The Friday Confessional : Baby Weight


TRIGGER WARNING : This post contains material that may be a potential trigger for some.  It’s contents include talk of eating disorders and self-injury.  If you are sensitive to this material, please use your discretion before reading.

I am by no means a thin woman.  As a matter of fact, according to my BMI, I am actually slightly in the overweight range.  It’s not really unusual for a person who lives in the good ol’ US-of-A.  Obesity is considered an epidemic in this region of the world.

I have bad body image.  This started as a very young child when the other kids would pick on me for being overweight.  At that point, it wasn’t my fault.  I wasn’t responsible for my diet, and my family had terrible eating habits.  In fact, as I started to notice while my parents were watching my child, they encouraged recreational eating for lack of other engaging activities.  As a result, I ended up a fat, miserable kid.

I remember I stopped eating my lunch at one point.  A lunch aid came over and asked what was wrong.  I recall telling her, “I’m on a diet.”  She looked shocked and appalled.  Now that I’m an adult, it’s completely understandable.  I was eight, and I was confessing that I was unhappy because of my weight.  To her credit, she attempted to explain to me that I had a lot of years to grow into the weight, and it was unhealthy to deprive myself of food.

Essentially, she was trying to talk me out of developing an eating disorder.  Unfortunately, talk is too cheap when you’re eight.

Eventually, people close to me stopped mentioning my weight.  And I continued to grow.  By the time I was in the fifth grade, I was obese.  I was eleven, 4’8”, and weighed approximately what a fourteen year-old 5’1” teenager should have weight in a healthy weight range.  My clothes continued to shrink rapidly, and the only excuse my mother could come up with was that I was just “having a growth spurt”.

It wasn’t lost on my peers or teachers, though.  While I had the brains, I didn’t have the body.  And the outside was all that mattered.  Summer break came, and I was about to enter middle school.  It was at that time that I decided that I would shed my “baby weight”, as people were so eager to call it, and become a slender woman.

That was the summer where it all began.

The real secret is something I’ve hinted at throughout the last year, but could never bring myself to actually come out and say.  Even now, I find myself typing and retyping the sentence that will start to change everything.  It will change how people think of me, and how people treat me.  It will have people worry and watch me like a hawk.  And those are all things that I’ve tried to avoid over the years.

I have undiagnosed disordered eating.

As a child, it developed from recreational eating into comfort eating.  I would gorge myself far beyond bursting, to the point of where it felt like the contents of my stomach were backing up into my throat.  The act of eating was comforting and satisfying.  The sensation of fullness seemed to fill this hole inside of me.  It took away the emptiness that I had tried so hard to fill with accomplishment.  Even for a moment, I was full.  I was whole.

That led to another problem.  Childhood obesity.  And the lack of friends I had resulting from my obesity and the intimidation of my perfectionism and accomplishment created an even bigger hole.  What started out as a small snag in the woven fabric of my life started to unravel into a gaping hole, threatening to tear seam to seam.  Comfort eating turned into binge eating and created a cycle that continually fed into itself.

The summer before middle school, I decided to start dieting.  How absurd – an eleven year old on a diet.  I restricted my food intake to half of what I was eating.  I refused to eat between meals.  I started both biking and running once a day for at least an hour.  When my clothes started to become loose, it only served to encourage all of these behaviors.

I was a child on a mission.  I started only eating half of what I was eating, leaving me eating meals off of saucers.  I added running stairs onto my exercise regimen.  I would spend a half an hour each day running the basement stairs, as to not bother my parents.  My clothes became so loose that I became reduced to wearing my 90lb mother’s clothes.

I had done it.  In fact, I had done so well that most of my peers didn’t recognize me anymore.  Many people started referring to me as “the new girl”, as I didn’t have any friends to correct them.  And much to my surprise, those shallow little girls I had come to despise welcomed me to their clicks with open arms.  I was no longer intimidating or disgusting.

Throughout the years, my weight bounced up and down.  I would binge and then go on an exercise craze.  In my mid-teens, I discovered those ephedra pills that could be found at any gas station.  Friends and I would take handfuls of them and stay up, bouncing off of the walls, for 72 hours at a time.  I remember lying in bed just vibrating, desperately mentally exhausted, but completely wired.

