Saturday, October 7, 2017

Perfect Places.

I was writing about perfect places weeks and weeks ago for this blog post, but it was all wrong and 
 I wrote many words, and I deleted most of them. I was writing about one shallow idea of perfect places.  I was being so literal.  I was thinking about one place, and couldn't think about anything else as perfect: and that place doesn't exist physically anymore. 

It is gone. 
I can't walk through it; the floors telling me I was home as I felt every inch with my bare feet.

I started writing this post in July.  
But it was all wrong.  I had it all wrong... what I thought about perfect places.  
I was torn between the delineation of physical places bodies might be located, and places that exist in the mind.  My mind.  

I didn't want to ever believe that my feet wouldn't touch those floors again.   

You see, my brain is certainly not a perfect place.  It is a place that has frightened me, and has failed me, and confounded me, more often than it has been sane or comforting or of general understanding... not not understanding... of general acceptance of my place in the physical world at this point in my life.   

Every night, I live and die
Feel the party to my bones
Watch the wasters blow the speakers
Spill my guts beneath the outdoor light
It's just another graceless night

I heard the song and watched the video without really studying the lyrics, even though I heard them clearly.  I played it for my sister, and said, "This is so true for us, right?"  And she responded, "Whoa, that's really a dark view of life."  I'm the dark one?  I'm the dark one.

Lorde's song  is really, really... dark.  It's pretty serious.  It is serious.  She is quite young to be singing about such darkness and with such maturity about life.  I mean, I guess I could be Lorde's mother, if I had been a 'teen mom', yet I still relate to this song despite the artist's and my age difference. I believe Lorde is wise beyond her years, or someone much older wrote the lyrics for her.  

Gees.  I hope my children aren't this cynical about humanity and the world at 19 years old, but I admire Lorde's view of the world now that I am almost 40.  At 19 I wasn't dark.  I wasn't in the dark.  

I hate the headlines and the weather
I'm nineteen and I'm on fire
But when we're dancing I'm alright
It's just another graceless night.

I have seen many doctors and specialists who have prescribed medications for me to get to a "perfect place," and no one has succeeded.  I don't think any pills or ingestable substances can take any of us to a perfect place.  I want there to be a magic pill or potion that makes me all better, but I know that is not going to happen.  I'm on a cocktail of medications and I don't feel at all perfect, and I don't like this place I find my self in right now.  And it's been years.  Years.  Years.  Years of trying different combinations of pills, and different doses.  Taking anything into my body to find a perfect place doesn't work.  It won't for anyone. 

Are you lost enough?
Have another drink, get lost in us
This is how we get notorious, oh'Cause I don't know
If they keep tellin' me where to go
I'll blow my brains out to the radio, oh

Is it just me?  I looked up the lyrics, and thought, "This is quite dark.  She uses the F word even.  She's pretty upset.  I think maybe I'm not that upset.  Or maybe I am, but I don't want to swear about it. Maybe I have said the F word in my blog about shit.  Oh.  I guess I use the S word.  Maybe I do believe this song is relevant to my place in the world.  

Like, I mean, love is hard.  Feeling loved is hard.  It's difficult to feel loved.  Love shouldn't be hard?  It shouldn't feel hard to feel love in the place I exist.  I want to feel meaningful love in my home.  My home.  My place.  Where is my place?  

All of the things we're taking
'Cause we are young and we're ashamed
Send us to perfect places
All of our heroes fading
Now I can't stand to be alone
Let's go to perfect places

The song, well, I know I'm not young, but I'm ashamed that I've become how I am.  I'm ashamed that I let everything inside myself fade... everything outside myself.  Me.  I left me fade and made myself be alone.  I did that.  The place I should feel most comfortable, inside my own skin and head, I've made inhabitable.  That's how it feels.  I wish all the things I'm taking make sent me to perfect places...  What the fuck am I taking all these meds for, anyway?  

Every night, I live and die
Meet somebody, take 'em home
Let's kiss and then take off our clothes
It's just another graceless night, 'cause

I'm not sure how to stop.  I'm not sure how to believe that I want to come back to a place that makes me feel so sad.  I don't know if I want to come back to the literal place I'm in.  I don't want to be here, that's for sure.  I hate our bed.  I hate this house sometimes.  I hate the laundry piled around me.  I hate maneuvering through the basement to get to the washer and dryer to do the laundry.  I hate shit everywhere.  I hate the enormous amount of trash bins next to our driveway, that are... what?!  I haven't looked.  Are they full of more shit?  Why do we have so many fucking bins and barrels for trash?  Why is it all right there, visible from the pool, and right when you pull into the top of our driveway?  Why do we even ever have trash bags on our deck, when we know they get ripped apart by skunks every fucking time they are left out and then there is trash everywhere, and a skunk smell, and I just close the door and don't want to go outside.  No.  That's not a relaxing place to hang out.  It's a stupid place.  It's a place that makes me want to scream and ask why?  It's certainly not a perfect place.  Not a physical, tangible place I like at all...  

