Thursday, February 28, 2013

Remember This?

5 Kids, 5 Questions, 5 Answers

5 Kids is a lot of Kids is a blog I love.  [I can no longer honestly say "follow" because I'm so chronically behind at reading the blogs I love that I can really only be considered a distant fan]  Beth has started this cool thing in order to get to know her audience.  Can I try it?  =)  It requires audience participation.  Also, I will share with you my own answers [after you have a chance to answer, so you're not influenced.  Like with alcohol].

Leave a comment with your answers if you're up for it (I won't be offended if you're just not in the mood)!  

  1. Greek yogurt. Yes or no?
  2. What’s one book you liked that you’re at least a little embarrassed you read?
  3. Tuesdays. 3 o’clock. Explain.
  4. How do you feel about Texas hair? 
  5. Fill in the blank: The last time I had to clean up something wet but not mine was? __________________________.

Also: this time 2 years ago I was in my bathtub, managing my intermittent and annoying contractions.  Amarys was taking her SWEET TIME.  2 years.  Wow.

Poetry. Sam Reynolds. (I like her a lot lately) (this one made me cry)

How to name a zebra

You flatten me
all the time
like how you think
everything in the future
happens tomorrow
and when your small hand
tugs at my own
but today
when I asked you
what we should name your zebra
and you said dictionary
I had no bones left
only the raw muck
of love.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Four and a Half

On Valentine's Day Riley repeatedly pronounced to everyone we met: "TODAY IS MY HAF BUFFDAY!"  I can't believe my peanut is FOUR AND A HALF already =)  Isn't he cute?!

Riley is a lovely monkey.  He loves to run, jump, spin, dance, sing, and play Wii.  His favourite thing in the whole world to do is camping.  He has trouble with the whole concept of there being a camping season and a camping off season.  He begs us to go camping every week.  At New Years Brent had the brilliant idea to pitch the tent in the playroom (Riley wanted to pitch it in the backyard), and the boys camped indoors to bring in 2013.  The tent stayed pitched in the playroom until last week.

He also loves to march to his own drum.  The best compliment you can give this boy is "Riley, you're weird."
"I'M WEE-AD, I'M WEE-AD, I'M WEEEEEEEE-AD!!!!" complete with wiggly butt dance.  We signed him up for hip hop classes because he literally never stops dancing, all day, every day.  Why not harness that energy and focus it in the direction of cool fun?

Riley also loves math.  He counts up to a hundred, backwards by tens, and upwards by twos.  He likes geometry puzzles and patterns.  He's working on the concept of time.  "Is sirty minutes a long time or a short time, mommy?"

He's also a whiner.  Is it a third child thing?  Or just a four year old thing?  But he is very proficient at flopping on the floor and flinging his voice across several octaves in just three or four words.  He doesn't like bugs, spiders, lumps in his bed, or onions in his food.  He loves all other food.  He eats like a piggy and is skinny as a rake.  He L.O.V.E.S. preschool.  And playdates.  He lobbies for playdates every single day.  Woe to the parent who says not today.

This kid is naturally sweet.  He shares without thinking.  He loves to give gifts and everywhere we go, he asks, "Can we buy this for so-and-so?"  When his cousin and best friend Ella lost her house and all her toys to a fire, he ran to his bedroom and gathered up his beloved My Little Ponies and plunked them in a box for her.  He hugs everyone.  His face lights up at everyone he meets, and he wants so desperately to tell them all his stories and he's so cute with his long eyelashes and dimples and flirtatious ways that nearly everyone stops to listen.

He loves to hear birth stories.  He is obsessed with the umbilical cord.  He still misses breastfeeding.  He loves his sister.  He swims in his sleep and winds up in the middle of his bedroom floor on a regular basis.  I love him, I love him, I love him.

