Side effects: Thirst, fatigue and general sedation, sinus pressure/headaches, tinitus, loss of appetite, chills.
Today, I hate this drug. I was up until 1 a.m. grading, got B— up at 7:30 this morning for a bath before catching the school bus, and then went back to sleep for another 2 1/2 hours. I had a headache most of the day yesterday. It's back, in my sinus area. I don't do this sort of pain well. Truthfully, I am not feeling any better with this drug than without. Miserable. Not happy at all, just a pushing through because the world is depending on me and last night L— told me how she respects my dependability.
I want to go back to bed. Ethics starts in an hour. This is where I think about crying, but I don't.
Noon rolls around. Mr. PNU meets me at the cafeteria. We load up our salads and sit to discuss the ins and outs of freewill (as I'm still causally determined to make the compatiblist paradigm realign to fit my brain.) We're not five minutes in when Empedocles drops his bag next to me on the table, obviously completely in the dark about what is transpiring, or that he might be interrupting. Awkward.
At this juncture it is important to make mention that I'm over Empedocles in a big way. We're friends, but my listening ears are not his alone and, frankly, today he hadn't scheduled an appointment. Harsh, huh? I felt bad, but I had to inform him that I had arranged lunch with Mr. PNU to discuss philosophical concepts and that such was going to take place, whether Empedocles cared to stick around or not. He sat and listened for several minutes before making a hasty exit. Mr. PNU seemed mildly annoyed, but unruffled by the disturbance, and we continued for another hour. I have two new articles he's recommended on compatiblism and the open invitation to sit down over philosophical topics whenever I feel the need. In swift estimation, the lunch was a success and I think I was able to make a little more headway into the thought blockage that's preventing me from reobtaining my agency.
We walked back to the philosophy department together talking about kids and the schism between analytic and continental. I've stated my impartiality. "I like you both," I told him, and walked to the library to work for the hour before Ethics.
I spent the rest of the day TAing thics and Poetry and working on my latest poem, a language/found piece based off of Mr. PNUs latest paper on disability and agency. I'm giving the camel a rest for a while.
I'm almost through with the first block of Greek and my grade isn't that bad. I aced the midterm. The final is take-home. I'm feeling saturated, but capable.
My Advanced Poetry midterm was this afternoon. I'm sure I overplayed. Write a poem in 70 minutes. Easy enough, right? Sure, if you don't care about quality. I am my mother's daughter. I was the last to leave.
I'm going to nap and then read Metaphysics of Free Will like it's going out of style. I'm having lunch with Mr. PNU tomorrow.
My professors are amazing. I think I'm going to make it through this semester after all. The chair of the philosophy department complemented me on my poetic work in Presocratics today. We were standing next to each other in line at the Starbucks counter. It just came up. I told her I feel like an impostor in the department. She told me not to; that they all feel that way before comfortably settling into the understanding that they know nothing. I'm good with feeling that way now. So I can do this.
It should be noted, however, that another good thing has come my way. Due to politics in the department I've been asked to be Editor in Chief of the lit journal Fall semester. The position requires training this semester. I just couldn't say no.
Side effects: sedation paired with insomnia, thirst, decreased appetite, nausea, vision issues, possible tinitus.
I went to church of my own free will. The experience was not unlike most I've had in a religious atmosphere; only this time I weeded out the touchy feely emotions from real doubts and concerns I have that I prefer not to ignore. L— and B— went with me and I think they felt similarly. I tried to focus their attention on Christ, because if for any reason, that's why I chose to go.
I met with my bishop after meetings and told him things about my last marriage that I haven't shared with anyone. I expressed that my unresolved issues with how that divorce was handled have set me back in the faith arena, and that I have issues trusting priesthood holders and serious doubts about revelation through blessings. I told him I wanted to be a part of the congregation, because I love Christ and people and I genuinely want to serve those around me, but that I can't guarantee 100% attendance.
Most importantly, I requested his help in getting a sealing cancellation, if for no other reason than if I pass my ex in the grocery store I am physically and emotionally sick for days. It's PTSD, and it's incident to the abuse that went unacknowledged by the bishop while we were married. I subjected my current bishop to details that I know he didn't want to hear, but he was moved and assured me that he would bring it up this week in his meeting with the Stake President. He also promised that it would not happen quickly. Four months, was his soonest estimate. But he also assured me that something needs to happen. He can sense it. And he thanked me for telling him all the ugly details I did.