My relationship with my first love, my high school sweetheart, started going south around the time that I was seventeen.  And the binging started once again.  I hated myself for it, and I watched myself grow out of my clothes once again.  I knew he had to have found me repulsive, and I knew he was eyeing other women.  But, it only served to make it worse.

I will never forget this.  I had my eighteenth birthday at my boyfriend’s place.  I was surrounded by many of my friends, and we ordered several pizzas that I paid for.  I watched all of the girls daintily eat one or two slices of pizza, when I realized that I had gorged myself on four.  I looked at their slender bodies with envy.  What a disgusting pig I am!  I thought.  No wonder I’m so fat!

I went to the bathroom and locked the door.  I leaned over and stared into the bowl.  I was about to do something that we all had accused and ridiculed thin cheerleaders for.  It was this, or being doomed to a life of obesity and loneliness.  I extended my index finger and pressed down on the back of my tongue.

The vomit came pouring out like a fountain into the bowl.  The taste was awful, like orange juice mixed with something foul.  But, the sensation was incredible.  I could feel the load lightening, and my stomach shrinking.  I did it again, this time making myself gag harder, almost to the point where I made an audible noise.  It felt like all of the awful feelings were just pouring out from inside of me.  It was almost like cutting, but without any noticeable tell-tale scars.

I purged until there was nothing left but stomach acid.  I sat against the door, breathing heavily and relishing in the hollow feeling in my belly.  There was something so beautiful about feeling that emptiness.  It ached, along with my raw throat, and the bitter aftertaste of vomit in my mouth.

This doesn’t happen regularly.  It only happens when I have a severely awful body image.  My clothes start to get tight, and automatically, my stomach starts to churn, as if it knows what’s about to come.  If I’ve eaten just before a fight with someone, I find myself getting queasy and running for a bathroom.  If I am rejected, I automatically assume it’s because I’m not attractive.  I find myself hell bent on getting back a body I once had.

But even worse is when I do it as a form of self-injury and control.  I binge, feeling the sensation of my belly swelling with all of the emotion I can’t experience.  The contents rise into my throat, without a place left to go.  I excuse myself and wrap myself in an awful embrace with that cold, unforgiving porcelain.  For a moment, just a brief shining moment, I stare into the bowl, trying to talk myself out of it.  There’s no other way.  I lean in, and the deed is done.

And each time, the whooshing of the flush brings shame to my already teary eyes.  I stare at the bloodshot eyes, ringed with raccoon eyes.  My face is red and looks exhausted.  All I can do is take to cleaning up the mess I created.

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The Friday Confessional : Romancing Suicide

 

 

Though I confess the things that are most intimate to me, I don’t know if I am accurately painting the picture of the real me.  To everyone here, I am Lulu Stark, the writer, the mother, the wife, and most importantly, the woman who bares herself in the name of mental health and disorder awareness and advocacy.  But, I wanted to put some truths out there.  The uglier side.  The real side.

I only Lulu Stark in the persona.  The one that you read about.  The antihero, the antagonist, protagonist, the victim, the perpetrator, the survivor and occasionally, the hero.

What I don’t talk typically talk about is one of my darkest, sickest secrets of all.

 

Suicide.  I regularly have suicidal thoughts and occasionally ideation.  The little voice goes through the back of my mind, sometimes as an unintelligible whisper and other times as clear as a bell, I want to die.  I want to kill myself.  It would be so easy.  No one would miss me.

I imagine ways it would play out.  I idealize all of the scenarios of suicide.  In a way, it seems I’m under it’s spell.  It seems like the only way out of this torturous world of disorder and dysfunction.  I am more crippled by my illness than I let on.  I feel pathetic in my bones, and I desperately search for my solace in this place of distress and despair.  An endless string of hopeless days and bottomless pits.

I fall deeper, clinging to my last shreds of hope.  I am flirting with suicide, with his silver tongue, soft, familiar caresses, and honey sweet kisses on my neck.

I see a sturdy rope swung around a rafter in my basement, tied with a tidy slipknot instead of an impossible noose.  I stand on a rickety chair, dressed in my Sunday best, leaving a pretty, cold, lifeless corpse behind.  The shell of a woman who never really existed.

I stand with a glass of juice and a bottle’s worth of blue pills in my hand.  I am ready, stripped to nothing but a bathrobe.  Down the hatch, the medication leaves a bitter aftertaste.  I draw myself a hot bath and arm myself with a razor.  And then, I wait.  I wait until I am almost seeing double, and world starts to blue around the edges.  I dig the razor into my wrist and drag it with all of the force I can up to my the bend of my elbow.

