she’ll be right

Please forgive my wandering mind, but I want to go to Australia.  Forget about the long flight, and watch the kangaroos with their dangling arms cross the street.  I want to smile at the way they say my name, Sheila.  Have an old Aussie take my scarred hand  and whisper, “How ya goin’ luv?”  Nod back.  If you only knew.

I want to go to a place where I can drink wine at lunch guilt-free.  Tour a vineyard near the coast and dream about buying an old villa.  Befriend the locals and whip up a mean spaghetti alla carbonara.  Watch my prosecco sparkle in its glass, and toast to the year I never had.  Listen to them laugh and think.  Isn’t this nice.

Go to a place where I bow to show respect, and I’m admired for being tall.  Drink loads of green tea and feel uber-relaxed because of all that L-theanine.  Touch the translucent screen with my fingertips, close the shoji.  Slip in the futon and sleep like never before.  Learn how to play the shakuhachi and delete the Deuter station on my Pandora.  I don’t need your music anymore.  Be so relaxed that I’ll defy gravity, so I’ll float and swim in the clouds.  And I’ll feel sorry that you can’t join me.

Go to a hidden forest and have the moss stain my vision green for days on end.  Hum the song “The Misty Mountains Cold” as I walk around for hours in sacred silence.  Go for a month-long stay in Bora Bora.  Be greeted with fresh pineapple, and then graciously tell them that I’m allergic to pineapple.  But I’ll dream of eating pineapples when I sleep over the water and grow delirious with their sweetness.  The glass sea will be so breathtaking that I’ll forget how to cry.

Go to a red house with a pink door bathed in sunlight.  Walk inside, leave the door open, and not faint when I marvel at its beauty.  Flowers will adorn the counter and tabletops.   Heavenly bulbous flowers that would make the Queen of Hearts jealous, or at the very least, she’d want to know my secret for growing such massive flowers.  I wouldn’t tell her though.  She’d have a tantrum, but I would only laugh.  She wouldn’t; she couldn’t ever phase me.

I want to walk through the house, and run my fingers along the patched gossamer blue walls.  I’ve missed you.  Smell the lavender you sprayed a moment ago.  Hear the cardinal that always pecks at the door.  Poor thing, he’s confused, because the house is red.  Notice how much the carpet of pink around the pool has grown.  Wonder how the flowers fell so gracefully in the laps of the worn ballerina statues, and I’ll admire their patience.

Please forgive my wandering mind; I just want to be hopeful.  It’ll be different this time.  I close the pink door and pray.

she told me

She told me in confidence that she thought she gave birth to a monster.  She looked to make sure that nobody was near; her eyes darted down and she whispered it.  “A monster.”  The odd thing is that his birth had been so peaceful that January evening.  Quiet room, dim lights, hushed voices late at night, and he just slipped out.  He just slipped out.  Absolutely no pain, it’s baffling.

She told me that when he was born he looked like a little alien.  He hardly slept for 2 years, and his hunger was insatiable.  When he cried, her heart would race and her eardrums would go numb.  She would catch him staring in his crib at things she could not see.  Stare so long, his eyes would drip water.  But he would twirl her hair when she nursed him and when she draped his warm body over her shoulder to burp him; she would feel the softness of his cheek against hers so intently, she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive him for all those sleepless nights and all those staring fits that would leave him unsettled and clingy.

She told me that the time after he became adorable, he learned to walk.  He walked a little late.  He took to the habit of running from things that weren’t there and he would fall and scream into her bosom.  He would look up at the ceiling with a face of horror until Zonegran stopped the infantile spasms.   He said the fan blades were covered with blood.  He would see pizza on the walls and see shadows move without light.  And when they were trying to be good Catholics, he would say the inside of their church smelled like old people’s burning flesh.  But he looked so cute when he played on his wooden airplane and when he wore that adorable Janie and Jack puppy sweater; she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d try to forget all those odd images he put in her head and those strange things he whispered in her ear.  She tried to forget her anxiety over all the tests he had and medications he tried.  She’d try to crush the panic that would wake her in the middle of night.

