in his exemplary service and dedication to his family, and sadness that I never had the chance to meet him, ask him questions, have him brush my hair. He loved children, and even though he would be well into his 90’s now, I know that he would have loved to meet all of us, and I often think of what it would be like to have a granddad, and my girls have a great-granddad. They are lacking in grandparents on my side of the family.

He instilled in my mother and her siblings an honourable sense of familial responsibility, and they have handled their jobs as matriarchs and patriarch of our family quite gallantly. They in turn have passed that on to my generation. Pride in family, hard work, and respect for the past. We are all descendants of him, and us living our best lives is a tribute to him, and to his service as a young man.

The other soldier for whom I pray on this day is my father’s brother, the bravest man I have ever known. He served in the American Armed Forces for as long as I’ve known him and much prior (we met in 1997ish), and had an incredible career. Each Remembrance Day in which he was deployed – which was most of them – I would attend the service feeling sick to my stomach. Before the days of Skype or Facebook I would go months without hearing from him, and the terror of not knowing if he was safe or not caused me more sleepless nights than any kid needed. I’m not complaining, he deserved my worry. I would cry for him through the moments of silence, shakily sing the hymns (still crying), clutching a book of photos of him that I have amassed over the years. My worry for him didn’t fade on the days that weren’t marked for remembrance, but November 11th amplified it exponentially. He finally retired after my second daughter was born, and the Remembrance Day after his last tour overseas I cried with relief that he was finally safe forever. I am closer to him than I am my own father, and the thought of losing him still sends my stomach into a horror-spiral. He is the one hero I have had in my life, and I am so  grateful that he is safe. If I weren’t blonde I would definitely have grey hair from worry!!

My life as a military wife has been a roller coaster that I keep paying to ride. I love my life, and I am so unfathomably proud of my husband. The time that he goes away is hard on my soul, because I worry about his physical and mental well-being, but I am normally good at coping with keeping our home running while he is away. I owe him that. I take good care of our girls, I pay our bills, I get on with our lives. I don’t have crying fits, I don’t need breaks from my children, I operate in survival mode so that he doesn’t have to worry about us. As strong as I can be through deployments and training, I still cry when I hear songs that remind me of him, and my insomnia gets worse when I think about him being so far away, and some nights I shake with fear from the knowledge that I am the only one protecting our house; but I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I am so proud of how far my family has come, and it is because of the man who gives up his family time to protect us globally. He has missed birthdays, holidays, and was away for the birth of our second daughter. As hard as it was for me, I can’t imagine how it felt for him. I am so grateful to him that I don’t miss out on any milestones, although I regret that it is at the expense of him experiencing things first-hand.

I gave him a very hard time today for not wearing his uniform – I had hurt feelings and chose to take it out on him, even though ultimately it’s not up to me whether he wears his spiffy’s or not. I don’t regret cajoling him, but I hope he knows that I love him past all of the stars, and am so proud of him that sometimes I fear my chest will burst. Our daughters are proud of him whether he’s in uniform or not – he is their super hero every day. Their eyes sparkle when they think of him, and I hope that they will continue to accept and understand our lives as they grow older.

At the end of today we took some nice family photos, and I popped several Advil for the migraine that I get every year on this day. We ended our solemn day with smiles and full hearts, happy that another year of safety for our loved ones has passed. Not every year will be happy ones for us, it’s a hazard of the life that we live, but for now I will focus on the good. Everyone we know is safe, my girls are learning to respect the past and enjoy their history, and I have one day where everyone else has my husband on the same pedestal that I do.

For those times in which I have nothing to say

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny,  and a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.”

There are days and weeks and months of my life in which I prefer to be silent. I don’t text unless I have to, I avoid talking on the phone even more than usual, and I have no inspiration to write. It’s not meant as an affront to anyone, and it certainly isn’t because I’m mad at anyone; you will ALWAYS know when I’m mad at you. I do it because I have nothing left to say that I haven’t said. My mind is overworked and overtired, and I need to take a break to recharge. As selfish as it sounds, I grow really tired of having to keep in constant contact with everyone. I’m sure you all have interesting things to say, but interesting conversation deserves a captive audience. When I feel like going on a retreat in my mind palace I am unable to focus on much else. I pay attention to my kids, obviously, but my attention doesn’t extend much farther than that. I have run out of reasons to feel interested in the outside world, and I don’t think that’s wrong – I take time away so that I can miss the way things were and come back refreshed and genuinely interested in everyone that I hold close.

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So please, don’t send me ‘are you mad at me?’ messages, or delete me from your social media if I haven’t contacted you in a while; it literally has absolutely nothing to do with you. I lack the motivation to entertain you or feel entertained, but it will come back, and I will let you know. I know that I’m a hard person to deal with when it comes to communication, but it’s who I’ve always been, and we all know I can’t sincerely apologize for it. So having said all of this, if my lack of communication doesn’t jive with how you operate, no hard feelings on this end. I completely understand how difficult I am, and I blame no one for wanting an out. If you do it now, I probably won’t notice.