I know it's strange, but this gives me real hope. While anything on the books is only on the books, its enduring presence taunts me. I am no man's. I am not his. Sealing ritual is beautiful, just as it can be menacing based on the actions of the people involved. I choose Christ. I do not choose the heinous degradation that marked that union.
Side effects: general sedation, thirst, nausea, visual focusing difficulty, constipation.
I honestly thought I'd be given another antipsychotic. Instead, my psychiatrist gave me a choice of going back on Celexa, an SSRI that I took for several years before my constant upswings were attributed to its presence in my regimen; or Cymbalta, an SRNI with a naturally sedative quality that I've never taken before. My doctor knows how hesitant I am about antidepressants, not because I'm against their use, but because as Bipolar I my experience has long been that they cause mania. The Lithium, he said, is doing its job, however, keeping my head out of the clouds. So why not give the Cymbalta a shot? I'm a day and a half in, still hesitant, but already feeling soothed rather than driven by anxiety.
My doc wrote a note for school and I was excused from class for the past week. I've been working on Greek on my own to get caught up, and my professor says he's willing to slow the course down on my behalf since there's only two of us taking this section. He's also my Presocratics professor and something of a mentor, so I think he felt that gave him permission to ask about my schedule and help me lighten the load wherever possible. My problem isn't so much that I have things I don't want to do, as it is that there are so many good things that have come along this semester and I chose not to turn them down.
My position as TA for Mr. PNU came into question. Once again, I have no problem working this job. Honestly, I get more satisfaction out of TAing for him and Laura than I do from my other classes, all of which I love. So when my Greek professor encouraged me to drop Mr. PNU's class I had a hard time explaining to him why I wasn't willing to comply. How do you say to one professor that you won't stop working for another professor because he feeds your poetic work, muse-like? I didn't. But it was awkward. My Greek professor is continental. Mr. PNU is analytic. There's already weird ego-driven philosophical tension. It's been difficult earlier in the semester explaining to Mr. PNU that just because my Greek professor is acting as a mentor in many rights that I don't think how I do about what I do because of that relationship. I think it came out as something like, "No one tells me what to think."
Anyway, I'm hopeful that I will ease into the Cymbalta this weekend, since somewhere in the course of this crazy week Mr. PNU offered to discuss free will with me. And even though I tried to sneak out after his lecture today without bringing it up (I'm not what you'd call myself at the moment) he stopped me and asked about the get together. So Wednesday, I have to be calm, cool, collected, and not completely sedated in order to get into the problem, and his work with psychiatric ethics. Which is what I've been absolutely curious about since last spring. Here's my chance to pick his brains, and mine has suddenly jumped from its bath of serotonin and neurepinephrine. Muse, meet fate.
The great news is, my bro and I finally sat down and had lunch today. Caught up. It was perfect. He's finally dating someone, and even though I don't think she's good enough for him it's nice to see him able to direct his longing for someone to love in a positive direction. I guess in the least selfish way possible, I hope he can eventually find someone without children in his age range that he gets along with as well as he gets on with me. Likewise, I wish I had the kind of connection I have with my bro with someone in my age range who isn't all out of sorts over the fact that, yep, I have an amazing set of luggage.
I called my psychiatrist and my therapist. I have appointments with both in the next week.
The Dodos are playing a bar in SLC in April. I want to go, accompanied. Ethics. Ethics. Ethics. His red t-shirts are my favorite. Magnetized or something. As we get into Hume I've got to still the tides. It's nice to feel something, and terrifying because I'm not well and easily drowned.
M— and I drove to the Y trailhead, parked amidst petting college students, ate the best fish tacos you can get in this town and listened to her iPod above the shimmer of the evening city. She told me about her hopes to return to Japan, maybe even do some university work there. We yammered over our shifting faith that keeps gravitating back toward the cause of so much cognitive dissonance. I put my garments back on three days ago, because I've never stopped choosing Christ. And for the present I need to believe in someone who can, does carry me.
I sleep for hours and hours. I'm always exhausted. I've learned to suffer in Greek.
Back when M— was a toddler and I still believed in the myth of Martha Stewart I subscribed to her magazine and watched her television show every day (at least I remember it being every day) in wait for the Good Things segment both once a month and at the end of each episode.
Today's post is much like that. These are the good things in the middle of what seemed like Lake Bonneville of grief and pressure.
One: Mr. PNU who sent me his latest paper on agency and mental illness as requested somewhere around midnight. I think all along he's been itching to tell me what he thinks about free will, and I needed to hear it even though I will continue to think thoughts of my own.
