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The Pen

erase

With one giant breath and a red faced scream

You came into this world and erased the word “woman” from me

Like cheap lipstick off the face of a child with a thumb wet with mothers spit

Replacing it with the word “mother” before your tiny hands had even unclenched,

Holding a pen no one could see but me.

You defined me in ways I never knew I could be defined.

I held on to that word like a badge of honor,

Like a life raft in a drowning sea

And every time I thought of all the things you would grow up to be

“Mother” was the word that defined me.

 

Over the years you would write one word then the next across me

Like a kindergartener who got a hold of a marker or a pen and went to town on the pristine white walls of my heart.

Scrawling words like a tirade of posters plastered against subway walls.

Rewriting who I was to you with every change of your mood.

Mommy

Friend

Mean

Savior

Love

Rescuer

Momma

See that’s what kids do. You become whatever they need you to be.

 

But with each word scrawled across my visage, sometimes erased and tried to scrub clean there was always a little bit left

A hint of the word you once used peaking through the new white wash

And a part of me was defined by the ghost of those words,

Both the ones written in bright new ink

And the ones faded and forgotten

Or scribbled out and erased

Those words became a part of me.

 

So when you started to grow up and the words became harder

The lines you drew them with became harsher

Digging into the walls and scarring them instead of just writing on them

They became harder to erase.

The mental illness that altered your brain and made you shape a reality that only suited you made you lash out at the one person close enough to you to hold you anyway.

And you started to stab the pens into the wall, rather than just write the words on them

 

Bitch

Judgmental

Controlling

Hated

Wrong

Get out

Don’t

 

I’ve had to learn how to gently take the paint brush myself and wash over the walls of my own heart

Crying out at the pain as the bristles sink into the wounds you’ve carved out with lashing tongue,

Wiping away the blood that was drawn with sharp pens and smoothing out the edges of plaster that was broken and gouged

And even though I’ve painted over the words, time and again

I can still see them there underneath the paint,

Still feel them there,

Left on my heart.

 

There are thousands of resources for children who are dealing with the trauma of having narcissistic sociopaths for parents.

There isn’t one thing about raising a sociopath for a child.

The resources for children talk about cutting ties with the abusive parent and getting on with your life.

How do you do that with the child you gave birth to?

 

So I dip my paint brush in, white wash over the pain and the hurt

You’ve erased so much of me over the years

Contorted me into what you needed/wanted/begged for me to be

In an attempt to make you whole, to grow you into the person you were meant to be.

There is nothing left of me for you

except this blank white wall

And a pen.

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Living with Mental Illness

Everyone in my immediate family has some type of mental illness. We are not silent about it and all of us are medicated and therapy bound. In our house, we make our mental health as important as anything other part of our health care. So being on medicine to deal with depression or bipolarity or any number of things in the alphabet soup of the DSM is normal for our lives. There is no shame in admitting you need or want therapy appointments and we support it as if you told us you have a ache that needs to be checked out. It’s normal and there is no shame in it.

But I have one child who falls into the sociopath diagnosis. Meditation doesn’t help in that area. Therapy only works if you’re willing to put in the work. Just a few of the signs that you are living with a sociopath:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Failure to follow any life plan

So we, as the parental units, have to take steps to deal with this. We keep the medications locked away because more than once she has stolen them. We keep any alcohol locked away (though we rarely drink due to our own issues) for the same reason. Keys to the cars are kept in bedrooms, not in plain sight and anything of value is kept tucked away.

Still that doesn’t stop her. So last night when I came home to find my bedroom closet open, I knew something was amiss. Now, I can never PROVE it was her…she always has an excuse and blames it on anyone but herself. But I know. 3 mostly full bottles of alcohol missing and all she can say is “you can’t prove it was me”. She’s right. But since she’s stolen everything from my medications to the lingerie I wore on my wedding night, i have a pretty damn good idea.

She has no sense of boundaries and no matter how many times I draw them, it doesn’t help. This is not my making excuses for her, but lamenting living with her like this. She is 19 and while I could throw her out of the house, this is beyond my abilities, at this time.

