Saved by Erik’s Climb

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I have been in my hell.

I abandoned myself there, where no one could reach me.

No “I love you’s” or “I’m sorry’s” could break through. No empathetic smiles attached to “But you can recover, you’re a strong woman” could touch my heart. His daily, “You’ll die on your own, you need me” chants rang louder than all the church bells in the world inside my brain. The poison in my veins convinced me that the sole reason that I was failing at life was because I simply was not made to be in it. I am no snowflake. I haven’t offered some irreplaceable piece of talent or inspiration to anyone. My Catholic upbringing forbidding me to take my own life had worn off years ago like an awkward phase I’m now embarrassed by. Did I believe in a god? I’d like to say yes because I feel that is the appropriate answer.. but no. I wanted to have the faith and inward strength those who believed seemed to possess. I wanted the peace of mind that we don’t just rot away and cease to exist in every sense of the word. But no.. I believed that we flourish or fade away.

And I was fading fast.

Waking up in a dual diagnosis locked down psych ward to sympathetic glances and tones in their voices- combined with the sensation of swimming in mud- I was lost. “You couldn’t be in a safer place right now.” Safe from what? I searched my spotted memory.

“Do you want us to call anyone? Family? A husband?” To tell them what? I was forgetting something important.

“I’m Dr ______, could you please tell us why you attempted suicide?” What??

Booming voices. Panic. EMTs asking me what year it is. My chest hurts. My head is caving in. The afternoon light pouring in through the bathroom curtains. I don’t know those curtains. “Do it, you’re dead without me,” his voice always flooding each room in my mind. Words sewn together from several worried voices. “OD’d…. Fifth one this week. CPR… Brother saved her… Narcaine… No note…. No record… Lucky..”

Lucky. Put Luck on the list of things I no longer believe in.

Over the next few weeks, professionals and painful phone calls to my brother helped me piece together the facts. Yes, it had been my intention. Yes I’m sorry I put you through that. No, I wasn’t lucky. Because I am in my own hell.. my past is renting out my being and it has sucked the desire for a present and future completely out of me.

Then one day I woke up to a book on the corner of my neatly starched bed. I had not spoken to the other patients, and had shied away from any compassion at all. They only piled onto my guilt, my shame, and my anger. Someone had left this book for me without pinning it to my conscience with a “You might get something out of this” or “To keep your mind off of things.” Erik Weihenmayer¬† entered my life free of charge.

“Touch the Top of the World” altered my perspective of my situation. Not drastically, but enough so that I wanted to have a goal again. I wanted to do something besides causing and feeling pain. I wanted to be determined and strong. I won’t say it is the best novel ever penned, or that I recommend it to everyone. There is a lot of climbing jargon and details that remain lost on me, but the essence of his drive and what it meant to others, that moved me in a way I will never regret and remain grateful for.

erikI now move through each day considering that there may be another way of living tomorrow than how I’m afraid to do it.There may be no God. There may be no Luck. But there seems to be Purpose.

That’s what I believe in.

Passion vs Boredom

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I have been an orphaned princess, an eccentric sociopath, a gay man in the sixties, a curious girl obsessed with numbers and consumed by compulsions, a wife knowing my husband of all ages at all times, an alcoholic and abusive father quickly diving into insanity, and a myriad of uniquely passionate, even though sometimes heart-wrenching, lives.

Then… I am me.

“One would like to be grand and heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe
I occupy maybe too large a portion of my life musing on how the¬† Mona Grays or the Clare Abshires resume their lives. How does Holden Caulfield spend his remaining days- in the sanitorium or as a school janitor locked in his own thoughts? I have learned to crave, seek, and survive both uplifting and poisonous “adventures.” I have thrived and yet have fallen into the abyss, and battled PTSD. I have transported my life from one coast to the other, been fighting addiction daily, and have uncovered a deep seeded need to care for those on hospice, but how does one cope with the “9-5 responsible life?”
I pay my bills. I walk my dog. I love my husband. I enjoy and respect my work. I am polite and well mannered. I small talk the cashier or the tourist passing by. I change my car’s oil. I bitch about then do my taxes. I call my mom every weekend to check in. I vent to my friendly therapist weekly. I vacuum and dust surprisingly often. I opt to wash our dishes by hand while throwing condescending glances in the direction of our perfectly operating dishwasher. I keep a notebook to remember the names of this patient’s dog or mother, of that doctor’s appointment, and the cat’s wet food or bread for which ever runs out first. I blame the chemicals and seizures for my lack of short term memory. Deep down in my soul, though, I am fully aware that what is plaguing me is the dreaded boredom. After all, it may be difficult to recall life’s sometimes uninteresting details.
Today is a Sunday. My least favorite day as my anxiety propels me to anticipate every catastrophic situation tomorrow may very well bring. So for today I choose to be passionate about sweeping the boredom under the rug. Monday will allow me to fall back in line of the march to work to laundry to pay the cable company and to set my alarm for the following day. Right now, I think I will return to the comforting giggles I know David Sedaris continues to promise.
Here’s to passion in pages!

The Interwebs?!?!

Welcome to my blog, and may I add this is an entirely new concept to me! I suppose I have spent more time peeking into others’ lives through the pages than learning to adjust to the “new ways” of today. When my therapist (a story for another time) suggested blogging as a path to explore my craving to share my perspective and tales, I was stumped. How could I be satiated by the internet when I dream of pacing libraries? When I inhale and smile at the scent of an aging book? When I was fearful and resentful of the Kindle.. the Nook?! However, like my heroines in the stories I treasure so deeply, I have learned to accept and [hopefully] adapt.

So here I go and I genuinely hope you enjoy!