All of the things we're taking
'Cause we are young and we're ashamed
Send us to perfect places
All of our heroes fading
Now I can't stand to be alone
Let's go to perfect places   

But I know I've felt so perfect and home in places, and in myself.  I have felt that feeling.  As a child it was my grandparents' house, or playing in the yard with my little brother in the snow.  It was being with my little sister.  It was singing to my little babies while I was driving them somewhere, just me and my babies.  It was when my best friends in college hugged me because I was crying for reasons they didn't understand, except they did.  They understood depression and loved me anyway.  They would tell me, "It's okay Jo." And I would laugh a little and say, "I'm being stupid!  You guys are ridiculous to understand me, because I'm so emotional."  And they never, ever let me judge myself.  Very best friends when it's so complicated: when I was 19, and 20, and 21, and 22.  I thought my place in the world was elusive and unknown, and I was scared.  I was scared at that age.  Yet, everything was in front of me, and I knew perfect places.  I had so many people supporting me. That's a perfect place.  It's wonderful to have people believe in you and love you.  Love is home.  Love is the perfect place.

All the nights spent off our faces
Trying to find these perfect places
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?
All the nights spent off our faces
Trying to find these perfect places
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?
All the nights spent off our faces
Trying to find these perfect places
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?

I want my children to know that perfect places exist.  Perfect places are people.  Perfect places are a home we feel inside of someone else that we love.  The perfect place is feeling like home.  A perfect place can seem to go away, but then it just folds up inside of us, and it belongs to us forever.  It's my perfect place.  It's your perfect place.  And we can hold onto them and save them.  A picture doesn't fade until we let it.  

Perfect Places

Friday, July 28, 2017

What on Earth... for Heaven's sake.

I wanted to talk to her yesterday, so very much.  I was looking at my own bloods and body tests and there seemed to be really not good things happening all up in my stuff.  (My stuff is generally defined as life, mental health, physical health in cases such as this).  I know she would know exactly what each test result meant, and what I needed to do to make the results more in congruence with the general population, or if I needed to go see a doctor immediately, and, "Why hasn't your doctor told you that this is very dangerous, and you really should be..."  My nanny.  My nanny always knew.

Her obituary didn't reflect the exceptional and superior knowledge my grandmother retained about all things medical.  It was all true, whoever wrote it didn't get anything wrong, but they missed the most important parts of Estelle Eleanor O'Connor Barry.

BELLOWS FALLS - The world lost a beautiful soul on Sunday, July 2, 2017, when Estelle Eleanor "Topsy" Barry died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her loving family.

Born in Claremont, NH, on May 28, 1925, to Stella (Frenette) and James O'Connor, she became known as the TOP BABY, hence her nickname, "Topsy," was also born. She was lovingly known as "Nanny Tops" to her 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.Topsy was raised in a home that valued faith and family above all else. She spent her childhood in Bellows Falls and was a 1943 graduate of Bellows Falls High School. From there, she went on to graduate with an RN from the Bishop DeGoesbriand School of Nursing in Burlington, VT.

In 1947, she married the love of her life, John P. Barry. They enjoyed 63 happy years together, until his death in 2011.In the early 1950s, John and Topsy moved back to Bellows Falls where they raised their five children. Topsy was a wonderful mother and always had an open, welcoming home to all friends and relatives. She had a special love for children and honored their free spirit. Her living room still has boxes of toys for any child who visits.

Topsy was an insightful, creative person and had a gift for saying just the right words to people in need. She was an avid reader with a curious mind and pursued a bachelor's degree later in life from St. Joseph the Provider College in Rutland, VT. 

Topsy also enjoyed cooking, birding and nature.Topsy always enjoyed the beauty of an ordinary day; she could be found in the woods and fields picking the pussy willows and May flowers of spring, or she could be found standing on her front porch to enjoy the first snowfall of winter or a beautiful rainbow in summer.

Topsy was a lifetime communicant of St. Charles Church, Bellows Falls, and a woman of very strong faith. She prayed the rosary every day.