She told me that when school started he had a hard time paying attention,  hit the teachers, and would play chase without their permission.  He would cry for an hour before school would start and his dad would have to carry him to the car while he put up a fight.   But he would draw her pictures and write,  I love you Mommy.   He’d ask so sweetly, “Do you want a hug?”  She’d  fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive all those meetings she had at the school and tried not to grow jaded when explaining his situation.  She was always explaining the situation.

She told me about one day in March when she received a phone call from the school to pick her son up early because he had lost control in the classroom.  She walked tall into the special classroom and apologized for all the books and chairs strewn all over the room.  “Really, he knows better,”  she’d say while looking in their eyes brimming with pity.   She reached for her son’s hand, walked out of the building, and made it to her car before she collapsed and cried.  She cried for 2 straight hours and couldn’t even make dinner; she was too full with sorrow.  She was exhausted and felt helpless.

She told me that he could dream of the future and have night terrors that haunted him for weeks.  He’d get up at odd hours of the night to gather and cut up his clothes.  He’d sprinkle cinnamon all over the house 2 days before Christmas because he liked the smell.  And dump baby powder all over his room because he said, “I miss the snow.”  She looked surprisingly good for being awake all that time.

She told me that when he got older, the monster in him evolved.  Taller than her – in some ways smarter than her.  He was moody and sad,  happy and mad.  Up and down he went.  Around and around he went.  He was always able to lure her into his trap.  He would even catch her eyebrow twitch and it seemed that he could read her mind before she spoke.  He was always inches from her – never far.  Circling around her – this way and that way.  Pecking at her, laughing at her, chasing her, clawing at her – this human that had just slipped out into the world.  She took to the habit of wearing long sleeve cardigans in the most humid of conditions and would think, it just isn’t fair.

And then she told me that, overnight, she became incredibly fond of the drink.  One glass at dinner, then another before bed.  She’d wake up with headaches and become so depressed that she’d wish she were dead.  Her entire being was filled with fright and even her soul, her aching soul, would mourn for it to be over.  And she felt betrayed because she asked, “Isn’t your soul supposed to be stronger?”  Traitor, she’d call it.  She said she felt empty and blank.

How much can one vessel hold?”  she’d ask.  And with every night that she went to bed thinking she was done, she’d wake up and start it all over again.  Each and every night, each and every day.  She then told me that when the best place in the nation said, “Your son is a candidate for our inpatient program,”  she was surprised to be hit by grief instead of relief.  A few moments passed and then she just stopped.

She told me in confidence that she wanted to tempt fate in a sea of aqua glass full of teeth and feel the wind rush past her face.  Witness the brown clouds get taken over by the foam.  Feel the pull toward the moon and float.  Revel in that and not talk about home.

 

night

the way he is right now

I’ve learned to walk silently across the floor 

I’m a tall, strong woman with weary size ten feet

but I’m here tiptoeing and praying not to wake the manic beast, 

the way he is right now 

The past 2 weeks were okay

how I wish that guy could stay 

the one with the kind blue eyes 

the one that copies the clouds 

in the sky

the one who speaks gentle words 

and doesn’t wish for me to die

He doesn’t mean it, they always say 

But seriously, doesn’t dawn always beckon a new day?

Oh God, what if he means it?

