"Blades to wake me up, blades to sing me to sleep." That's a line of poetry that came to me yesterday. I don't mean razor blades or cutting or anything dysfunctional. I mean lawnmower blades. I had thought they'd be thin and sharp, when in reality they are often an inch or thicker. Handling a bunch of them at once is an exercise in planned grace - and I am not a graceful person. But yesterday, I found some of the movement in handling them had become smooth. I did not have to think about it nearly as hard.

This is good news. It means that muscle memory is developing. I knew it would eventually. Just takes a little time. I cannot WAIT until the entire job itself becomes so.

One awesome thing about this job - I can keep my long nails. While the job itself absolutely demolishes nail polish, it hasn't broken a nail yet. A couple of the ladies even have fancy salon jobs on their nails. The dirt and grime gets embedded into the skin but doesn't tear up the nail itself. MAJOR bonus.

I think I almost weirded out my boss yesterday. There are two major parts of this job - pulling the orders from the shelves and then packing those orders into shipping boxes. When I run out of orders to pull, I've been drifting down to the packing area to help out there. Boredom is killer when you're in a hot metal box so I do what I can to keep occupied. Apparently that's not something new hires do, although I wasn't warded off it, either. I've also been trying to repackage the smaller items on the shelves during down time. This has been encouraged.

I also have been scaling the shelves, reaching up to the higher ones, to drag products close to the edge. This is actually a more selfishly motivated action. I'm ridiculously short (hello, 5 foot short-shit!) and the closer it is to the edges, the easier time I have of reaching it. This is also encouraged, albiet with grave admonishing to be safe when reaching the higher shelves.

I talk about my job a lot. This must seem strange to the majority of people, for whom a job is just a job, nothing of note, nothing of real mention. But for someone like me, whose everything roils just under the surface, whose nearly every interaction impacts, it's damned important to me.

I'm having to adjust to a full-time schedule, though. I can't remember the last full time job I worked. It was always part time, either because Pat brought home the big money or else because of school. And this full time job is traditional in it's Mon-Fri, 8-5 schedule. It means I have to be a hell of a lot more careful with planning things like psych appointments. I had to cancel my talk-therapy altogether. I'm hoping that with a steady job I won't NEED it as much. And if it turns out I do, I'll have to seek weekend services, of which I, as an uninsured patient, will not find.

So doubling up on self-care techniques it will be. I won't qualify for food stamps with this new job and I won't have time for the majority of food pantries. But with this job, I shouldn't need those services.

I did straight up weird the floor manager the other day, though. I think it was over with fairly quickly, but I was a little stymied. See, I totally had him pegged as a nerd. An old-school nerd. It was the long hair in a ponytail, the metalhead shirts, the slight but noticeable awkwardness. So I straight up asked him. I outright asked him if he was a nerd. It turns out he isn't. I later, casually, said I hope I didn't offend him. He laughed and said a little, to which I then told him "Hey, don't be too offended. It's cool to be a nerd these days." He laughed again and said it hadn't been when he was in school.

To which I then also laughed and said it hadn't been when I was in school, either. As I put it, I had to "shamefully hide my habit of Dungeons and Dragons." After this exchange, though, he seemed a bit more open to me. That was nice.

Especially as a couple of days prior, he'd gotten rather growly about a bag of spare and yet unhomed parts he was certain was mine. It wasn't. I've been making extra sure that all the right parts go in all the right boxes, even as it slows me down, even if I have to tear apart the box I was working on and redo it. His voice was even but his eyes had that look, the one that said "Why are you lying to me?" When it turned not to be mine, he apologized profusely. That was also nice and I told him as such.

I'm getting along well with my coworkers, who are also like me, in that they have the same kind of rough edges that make working in office/retail environments difficult. That is a GIGANTIC relief. While I wish and await for another nerd to be hired on, we're all pretty basic people. No airs, no need for fancy clothes or fancy talk. I don't have to be "on" for this job. I don't have to worry so much about saying the wrong thing, the thing that will convince them I'm low-class or poor.