Two: E—, who loves me and comes into my bedroom to sit on my bed and talk about his dreams (his literal dreams that he has each night) and his love of filmmaking. He is such an intelligent, empathetic young man. I'm so proud of him.
Three: L—, who "takes" me to lunch, and who doesn't mind listening to me yammer on about Greek as long as I let her take photographs of chocolate covered strawberries.
Four: B—, who is just precious and silly. He came back into the kitchen tonight after I'd sent him in for his bath and asked me, "If a person flushes the toilet two times, time two times, how many times did they flush the toilet?"
I thought for a moment and then said, "Four?"
"Did you flush the toilet four times?"
"No. I just thought of that."
He then took a bath.
Five: M—, who has been my Good Thing for as long as I can remember now. She's such a lovely young woman. Willowy, graceful and unique in her skin. And such a hard worker. She plays hard and long and works the same. I think I see myself in her that way. These babies grow up far too fast.
Six: My friend Sharon called me. It was a welcome surprise and a delightful conversation. It's funny how people just need to be needed. And if anyone tells you there's anything wrong with that, there's likely something wrong with them.
Seven: Poetry and Greek. I parsed and translated for an hour today, and then I edited 26 poems for the Pie Tin's literary journal. I'm poetry editor. That is part of the weight this semester. Words are a welcome addition to the load, however, and I have an understanding editor-in-chief. That's all I ask. It's amazing how hard I work for people who are appreciative, sensitive, and who express need of my help. And it's a Good Thing I find energy to do it, if not down right amazing, because I couldn't get out of bed this morning.
It's not so much that I go days on end wearing the heaviness of it, ready for death. It's that a lightening or death, either one, never come.
I begin symptom management. Get out of bed. Care for the body. Jog the routine with self-indulgence. Exercise the heart and lungs. Invigorate the chemical exchange amid the pink rifts and gray matter valleys. Read, or at least give the appearance of that sort of focus. Feed the belly the best foods. Wake the taste buds. Remind the senses what it means to enjoy sensation. Try not to fixate on any one topic, any one person, and when it happens, go back to bed and pray this cycle will not last for too long. Not much more than another week, another month, another four. This is where being LDS and knowing the art of deceptive appearances comes in handy. I spoke to a small child on the trail today. Other than that and ordering my dinner, I've not said a word to a living soul in two days.
And yet I keep crying out in my mind, Oh, dear Lord in Heaven. No one has picked up the call.
I woke this morning in a furious grief. A hot bath did not soothe it, so I dressed my body in layers much like a poet does and with controlled steps I stumbled my corps a block or two north to the cemetery. I've been doing this since I was a small child. I remember pedaling my banana-seat a mile or two to the graveyard on the outskirts of Lewiston when I was just seven. I also recall that I did not get in trouble for being gone for an extended period of time without informing my mother where I was going. There are always exceptions to rule. But this first go at wandering amongst stone monuments and imagining the dead beneath my feet, it stuck. I've been doing it often ever since. And I noted to myself that cemeteries, for me, offer the same level of peaceful, reassuring comfort and closeness to metaphysical phenomenon that, say, Mormon temples do.
I just deleted a lengthy paragraph about my paradigm vortex. I know where I'm at. I need not justify.
My point is, I'm ready for death and I glad for its inevitability. I am tired. As much as I care about people, the scales never balance in favor of lifting that weariness. My luck, I'll be here another forty years, and I'm dedicated to doing it the best I can. But if the universe offered me rest tonight, I'd happily take it. The last forty have exhausted me.
I've become fascinated with porn addiction; the reason being that a few people I love struggle to loose themselves from the beast. A few women I love have struggled to maintain life amid relationships with porn addicts. So it's an honest investment. There's also the fact that I have suspicion that my last ex is also caught in the spiral, but I realized this evening, as I watched Don Jon, that proving porn use in the long-standing, well-masked addict is like proving the existence of God. You have suspicions, outright curious clues, but in the end nothing exists more than a solid hunch.
While I struggle in honesty with my little faith crisis (crisis being an entirely overbearing descriptive) be aware that there are people in this Happy Towne snow globe I inhabit that put on an air of perfection and devotion that is outright ruse. How indoctrinated to their appearance are you? Can you spot them? Probably not. Their public acts are apostolic. If only you knew the hatred in their hearts. If you only knew your level on their scale of objectification. If only you understood that their "authority" will exempt them from consequence for years past and years to come.
Me, the doubter, I leave nothing to guess. I have nothing to offer this world but love and compassion. My failure at faith does not change that. I can't put a finger on free will, but I know that I am compelled to maintain my ethics.