There is blessedly little on the internet on living with a sociopath as a child. There is a lot on living with one as a partner and every single ones talks about leaving them. But what do you do when the person affected is your child and you can’t just put them on the streets?

I have no witty insights, or knowledge to dispense. But if you’re reading this and you have a child who exhibits these behaviors know you are not alone.

 

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Inversions & Anxiety

Lately when my anxiety is kicking up (I have general anxiety disorder, along with a slew of other mental issues) I’ve noticed that inversion of any kind seem to help it. I thought it was just a weirdness about me but I asked my Yoga For All group and got this:

Robin M Said: “Yup! Inversions are really helpful in calming it, unless you are feeling suffocated. Supported bridge can be yummy. Try modifying Fish in a chair. Take table to the wall (your head pressing against the wall to get gentle pressure on the crown of your head). Anything that gets your chin into your sternal notch will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relax) to calm you.. Check out Louise Goldberg and Allison Morgan.”

HA! Science!

Nina M Physiologically, any type of back bend compresses the adrenal glands, above the kidneys in the lower back. Stimulation of the adrenals can trigger the sympathetic nervous system and the flight/fight response. And emotionally, some people can feel very vulnerable in a back bend, which opens the front body.

*goes off to do headstands*

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Not today, Satan

I don’t set new years resolutions because I always break them. But I do set birthday resolutions and those seem to work better for me. Maybe it’s the lack of pressure.

So last year when I turned 37, I decided that I was done wearing uncomfortable clothing on a daily basis. I was tired of going home and being so tired of my clothes touching me and making me feel less than wonderful.  I threw out everything in my closet that didn’t fit like it was made for me, retired all my bras (I realize I’m lucky I can do this) and stopped wearing heels unless I really, really wanted to be taller.

One year later, I still practice this and don’t regret it. Most of my clothes have to be yoga-able anyway because I teach often and practice even more. This past weekend when I was going to the con, I actually had to go buy pants with pockets. I packed my bras but didn’t wear a damn one of them throughout the event. With pleasure, it was tank tops with built in support and corsets (let’s not get crazy with the throwing things out now!)

I’ve changed the way I buy clothes, not just to fit who I am now but to fit the body I have now. I don’t look at the sizes anymore because they’re the most ridiculous thing on the planet and have no bearing on my worth as a human. If it’s a 5x or a 1x or how many x’s they put on it; I love the way it feels, then damnit, I’m wearing it! If I have to wear a bra with it then I debate if I really want to wear the damn thing or say, not today satan!

Another thing I’ve noticed has changed since I put this in place, I worry about my weight less and less. Everything fits, everything I have in my closet feels good on me and makes me happy. So I have less issue fitting into jeans, or the shirt being too tight. Everything is flowy and loose.

I’d rather be comfortable.

 

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Raising your hands

This weekend I went to a conference I’ve attended every year for the last 11 years. It’s a ton of fun, not at all about yoga but there are some yoga classes to take, and my go-to place for seeing most of my extended friends.

But there were two things I noticed that made a difference in my weekend.

The first was during my time working. Yes, of course I help run the event…I’m a type A personality with a penchant for organization! I help with the volunteers so before the event, the wednesday night stuffing bags for registration and the thursday-all day- get everybody into the event is a hard core time for me. I’m on my feet most of the time, running here to there (and this time in a much bigger hotel) and I’m usually a scattered mess by the time I’m done on thursday.

This year, I worked on my breath and kept myself cool, both literally and figuratively, as much as I could. The stress didn’t kick my ass like it has in the past and I was able to have a much more enjoyable start to my con. Some things still got me…like the migraine that I woke up with and lingered most of the day Friday but that’s just part of it.

The second thing, was sitting in a class on Friday afternoon, the presenter asked for a volunteer that could do a back bend. I tentatively raised my hand, both because I knew I *could* do it and because while I could, I knew there was going to be a reaction because of my size. I’m NOT an exhibitionist in the least, and willingly standing in front of a rather large crowd of strangers to do this was a test of my own will in some ways. While this con is super accepting and open body wise, it’s still not something most people would expect me to be able to do at my size, much less hold it. So there were audible gasps when I went up without issue, from the audience, and a few mumbled exclamations. I held the pose while the presenter said what he wanted to and came down to go back to my seat with a smile. My partner, who was sitting beside me said “You just shocked the shit out of everybody in this room.”