Or, I just await death.  I lie in the tub, feeling myself slip away under the surface of the water.  In my mind, I imagine all of the people that would be thankful that I am finally gone.  How in a year or two, I will become a distant memory that only leaves the tiniest pang.  How my sullen face starts to fade from everyone’s mind and any trace of me begins to disappear.  I think of how easy the clean up would be.

Or maybe, I would clean myself up to begin with.  I would be powder fresh in a pretty pastel little girl dress I bought for the occasion.  I would empty all of the contents of my medicine into my stomach, washed down with an entire bottle of vodka.  I would tuck myself into a warm bed, and swaddle myself in blankets.  It would look like sleep at first.  My final sleep.  My resting place.  The only place in my life where I ever felt warm and safe.

 

For the record, I’d never do it.  There is an uglier side to suicide that I’m painfully aware of.  It could possibly be the most selfish act I could ever commit.  The finality of it all is too much for me to even wrap my head around.

My son asks where I went when I am gone for an hour for class.  I imagine his confusion and sadness when he comes to see that his mother will never return. I imagine the possibilities of who would raise him if I were to be gone for good.  He would likely fall into the hands of my own parents, and I would be sentencing him to a similar fate that I experienced.

There would never be enough of an apology for my Xan.  A piece of him would die inside, and he might go mad himself.  There wouldn’t be another out there for him.  He couldn’t possibly recover.  Leaving him to his own devices at work, cutting off communication, it’s too much for him to bear for a few hours.  What if I were to be gone for the rest of his lifetime?

And then there’s the matter of the afterlife.  What comes after death?  Through my Christian upbringing, I fear the day of judgement and the sentencing to an eternity of hell, separated from my friends and family, endlessly tortured in unimaginable ways.  Ways that are beyond my comprehension.

But, what if there is nothing?  What if I sacrificed my life for a world of nothingness?  What if a person just dies and there is nothing behind?  What if I am condemned to walk this Earth as a true ethereal being, and not just the kind I feel as a flesh and blood person?  I stand there and watch as people file in for my funeral.  I see my family overlooking my lifeless body, consumed with grief.  Then, I get to watch my family and friends mourn the loss, as someone irreplaceable that met a tragic and unfair end at my own hand.

Sometimes, I feel as if I am condemned to life.  Sometimes, I feel like I’ve chosen life over the alternatives.  Sometimes, it’s for the sake of my family and friends.  And there are those brief shining moments where I live life as the gift it was meant to be with the promise of tomorrow.

Liquid Courage and Tablet Saviors : 30 Days of Truth

Day 20 : Your views on drugs and alcohol.

“Drugs are bad, m’kay?”

Or are they?

There is this long, Nancy Reagan-induced diatribe about the dangers and evil of illegal drugsSay no to drugs.  This is your brain on drugs.  The war on drugs.  Above the influence.  Don’t drink and drive.  Prom promise.  Those of us that are Reagan babies and older, through the boomers, are well aware of the presence and negative consequences of drugs and alcohol.   And despite the heavy dialogue, many people have personally experienced their own battle with substance abuse and dependence.

Alcohol had torn my life apart at the seams.  As with any addiction, it starts off as a recreational activity.  It’s a part of popular culture, especially in the younger age groups.  In my youth, drinking was cool.  Truthfully, it was a fun escape from the drudgery of daily life.  That was at seventeen.  Within a year, I started to find solace at the bottom of a bottle.  Coincidentally, that was the same year Smile Empty Soul sang:

I do it for the drugs.

I do it just to feel alive.

I do it for the love that I get from the bottom of a bottle.

Bottom of a Bottle – Smile Empty Soul

By the time I was in college, I was seeking out opportunities and excuses to drink.  A set of rules existed which meant to separate alcoholics, the loathsome bunch that we perceived people like our own parents to be, and recreational drinkers.

  1. Never drink before 5PM.
  2. Never drink alone.
  3. Never drink without occasion.
  4. Don’t drink before or during work or school.

As I gained my own freedom with my own apartment, the rules started to change.  In private, I could do what I liked.  I could deny everything and anything when I failed to be under the limelight of public scrutiny.  I began to use alcohol as more than a crutch; I started to abuse it completely as a coping mechanism.  That’s when alcohol and I started our sordid love affair.