It's pretty interesting to see the temps drift in and out, though. Two of them just this week. This kind of job definitely isn't for everyone. But it IS the kind of job for me. I walked in the first day like I was a permanent hire and I walk out everyday like I am a permanent hire.

I can do this. If the lawnmower blades are getting easier for me to handle, in just a week, then I damn well know everything else will also get easier as the weeks go on.

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One Last Call

My apartment complex seems to have switched from "all utilities included" to "NO utilities included." This is not such a terrible thing except I'm pretty sure that as we will now be paying a separate company for electricity, my rent will likely NOT be adjusted to show for it.

I pay 87 dollars a month in utilities. (An extra 30 for water, trash, sewer). That in itself is ridiculous for a 500 sq ft studio, but there it is. It's bundled up with my rent. I'm going to call today to see if they will be removing that 87 from my rent.

I sincerely doubt they will be doing so. I might rain hail and hell upon them (for all the good that will do.) This fucking place, Slumlords Incorporated.

Still, I came home from work yesterday feeling happy, satisfied, and useful. It's amazing what unemployment does to our self-esteem. But having this job and knowing I can do is doing wonders for my mood.

This job will allow me to do something I haven't been able to do in...well, ever. I can pay my rent. All of it. Every penny. By myself. No scrambling for spare cash. No stressing about school loans. This job will take care of my rent, my bills, and I'll still have a few hundred left over at the end of the month.

Now THAT does wonders for my self-esteem. This job could wind up being the one thing I've always said I wanted, the one thing that I've tried to find for years now - a job where I can pay my bills, every month, on time. That's been the extent of my big dreams and I think I have it here.

The snag is this - it cannot pay my rent this month. I don't get paid until the day rent is due and it will only be a few days worth of the work. (I hate how pay periods are pro-rated.)

So I'm throwing myself out here one last time, asking for help, asking for money, (and if it were possible, cigarettes and cat food, but those are harder to mail). I will be asking Patrick and I'm fairly sure he could swing a few hundred. I don't think he can swing the whole thing.

This could very well be the last month I have to ask for help - any help at all - in paying my bills. If I do this right - and I can, I fucking KNOW I can - then I will be, after the 4th of next month, completely self-sufficient. I can afford to put the 150 per paycheck (paid weekly) aside for rent. I can afford to put aside the 50 a week for bills. I can afford to do that wild thing called budgeting, because I will finally have money TO budget.

So singing this last refrain, I'm asking for help - any help, any dollar amount, with it my sincerest apologies for this being the 4th time I've asked this, and with my wildest hope that I will not have to ever - EVER - ask for this again.


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So I got me a warehouse job. One of the temp agencies I'd applied to put me there, on account of my very long housekeeping career. It suggested that I know how to do manual labor (of which housekeeping is. People always came in there thinking it'd be like cleaning their house. I could only burst into giggles at that.)

It's Mon-Fri, 8-5, and pays 9.50 an hour. I'm not sure if there are benefits, but honestly, right now, for that kind of pay, I'm willing to ignore the conversation of benefits. I've heard that warehouse work, if you can hack it, has amazing job stability. I know it's not like the golden days, where this sort of job would lead to a 30 year pension, but still, for that kind of pay AND hours right off the bat of being hired? Hell to the motherfuckin' yeah.

And I've got it in the bag. It is ridiculously easy. It IS manual labor and there is NO air conditioning in the warehouse, which quickly heats up the big metal box we're all working in. The heat index has been well over 100 degrees for a week now, making the warehouse itself oh...well, I don't know how hot. But HOT. But the job itself? So. Damn. Easy. It's also not anywhere near as hard, physically, as UPS was.

I take a piece of paper which has a bunch of aile and product placement numbers. I find those products in those ailes and pick up the product. I put the product in a tote bin. When I've gotten all the pieces the paper tells me to, I shove the tote onto the "finished" belt. At the end of the day, I put the finished totes into boxes, tape them up, and set them by the loading dock for shipping trucks. While I do have to work expediantly, there's no real rush for time, either.

