Feb 132012

Last week Craig and I went to see a financial advisor who is helping us “start over.” I sat in a big leather chair across from the advisor and watched his mouth form words like dividends and accounts and IRAS for a solid hour. I squirmed in my chair and squinted my eyes real hard at him because that usually helps me concentrate, but I did not process a word he said. It was like my brain was a racquetball wall and his words were the racquetballs and they just kept slamming into the wall of my brain and bouncing off, bouncing off, bouncing off. I wanted to quote Nemo and yell, “Look, you’re really cute, kid, but I don’t know what you’re saying! Say the first thing again!” Instead I concentrated on not giggling. I glanced at Craig, assuming I’d see the face that means: I am smiling and nodding but I have no idea what you’re talking about . . . but no fake face. Craig was with our advisor. And so I thought about interrupting with, “Excuse me, I am sure that you are making some really important points, but I am missing them. My brain doesn’t work this way. Is there, by any chance, a poem that would sort of encapsulate your main money-ish message that I might be able to sit and read while you guys finish up?”

A dear friend recently told me that she doesn’t get poetry, because it requires her to use her creative right brain instead of her analytical left brain. I thought, how can you not get poetry? It’s one of the only things I do get.

But in that financial advisor’s office, I figured it out. Oh my gosh, I thought. That’s it. That’s been my problem my whole life. I am missing my left brain.

I do have access to Husband’s left brain, but sometimes he has to go to work or I have to go somewhere without him, and then my right brain and I are left all alone in the big world and unfortunate things tend to happen. Because my right brain and I are thinking about love and clouds and poetry and colors while other people who have their whole brain are thinking about staying between the road lines and picking their kids up from school and avoiding kitchen fires.

Yesterday I had an appointment with a dermatologist to see if she could help me look a little less thirteen. When I walked out of the office after the appointment and looked across the parking lot, I noticed with shock and awe that my van was GONE. A totally different car was in its place. I immediately freaked and dumped the contents of my purse onto the sidewalk to find my phone but obviously, no phone. So I ran after an old man who had followed me out of the office and I said, “Excuse me, sir! Someone stole my car! Can I use your cell phone to call my husband?” And he looked a little scared but he said okay, and handed me his phone. And while I dialed Craig, the old man stooped down and sweetly started picking up the contents of my purse from the sidewalk. This was a kind gesture, but a little awkward since there was a tampon, a bottle of ketchup, and an old apple core in the pile. Thankfully, Craig answered right away. He always answers right away when I’m out of the house because really, you never know what’s going to happen.

I yelled into the phone, “HUSBAND! You are not going to BELIEVE THIS! Somebody STOLE THE VAN!” And Craig said, “Okay. Calm down, honey. Tell me what happened,” which is his standard greeting.  And I said, “I went into my appointment and when I came out, the van was GONE and a completely different car is in my spot!” And Craig paused and then said, “Honey. Look carefully. Is the different car a red SUV?” And I said “YES! HOW DID YOU KNOW?” And Craig said, “Because you drove our Explorer, honey.”

Now this development left me in an awkward position because the nice cell phone man was  still staring at me. So I said “Okay. Thank you, Husband.” and I hung up. Then I took a deep breath, handed the helpful cell phone man his phone, and said, “My husband is going to call the police and then come pick me up. Thank you so much for your help.” And cell phone man said, “Are you sure you’re okay?” And I smiled bravely and said, “Oh, I’m fine. It’s just a little scary to have your car stolen. You understand.” And cell phone man said that yes, he understood. And then he got into his car and drove away. When I could no longer see cell phone man’s car, I sneaked over to the Explorer, climbed in and drove home. And for the rest of the day, neither Craig nor I mentioned the fake car stealing, because it would be very insensitive to openly discuss circumstances that inevitably arise due to my half brainedness. Obviously, remembering what kind of cars one owns is a very left brain-ish job, and so it is officially information for which a half-brained person is not responsible. Especially when the half brained one is already thinking very hard about how life is just like the ocean and trying to decide whether love is blue or green, which is what my right brain and I were doing all day, thank you very much.

Eventually, I got home and the day kept rolling along. And then, all of a sudden, it was dinner time. I find it unfair and stressful that dinner time arrives every single day. I just think it’s rude and presumptuous. And so I protest by ensuring that dinnertime interferes as little as possible with the natural flow of my day. In this case, I was trying to make dinner while reading, which I do often. So I held my book in one hand and tried to get the pizzas out of the freezer with the other hand, and I smacked myself very, very hard in the face with the freezer door. And now I have a big bruise on my forehead. In the exact same place I had a bruise the LAST Time I smacked myself in the face while reading and trying to retrieve pizzas from the freezer. And now I sort of feel like the morning’s dramatic trip to the dermatologist was totally wasted because now my face looks a million times worse than it did yesterday.