Good. They need to be shocked. They need to know that my size doesn’t hinder me and neither should theirs. They need to know that #everybodybends and #thisiswhatayogilookslike. So while I’m not an exhibitionist, I’m glad it made me smile, I’m glad it shocked them and I’m glad for expanding some minds with it, even just a little.

One other thing of note, a friend who I don’t get to see often sent me a message after seeing me to tell me that my energy was different and better than she had seen it in years when she saw me…and that was after a few hard moments I had to breath through. The fact that other people are starting to see the difference yoga makes in my life is a wonderful thing.

 

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Just Breathe

down

One of the reasons I sought out yoga (many) years ago is because I suffer from a litany of mental health disorders that have not always been correctly diagnosed. After the kids were born it was post partum depression, then it became serious PMS until I had to have a hysterectomy. Years later they diagnosed me with General anxiety disorder and depression, then came the bipolar 2, Obsessive compulsive disorder (not the fun kind that makes you put everything in it’s place but the distracting kind where you get lost counting steps or run your car into the back of a red mustang because you were counting the reflectors in the road) & binge eating, the one I seem to talk about the least.

But through it all I have been one thing, consistently and without fail. I’m manic. Not every once in a while, manic…always manic. Think “flight of the bumblebee” running through your head on a loop 24/7.  It’s exhausting but I don’t know any other way to be. So if you need something planned, organized, pulled off or done, I’m your gal. I’m organized to a fault, I’m detailed to the minutia and I’m happy when I’m busy. Modern medicine helps, a lot, but I’m still going to be that person that has 9,217 things on her plate and a to-do list a mile long. I realize I do this to myself. I don’t rest, not without massive amounts of medications and I don’t stop. Not even a little. When I do the anxiety kicks in and I freak out. I miss things sometimes because I’m always busy. I overdo things a lot and then I crash, hard and spend 13+ hours in bed recouping.

So I have to consciously be aware at all times that I’m rushing from here to there to stop. Just breathe. Take a minute. It will be ok.

Yoga helps. It makes me stop and breathe and remember to be in my body instead of in my head. It reminds me that I don’t need to think about the to-do list or the person who needs me to respond to something OMG_RIGHT_NOW. It’s even let my slightly more than co-dependant family take some space and responsibility of their own. They’ve come to realize that yoga time means no, you can’t text/call/IM/facetime me right now. I’m on my mat.

Just breathing.

But it’s NOT when I’m on my mat that I need it the most. It’s when I’ve gotten myself overwhelmed again. When the calendar looks too daunting, the to-do list if filling up pages of my notebook and when i snap at my partners for asking me to do “just one more thing”, when work and yoga and life and kids and dance and everything else in my life is just too much for me to handle. When the anxiety kicks in and I’m scratching rivers of red into my arms and scalp and I’ve lost connection with myself, much less others.

THAT is when my yoga kicks in and I have to remind myself….

Just breathe.

I put my hand on my chest and feel the rise and fall. I fill my lungs full of air and hold my breath until I feel like I can burst from the pressure. I let it out slowly, savoring every gasp as I imagine the pitcher being turned up and the water flowing out of me.

Just breathe.

The to do list will be there. The people will wait. I can handle this.

I will breathe.

I will think of solutions.

I will not let my worry control me.

I will not let my stress level break me.

I will simply breathe and it will be ok,

because I don’t quit.

 

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Why it matters

illgo

I’ve watched the North Carolina tirade of hateful bathroom laws in absolute horror. Now a town n Alabama has passed the same stupid law. And you may be thinking it doesn’t matter to you, because a. North Carolina is so far away b. No one had ever even heard of Oxford AL much less gone there on purpose or c. Your not trans and no one you know is trans.

And you’re right, but that doesn’t make what they are doing right.