That's it. That's totally it. I cannot believe just how simple the job is. I get that the hard part isn't the job, but rather the working conditions. (On your feet on concrete for 8 hours, very hot, etc). But still, here I was, torturing myself with those goddamn fuckered personality tests that asked questions it would be illegal and irrelevant for employers to verbally ask (do they really need to know how I feel about mankind's future or if I struggle with getting along with my family???) all for jobs that would pay minimum wage and afford me less than 20 hours a week.

I also like my coworkers. It's a very small team - maybe 15 people altogether, and only about 10 who are on the floor at any given time. They are all sorts of misfits, the kind where it's obvious upon meeting that they've got some rough edges and they wouldn't fit in traditional job roles. So, just my type of people. They are also personable and friendly, but in that casual way that does not suggest that I have to carefully craft a refined image to respond with.

We're also treated like adults in that we can have our phones on the floor (and even headphones, albiet only one ear, as to hear the forklift with the other ear), I don't have to ask permission to run to the ladies room and the work is EXTREMELY self-contained. It requires little interaction (or at least will when I'm more familiar with the work.)

These are things I LOVED about housekeeping. It's good to find them again in another, better paying job.

Y'know, that I've worked a job that had me getting up at 3 AM (UPS), I cast an eye back to when I was on Abilify. I was waking up between 1 and 3 AM every morning. With UPS, I'd discovered I'd needed to go to bed between 6 and 7 PM. That is the normal sleep schedule for waking up at 3 AM.

And yet, on Abilify, David pitched a motherfucking fit if I didn't stay up to game or go hang with friends - both options which kept me awake till midnight or later, for goddamn nearly 24 hours at a shot, like literally. At the time, I was frustrated but felt bad that I couldn't stay up with him. I felt as if I was to blame, as if I were weak and lazy.

Now, having worked a schedule similar to the hours Abilify kept me on, I'm pissed off that David kept insisting, kept throwing fits, kept guilting me into staying up for fucking 24 hours at a shot. Going to bed at 6 PM, when you're waking up between 1 and 3 AM, is perfectly normal and in fact HEALTHY. It is called good sleep hygiene. And yet David found a way to spin it into a guilt trip, into making me feel like I was taking precious time away from him.

God, that pisses me off so much now.

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So we'll see

So I'm not entirely convinced my new therapist and I are a good fit for each other.

I knew immediately upon entering her office that we might have to have a talk about how she and then I approach the concept of healing and self-soothing. It was the dream catcher. Then the collage on her wall that relied heavily on trusting the sacred. Then further on how we, when we did a brief breathing exercise, she instructed me to feel the energy flowing. (Though she did catch herself by saying "It's okay if you don't believe in chakras".)

I later, in talking about Jesse, brought up that he is very pagan while I am a dyed-in-the-wool atheist. It was a bit of a laugh, as she said she was very metaphysical and surrounded by atheists in her own personal life. We both giggled over that. That's a mark in the "Okay, maybe" column for me.

She asked me to do an exercise that required laying on the floor. I refused. I realize that a therapist's office, especially at this place, is likely the safest place in the entire county to lie on the floor.

I was still not willing to put myself in such a physically vulnerable position for someone I just met. She seemed fine with that and got on the floor herself to show me the exercise. It seems a lot of her therapeutic techniques might be focused on meditative techniques. I'm willing to do a few here and there, but overall, I work much better with verbal therapy. Things that include words (writing, talking) are what stay with me.

So we'll see how that goes.

One thing that actively annoyed the hell out of me: Upon finding that I've had a traumatic childhood, several of her comments became hinged on that. An especially annoying comment regarding how "childhood abuse victims find it hard to ground their bodies because they spent so long running away from their bodies."

