2019 And the Pig Pug Pagan

5BA59A78-B6B3-4C46-BEE0-B510F72BD4A2It’s been a long, dark year. But I see a brand new light beckoning at the end of long tunnel full of monsters and fears.  Without the valiant efforts of my pug, I might have fallen to despair. My daughter started calling Frankie my Pig Pug Pagan for reasons I can’t understand. But she became the guardian of my life and soul more so this year than in her first three years at my side.

Life threw a few curve balls, opened some doors, slammed others shut, and in all the pain and confusion, my writing improved. I look forward to querying my book in the New Year.

Mothers and Daughters

A644879B-C9C9-4F11-BF3F-3FDE5D82F44DWow, this is one of the most complex relationships, is it not, ladies? I have a difficult relationship with my own mother and a very close relationship with my daughter. All three of us share a challenging trait. We all suffer from severe depression. All of us are survivors of various traumas.  My daughter and I have made great strides in conquering our demons, but both of us will likely be in some kind of therapy for the rest of our lives.

All The Things We Don’t Speak About

While my daughter drives toward a bright future in New York to start 2020, my mother remains in the hospital six weeks after a serious suicide attempt. No one calls it that, but it is what it is. We are not supposed to speak about these things, are we?

My mother faces multiple physical battles and one very large mental one. The doctors had not expected her to survive the complicated surgery in her weakened state. She did. She can’t walk and her heart is badly damaged, making her physical therapy challenging.  There is no dignity in a rotted body, and trying to recover from such self-inflicted harm. It’s the fear of jumping in case you survive that dissuades me in my darkest moments. I can’t quite see the darkness that caused my mom to let go and step off the ledge.

And she is determined to return home, away from the constant vigilance of the nurses and doctors who care for her now. Not to live but to die. Nothing is as awful as trying to save someone from themselves.

For years, my mother self-medicated, drowning out the demons of her own mind in bottles of gin and vodka. She still sees mental illness as shameful and so refuses to engage in any long term therapy. Years ago, after my daughter had been in therapy for six months or so, my mother asked how long I intended to let my teenage daughter use a therapist as a “crutch”. It made me so sad.

My mother is wrong. Seeing a therapist, seeking out help with a group like AA, joining an online group to talk about issues, taking medication to stem the worst of the despair, is not wrong and it is not a crutch. It is necessary.  And it is nothing to be ashamed of. And for many of us, it is the only way for us to rejoin the dance of life again.

Clinical depression is a monster without a cure. It must be met and dealt with or when life delivers one of its hard knocks (a guarantee – life is hard, sometimes for no reason at all), the monster will devour its host. I wish my mother would find the light before her last breath in this life.

On Christmas Day when we visited, she seemed to be getting so much better. She was sober for the first time I could remember in years, and she seemed determined to return to life. But three days later, she was slipping again. I hope 2020 will see an end to her pain, one way or another. She won’t have much life left, no matter what the doctors do, but I wish she could see the end of her days in the light, and not give over to the horrors of her own mind.

My daughter and I got a lot of help from the book, Lost Connections by Johann Hari last year. It may not be “the answer”, but it does help one feel less lost, and not alone.

In a sick world, it is almost impossible to be fully sane. Reach out for help. Yes, there will always pain in life, but there is joy.  And everyone deserves redemption, happiness, and purpose.

The Beautiful Game

img_0070My demons did a fair bit of throwing themselves against me and pitching fits, trying to tell me that I didn’t matter, that the world would be better without me. I hit back and scattered them to the chaos courtesy of Liverpool FC.

Loving to pull out victories in the last seconds of the game, they kind of mimic my life. Where I think I am defeated, in the last moment, I take another shot on gaol. Yes, a Premier League football team represents the endless light in my darkness.  They end 2019 on a long, freaking winning streak, adding three new trophies to their tally, and improve the most beautiful game there has ever been with such creativity and incredible collaboration. This is one of my many joys.

ChampionsOfEuropeI still watch the magical highlights of the game at Anfield against Barca where Liverpool recovered from a 3-0 loss to advance to the final of Champions League (which they won) with a 4-0 victory.  The crowd singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” seers my soul with such light. It’s just a game, some say, but for Liverpool, it is more.