I do have friends and loved ones in NC and my child visits Oxford AL when he goes up to visit his grandfather near there. I do have trans people in my life who already have to deal with discrimination and choosing between being assaulted in the men’s room or screamed at in the ladies room. I know female identified women with facial hair who get strange looks and male identified men who are feminine in nature and NEITHER ONE OF THEM ARE SAFE. Because of this. Because we let this happen. Because stupid lawmakers and bigots are too busy worrying about who is going in to what bathroom to really worry about the people actually assaulting women & children.

And more than that, I have a gender non-conforming child that I now have to worry about being safe in the bathroom, in the dressing room, in locker rooms. Not because of someone trans being in there, I don’t worry about that at all and I never will…but because some hate filled bigot might decide to judge for themselves where my child belongs and take it upon themselves to deal with it. They’ve made it unsafe for my children because he or she may not fit the mold of what YOU think a girl or boy should look like. They’ve made my child have to question his or her safety in a bathroom when all they want to do is pee. They’ve made a CHILD choose to hold it all day than face the wrath of adults who should fucking know better. #Illgowithyou if you need to go. And now Ill be escorting my kid to bathroom to protect them from YOU.

Oh and may I remind you that it wasn’t that long ago when AL, NC and all the rest of these backwards ass states had unisex bathrooms?

Appouthouse_n

 

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Whatever it takes

Whateverittakes

My work wife (you know, your BFF at your place of employment) and I started walking every day during our breaks at work to get more movement into our days. We use this time to catch up and honestly, have bitch sessions. It gets the heart rate up when you’re walking, exclaiming and pointing with your hands and trying to talk at the same time.

A few weeks back while lamenting the amount of things on our _to do_ lists, I told her I was going to have “I’ll take care of it.” Inscribed on my headstone when I die because it seems to be the thing I repeat the most in my life.

This needs to be done…

I’ll take care of it.

I want to do xyz by this weekend…

I’ll take care of it.

It’s both a desperate plea and an acceptance. I have a lot on my plate. I am just that type of person and I have the tenacity to get things done, no matter what it takes. I’ll take care of it. I’m the one responsible for the majority of things in my life and depending on others to handle it is not in my wheelhouse. I’ll take care of it.

And it doesn’t matter what “it” is. Volunteering? Done. Pick you up at 3am? Done. Clean the house, cook the meals, manage the bills, work two jobs? Done and done. I’ll take care of it, whatever it takes. You want shit done? I’m your gal.

So it takes A LOT for me to just say no. I’m selective with it. I’m careful with it. But I do use it and I know how it works. No explanation, no extra words or reasons…just no.

Because sometimes whatever it takes for me to take care of “it” is saying no.

 

 

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Focus

Last night, after teaching a relaxing and restful restorative yoga class I told the class to take their time and drive home safely because I know these classes can sometimes leave people floaty. I don’t usually say this, but considering the late hour and the deep restful poses we had gotten into, I felt it was needed.

As far as I know, everyone got home safely. But as I left the parking lot, at the next red light I noticed there was a body in the middle of the intersection, and a motorcycle tangled at his feet. The young man wasn’t moving, so I did a quick U-turn, hit my flashers and blocked traffic to keep anyone else in the busy street from hitting him. Other people stopped too, including the person I’m guessing hit him, and cared for him while we waited for the police and rescue workers. I used my car to block traffic and direct people around him and his bike until the police were able to take over.

I don’t think any of the four people that stopped even hesitated. We saw someone in need, assessed the situation and we all jumped in to do was was necessary to care for someone that (presumably) none of us knew. I left, once my part was done, without even knowing the young man’s name, but trusting he was in better care with the rescue workers.

Yes, it made me a little later coming home. Yes, it meant I got to bed a little bit later. But there was no part of me that could have driven by a person laying in the middle of the road and not helped him. I hope that he is ok and recovers easily.

And of course, it got me to thinking. How often is our focus so far inward that we don’t see the person lying in the middle of the road asking for help? Metaphorically of course…the child calling for help by acting out, the partner asking for help by over spending or drinking too much. The parent asking for you to come over for Sunday dinner but you’d rather spend time watching the game. There are a million chances in a lifetime to help others.

Do you stop the car and do what is needed or do you just keep driving? Do you reach out your hand to pull someone up or walk right past them? Where is your focus in life? On your own needs and wants or on the needs and well being of others?