No shit, sherlock. I have little patience for stating the obvious in a therapeutic setting. I'm here to do a job, you're here to do a job - and that job is to get busy working on whatever brought me there at that time. If that happens to be childhood abuse, great. It does not now include childhood abuse, as I'd outlined nearly immediately what had brought me there yesterday - all things that have occurred within the last two years.

Now, in her defense, she didn't know I've been in therapy for 20 years now. But as we spent quite a bit of time discussing the changes in the 5th DSMV as opposed to the 4th edition, as I brought up that I am struggling with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, as I talked about CBT techniques, including the physical-surroundings technique, as we chatted about the classic books of therapy.....

Well, she somehow didn't pick up that I might have done some previous work in therapeutic settings. It seemed to throw her off a bit. It throws a lot of them off, that someone like me walks into their office speaking in their language, using their terms, their jargon.

So she's got some leeway for that. I understand that most therapists - and especially ones that work pro-bono - work with adults who are seeking therapy for the first time. It just turns out that's not where I'm coming from. My last therapist adjusted wonderfully to this. I'm not sure if my new therapist will.

But here's the biggest reason I'm gonna give her a decent shot - on her shelf, she had Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down The Bones. I have that book. I have that book and have used it so often that the cover got torn off. Over half the book is highlighted and I once spent two days carefully drying out each page when it fell into the bathtub. This book has been imperative in my writing.

THAT, there, shows me that I might be dealing with a writer, or someone who is comfortable letting others use writing as a therapeutic tool. If that is the case, then I know we can make this work between her and I.

So we'll see.

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Know That Now

There is a young woman who lives in this hallway. Eighteen years old. Seven months pregnant. In an abusive relationship where she lets him hurt her so that she has someone she can hurt back. Insane in all of the ways 18 year olds are, with the added bonus of being wildly violent and dysfunctional herself. A newly released ward of the state, she has no ties to her foster parents and only to her mother, who was the entire reason she was put into foster care as it was. She struggles with cutting. She rages and breaks furniture, glasses, plates, and once her boyfriend's nose.

She is a constant, never-ending storm at sea.

In other words, I completely relate to her. I keep it beat back with a tight rein. I am no one's mother, nor am I willing to be anyone's active role model. Not with ones so young and certainly not ones so crazy. I've earned my peace and quiet. I'll take it, thankyouverymuch.

But sometimes there will be an argument with her boyfriend and sometimes there will be a knock at my door. She will ask for a cigarette or to use my phone. Sometimes she just needs an hour in a safe place to cry.

I never turn her away.

When she leaves, I am always utterly grateful that I am no longer in that time of my life. But when she departed at 11 o'clock last night, I felt something different. I felt...sorrow.

She is an addict. An addict just beginning the road to ruin. It is here that she could, having the ease of youth on her side, put down the cocaine. It is here that she could, with reaching out to the right social services, find help to raise her unborn son. It is here that she stands at a crossroad. One path is hard work, maybe harder work than she's ever done, but will lead to a better life.

The other is being stuck in a self-perpetuating hell.

But see, she doesn't know this. She doesn't know what dark road the drugs will take her down. She doesn't know where she is going will take years, if not decades to claw out of. She doesn't know that she will lose everything, up to and including her son. She doesn't know....and I can't describe the path in enough detail as to ward her from total destruction.

She has a chance here. She will get more chances, as we all do. But here, now, she has a chance to stave off years of trauma and misery. A chance to cut off the worst of the trouble at the pass. A chance to save her son from further damage, as much as has already been done with the coke.

But she doesn't know this. I talked to her. Shared parts of my story and then inwardly cringed when she said "I know I have to quit. That's why me and my boyfriend did all the coke we had last night, so it would be gone and we could get off it."

I remember, on one of my false-starts at sobriety, declaring that I was going to get clean. I was at Patrick's parent's house. And I, too, remember finishing off the drugs in my backpack so I could "get clean." It did not occur to me to flush the drugs.