My moorings are built on sand

“A crone sitting in the ruins, watching the beams crumble, and warming myself in the smoke from the funeral pyre.” (Geek Love, Katherine Dunn)

The days on which the bad in my soul outweighs the good, I identify with my psychopath diagnosis. The quote above frames perfectly how I feel – I go through periods of extreme vindictiveness, apathy, hate, and intense schadenfreude. I revel in others misfortune, and if things are going to well everyone, I create situations that can be damaging to others, purely for my own sadistic enjoyment. When I have locked my demons back in their closet I generally am more sympathetic and compassionate. I do not, however, ever feel bad for my episodes of psychopathy. I have learned that remorse is not a feeling that I experience easily – in fact – one of the only things that I have ever felt bad about is the fact that I don’t feel sorry for anything.

During good or bad spells I have trouble identifying with most people, I tire very easily of people’s company, and very rarely spend more than one day with the same person. It doesn’t matter how much I like you the first day, by the second I will start picking you apart, finding things that annoy me. I can’t help it. I don’t like spending time with myself, how can you possibly expect me to want to spend time with you? Being around people is not a distraction from my mind, it is an amplification of the negative feelings that I try to keep tucked away so as to not offend you. Sometimes I struggle, and usually everyone notices. I cherish my ability to be the black cloud that bursts open over your pool party.

“I don’t see smart, and I definitely don’t see trustworthy, but I’ll give you a quote: You. Repel. Me.” (Sherlock, S2E3)

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It’s not your fault that I don’t trust you. (Unless it is, in which case, suck it). My trust issues are deep-rooted and amplified exponentially by mental illness. Not trusting you makes it easier to sever the ties between us if I need to, which I probably will…eventually. I don’t stay friends with people forever – it’s hard work, and we all know that I am lazy when it comes to maintaining anything. I couldn’t be bothered to water the flowers I paid for and planted, I’m probably not going to last in whatever relationship you think we have. It’s not you. You’re probably wonderful.

All of these musings aren’t to say that I don’t feel love, I love many people; but I am a conditional person, and am able to move on the moment my conditions aren’t met. Love is black and white for me. I love like a child, completely and purely, until the moment I don’t. I think of it as relationship ADHD. You’re good enough until I start to see the wear on your soul, the little scratches and dents that make you imperfect; then I find something new and shiny to love until it too becomes tarnished. It’s a cycle. Have you found the theme in my posts yet? Everything is cyclical.

I’m feeling cynical tonight, but I won’t apologise; you know that I won’t mean it. It’s good to acknowledge the bile in your soul every once and a while, otherwise it collects and festers, and you can’t get rid of it.

This is my purge.

Lily of Fire

**Please keep in mind that I am an absolute laymen when it comes to religion. This brief back story is a generalisation of how I interpret the life and miracles of Saint Dymphna. 

                Saint Dymphna, the patron Saint of mental illness, was born during the 7th century to a pagan father (Damon, King of Oriel) and Christian mother. At age fourteen Dymphna consecrated herself to Christ, and soon after her mother died. Her father suffered terribly from the death of his wife, and his mental health rapidly deteriorated. When pressed to remarry, his eye turned to his daughter due to the resemblance she bore to her mother. Upon hearing this, Dymphna, along with her Priest and a few guardians fled her father’s kingdom to avoid the marriage. Eventually, her father was able to trace her to Belgium, and when she refused to return with him he killed the Priest, and cut off Dymphna’s head. Initially her remains were placed in a cave, and eventually found a permanent resting place in Gheel, Belgium. From the time of her placement in the tomb to the present, people who have visited her remains have reported being cured of their mental illnesses, and other illnesses occurring in the brain. It is because of these miracles that she became the patron Saint of the mentally ill.

Officially, Saint Dymphna is the patron Saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, those who suffer neurological disorders, and the victims of incest.  Fittingly, she is also the patron Saint of psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists.

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                I do not identify with a particular religion, nor have I decided whether or not I believe in a God. I do however, have an interest in religion, and do my best to educate myself in the hopes that I will someday figure out where my soul is going when I move on. I will say that I am drawn to certain aspects of many religions, and Saint Dymphna has struck a chord with me.

A young girl, who had chosen a life of chastity and with a passion for helping others in the name of her Lord, was the victim of mental illness. She is far from being the only innocent bystander, and her martyrdom has reminded me that illness can easily be brought to madness. Parents, whom suffering from mental illness, sometimes paired with addictions, take the lives of their children – and sometimes their own. They cannot separate their nightmares from reality, and they can find no other way to quiet the demons that are screaming inside of them. Their minds, pinwheels being spun by hurricane-force winds – all of the colours blurred together with no way to slow down and see all of the colours for what they really are.

It is a fine line that separates a lot of us from those like King Damon, a line kept in place by a mix of medication, therapy, a solid support system, and meditation. I do believe that our best weapon against the darkness inside is our own internal reflection. Daily affirmations confirming our self-worth are a vital part of recovery and maintenance. When I don’t boost myself up from the inside, no amount of medication can make me feel better. It is a combination of all of these things that help me function, help me be a good mother, and help me project confidence to the outside world. The love of my children coupled with the support of my friends and family keep me motivated to get out of bed each morning. I can always count on hugs from my daughters, and words of encouragement from my husband, brother, sister, and friends when I am not at my emotional best. Not having a support system would be devastating. Even though I identify as antisocial and have problems with intimacy and touch, I still need to feel loved – without that validation no amount of daily affirmations or medication would make me feel better.