Happy half birthday, love.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Just a Walk in the Alps

I feel like my journey as a human being has been something akin to living as a nomad in the Alps.  I climb these enormous slopes, get sideswiped by landslides, ski down glaciers, eat in alpine meadows, and fall prey to wild animals continuously.  The view can be spectacular, but man it takes a lot of energy.

photo credit: √Čole via photopin cc

Since Riley's birth in 2008 and my really wild post partum anxiety/OCD part of the journey, I feel like I've been walking some of the strongest and most peaceful parts of this alpine path that I have walked in my whole life.  I've named all my dragons.  I've built some strong weapons.  I've fought hard for inner calm, and been carried so wholly by Love, from God, from Brent, from all corners, that I've won.

The thing that drew me to Brent so magnetically in the beginning was how much peace he brought me.  And he continues to give me peace on a daily basis.  We tease each other and get on each others' nerves and push each others' buttons: we're married.  Not angels.  But we only really FIGHT once or twice a year.  Usually about housework.  I can fall deep inside this peaceful man and feel so loved, daily.  Good LORD am I lucky.

Probably precisely because I'm in such a stable place on the journey, I've been feeling it was time to do some "work" on myself.  This fall I had a number of significant dreams and memories surface regarding my childhood.  I had loving parents who are incredibly committed to family, and good people who raised us well.  But I grew up with alcoholism and some significant mental illness.  I felt like I coped, as a kid.  I had a happy childhood, and we all tried the best we knew to love each other well.  But it started catching up to me.

Part of the prodding I felt last fall from God to pull a Haggai and "rebuild His house" was to address some of the stuff that was surfacing.  I felt like God was pulling it up out of the depths of me, and my job was to follow His call to pay attention to it.

Being the resourceful type, and fond of resources that emphasize individual boot strap hauling, I started going to an Al-Anon group in my area in January.  I've been four times.  I also called a counselor who came with a very good recommendation and started seeing her.  I've been twice.  She's amazing.  Al-anon is amazing.  I've walked four thousand emotional miles in six weeks, it has blown my mind.  I bought a new real, live papermates journal and a new Bic pen and am making serious inroads into keeping these companies in business, I'm writing so much.  It feels like something I want to keep folded within myself, mostly to protect my heart, but I'm also experiencing so much self discovery that I had to at least share with you what I'm up to.  Some days, I feel like a manatee hauling myself up on a dock somewhere, shocked, cold, totally bewildered.  Mostly I feel like I'm coming home to myself.  Taking out parts and learning to love them.  Putting one foot in front of the other on the path, and rebuilding something big.

Terribly frightening.

But God doesn't say, "Come when you have your shit together," He says, "Come, follow me*" and "I am with you**."  So I go.  Breathless.  One foot, then the other.

*Matthew 4:19
**Haggai 1:13

Runaway Girl

I stayed up really late last night reading "Runaway Girl," a memoir by Carissa Phelps.  She was a street kid who was trafficked at 12 and later graduated from UCLA with a law degree and a business degree in 2008. She's a huge advocate of fighting human trafficking and human slavery, particularly in the U.S.  Wow, was that book ever gripping and devastating.  I kept flipping to the cover photo, disbelieving that this story could have happened to that woman~she seems so normal.  I mean, of course she is, but still.

Her story makes me fighting mad.  I'm not sure what will come of that (and other things that make me equally angry on behalf of women around the world), but something is taking shape and someday I'll know what it looks like.

Related: I'm exhausted.  I went to sleep around 5 a.m.  Brent went to his brother's town for the weekend to bring some donations and try and help out however he can, which means I'm alone here.  Gladly, as we can't all six of us show up in town and try and sift through the ashes of Brian and Billie's house without being SLIGHTLY underfoot: I'm so happy to send Brent because I want to all go, but I know it's not practical.  At least I can send him.

However, by dinnertime tonight I may have been on a wire.  A hot one.

And I stole away to hide in my room for ten minutes with the computer (I can hear toddler yabberings calling my name as we speak), which is now finis.  Adios.  Dasvedanya.  Love you all.  Read that book.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love You Guys

I'm sorry I've been absent from the bloggity blog lately.  I have two things I'd like to share with you, one good and one bad.

First, the bad.