It did not occur to me that getting high in order to get clean was a wild contradiction in terms. It did not occur to me that declaring sobriety while high was an empty, futile gesture. In my grandiose little mind, it made perfect sense. Looking back, I shake my head. I'm awed by how wrong I was.

But I didn't know that. Not yet.

I was young then. Eighteen years old, completely unwilling to cast a critical eye at my own behaviors. Eighteen years old, a newly released ward from the state as a foster child, struggling with cutting and prone to rages. Hell, at one point in there, I was even pregnant.

I was just beginning the path to my own ruin, the one that left me with life-long consequences. Here, there, to this side and to that side, the opportunities to get help, to get clean, to get better were littered all around me. And while I did get clean at a young age, only a year and a half later, I spent the next several years trying to piece back the puzzle I'd smashed. Time that could have been spent far, far more productively, had I only curbed the behaviors sooner.

She has that chance. Right here, right now. She has a chance to save herself from the storyline I walked through. She has a chance to save her son by not becoming the sort of mother that Cassie is. She has a chance to save herself.

But she doesn't know that. Not yet. Nothing I say will sway her from where she is walking. I know I am helpless. Even aside from the inability to change someone, it is not a thing I could do in health or sanity. She must to do so on her own, tripping over rocks, cutting her feet on the pavement that is the Road To Hell.

I wish so much to wrench her away from these things. My heart ached when she left last night. But as heartache is inevitable when watching someone destroy themselves, so is remembering that you can only do so much for a person. They have to walk their own path.

I know that now.

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Strong, strength as a trigger.....that observation was so astute, NossWhispers, that I literally had to put my phone down in order to process it. Yes, you're right. I have such a hair-trigger reaction to those words when used about my life. I hadn't even realized that, which is funny, considering I've been having this reaction to it for...god, years and years at this point. If that is identified - and it is - then it is able to be worked on. I think this defensiveness is getting in the way of living life now, decades past the teenager who had to be strong at all costs. You have to name the problem in order to work past it.

You named it. I don't think I would have seen that by myself. Thank you.

And it is because, like you said Blozor, there is...disappointment in me. Grave disappointment. When I was younger, I had no dreams beyond just surviving. It is a mindset that has taken years to move past and I think, perhaps, maybe I really never did move past it. I look back at my ability to move mountains and galaxies in the pursuit of healing and see it has translated into precious little these days, outside of merely being alive and somewhat sane. These are good goals, but maybe it's not enough.

And yet, my dreams remain small. I am okay with that. But I think you're right - this recent round of depression was probably kickstarted by a looming sense of having failed to live up to some standard in myself. Losing my job, not being able to save Giles - things that happen to normal people all the time. But for me, who has this constant, internal running commentary about what I should be able to do, based on what I did previously, the disappointment comes with a higher price. Wasting, in my case, several weeks to despair.

Time is flying. Despair does not a well-lived life make. I may not always be able to keep it at bay. But maybe I can keep your words in mind the next time it visits.

Being strong is not a state, it is a process. Another thing that gave me literal pause, one that was broken by my repeating that to Jesse, so powerful was the statement. Ckd, I had NEVER thought of it like that. That strength is a thing that is born, reborn, constantly being worked over, a thing that may mean different things to us at different times. A thing that, simply because the meaning may shift, doesn't make it any less true for the past or the future.

That 15 year old girl lives on in me. But perhaps my 16 year old self also lives on, as my 20 year old self, and so on and so forth to the 34 year old today. Is it okay if it has changed? I only now come to realize the answer is yes.

I think, in so many ways, I feel as if I have betrayed that child I was in the emergency room. Let her down in a way that left her in deep poverty and with many wasted opportunities in her 30's. But if strength is a process, then maybe it has just taken me this long - or will take me longer - to find what strength means to me now.

Life is not a static thing. I don't know why I often judge myself as if it is.