These are the thoughts that make me lock my door

before I attempt to sleep

thoughts that make me say that extra prayer 

thoughts that make me easily tiptoe with my weary size ten feet 

to walk silently across the floor

begging not to wake the manic beast

hidden

there’s a suitcase in the far corner of my closet

the older one with the worn brown

checkerboard pattern and a faded luggage tag

can’t make out the name any longer

not going anywhere anyway

and if I pretend

the flattened leather handle still feels warm

probably from when you used it last

back when life was happy and our souls were stronger

sometimes when things get loud

I want to place a blanket in that suitcase,

in the far corner of my closet,

crawl inside, zip it up and lie

quietly, silently

will he find me

I want to say aloud

but I don’t dare make a sound

these days, these long days

after the first door slam, I want to bolt

run far before the terror takes hold

but no

I have to stand there and take it

stand there and stand there

stand there and fake it

place my trembling hands in my pockets

ignore my heart pounding in my ears

taste the rapid beats, choke them down

why is it getting so difficult

I’ve been doing this for years

every time I enter my closet

I give that suitcase an extra glance

maybe one day I could do it

run quick when I have the chance

when I’m first warned

place a blanket inside, make it cozy and warm

crawl inside, zip it up

lie quietly, silently battered and worn

i go

swept away, away i go

into his vortex, trembling…

waiting for the top to blow

first on my arms, then my nose

what he does next

well, you know

whatever is loony,

the opposite of sane,

living like this…

i’m going insane

 

somebody please stop this senseless ride

i’m getting dizzy…

i want to run inside and hide

fall asleep for a thousand years and a day

a small reprieve from

waiting, pacing…

praying, trembling…

all the while being swept away,

swept away i go

 

 

blonde woman in ER

Milky veiled eyes,

heavy in a trance.

Her tongue flipped 

Portuguese and Italian.

When she was angry,

she broke the foreign dance;

spoke a startling line of English.

What’s your name?!

to the doctor she spat.

Next glance I took

she was wearing a mask,

passed out cold.

No more vexed phrases

in Portuguese and Italian

to be told.

grief

I long to surrender

to the rainfall;

feel wet hair

against my cheek.

Laugh until I feel hollow,

cry until I can’t speak.

I long to surrender

to the rainfall;

feel the drops travel

down my spine.

Hear the rain clouds

murmur,

you are as good as mine.

Fall into the emptiness

away from all my fears.

Oh, how I long to surrender,

surrender all my tears.

 

 

Madness

 Does it mean I love you any less,

 if I want to keep the best of you,

 but want to change the rest?    

 

I don’t know why I’m feeling the way I do.  The way I was last night, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t right.  But he started up again; wanting this, wanting that.  Throwing this, throwing that.  He took my phone and jammed it into his wall.  The glass is shattered, I can barely make a call.  I tried to keep him in his room as you were moving his wooden toy toaster and his broom.  Removing scissors, long objects, and most anything that he could turn into a weapon.  We, unfortunately, know that part too well.  I kept him in his room as long as I could, but I let him run out, thinking that it would help calm him.  He said he was calmer anyway.  What a good storyteller he is.  Off to the sitting room he went, to put holes in the walls.  I tried for ten minutes, but I wasn’t able to block them all.  Out he ran, he said his blood sugar felt low – 

Ok, I’ll test you – let’s calm down, let’s go…”

He tried to go into your room – to put holes in the wall…he said. 

My voice got louder, my face burned with confusion, exhaustion –

Please calm down.  Please go to your room and calm down.”  Please, over and over again.

He punched my arms harder.  I grabbed his arms just to stop the pain, and you thought I took it too far. 

Mom, give him space – let’s have space!”  You repeated yourself louder and he felt more rage.  I ignored you, concentrating on your brother, but I saw his wrath boil into a crimson fury.  He was on fire and he kicked four new holes into our walls – big ones too, it was what I didn’t want him to do.  I felt warmth escape my ears – I thought…

Why does it seem nobody can hear?”

I collapsed to the ground and grabbed my head with my trembling hands and I wailed a scream I didn’t know I had.  I became primal for about five seconds.  I lost my sense for a fraction of time, I lost my wit – I witnessed my soul escape and enter again.  My vocal chords instantly felt ripped apart; very fitting, they matched my heart.  Something happened, something clicked.  I’m one step closer to feeling insane.  One step closer to losing my mind.  It’s all so very unfortunate.  

This above incident happened August 10, 2017, and it left me at odds with my youngest daughter for about two days.  I felt decimated – perhaps even betrayed a little.  I got over it – but I guess that’s what mental illness can do.  It can turn loved ones against each other in the swirls of madness, in the twisting of insanity.  Prompt loved ones to turn into frozen statues paralyzed with fear to only thaw out long enough to survive.  That’s what we’re doing now, surviving.