The environment in my private life began to change.  I have spoken about it many times in various posts like Decent into Hell where I described my addiction as:

The last days of that relationship are blurry; my memories are obscured by the drugs and alcohol intoxicating my mind.  The days blended together in a ritualistic, self-medicated loop, work.drink.sleep.work.drink.sleep.sleep.drink.sleep… suspended in agonizing slow motion.  The silence was deafening in the deep, dark hours of night, still, cold, indifferent.

I had become a functional alcoholic.  I never drank before 5PM.  There was always an occasion, even if it was a day ending in “Y”.  And I certainly was not without company to share in my intoxicated merriment.  But there is a solid difference.  Every waking moment I did not spend at work was with a glass or a bottle in my fist.  I had gone far beyond the point of mixers, and mostly beyond the need for glasses.  It was me, a bottle of Bacardi 151 sans the filter, and a bottle of Gatorade to chase.

I wrote in Love the Way You Lie:

At that point, the seeds of alcoholism were taking root.  I violated my own rules of drinking.  It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!  I’m not drinking alone if I’m drinking with my boyfriend.  Hair of the dog, best way to cure a hangover.  If I’m still managing to get to school and hold an honor’s average, I’m not drinking too much.

Liquid courage and comfortingly numb.

It has always been my vice, and holds the looming, unending threat to assume control and ruin my life. In another 30 Days of Truth piece entitled, Control, or Lack Thereof, I went into a full exploration of recent recreational alcohol use and the negative impact it created in my life.

Flip that coin.

Drugs have revolutionized my life.

People neglect to realize that they are consuming legal drugs daily.  It becomes painfully obvious when you sigh over exorbitant copays at the pharmacy counter, like many people with mental health disorders often do.  But, instead of calling them “drugs”, we call them “medications”.  Did you know that Wellbutrin technically has the same chemical composition of a methamphetamine?  And that benzodiazepines work on the same receptors in the brain as alcohol?

So here I am, with my uppers to wake me in the morning, and my downers to put me to bed at night.  It would be illegal and detestable if I were using meth and boozing away.  Instead, it’s under the supervision of a doctor, as a controlled substance, in a convenient little pill.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  I am only likening the effects.  The supervision of the doctor is safer, and the medications are regulated by the FDA.  And as a result, I have most of my functioning back.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I Want My Yellow Dress!

I am infamous for making pop culture references.  For those of you that don’t get the reference, I’ll break it down for you.  It comes from a scene in the move I’ll Do Anything (written by James L. Brooks, who does The Simpsons now), where the little girl, Jeannie and her estranged father are on an airplane.  Jeannie tells her father that she wants to wear her yellow dress.  He attempts to calmly explain to her that it’s in the luggage that’s under the plane.  Then, Jeannie starts throwing this epic temper tantrum, screaming and crying repeatedly, “I want my yellow dress!”  

Just to cause a bigger scene, Jeannie slaps herself to make it sound like her father did it.

There’s a point, I promise.  Today, my horoscope said this:

Here is your Daily Horoscope for Thursday, October 4

Your inner child is dominant today, so make the most of it and have fun! You should be able to get others energized and find new ways to do almost anything. If you’ve actually got kids, so much the better!

Inner child by Irene Majale

My immediate response?  What inner child?

I don’t feel childlike, in any respect.  I take absolutely no pleasure in children’s games or activities.  I often find it difficult to have a conversation with a child.  Not to say that I am unable to enjoy their company.  I am at a loss for what children like to do.

I have always done pretty adult activities, with the exception of playing with dolls, but even that was pretending to take care of a house, a husband, and a child.  I am drawn to solitary activities.  I write.  I doodle.  I read.  I craft, and have been called grandma as a result.  These have been the constants in my life.

That’s when I realized it.  I am childlike in a different way.  I throw temper tantrums.  I have obsessive wants and abandonment issues.  I have a desperate need for approval.  I fear authority figures, and I often find that I feel helpless.  This is helpless over my own behavior and helpless to fulfill my own wants and needs.  I am rebellious and conflicted.

My inner child is not very healthy.

I have had a retrospect of my childhood recently and came to several conclusions.