Brent's brother and sister in law (Brian and Billie) and my niece and two nephews (Ella, Ruben, and Myles), lost their home to a fire early Monday morning.  They and their dog Indie got out with only the pyjamas they were wearing, and their vehicles.  We are so grateful no one was hurt but overwhelmed by how close a call it was.  They really didn't have much time to spare, and all of their most treasured possessions are gone, many of them irreplaceable.  Please pray for them, and for the rest of us as we grapple with grief and retroactive fear for their safety, and most of all knowing how best to help them.

Next, the good.

Brent's job has offered us a transfer.  This means we are moving!  Brent and I have been kind of planning or wishing or hoping to move to a more rural area for a number of years.  Particularly this past year, moving has been a big part of our 'big picture' financial survival plan because where we live is ranked highest in the world for housing costs.  We even beat Hong Kong sometime last June or so.

We got posted to the next town over from Brian and Billie and the kids, which is SUPER because we love them and will very much enjoy living closer.  The town we got posted to is Port McNeill on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island~remote, small, fishing and logging town on the east coast of the Island.  Almost all the homes in town have an ocean view.  Houses are affordable.  The town sounds unique and full of character, and there is TONS of outdoors stuff to do: hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, boating, bonfires on the beach: you name it!  We are SUPER excited.  SUPER.  Of course we're sad to leave behind all the friends and family and an amazing church, a fantastic elementary school, and all our myriad resources, everything from our awesome dentist to our naturopath and pediatrician... But I have the feeling this adventure is going to be pretty fantastic for us.  I moved to Langley in 1996 planning on staying four years to get my university degree and then leaving on the fastest boat out of this "big city."  HA!  Seventeen years later and I'm still here.  [Sheesh]
I'm ready for an adventure.  We're ready to see what this part of the world is like, and how we might get the most out of four years in a remote setting (our posting is temporary--four years minimum, perhaps a bit less or a bit more, we shall see how it works out).

The kids cried when we told them.  I mean, Amarys was sleeping so she didn't care.  Ayden cried very genuinely and is taking some time to come around to the idea of leaving his friends and the only city he's ever called home.  Matthew cried initially but is excited about it now.  Riley cried because his brothers were crying and he doesn't really care.  He's looking forward to living closer to his best friend, Ella.  =)

As for you, lovely friends?  COME VISIT!  We will need all the love we can get, and the visitors, as we adjust to such a big move.  And an even wetter climate than the one we "enjoy" now.  We will have a spare bedroom and lots of love and probably fresh halibut we caught from the sea in our freezer, so COME!  =)  We would love to have you.

SQUEEEEE!!  I'm so excited!  Onward!  Here is what I'm most looking forward to:
-a new adventure
-free ranging my kids without a second thought, and without judgment from other parents
-hours of my kids playing in the woods, on the streets, or at the beach
-enjoying Cape Scott (never mind the wolf warnings at the top there... lol)
-hours of my kids riding their bikes around town unsupervised
-swimming in the ocean
-watching whales FROM MY FRONT PORCH
-eating amazing fresh seafood
-financial freedom to catch our breath, get our heads above water, and actually be able to afford our lives for the first time in our entire marriage
-clean air
-clean water
-slower pace
-no traffic
-wilderness, wilderness, wilderness.  YES.

So: pray for Brian and Billie and family, and celebrate with us as we prepare to move sometime in the next year.  Thanks!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

I was interviewed for a podcast on!!

The lovely Amber Strocel interviewed me on maternity care in Canada for her weekly podcast!!  I'm super excited about it, and if you have a minute or thirty, pop on over to her site and listen to the podcast!  You can hear my voice in action, hear me stumble around trying to articulate my passions and come across even somewhat together.  Amber managed to edit out my nervousness... =p


Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

I went to this churchy thing on Wednesday morning because I heard there was cheap Zumba?  Actually, free if it was your first time.  It was at a large, Mennonite-ish church close to our house, and a friend of mine goes.  So I went.  There was one hour for worship/coffee/fellowship/sermon/etc, and one hour of a variety of classes, anything from knitting to Bible study to Zumba.