Craig and I didn’t talk about my new bruise either.

And in case you left brainers haven’t figured it out yet,  love is green.


Feb 142012

Do you think they put that arrow through the heart because love always hurts a little? A heart with an arrow through it seems pretty bruitful to me.

I was so excited to name today MINDY MONDAY, and SO annoyed when I realized, five minutes ago, that it is actually Tuesday. Whatever. Mindy Monday it still is.

Mindy is a young mama Monkee. She’s a pediatrician raising a two year old angel who is so beautiful it makes me wonder if God gave her some extra cuteness to help Mindy get through this excruciating time. You see, Mindy has stage three breast cancer, and is having a mastectomy today.

I’m never that IN to Valentine’s Day,  I don’t totally get it . . . but I can wrap my arms around it today.  Because this Valentine’s Day is MINDY DAY. Today, if you feel led, say a prayer for Mindy –  and/ or DO a prayer for Mindy. Stay awake throughout your day and watch for an invitation to participate in a Random Act of Kindness. I called it a RAOK on facebook, but everyone thought  I was asking them to send me pictures of their racks. Which is SORT of apropos for Mindy’s day – but not exactly.

Please dedicate your RAOK to Mindy, and then leave a comment about your experience.

Good stuff. Not a bad way to celebrate Love Day.

I sent this message to Mindy last night:

Dearest Mindy,

I want you to know that Momastery has officially declared tomorrow Mindy Day, and  the Monkees will not only be praying for you- but will also participate in random acts of kindness in your honor. These will act as little reminders, teeny shout outs to God . . . to be with the doctors tomorrow, to get every bit of the cancer OUT, to send you home whole and healthy to raise your baby. Tomorrow there will be ripples of love and energy flowing (literally) from the ends of the Earth to you and to God FOR you. So please, don’t be afraid. The world, and God, are with you. Remember that when you arrive at the hospital tomorrow. You are being carried, and you are covered.

We love you, Mindy.

God Bless and Don’t Worry. Everything’s Going To Be Amazing.

G and TWMF (The Whole Monkee Family)

Feb 162012

This one’s for all the mamas and papas and sisters and brother and children of The Volcanoes. So much love and light and hope to you- G

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the writing of this blog, it is this: I don’t know anything. That might sound like a distressing discovery, but it’s okay. I think it might be the most important thing to know. It seems to be more than a lot of people know, anyway.
Knowing nothing does become tricky, however, when readers who have mentally ill loved ones ask me about it – about the whys and hows and whens of addiction and other mental conditions. I wish, so badly, that I had answers for you. When I read your messages I can actually feel your pain, and I want to heIp. I want to offer you hope, I want to give you the answers for which you are so desperate.
But the truth is that I don’t even know my own hows and whys and whens, so I can’t know yours.
But I’ve been thinking . . . I do know the who.
I can introduce you to one of the whos of addiction. I can take you into my heart and show you what is there and pray that it might build a bridge between your heart and the heart of the imploding one that you love.

These essays on this topic- I am going to continue to write and write and then publish. It seems important not to revise, not to edit. So here goes.

There are some who can sit through a movie that makes them uncomfortable. And there are some who can’t. Or won’t. Those people actually have to get up and leave the room.
We addicts, we mentally ill are the Leavers.
We just can’t stand the movie that is showing for some reason. And we are unable to fake it or tolerate it. We have to get up and walk out.
We don’t leave to hurt you. We leave because we believe that it is right to leave. And just as you wonder how we could possibly leave, we wonder how on Earth you can stay.
But please don’t blame yourself. Often, we were just watching the movie together. You didn’t make the movie. The movie is the whole world.

All of the comments after Fourteen sung to me like a lullaby. Except for one. One struck such a sour chord that is has been echoing in my mind since I read it. And I think it illustrates the chasm between the addict and the ones that love us. It shows how we misunderstand each other. How we misfire when we talk to each other. So I thought maybe we could unpack it. I would never, ever do this to a reader unless the comment was anonymous. I hope it will not cause the commenter pain. I know, absolutely, that it was meant with good intentions. I want to thank the commenter for it. It has helped me think. Here it is:

*It’s very hard to imagine where, with the idyllic childhood you had, that this emptiness originated. I hope that your relationship with Jesus healed the hole for good.*

When we are labeling other people and their life experiences, we must be very careful with our words. These words – idyllic,emptiness, healed the hole for good – are not careful words. They presume knowledge. And they do not describe me or my life at all. Not at all.