This town harbors a pornography of sorts. I'm calling the fabrication for what it is. I will keep looking for answers to God.
I love it, but it's very, very, extremely hard. The pride has worn off and I no longer gloat when people seem impressed that I'm studying such an insanely difficult language. I love Greek, don't get me wrong. I may have even got an A on the first midterm of the two-block semester. But, oh my gosh.
Like, every verb—say the word "run"—has forty different variations. EVERY verb. And I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling to remember all of the endings, all of the principle parts, all of the prefixes, all of the rules about adding suffixes, and then there's translation.
It takes me about half an hour to parse each sentence, meaning identify each part of speech and its characteristics necessary for another ten minutes of rendering, since Greek syntax is practically unintelligible compared to English, or even the French I've studied previously.
I'm anticipating full burnout by semester's end. After Ethics yesterday the other TA and I were discussing Spring Break with Mr. PNU. I told him in my opinion it was more for professors than students, that I always work straight through. He said it's my own fault, that I should take off to Mexico this year. How would that be? I came home under the weather this afternoon, skipping Presocratics and Poetry after completing another lecture period in Greek verbs. (I'm wondering why I'm studying anything but Greek at this point.) A copy of Charles Simic's poetry was waiting in the mail. I unwrapped it, set it on the table without so much as turning the cover, and got online, dreaming about Oceanside, Oregon.
God is a triangle with two right angles.
There is indifference, he cannot pay
perfect attention. The Jesus bread is a holy,
smaller man. In God, willing is seeing wherever
there is occasion to sin. I want nothing so much
as to observe God, dependent on the causes,
heavy or soft. Pressure on the body: the beasts
move. Your theological ideas constrained
in wax paper, childhood impressions fit to be folded.
You possess thoughts—a great inclination in the will.
I have tried to explain: It only seemed desirable,
our habit of desire. We receive God’s will.
The will of God. The free will.
Ninety-one minutes have passed since you left and I'm pacing the scrubbed floor
watching the clock for a sign or a silent reprieve from my mad state,
counting the moments alone with my thoughts, with my thoughts, with my clean thoughts,
telling myself that the toothbrush might fix the last places, the spots missed—
you, and the prints of your boots on the floor, on the floor, on the clean floor.
How do you keep sentimentalism out of this sort of post?
Yesterday, my little L— turned 13. This year's birthday was in stark contrast to last. I don't know now why I thought my children would be safe in that house when my only option was finding emotional and physical refuge in the emergency room. May that misjudgment speak to the insanity of the situation we were in at the time, to my lack of energy to do the right thing at all, to the rightness of admitting myself to the hospital rather than answering to the compulsion to escape by other means.
But I did—I made a mistake, believing that my ex wouldn't possibly harm my children, that his abuse was only ever directed at me, believing that he was a better human being internally than he was ever able to display when it mattered most.
I admitted myself on the night of January 29th. On the morning of the 30th my ex confronted my children, whom I'd left in his care, and lied to them that I was in the hospital for an overdose, a suicide attempt. I didn't find out until later in the afternoon, but when I did I had the children removed from his home. The emotional damage, however, was already done. E— broke down at school and L— spent the 31st, her 12th birthday, in complete confusion without me.
A year does not dull this sort of pain. The night before she turned 13, L— lay in bed next to me weeping out of fear that she would wake up and I wouldn't be there. She came back with repeated "I love yous"—a kid's way of checking to see if you're still there for them—until after midnight. She went to school the morning of her birthday terrified that I wouldn't show up to check her out for our lunch together.
But I did. I had to. I checked L— out at 11:45 a.m. and we spent the day shopping, getting her hair done, skating for hours at the Gallivan Center in SLC, riding escalators at City Creek Mall, eating her favorite Italian food, laughing, enjoying each other as two sisters might.
We talked about what happened last year. We talked about what it means to be in a healthy relationship and how you go about finding love. We defined everything that had happened that love is not, and agreed that for her to be happy L— needs to be strong enough to release all of those people who come into her life who offer only unloving qualities. And I apologized over and over for not doing a better job at protecting her from the emotional violence. I'm still not certain why I believed my ex would not hurt them.
L— and I walked through downtown at night, hand in hand, and I told her all of the precious memories I have of her as an infant; her sweetness and wonder. We walked until our noses were numb from the cold and our breathy laughter painted the air above us. We walked, clinging to each other so that the memory would override all text that we wished forgotten.