The thing is that the "sermon" or lecture thing was done by a clinical counselor with 10 years experience and the topic was Anxiety.  At first I thought, wow!  Maybe God has something to say to me today that will add insight into managing my disorder, or reassurance that I'm not alone.  That's cool.  Au contraire, folks.  Au contraire.  It was a bunch of hogwash.  This clinical counselor stood before a room full of over 200 women and stated, "There are lots of theories out there about how anxiety is based on brain chemistry, has a physiological or hormonal basis, is genetic, or is a disease requiring medication, or is something you have for the rest of your life.  But all of these are wrong.  Anxiety is a fully reversible condition.  All you need is to fully give over your fears to God, and your anxiety will melt away: we just need support and the right information."

My jaw hit the floor so hard it caused a mini earthquake.  What. The fuck.  I was so mad.  I took out my phone and vented on Facebook and Twitter, because that's what one does, and I shook with anger.

After the lecture we were supposed to break into groups and answer topic questions.  The first question?  "What kinds of things make you anxious?"  The women at my table said churchy things like,

"When my house is messy I just feel so anxious."
"I can't rest until the kitchen is in order."
"When I've let too many days pass since I spent time in God's Word."


My friend went next:
"I'm not really an anxious type of person."

There's a reason we are friends.  She doesn't make me vomit, for example.

There was no way I was sharing honestly.  There isn't a swear word strong enough to express how NOT SHARING HONESTLY I felt, but fortunately the discussion time ended before my chance to share and THIS IS HOW WE KNOW THERE IS A GOD.

Everything about this bothers me, but two things in particular.  First, this (bloody hogwash) "theory" that anxiety has no physiological basis and simply needs God, was presented as a true fact, endorsed by God.  It wasn't presented as an idea among others, or a part of comprehensive treatment that may or may not include pharmaceutical drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, naturopathic treatments, support, doctors, research, etc, etc, etc.  It was presented as the replacement for all of these.
Second, this is actually dangerous.  Women in that room who have anxiety disorders may not seek appropriate or comprehensive treatment or may discontinue medication because of this type of preaching.  That puts them at higher risk of suicide, psychosis, violent outbursts, worsening mental illness, and deep unhappiness.  People in the throes of unmanaged anxiety are highly impressionable, especially about their anxiety and worry incessantly about treatment methods.

So I did my Zumba and loved it, and then went home and vented at Brent.  He was appalled too, although he figured most women listening would likely recognize hogwash when they saw it, and take it with a grain of salt.  He didn't buy my dangerous theory.
We laughed at them behind their backs and mocked the hypothetical reaction of my table if I were honest when asked what I'm afraid of:
-The death of my kids
-My husband being shot at work
-Car accidents
-improper car seat installation causing my child to become an unrestrained missile in a car accident
-Drunk drivers
-My kid getting hit by a car in a parking lot
-Flesh eating disease
-One of my kids drowning
-One of my kids being badly burned
-House fires
-Spinal cord injury
-Head injuries on my kids or myself or my husband
-Bike vs. car
-Kid vs. car
-Radiation poisoning
-My kids becoming rapists or serial killers
-Wild animal attacks

Brent kind of laughed and said, "And you've actually seen most of those happen in real life."

Sometimes Christianity is this weird festering narcissistic navel gazing ulcerated wound that breeds shit like this.  But really, I'm just neutral.  Like, whatever.

One Sense at a Time by Samantha Reynolds

My sister-in-law’s new baby
curls into her neck
pink as fruit
her eyes are still closed
unfolding one sense
at a time
I touch her little fist
and as she grabs on
it occurs to me
that if I fell out
of someone’s body
I’d be ready
to grab on too
today my son rides his bike
for the first time
and falls at the playground
mouth of gravel and blood
I clean him gently
with my glove
and then he tears off
to try the tire swing
was it so long ago
that he was that new
when even putting clothes
on his skin
felt too rough.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Fridge Needs Cleaning

My fridge has morphed into a demon.  There is this dark cloud that hovers about three inches into it, and beyond the cloud?  Nobody knows.  It is not possible to fit anything new into it.  There is a juice container on the bottom shelf growing something from last November.  Mysterious smells emit.