My grandmother died on July 2nd, 12:30 am,  She went so peacefully, family sitting next to her didn't realize she had stopped breathing.  I was terrified to see her like my grandfather, who seemed to suffer so greatly as he was losing his battle with life over three days.  She told the hospice nurse, "I think I'll live three more days."  I saw her on the second day.  Grandchildren who came to see her on the first day didn't get to talk to her.

She wasn't lucid at most points, or was in a state where she couldn't be very responsive.
(That's what my cousins told me.  They didn't have the chance to talk to her.  I did.  I did.  I did).

And that was our box of toys, by the way.  I brought the box, more than 9 years before, filled with a wooden train, and books, and matchbox cars, and little dolls.
Before I went back to teaching, I visited at least twice a week alone with them, and then we'd also meet at Church in Springfield on Sunday evenings.  I am so glad I wrote about it all in journals and took pictures.

What On Earth (Will You Do For Heaven's Sake)
Did you walk that second mile, turn a frown with a smile?

Did you give a little more than you could take?Did you shine your little light upon the children of the night?What on earth will you do for Heaven's sake?

My babies saw her that first evening.
It was a Thursday. It was the same day that, although everyone had described her as fairly unresponsive, when Michael and Stella came through that very door which opens in full view to the chair my grandfather always, and where she was recumbent, her eyes fixed on them, she smiled, and she "woke up."  She hugged them and was able to talk to them and smiled at them the entire, when she wasn't too exhausted by the battle she was entering...

They hugged her happily, as they always have when they visited, and she hugged back as tightly as she could, and didn't let go quickly.  She didn't want to let go.  I know she wanted to say goodbye to them, but she didn't want to let them go.  She asked them questions about what they would do in their future. She, in her wisdom, could always see them as adults.  She could see what they will look like.  I look at them and I can't even try.  I guess I expect I'll be there for that "big reveal."  I see them as babies...  I can see them as little kid, and hear their voices.  Nanny wanted to look at them and know what she wouldn't see.  Not on Earth.

Did you feed the poor in spirit, and befriend the persecuted?
Did you show the bound how all their chains can break?
Did you sow the proper seed? Would you work out among the weeds?
What on earth will you do for Heaven's sake?

I had explained everything to them before they went with Sam that night, and they understood she was leaving, and would be with Grampy John in Heaven soon.  They knew she was going to die.  I also told them not to be afraid, and I knew they were sad:  Of course they would be sad. Heavens, and how strange it is to go to visit anyone, particularly someone you love, and talk to them, and hug them, and hear them speaking, and see them animated and alive, knowing that person would not longer be alive in less than a week? That is what my adult brain couldn't process, yet the twins were ready, and wanting to be with her.

 I told them she would want to see them as they were, and who they were, and it was okay for them to talk to her about their school accomplishments for the year, and what they hoped to do this summer.  I told them if they needed to cry, they should and could, but it was okay if they didn't feel like crying. They would make her smile, I told them, (just as she has lighted up every single time she sees them since they were tiny, newborn baby bundles), by acting like themselves.  I said, "Don't be loud or ruffians, she will be tired and she is in pain, but you can show her you are just as you have always been, and will always be."

I mean, I didn't want them feel terrified to see their beloved Nanny Tops while she was still here.  I couldn't go that night, or

Did you turn the other cheek, are you counted with the meek.
Did you lift a lonely heart bound to break?
Did you also give your cloak, to he who took your coat? 
What on earth will you do for Heaven's sake?

I saw her the next day.  The first evening, I understood that if I went with Sam and the kids, I would ruin her enjoyment of the kids, because I was sick from grief.  I couldn't stop crying.  I was vomiting, then dry heaving over a bowl on my bedroom floor.  (I also know I have major depression issues, and I was luteal).  I didn't do any of that in front of my children. Yes, they can see I am sad, since she passed away, but I don't want the death of loved ones to scare them.

I pulled myself together, for my Nanny (and for Grampy John, because he would want me to), and I was there.  I crumpled over her, my face on her hands, crying.  I didn't mean to cry.  I breathed and wiped my face, and I rubbed her forehead the way Michael loves me to do.  One of my hands held hers, and lightly moved her gray hair to the side with my fingertips.  She closed her eyes and smiled.  The kids had kissed her cheeks, and touched her hand.  Everyone let me be alone with her.  And she was smiling with her eyes closed, just like my babies did when I was helping them go to sleep, and drifting off, when my uncle and sister came in to give her medication, and I had to let go.  I had to let go.

Did you feed the poor in spirit and befriend the persecuted?
Did you show the bound how all their chains can break?
Did you sow the proper seed? Will you walk out among the weeds?
What on earth will you do for Heaven's sake?