  • I grew up too fast.
    It didn’t start out as something I wanted to do.  I started out as something I needed to do.  As a sibling of autism, you are taught that you have to be adult about a lot of situations.  That means, when you have feelings of neglect and resentment, you have to repress them.  It’s the adult thing to do.I had a serious misconception.  At the time of adolescence, I made the decision to take on the freedom of an adult, since I had carried the burden of responsibility of an adult in childhood.  Perhaps it was due to bodily changes, or just coming-of-age.  Either way, I made some irresponsible choices to participate in grown-up activities in adult situations way too soon.
  • I was an overachiever.
    Achievement leaves little room for childlike activities.  It requires self-discipline the likes of which no ordinary kid could offer to themselves.  I practiced my music alone.  I became second chair, next to a girl who had lessons.  I became a second part section leader at the age of eleven.  I joined library club, just to put books away and spend my free time reading classic literature far above my head.I didn’t play sports.  I loathed gym and feared recess.  Most of the time, I would sit on the bleachers alone, staring into the vastness of the parking lot.  And there wasn’t a soul who was interested in having me join their game.
  • I was a sensitive child who needed to grow thicker skin.
    My preschool teacher was the first person to bring this to my mother’s attention.  What little girl doesn’t cry at the age of four?  What parent seems to think that crying is unhealthy?  Well, it was the 80’s after all.By the time I was in second grade, I started to develop panic attacks.  They landed me in the nurses office frequently, and I was deemed a hypochondriac at that time.

    Fourth grade was when I had the toughest teacher of them all.  I read her comment on the report card before my mother even had the chance.  “Does not take constructive criticism.”  After I work my little rear off, she has the gall to say that?!  Yes, I was discouraged that I wasn’t perfect at everything.  Maybe a little reassurance, you know?

My inner child seems to still be pretty angry about all of this stuff.

I get it, now.  I have spent a great deal of time and energy into satisfying the immediate demands of my inner child.  Or, on the opposite end, I have been denying my inner child completely.  I have really done nothing to nurture and attend to this internal being.

How do I go about doing that?

Astrology suggests looking at my Moon sign to determine the kind of soul food that I need.  However, it seems that, while astrology may have a clue as to where my interests lie, psychology appears to have a better grasp on the nature of the inner child.

Livestrong.com has a list of suggestions.  Here are the ones I like the best:

What nurturing messages can you give your “inner child”?
You can tell your “inner child” that it is OK to:
* Have the freedom to make choices for itself.
* Be “selfish” and do the things you want to do.
* Take the time to do the things you want to do.
* Associate only with the people you want to associate with.
* Accept some people and to reject others.
* Give and accept love from others.
* Allow someone else to care for you.
* Enjoy the fruits of your labor with no guilt feelings.
* Take time to play and have fun each day.
* Not to be so serious, intense and inflexible about life.
* Set limits on how you are going to relate to others.
* Not always “serve” others.
* Accept others “serving” you.
* Be in charge of your life and not let others dictate to you.
* Be honest with others about your thoughts and feelings.
* Take risks and to suffer the positive or negative consequences of such risks.
* Make mistakes, laugh at them and carry on.
* Let your imagination and creativity be set free and to soar with the eagles.
* Cry, hurt and to be in pain as long as you share your feelings; do not repress or suppress them.
* Be angry, to express your anger and to bring your anger to some resolution.
* Make decisions for yourself.
* Be a problem solver and come up with solutions with which everyone may not agree.
* Feel happiness, joy, excitement, pleasure and excitement about living.
* Feel down, blue, sad, anxious, upset and worried, as long as you share your feelings.
* Love and be loved by someone whom you cherish.
* Be your “inner child” and to let it grow up, accept love, share feelings and enjoy pleasure and play.

The Friday Confessional – Carry on My Wayward Son

My son, Beast.  He’s . . . spirited.  I’d love to leave it at that, but this is The Friday Confessional.

I love my boy to pieces.  But, I knew he was going to be a handful long before he was even born into this world.  I had a rather difficult pregnancy.  And he hilariously went silent and still whenever anyone tried to “feel the baby kicking”.  While he was on the inside place, he managed to kick himself to a position where he was constantly ramming his head into my cervix.  He accidentally got his foot stuck in between one of my ribs and struggled wildly to get free.  Once he was free, he did it again for what I can only consider as fun.  People don’t seem to think that fetuses can have emotions or fun.  I know differently from my son.