I'm avoiding it.

Also: my kids are awesome pants.  Riley asked me today, "Mommy, can you show me a picture of a baby being born so I can paint a picture of it?  Don't forget the umvilical cord."  Son of a doula.  Matthew got 100% on his spelling test last week.  He even got 2 bonus words.  That's twenty words.  My kid.  Hard won.  So proud.  Ayden is wrestling some resurfacing anxiety: Tamie bought me a SAD lamp which we gleefully call the HAPPY LIGHT, and I've been putting him in front of it as well as myself, whenever we can manage.  Hopefully that will help.  Amarys is wild and untamed, and talks like a banshee.  After 3 speech delayed boys, a pre-2 year old girl who talks this much is astounding.

I'm going to Ikea.

I'm making beans in my crock pot.

I did Zumba this morning.

The end.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Always Darkest Before the Dawn

When I was a small child, I was fascinated and frightened by the ferry ride between the mainland and Vancouver Island.  We had relatives on the Island so we would take the ferry several times a year to visit them.  I loved the ferry.  I still do, even after four summers and three winters of working like a dog on that ferry while in University.  The West Coast is spectacular, there are whales and sometimes seals or dolphins, and the coastal mountains and forest wilderness are unsurpassed for beauty.  The ferry itself is so big and fast (especially when you are a kid), and I used to sidle up to the edge and give myself delicious chills looking down at the dark water laced with ferry wash and thinking about how cold and dark it must be in the water.

I loved it, and feared it, wholly.
The Pacific Ocean this far North is cold all year round.  We have some of the best scuba diving in the world because of the diverse marine life that flourish in our waters, and the vast array of plant life species and interesting animals that live among them.  But it is cold.  In the winter, around 7 degrees Celcius and in summer around 13 (surface temps).  If you fell overboard, you'd be chilly.

When I was twenty, I moved to Vancouver Island to transfer from my original (private) University to a public one in Victoria, and I got to ride the ferry more often than I wanted to.  It was a lonely move, I didn't put down many roots that year, but I learned lots.  It was a year of introspection and personal growth, and a year where I realized that although I paid a fraction of the tuition at my big, public, famous new University (and could study Creative Writing, my major, and take classes like Women's Literature and Canadian History for English, my minor), I was really getting a fraction of the value of education that I had been getting before.  At my tiny, liberal arts University where as an English major (there were were no specialized majors like Creative Writing; heck, there wasn't even an Art major at the time) you literally had to take all of the English courses on offer whether you liked them or not just to have enough credits to graduate.  I had to take Chaucer.  Medieval English.  Victorian Literature.  Barf, barf, barf.  Yet still, my experience was that the fancy, diverse, wildly intriguing classes at the Big Name school were of lower quality than my stuffy, sleepy, Victorian Lit class at Little Name school.  For various reasons.

I also prayed a lot that year.  A ton.  I spent an hour every day praying, sometimes more.  I wanted to see where that level of meditation could bring me.  Some pretty wild places, lemme tell you.  Most days it was pretty routine.  I spent a good portion of the hour redirecting my focus back onto the task at hand, some of it listening silently, and some of it praying for things I felt passionate about.  Some days I felt incredibly close to God and was almost certain I could hear Him breathe beside me.  I had vivid visions and saw very beautiful things, which I still feel compelled to paint even now, fifteen years later.  Each canvas has some small tribute to those beautiful scenes.  Mainly, I felt pretty small and ridiculous.  Which makes sense, given that we're human and God is God, and us sidling up to Him at all is kind of audacious and really very beautiful.  I didn't explode with happiness, I still felt lonely, but I did feel a deep sense of centeredness. Not exactly peace, but somewhat.