For me, this night, New Year’s Eve is not the end of the year. It’s just a date on the calendar. My year begins in August with the beginning of the new Liverpool Premier League season, and ends the night before their first game of the next season. So while others make their new year’s resolution, I am still on my journey of the year.

 

July 2019- Knight of Swords

img_1443Back in December, on New Year’s Eve, I did a tarot drawing, one card for each month. July drew The Knight of Swords.  The knight indicates a battle, one that must be fought but the knight can lead that contest to victory. However, the fight must be made. And that is accurate. There are three distinct battles for me to fight this month.

June was a tough month. My parent’s house was destroyed by an electrical fire. No one was hurt but it will be 4-6 months in reconstruction. That is super tough for my elderly parents. It is the house my father was born in and the house I grew up in.

RenderedImage Dealing with the aftermath of the loss of my childhood home is the first battle of July. Getting my parents settled and finding a way for them to take advantage of insurance paying for everything so they can totally remodel their house, make it easy to live in for the remainder of their days will be a victory. However, the road there is hard and my parents are not in great health. Frankie is super worried.

The second battle. My daughter is leaving New York to come here to go back to school and regroup. She is not sure if she will return to New York. She has taken location out of her dreams.

UjkgY2PHSai+iopraTBXTwShe wishes to work at something where she feels passion and purpose, wherever that may be. She has taken a “Women in Tech” scholarship to learn full-stack programming to open up her options for employment. While in school, she is going to live with me. She returns home in August.

To prepare I have donated all my oversized furniture and for the first time in my life, bought new furniture that will allow the space to work comfortable for two. This has felt invigorating but also like closing a chapter of my life again. Change is the only constant in life but it comes slow.

58344333290__BC7FC1A5-CCCB-41A6-B2F6-7C0017396758The third is handing my book over to my two beta readers. I am off this week to finish up the last revisions. I have such mixed feelings. It is a good book, I think. I hope. But it is done. It is time to let it fly.

When one book ends, another must begin. In my little world, Hell is a white blank page. So much possibility for me to wield or destroy. Filling the first pages of a first draft feels like weeding through a field of razor sharp vines, a death by a thousand cuts. Once I get there, it is paradise and when I end a book, I hold paradise for a moment. And then I return right back into Hell.  So into the brink we go in a too hot July.

 

 

An Unfinished Puzzle

My daughter came home for the holidays. One of the activities we have always loved img_1399doing together since she was a tiny baby girl has been puzzles. So in the midst of finishing Christmas shopping and preparing for an endless influx of guests and gatherings, we picked up a jigsaw puzzle to do together.

We love libraries and so picked out a jigsaw puzzle of the Maria Laach Library in Germany. It is gorgeous place but makes for a nearly impossible puzzle.

My daughter is only here for three days so we have spent our tired hours piecing together this lovely library. It almost feels like finding each piece and the right place for it settles something cosmically. For me, it feels like echoing heaven. We are only a breath away at times it seems. We can see paradise but can only paint illusions of it.

img_1367My daughter and I gathered with our extended family on Christmas Eve morning for a brunch. My aunt passed away in 2015 leaving my uncle in charge of her beloved horses so we all ventured down to the barn, a repeat of a tradition that has been going for as long as I can remember.

My uncle lives in the house my aunt was born in and died in. Our family is like that, settling hard on the land. My cousins are big on pictures, recording every moment they possibly can on film.

img_1398

I could not help but notice how my uncle and cousins all are able to celebrate my aunt’s life more than they mourn the loss of it. I still miss my Aunt Barbara so much. She was one of those iron ladies you sometimes read about but rarely have the pleasure to know.

The picture of my family that I took is missing pieces. My parents were not feeling too well and so they left the brunch right after eating. My brother’s car died, and he and my nephew could not attend. My daughter and I lurked behind the camera, and the sun made it devilishly hard to get a clear photo on my phone. Pieces of the whole still remain to be fit in order to complete the picture. Isn’t that always the way of things?