My son was born with this particular temperament.  He was a lazy and impatient nurser, who refused to nurse and preferred the bottle.  That’s my son.  Obstinate beyond all logic.  When that boy puts his foot down on something, that is the word.  And we clash at every point.

It’s not entirely his fault.  In June 2011, he was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.  In short, that puts him on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum.  I wrote:

I’ve always said that nothing in life prepares you to be a parent like being a parent.  Truly.  In my youth, I’ve helped to raise so many people’s babies and toddlers, but it was nothing like becoming a mother myself.  Sure, I had the care basics down, but that’s not even scratching the surface.

So therefore, nothing can prepare you for a professional telling you there is something wrong with your child.  Not even if you suspect it yourself.

That was over a year ago.

In truth, I’m in denial.

The battle wounds are still fresh from my youth.In those days, I found I was the most comfortable in the tiniest of places, completely unlike today, where confined spaces are cause for the air being vacuumed from my lungs, and my brain to catch fire.  Those were only places I recall being safe; wedged between the sink and the wall, tucked in the back of a closet, curled up in a cabinet under the sink.  Those places were quiet and dark.  The only places I could find serenity and safety.

I remember instances where my hulking brother would hunt me down. Those were my go-to places.  As long as I took refuge when the violent fits started, I had a chance of being safe.  He may have tried hard to swipe at me, but I had the advantage.  I was a small girl who could ball up and disappear from this world.  In those places, I could be safe from brutal, unprovoked attacks.

Out of sight is out of mind.

And out of mind it out of sight.

The injustice perpetrated on me went far beyond that.  That was considered excusable behavior due to my brother’s condition.  I was told things like, “He can’t help himself, but you can.”  I never did anything to purposefully antagonize him.  I feared him.  And when my parents would practically reward his behavior by conceding to his every desire, I hated him.  Even to this day, I still hate him for all of the gifts and attention he siphoned off from me.  I was a model child with straight A’s and glowing reviews from teachers.  He was a terrorizing monster.

When my son was diagnosed in the same spectrum, I was crushed.  Some parents can say they were blindsided by the diagnosis, but I certainly was not.  I saw the signs long before a doctor had to confirm them.  I was just hoping that there was some alternative explanation.  I don’t love him any less.  But, in truth, I see him differently.  Maybe differently than a parent should.

I remember being pregnant.  And I remember having serious talks with the sky boss.  I pleaded, “Please, God.  Please don’t let my son have autism.  I can’t handle that.  I wanted to deny it.  I would tell people how high functioning he is, and how his developmental deficits were not that of a child with autism or aspergers.  When he was denied entry into a regular preschool because they aren’t equipped to handle him, I was crushed again.  My hopes that he was developmentally appropriated were dashed.

The truth is, my son is disabled.  And he needs my help, now.

And here’s the worst part of my confession.  I have a certain amount of resentment for his condition.  I find it difficult to interact with him appropriately.  When he acts out aggressively, I meet him with a certain amount of aggression of my own.  I refuse to be terrorized by my own son, a huge, strong little four year old.  It makes me feel small and scared every day of my life.

There is rare gratification.  Most parents have children that will play with them.  My son tries, but he can’t seem to make it happen.  I watch him struggle with basic things.  I feel like a failure of a parent, because he’s not potty trained and mostly refuses to wear clothing.  I resent him when I am cleaning up bodily fluids he carelessly threw everywhere, like a little animal.  And I hate myself when I liken him to a puppy in my mind.

But, there a moments where he looks me dead in the eye and says things like, “Look Mommy, out the window.  Look, the trees!”  Or, the day that we were outside and he scraped his leg.  He straddled me and we held each other, rocking for awhile.  Then, he grabbed me by my shoulders, held me away to look at me and sang, “I yuv you.  You yuv me!”

There are those rare moments of hope that I hold to.  Even in my darkest hours.

The Friday Confessional : I Loved You More

When Xan and I were getting together, I once wrote in a journal, “What’s the difference between a best friend and a lover?”  The only answer I could muster was, “The fact that they aren’t physically intimate.  That’s about it.”  Not that two people aren’t attracted to each other, but that two people were not being sexual.  It was the only hard and fast line I could define.

Even that line begins to blur at some point.

I had my first kiss at thirteen.  It was New Years Eve and we were sitting up on a snow covered roof with a friend.  We were close together, wrapped in a blanket for warmth.  We all were talking about life and love, and it was so silent outside besides our own voices.  Suddenly, the world burst to life with people shouting and pots and pans banging.  Our friend started to hoot and holler.  I looked at my friend, and had so many fond, but conflicted feelings.