Partway through that year, I started praying for a man named Bin Ladin.  I had read about him in a magazine article in the waiting room of my cardiologist's office two years prior, and something about him stuck with me.  It was something about his eyes.  And that the article said he was an influential fundamentalist Islamic with his sights on the Western World, which seemed contradictory to a sort of softness and genuine quality to his eyes in the picture.  For two years I kind of forgot that article, but in the middle of praying one day I had this strong sense, like a shout: "Pray for Bin Ladin."  No details.  No indication what I should pray about him, or why.  Just, Pray.  So I did.  Each day I spent half an hour praying for him, and half an hour praying for other things or wrestling to keep my focus or trying not to fall asleep... you know, common problems when praying.  I prayed for his health, for his family, for God to bring him messengers of peace and ambassadors from the Western world who would change his view of us from enemy to fellow human.

That gives me kind of the chills, in retrospect.  I had no idea.  I had no idea.

One of the other things I felt in all that prayer was that God was nudging me back towards that Little Name University.  Like He had a plan for me, and it wasn't here in this city at this University at this time.  I really balked at the idea.  Go back?  No.  It was cliquey.  It was full of rich kids.  It was backwards.  Small.  It had no specialized majors or cool courses and it would be like admitting I made a mistake or, worse, that I couldn't make it on my own.
I had a boyfriend at the time, who went to Small Name University and I knew, I just knew everyone would think I moved back for him.  Which I didn't.  I moved back as a step of obedience.  In the end, I decided that I would go if God did three things: first, if He made this intuition I felt regarding Him directing me back continue.  I fasted for a day and prayed about it, and if He didn't want me to go and this was all a wild fabrication of my imagination, He was to make it pretty clear.  Second, my parents had to be supportive of it, or I wouldn't go.  Third, He had to provide me money for it.  There was no way I could actually afford it anymore.  All three fell into place.  So I went.
(And everyone thought I moved back for my boyfriend.  Which I just swallowed.  What was I supposed to do?  If I kicked up a protest it would only make people think I was too adamant and thus, it must be true, so I just took it and let it be what it was regardless of what everyone thought).

Re-entry was hard.  I failed to make the dance team.  Many of my friends had moved or changed.  My classes were high quality but not always what I'm most interested in studying.  My job was stressful and sporadic.  My boyfriend went all Airborne Toxic Event on me.  I injured myself.  My family was far away.  I was depressed.  I had been depressed for years, and started cutting my arms as a way to release some of my inner pain.  The winter months marched in and the grey, monotonous rain rolled over and boxed in my soul and everything I did, everywhere I went, felt incredibly hopeless and empty.  I still prayed, but it made no dent on my darkness.  I cried a lot.  Change is hard.

Then my boyfriend cheated on me.  He didn't just take another girl on a date, he slept with her, which when I wasn't sleeping with him felt like a double whammy of a cheat.  Double betrayal.  Not only did I kiss her but I had SEX with her, you prudish, frigid, stuck up woman, you're such a fucking mess you can't even keep me faithful.  You're not worth it.  You're a failure in every way.

I died.  In every predictable, sweet, boy-meets-girl, girl gets her heart broken way, it broke me absolutely in two.  Granted, there were heavy fissures in me before I ever met him, but he was what took me to the breaking point that November.  I lost hope of ever being happy again.  I was certain I would never meet anyone who would get me and love me, both.  I was certain I was fundamentally flawed, too broken to be healthy again, and was facing a lifetime slog of loneliness and the kind of pain only the deeply depressed can feel, all over.  I had confided in friends, asked my parents for help, seen a psychologist for treatment (who told me "I can't help you if you won't help yourself" when I asked to use naturopathic remedies instead of pharmaceuticals, and refused to see me again), prayed my heart out, and still I had been depressed for years and it was only getting worse.  And worse.  And worse.