So many of us are missing one or more of these integral puzzle pieces, and are suffering tremendously because of it; some us fatally. If these sufferers cannot reach help before their internal implosion, they could take someone with them. It may not be a parent harming or killing a child, it could be the employee of a company who stabs a co-worker, a student who shoots their classmates. These tragedies CAN be PREVENTED. We need to not only recognise the signs of mental illness, but be willing to act to help these souls. Early intervention and treatment could save so many, but we have to be willing to help. Everyone deserves protection and care, and though I know not every tragedy can be prevented, I know that we could make a big difference if we were more proactive.

We all know someone who suffers from mental illness, either in the open like me, or in silence like so many. Helping doesn’t mean dragging someone to a doctor; it is as simple as being a friend. Take an interest in their lives, take them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Sometimes a smile can change a person’s whole day. Check in on them, and don’t forget that condescension and judgement gets you nowhere. People suffering from mental illness and addictions are vulnerable; treating them like an 18th century leper will only cause harm.

I urge everyone, religious or not, to live by the example that the young Dymphna has set for us. Be compassionate, take gentle care, be the light that someone absorbs to stay alive. Offer your love, find the Saint inside of you and protect the ones you know and love. You may not be the cure, but you can be a part of it.

Pray for us.

To learn more about Saint Dymphna, check out http://www.franciscanmissionassoc.org/requests_stdymphna_story.cfm She also has a wiki page, because internet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymphna

“Thank you for being here reading.”

The other day I was reading through the blogs that I follow on here, and I decided to leave a comment on one that I particularly enjoyed. The blogger is chronicling her struggle to overcome an eating disorder, and I find it especially interesting because that is one thing that I have never dealt with (Although when I was younger I was frequently referred to as a ‘dyslexic anorexic’ because I had a fast metabolism and ate a lot).I left my comment and the author responded with “Thank you for being here reading.” This phrase can be interpreted several ways. I could take it generically, literally in the sense that she is thanking me for reading, or I can apply it to my own life, that i am still here – and reading.

Of course I wouldn’t be writing this entry if I had taken it the generic way.

People like me who are self-destructive, angry, depressed, people that have the inability to always see the value in themselves, people like me who fight every day to remember that we are worth more alive than dead – every day that we are here is a victory. We sabotage ourselves in the hopes that someday our faults and failures will be a memory for the people we loved but couldn’t love the right way. (In our own skewed opinions). When I read her response, “Thank you for being here reading,” it resonated with me. I am here. Not only am I present as a heart that hasn’t stopped beating yet, I am providing (hopefully) words of encouragement to someone else who could be in my same emotional and psychological situations.

Everyday we struggle against the current of our emotions. We are fighting a constant battle against the filth in our minds telling us that we aren’t worth as much as the rest of the world. We aren’t worth enough to care about our bodies, we aren’t deserving of true love or friendships, people don’t really like us, they tolerate us. We can hear the judgmental whispers, and we cannot always separate the ones coming from hurtful people versus the ones that our minds are creating. The seeds have been sewn, and too often the justification for taking our lives becomes easier than finding reasons to keep fighting. I am proud of myself for every day that I finish without knowing how easy it would be to leave. I will think these thoughts for the rest of my life. I have a poison in me that I will always have to fight against to keep what little sanity I have. There is no day off from a battle within yourself, the effort is as real and as physical as running laps at the gym. I am exhausted at the end of every day, but I’ve made it.

Thank you for being here reading.

This simple phrase meant so much to me. An acknowledgment within myself that I am still here, and that there are people who appreciate my just being here. I didn’t do anything special for her, I just read and commented. She however, did something special for me. Sometimes the validation of a stranger can put your life back into perspective, and it’s refreshing. I know my kids love me, and I’m sure they appreciate the things that I do for them in a day, but it’s easy to fall into a space of complacency when you live the same routine. Fight, nap, make a lunch, kiss a boo-boo, brush hair, run a bath, turn the fight inward. 

So now I say thank-you to you, for  being here. Take that how you want, but know that I appreciate every heartbeat that is reading this, and that isn’t, because we all deserve to be here. The fight is hard and frustrating and never ending, but we all deserve to be here – and as long as you need a friend, you have one in me.

Day by Day | Rewriting the heart and letting go. (This is a link to the blog that inspired this post)

I’m moving!

TheSageMum is packing up!

I’m relocating my blog to WordPress, where I eventually plan to own my own domain name. I will continue to post to Blogspot as well as WordPress for a few more weeks, until everyone gets used to the change! You can still find me (for now) at: thesagemum.blogspot.com

Thanks in advance for everyone’s support! I’m looking forward to bigger and better things for my blog, and I think that this will be a good start!

 

CJ