That’s when my best friend put her hands on my face and kissed me deeply.

We were the best of friends for over a year at that point.  In that year, I began to become symptomatic.  She was my confidant, and I poured my heart and soul out to her in the early hours of many a Saturday morning.  Her hugs were the warmest and tightest, the kind that brought a person back from the brink and back down to Earth.  She rooted me, and often became the sole reason I didn’t slash my wrists right there and then.

Her parents were divorcing at the time.  She was forced from her family home into a tiny apartment with her mom.  Her mom started working, so we had a lot of time alone.  Somehow, we both managed to date guys, but we never really had boyfriends.  I always had strange feelings for her.  I kept them to myself, because bi-curiousity was not encouraged in my area.  I didn’t want to be that weirdo that had a lesbian crush on her.

It turned out that she had the same feelings.  She was never one for expressing herself through words, so she just went for the kiss.  I was shocked, and didn’t know what to make of it.  Was it for the shock value in front of our friend?  We were so known for that.  Anything to shake it up, or make people laugh.  We were an entertaining pair.

The next day, in the confines of my bedroom, over a cigarette, we talked.  She was serious.  She had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to kiss me and make it count.  There was no other way she could get it across to me.

And truthfully, I fell in love with Kat.  I wrote in a journal once, “She was the first person I really fell in love with.  No confusion between a best friend and a lover.”   At that age, I can see the confusion.  But, it’s more than fifteen years later, and I still feel the same way.  I loved her.  I didn’t care that she was a female.  I loved everything about her.  I loved her fire.  Her art was intoxicating.  There’s still one piece that I’ve been attempting to replicate for years.  But, I’m not her.  I don’t have that kind of talent.

We complimented each other.  I was a writer and a musician at the time.  She was an artist.  I would write things and she would illustrate them as if she was in my head.  She always knew what was in my heart and on my mind.  We stole kisses in the night and behind buildings.  We shared my twin bed to sleep in on the weekends.  I never thought it was strange, even before we were together.

Together, in italics, meaning we were secret.  Therefore, we were never really defined.  I never understood the rules of our relationship, and I still can’t make sense of them today.  We were part-time lovers, apparently.  Eventually, friends and family started to get suspicious, because we stopped dating boys and dedicated all of our free time to one another.  So, she hatched a plan.

“I’ll date this boy and you date his friend.”

It would have been a perfect cover if things had gone according to plan.  These boys lived towns away, and without cars, it was difficult to maintain anything beyond a phone relationship.  Her and her boyfriend had a passionate, but turbulent relationship.  I was starting to get confused about who she had affections for anymore.  I’d ask, and she’d reassure me.  But, there were times where she’d push me away.  She was constantly breaking up with the both of us and getting back together with the other, when she wasn’t trying to manage the both of us.

Eventually, the boy and I grew closer.  And one night, he admitted his love for me.  I had longed for him and his kindness, being so jealous of her and him and not having that affection.  I confessed my own love and longing, and that was the day we called our anniversary for the next four years.  We had only a month before I finally gave in and told her.

Something strange happened.  I went away on a long summer vacation after that.  When I returned, she contacted me telling me she missed me.  And we were back on until the late autumn.  On a icy November morning, she was silent with me.  We used a singular computer to type back and forth to one another.  She asked me to choose between the two of them.

“It’s not fair,” the print on the screen read back to her.

“I’m not changing my mind.  You can’t have us both.”

“I have to choose him.  I love you.  I’m sorry.”

Things weren’t the same after that.  We tried to go back to being just friends, but I could see the agony in her eyes.  As far as I was concerned, she made her choice when she stepped out on me the first dozen times.  I was just finalizing it for her.  Several months later, she set me up to get in trouble, and it was the perfect cover for her to duck out on me.

I remember that Friday in March, two days after everything had thrown down.  She always rode my bus home with me, because we were going to babysit down the street.  I knew I wasn’t included anymore.  She gave me what was coming to me for all of the horrible things I had done to her.  I had hoped that there would be some redemption. She sat behind me, and I turned around to talk to her.  She ignored me, like I wasn’t even there, and went prattling on to a mutual friend sitting beside her.