I quit going to classes.  I stayed in my bed all day and cried.  I didn't have the energy to cut myself.  I didn't eat.  I didn't shower.  I had nothing, I was so empty of anything but pain.  My roommates tried, but that kind of bleakness is beyond the scope of a roommate, plus they didn't really realize how critical it was, they just thought I was sad over my boyfriend and that would get over it.
I fantasized about driving onto the left side of the road into oncoming semi trucks.  When I thought about death I was awash with relief.  Dying felt like a sweet dream, a way out, a utopia.  I didn't want to destroy a truck driver's life by making him responsible for my death, so I came up with an alternate plan.  It was November, and cold, and I worked for the ferry, on call.  The next time I got called in to work, I would shower, get dressed, go to work as usual, and on my break I would slip out the back in the dark and jump in the cold Pacific water and drown.  I had heard that the end stages of drowning and hypothermia were actually euphoria and a feeling of warmth, so it would be maybe a nice way to die.  Plus, no one could feasibly hold themselves responsible.  If I was lucky, no one would even find my body so they would not have to live with the trauma of the memory of my corpse in their mind.  I was trying not to be selfish.  That deep, cold sea that thrilled me with delicious fear as a child?  It was my escape route now.

I felt better once I had that plan.  I absolutely intended to carry it out, and I would have, had I been called in to work that week.  I had a singularity of focus and relief on the horizon and nothing was turning me back.   Normally?  I got called 2 to 3 times a week.  That week my phone stayed silent.

It makes me want to scream now, thinking about it, at all this beauty I nearly missed, all this life.

At the end of the week I pulled myself out of bed and suddenly I realized, What the fuck.  I don't want to die!  What. Did. I. Almost just do?!!

That week scared the crap out of me.  I didn't know how, but I wasn't going back there again, ever.  I wasn't going on pharmaceuticals (I'm not anti pharma now, but I was then), I couldn't afford a therapist, I couldn't trust one if I did (I was afraid of being committed, plus that bad experience from the previous attempt at counselling), but I was damn well getting better.  I hauled myself up out of depression by the skin of my fingernails, and it was paiiiiinful.  Every time I felt depressed, I would say out loud, "I choose life.  I choose happiness.  I will not give in to depression.  I choose to live."  Which often resulted in me muttering while walking around in public, like the lunatic I was, but I didn't care.  I wanted to be better, so fiercely.  I made rules for myself: no sad music.  No radio.  No news on TV.  No sad books.  I read up on how to eat better for depression: high protein, minimal sugar, lots of vegetables.  I was a dancer, I already exercised a million times a week, but I added walking outside, whenever I could.  I got extra lamps for my bedroom and was very careful to turn on every single light in whatever room I was in, including the hallway, to get as much light exposure as I could manage.  And I prayed some more.  Sometimes I would be crying in pain and yelling out "I choose to be happy!  Oh, help me God!" all snotty mess and wilted stubbornness and it was so, so hard.  But I kept snatching myself from the darkness the only way I knew how.

That winter was a miracle.  I can't describe it any other way.  It was the sunniest winter I've ever encountered here, before or since.  It was clear and cold, often.  The sun shone, and it made it infinitely more possible for me to choose happiness over depression, every minute, every hour, every day.  I never cut myself again.  I never dreamt about swerving into oncoming traffic, I didn't allow myself to feel hopeless about finding a life partner who would both get and love me, and when darkness sat with me I turned and walked away.  I never again felt that same sense of relief in thinking about death.  That spring, the tulips arrived early and brilliant, and I felt like I had stepped from a grey world into one electrified with brilliant colour.  I spent many hours in the garden, with my face buried in a tulip, or pulling out weeds and mowing the grass around them.  They are still my favourite flowers, because of that spring and its tulips.

Sometime in early spring, I got called for work as usual.  On my break I went out on the deck and looked over the side, and for the first time since November, I felt afraid of that cool, dark water again.  It was miraculous.

I feel like I've been run over by a hurricane force of beauty and blessing in my life--look how full it is now, how many amazing people live in my house and fill my circle of friends, how much I love what I have and how I have to choose between the many things that I'm passionate about and love to do.  There was this wild, colourful life waiting for me just over the horizon and (hard fought and dark times of its own though it has) it was so worth fighting for.  Every day, I'm grateful.