-Johnny Cash

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Far too often, the statement, "A person has to hit rock bottom, to get better or change," is made by people who probably have never been heading down in the first place.
I have heard that statement.  People have said it to me about students, or family members, and I thought it was a ridiculous idea every time I heard it.
Hit rock?
Hit bottom?

It's not like people bounce when they hit very hard surfaces; rock for example.  It's not a falling, and falling, and falling, until we stop falling because we're at the bottom, and, with springs in our legs, coming up to salvation.  That's not what happens to the human body.

When human beings hit rock, they don't bounce... up.  They don't move up at all.  Their bodies smack, smash, shatter, break.
Critical injuries.
Survival unlikely.

They say, "You're a little much for me, you're a liability
You're a little much for me,"

And, I don't know if it's television and movies, or just our own understanding of the medical monitoring of human life and death that makes us think that a person can flatline and then be brought back to life. Because that's not true.  Flatline means you're dead. That's the end.  The whole paddles and code blue, drama is when someone is going into arrest. Their vitals are weakening to the point of flatlining, but they haven't flatlined yet.  They have weak signs of life, but they aren't dead.

Don't most people think when the rhythmic zig-zags on the monitors, being watched so closely, the blip, blip, blip sound... when those things change to a straight line, and the endless beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, there is still hope?  That's when doctors rush in and do their magic?  Maybe on TV.  But, not in real life. No. That's when they know they can't do anything more.  It's all over.

So, think about a person going blip, blip, blip, in life, and then they fall.  The air as they descend to "rock bottom" is the endless beep sound whistling in their ears.

Wouldn't the prognosis for recovery be worse as height you fall from becomes greater?  Consider the homeless population. Consider how our incarcerated population. Consider how many people are seeking mental illness support, and either not getting any help, or spending most of their lives being "treated," but never feeling better.  Consider how many people accept apathy and depression as their norm, and don't remember how to feel happy.  Look at the statistics on drug abuse, alcoholism, cutting, and suicide in our country.  People are at rock bottom and they aren't bouncing up, coming to some great understanding of how shitty things were, then worse, and "finally getting the help they need."

So they pull back, make other plans.
I understand, I'm a liability;

Someone has to want help to really change.  
You can't help them if they don't want help.  

No and no.

I want help.  Fucking help me!  People have tried, on some levels, but it's really hard to help someone who is suffering from depression, or anxiety, or PMDD...  Especially PMDD.  Fix my hormones, right? Come on, fix all the chemical that control most of my body.  I get it.  I understand why people can't really help.

I understand.

I have written it down, how to help my children, if they ever end up in a place like I have been for 5 years.  I know, that you can't just ask the person what you can do to help.  

"I'm fine."  

You can't put off what seems drastic-- bringing and/or admitting someone suffering from mental illness to a hospital specializing in the psychiatric field of medicine-- because... will because that person tells you they are fine.  You see the signs, you don't wait.  Don't wait.  Years can go by, and listen, you're suffering too, not just the person with depression or any other mental illness, and your life will be greatly altered.  Don't let years go by.  This kind of thing doesn't clear up by itself.  You know your love one more than any doctor, and if you see that a simple prescription antidepressant isn't making a significant difference, help them do something more.

Get you wild, make you leave.
I'm a little much for e-a-na-na-na, everyone...

Literally, I understand a person may not show the signs you feel like you should see, or you're too busy to see...  You don't see how they are laying at rock bottom and not getting up.  Look at Evelyn McHale, "The Most Beautiful Suicide."  (No, wait.  Don't do that.  I mean, it's morbid and horrible for anyone to look gawk at a dead person.  I was going to post the famous photo here, but I don't think suicide should be romanticized).  What I'm saying is someone can figuratively, and literally fall from a great height and hit rock bottom and maybe no one would see how messed up he or she is inside.  She is probably hiding the cuts on her arms or legs she self-inflict, when she wants relief from mental pain. I've seen too many scars, or new scratches and deeper slices on my students' bodies.  I see.  I saw.  I know my sister's scars.  They are fading, but sometimes, they bleed.  Because who the fuck is listening if they can't see blood?  And what do they say, but, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"  Truly, there is a human desire to believe we may lose someone before we fight for them.  Before we fight... to help them... to keep them here... and that might be too late.

We always think we have more time.
We always think the zig-zag will go on.

They're gonna watch me disappear into the sun.
You're all gonna watch me disappear into the sun.

Does anyone really think someone has to fall so very far, to help them?  Do we think that person won't need help getting up?  Won't we understand that that's when our someone's body and mind is so destroyed that their legs probably won't even be able to walk, and they won't remember how to walk even if they could?