And oddly enough, this is where I’ll insert one of those blog quizzes. You’ll see why in a minute.
What your face says about you
What Your Face Says
At first glance, people see you as warm and well-balanced.
Overall, your true self is reserved and logical.
With friends, you seem dramatic, lively, and quick to react.
In love, you seem like a huge flirt.
In stressful situations, you seem like you're oblivious to the stress.
Forget everything else: In stressful situations you seem like you’re oblivious to the stress.
When I did this test a few days ago and read that, I thought, “Bullshit. Me? I wear my heart on my sleeve. Speak before I think. Lash out. Fly off the handle, regret it later…” But when I thought about the reason for this post, I realized that part of the assessment wasn’t as far off as I’d originally thought.
The truth is, in a real crisis, I usually tend to hold things together, make everything look like it’s fine, and then, when disaster has been averted, the threat is over, I collapse.
Yesterday’s post generated some fascinating discussion in the comments, and one of the things I referenced was the history of mental illness in my mother’s family. Her father died at a mental institution. When I was 17, I dealt with my mother after one of her many suicide attempts. I woke up in the middle of the night and just knew something was wrong. Couldn’t put my finger on it right away. The house was cloaked in the black of night and the absence of sound that so often goes with it. Then I heard something, and things always sound louder cutting through silence. I remember I was moving before I really thought, running downstairs, to my office. My mother was screaming and furniture was being knocked around – she was screaming, “Get away,” amongst other things.
I thought she was being attacked. When I grabbed the door handle, it was locked. I was banging on the door, screaming, “Let me in” and she was inside screaming, “Let me out.” When she finally got the lock off the door, I looked at the window, expecting it to be broken or open with evidence of someone fleeing the scene.
Didn’t take long to put it all together. She’d overdosed, and not on any conventional pills but on some nasty shit. It was a 20 minute drive to the hospital and by then the delusions were so bad she fought off the attendants who tried to take her inside.
Four days in intensive care before they could stabilize her heart. And then it was off to the mental institution for the required psychiatric assessment after a suicide attempt. Same institution her dad died in.
As many of you know, 8.5 years after walking out of my life, my mother reappeared a few months ago. She met my husband for the first time, met two of her grandchildren for the first time.
And one of the things I told her right out was that we expected her to be getting care for her condition in order to be part of our lives. Because, as I told her, with Kevin’s brother having shot himself, there was no way I was putting him – or anyone else – through the rollercoaster of wondering when the next time was coming, when someone would call.
I’m not trying to pick on my mother. Truth is, things have been going fine, much better than I would have thought in many respects. Still, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful. But it’s stressful largely because of me. My fears. Things I begin to realize that I still haven’t really worked through, although I thought I had.
I persuaded myself a long time ago that being open about things meant there were no secrets people could wield over you like a weapon, use to hurt you. I’ve since learned that theory is absolute shit. People just find other ways to hurt you.
I’ve been hurt by a lot of people this year, and I’ve blogged about it months back, so I won’t bore anyone with a recap. I’ve also been through the family situation, and I won’t bore you with more of that either. Plus, there’s been death, not to mention the fucking energy company that we’re now in legal wrangling with over them stealing our mineral rights, but again, that’s another story. And there are other things I haven’t even gone on record here about.
It’s just all built up into a lot of stress. I hadn’t really realized how bad it had gotten until the past few weeks, when I started feeling like I was coming unglued. I was crying when people sent me emails, for crying out loud. I forgot our engagement anniversary, which is the one we usually celebrate because our wedding anniversary falls on Wordfest. Last year, we went away for a weekend… This year, I didn’t even know what day it was. It’s pretty fucking bad when your husband’s showing you up with remembering all the important dates and you’re looking like an imbecile.
And now, just as I was starting to sort through some of this, I’ve realized that I failed somebody I considered a good friend.
I’m one of those people who can talk tough sometimes, and then I’ll go to my room and cry. I know a few weeks back, after an email from someone in that writer’s group I used to be in, I posted a remark about people who wanted to jump to conclusions without finding out the facts first could go fuck themselves.
If only it was so simple and I really didn’t give a shit. But I do. And there are days I absolutely hate that I care.
Something I should have done a few weeks ago, at least, was go on the record and tell you guys that if I’m not always commenting or responding as quick as usual, it isn’t personal. I’m still blog surfing but commenting less at the moment, out of sheer time pressures, although I’m much better with blogs than some other things. I’m still averaging close to 200 emails per day and although I’m staying on top of most of them quickly, the ones that require more time and attention seem to be suffering delays sometimes.
And it’s only going to get worse for the next bit. I’ve condensed the notes from my 10.5 hour critiquing session last week down to 23 pages of things to look at in one manuscript. Plus, my editor has promised goodies for me next week.
Which means work.
So, if you don’t see me, it isn’t that I don’t care. It isn’t even that I’m wrapped up in my own self-absorbed bubble and can’t be arsed to think about anyone else. It isn’t even that I’m not reading.
Truthfully, part of the reason this year has been really good and that I still can see a lot of positives in it is because I’ve had some friends who’ve stood behind me through thick and thin and been there when I’ve needed them.
I hope they know who they are.
The new Spinetingler should be up soon and you’ll get to read my conversation with Cornelia Read if you want to. One of the things she talks about is writing thank-you cards and wanting to show appreciation for those who’ve helped her.
And yet, we both lamented over how insane our schedules have become in the past few months, and how it’s getting harder and harder to do all the things we want to do… Truth is, there have been a lot of great things happen this year, and I'm still pretty excited. I don't want anyone to think I'm not grateful. I just feel as though my head's about to explode some days, but it's getting better.
Or so I keep telling myself.
One of the sucky things about my ms is that I have to weed out my musical references to Bruce Cockburn because I’ve been told he’s not well known in the US. But one of his songs rings true for me for how I’ve been feeling lately, and so I will share this here:
Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage
- Bruce Cockburn
I’m going to try to deal with my personal stresses better, and hopefully not let anybody else down. As much as I know I have a lot of work to do this next month, the good news is, it’s my work and I can control my schedule.
Hopefully, when the dust settles, some of you will still be talking to me too. And even if I don’t seem to be around, don’t be shy. I want to hear from everyone. And help out however I can, if I can.
In light of yesterday’s post and stimulating conversation, I bring you this pearl of wisdom:
And, in very good news, polygamy has been legally recognized in Canada.
I hope Kevin can find a second wife that likes to cook and clean so I don’t have to.