I read this comment to mean: You are, are at least were, empty. And anyone with an idyllic childhood should not be empty. I hope you turned out better in the end.

First, I can’t imagine that there is anyone on Earth who is more pleased with how she turned out than I am.
Second, there is no such thing as an idyllic (picturesque, carefree) childhood. Let us not be silly. I had a good childhood. I was lucky as hell in most ways. I was the center of my parents’ worlds. But people are not mathematical equations. Love + Education does not necessarily =Smooth Sailing.
Third, I do not relate to the word empty. We addicts, we mentally ill…we are a lot of things, but empty is not one of them.
Fourth, Who On Earth is Healed For Good?

Here are some things that we are:
Some of us are born with an otherness that we feel right away . . . awareness of our otherness is often our first memory. We have this feeling that maybe we were dropped off in the wrong place, because nothing seems familiar. The people in this strange and harsh and confusing world require us to play role after exhausting role. We are afraid of things that don’t seem to scare other people. Friendship, love, commitment . . . these things seem so big, so important, so murky and confusing and dangerous…how could we dare enter into them? We decide it would safer not to. We see that other people seem comfortable taking these risks, but we feel different. We feel more aware, and less capable. We rationalize that maybe others take all of these risks because they don’t foresee the pitfalls that we see. We decide, subconsciously or not, that we are different. And we are so full of this knowledge of our difference that we must find a way to relieve our fullness. We are like volcanoes with no exit for our hot lava.
But we are young, usually, and don’t know much about creative relief strategies. So we create our own little world to hide in. This world is our bulimia or alcoholism or drugging or cutting or whatehaveyou. And this little world is a relief, because it feels safer. We are directing our own personal movie now. We are in control. We are not deficient. We are not empty. We are actually quite perceptive and resourceful and creative. We are just trying to cope. We are like albinos who protect their skin by staying inside.
And the thing is that our strategy works. Our cutting or binging or drugging does relieve the lava pressure, for awhile. It just causes too much collateral damage it make it a sustainable plan, they tell us. At some point they tell us that the lava is actually burning the hell out of us on the outside, and spilling out onto you.
But please don’t call us empty. We’ve never been empty a day in our life. We are full to exploding. But we tried to implode instead of explode…because we are usually very kind. It wasn’t a perfect plan. We’d love to find a different strategy. But now we’re addicted to our original strategy. And it’s really hard to quit. Try quitting sugar and caffeine cold turkey and then multiply that feeling by one million.  It’s also really scary and risky to quit, because we don’t have another plan. So we need help. But we need respect, too.
Because here is the thing. We know we chose the wrong way to relieve our pressure. But that lava inside of us, it defines us. We love our lava. We must find a different way to relieve it, yes. We know. But that hot lava, that otherness, that awareness, that sensitivity- we were born with it and we will die with it.

The pressure of the lava is what led me to food and alcohol and semi-madness, yes, but it’s also the same lava that woke me up at 4:30 am this morning to write to you even though I’m sick and exhausted. The lava is what compels me to dig deep into myself and pour myself out here to women all over the world and to actually believe that it will make a difference. The lava inside me is what loves my children and parents and Sister and husband and YOU with a ferocity that borders on animal. My tenderheartedness, my sensitivity, my rebelliousness…my refusal to accept the world as it presents itself to me – my belief that I can change the world…it must be changed! got me in trouble for a while. It almost killed me. But it’s what keeps me ALIVE, too. It’s good now. It’s good now. It’s always been good. I just needed to learn how to use it. It’s like how nuclear energy can be used to destroy or to create. My lava is what I will use to save the world, or at least my little place in it. It’s why I walk through every day with my eyes wide with terror or awe. That lava is my fire. It’s my light. It’s the reason you return to this blog.

It’s my favorite part of myself. It is myself.

We addicts, we mentally-ill, we don’t want to lose our lava. We don’t want to lose ourselves. That’s why we fight you so hard.
I have found better ways to relieve the pressure of my lava. Yes, I have. I burn fewer people. I don’t burn myself as often. But I still feel the pressure, every single day. Thank God.



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