I had become a ghost to her – to everyone who had anything to do with the both of us.  It had been like this at the lunch table, in our classes.  My life was stolen from me, and I deserved it.  I told her so, and begged her to talk to me.  She finally faced me and refused.  “I’ve had enough.  I’ve taken so much from you in the last two years.  You are dead to me.  Don’t talk to me again.”

I was confined to my room after the incident, so I just isolated myself to my bed.  I went to bed early and woke at dawn.  I looked up and out my window into the never ending grey sky.  And I said aloud, “If I hadn’t done any of this, she would be beside me right now.”

Later, I wrote a letter to her in my journal to say goodbye.  And I wrote, “In the end, after everything, I just wanted you to know that I always loved you more than anyone.”

Control, or Lack Thereof : 30 Days of Truth

Day 12 : Something you never get compliments on.

One of my more recent posts eluded to a crisis in my life.  I haven’t revealed it yet, because in all truth, I am rather ashamed of some of the realities of my life.  In personal writing lately, a rambling piece entitled “Write it Out, Right it Out“, I went on say:

I’ve always been caught in my own world of the mindf***, you know? And when I’m drunk, I am more susceptible to mindf***ery. I don’t like it. I start to lose grasp on my reality, and sometimes it disappears completely – my grasp, that is.

I have made references to my alcoholism in the past, but never with much detail or emphasis.  I neglected to mention that alcoholism is a real part of my present, mainly because I didn’t consider recreational drinking to fall under that category.  I was sorely mistaken.  I wrote to a friend:

Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking substance abuse seriously, like it wasn’t a fact in my life. I’m going to guess that mania had a little to do with it. Like I was above it all because I had gotten away with it.

And another in the same piece, “Write it Out, Right it Out”:

I don’t think I actually believed myself when I have described the seriousness of my alcoholism in my past. Or maybe I thought that it was somehow different, because this is a different situation. Or maybe I thought I was just too young and immature to handle myself.

The fact of the matter is this.  I have been suffering from terrible alcoholism from the age of 19.  At the age of 17, I took up drinking as a recreational activity.  When life events sent me into a tailspin, I spent the last six months of my 18th year in a state of perpetual intoxication.  By the time I was 19, alcohol was a regular fixture in my life, and was a part of every recreational activity.  Finally, it progressed the point of functional alcoholism by the time I was 21.  I described it to a friend as:

Except, I know that there was two years that I spent drunk every single night. I made excuses, like friends and parties, but I would drink by myself. I remember there were nights I’d drink until 4am, and have my boss call me at 6:30am to ask where the hell I was.

During the two years, I had a solid schedule. Wake up at 2pm, leave for work at 2:30pm, work three to nine, drink and eat nine thirty to four or six in the morning, and do it again. I had even devised strategies to avoid vicious hangovers and physical withdrawal. Occasionally, I would venture out with a bottle in my purse, just in case there wasn’t any alcohol where I was going.

Since my son was born, there have only been a handful of what I consider to be benders, which were periods of time where I would invent a reason to have friends over for drinks.  I never intended on getting wasted, and I usually didn’t.  But, there were occasions.  Some relatively benign, ending with me waking up with a vicious hangover and swearing off alcohol entirely for awhile.  Others, they ended disastrously with an altercation, and I would find myself resolving the situation by dumping all of the booze down the drain, with a certain satisfaction at my self-restraint and determination.

Here’s the truth.  I never get complimented on my resolve.  Because, everyone knows that I will always go back to the same old, same old.  No matter how much I appear to change.

I am not always forthcoming about my weaknesses, especially the ones that spark shame.  I am embarrassed by my lack of self-control, especially in matters that are extremely frowned upon.  There are a lot of bad character traits that I can identify, and openly and honestly admit to.  However, lack of self-control is not one of them.  I’ve never considered myself as impulsive, and people often view it as immature and juvenile.  I have always considered myself to be mature and responsible, with certain exceptions, like during college, because impulsive actions and lack of restraint were commonplace, and socially accepted.

Many can argue that impulsivity is not necessarily a character trait of mine, rather, a feature of Bipolar Disorder.  Maybe that is true, because there really was a brief period in my childhood that I recall being very responsible, consistent, and mindful.  And yet, there are still incidents that I recall as being not well thought out before execution.  A condition of childhood?  Maybe.  Facet of personality or symptom of psychological disorder, it stands as probably the weakest trait I have.