These past two years have been really trying but something about these past few months have been especially sinister.  His punches are harder, the damage is greater, and his thoughts are more tortuous.  Is it the Abilify?  Is it the antidepressant?  Is it too much Abilify?  Does he need a new seizure med?  Who knows anymore.

I remember when a trial of Seroquel turned him into a demonic giant with powers that terrorized us day and night.  Night and day.  Two weeks of pure hell and the games got sicker when I had to increase it.

We need more time to see if it will work,”  the doctors would say.

I would nervously laugh, and think, “I pray we have more time.”  It was just my youngest daughter, about 16 at the time, and I during five days of the roughest part of the med trial. My oldest daughter and husband were on a school trip to Paris.  My Mom, who was staying with us at the time, went back to Missouri to help out my sister and her family.

My daughter and I would wake up to battles and the ritualistic dismantling of our house.  I would stand at his doorway during an event to lessen most of his tornadic activity that could happen to the main part of the house.  But most of his torment landed on various areas of my already bruised body.  I would put on an old winter jacket that my husband used to wear and put on heavy utility gloves, but it offered only a bit of protection.  I became the guard and he became the beast – with foam dripping out of his mouth, and my brain would have to recover from all the horrific words he shouted.

The longest event on one particular bad day lasted a little over an hour.  It was one of the five or six events per day he would have during this Seroquel trial.  My heart raced and I would feel like I ran a marathon after each event.  Between episodes I would put ice packs on my arms and maybe even my face, rest, and pop Motrin like candy.  My daughter would ask if I was okay, but her eyes had already been stained with his violence.  There’d be no turning back.

We’d have a little reprieve where he’d act more “normal” and we’d take a walk or play a game, but we didn’t venture out during this time.  We’d eat our meals between violent events and act as if nothing had ever happened.  He’d say he loved me and I’d respond back with an, “I love you too.”  Most always an event would happen before bedtime and then he’d collapse into bed, praise the Lord.  Once he was asleep, we would assess the damage of the day and clean up accordingly.  Put home decor back on their resting shelves, move end tables, and place remotes back to their original, eager location.

During this time, when he was asleep, the house was unnaturally quiet and appeared unshaken.  My daughter and I would get our pajamas on, fix a snack, and fall on the couch.  After a console session and a good cry, we’d  put on a movie and zone out.  Escape to a different world where we weren’t hurt, bullied, or terrorized.

Around midnight, we’d say goodnight, crawl into our beds, and pray for a better day to be waiting for us.  We’d close our eyes and let the stillness lead us into calm waters.  We would either dream of old ladies whispering hush or bloody mouthed wolves that chased.  There was no in-between.  It was madness.

 

Hard Time

You know it’s been difficult.  I don’t need to remind you when you already feel the pulse of the beast that ails us.  Hear the unmentionables of the many voices that seem to spew out of his mouth to poison our ears.  Oh God, why is that voice in my own ears?  See the shadow lurking around the corner taking the breath from our lungs one molecule at a time.  Running away swiftly from his sighs when it’s dark.  I wake up blind in the middle of the night thinking about these times.

Cry out for help but not one person hears.  People witness the crimes but turn around as if I were a ghost.  As if we were all ghosts.  I want to scream, “Can’t you see us?  Do you see this?”

But I yell only at clouds – vapor that takes my consonants and vowels and swirls them around till they grow into an angry twister that finds its way back to me.  It always finds its way back to me.  To rip me into shreds, fill my heart with dread, and slam my head to the floor whispering, “Are you ready for more?”

I don’t know how much more I can take, when at any given moment, while sitting at the kitchen table, my eyeballs explode with sadness.  The drooping orchid that has not yet bloomed reminds me of this.  Our crumbling house reminds me of this.  The blue hue and scars on my arms reminds me of this.  Being stuck is this.  What life is this.

I don’t know how much more you can take, when at the same table, during a different meal; I watch your tired eyes swell up with tears so large I’d need a bucket to collect them all.  And my heart silently breaks watching each one fall.