And that leads into what you said, Deep_Blue_Sea - strength as a training metaphor. My god, that made me laugh and opened my heart wide. You are right. It is a skill, a thing that is honed and worked on over the years. A thing one cannot say they do not have the innate talent for, because it is a matter of practice. I sing that song about my writing, so why could it not be taken as a metaphor for strength as well?

The visual of me being 15 and taking that step into the emergency room as me stepping onto the mat, looking for a trainer...that is something that will be with me till the end of time. If I am any good at getting help now, it is because I got help then, and I have since had two and a half decades in the meantime to train for it.

And Gonzo, that statement about the six people - it is utterly true. That is something I can believe with the certainty of birth and death itself. I had no one, not even a single schoolyard friend, to tell me I was strong. Not before I went into the emergency room. I felt alone, in that way that all abused children feel. I only knew that I was sinking further and further into insanity, but there was the unshakeable gut feeling that something was wrong. After I got official help, yes, I would hear that I was strong.

Before that, I had only my desperation urging me to do something.

Was it like that for you, Cmcmk? A sense of desperation? That 15 year old you were, when you had to get away from them, when it was that or suffer far beyond any reasonable measure? What was it like for you, for someone else who did nearly the same thing at the same age?

I want to say that perhaps Cassie just has the wrong people surrounding her. That she just needs a Pat, a Jesse, an Amanda and the people who have helped me stay the path for all these years. As if she simply hasn't met these types of people.

But as you said, Radium, perhaps she doesn't want to get help, even as she may think she does. I know this, know it to the very marrow of my bones. Accepting it, even for a few minutes at a time, is so painful that I nearly physically shirk from it. She has had the ability, the opportunity, to develop healthy relationships, to find those 6 people, for decades now. And yet she doesn't, and those that could help her, she runs from. Runs from while spewing a litany of insults and cursewords.

I've never known anyone whose defensiveness was so fatal before her. It should prove - and in my smarter moments, does prove - that she truly does not want the help. Radium, this is important. I forget this. You can't save someone who is insistent on drowning. They will simply let go of the life raft you toss them.

I sought out the life raft. I wish I could understand why she threw hers overboard.

And it's funny, Eyelid, about the smarts thing. Just last night I was on the phone with my father, who told me my sister was edging on homelessness and expressed that he would rather see Cassie living with my mom than on the streets. My response was that I would rather be on the streets than living with her. He said, and I quote, "I can't blame you for that. You have more smarts than your sister."

Once in a while, I credit my survival to the act of reading. I had no friends growing up, so I spent a lot of time creating friends out of the characters in my favorite books. Many of these books were epic tales of war, of loss, of triumph, of sorrow and endurance. I had armies of fictional people who were strong, perhaps I could follow their lead.

Cassie's never been a reader. Academics weren't ever her strong suit. That's fine enough as it is, a love of books is not the only redeeming factor a person can have. But I still wonder, as that is one of the defining differences between us, if that at all had something to do with the diverging paths we both took.

But I think, if anything, the smarts he was talking about (whether or not he truly meant it this way) is that I am smart enough to get the hell away from toxic people. I KNOW what my survival entails, I KNOW what I must to do to stay healthy, and a large part of that is knowing who to keep in my life and who to violently shove out. One does develop a nearly sixth sense after so many years of recovery. This isn't to say we can't be hoodwinked because being in recovery does not preclude being human. But being as our very survival hinges on who we are around, we know who to send away.

That may not be as much smarts as it is experience, but either way, there it is.

And in the end, Noss Whispers, and as others have observed through the years...yes, I am seeking - probably always will seek - the single justification for why I have survived the fire, ashen bones and all, while others caught in the flames have been burnt beyond recognition? Why me? Why not her?

Is the answer even worth seeking? Does it matter, so long as I am alive and somewhat well? Why do I so desperately need that explanation? It is being human, it is the legacy of love and abuse, I know all of this. It so rarely seems enough of an answer.

Perhaps it is time to begin letting go of the question altogether. If I have friends who can remind me, over and over, with patience and love, of what answers there are - if I have friends who can make the observations that I am too close to see - if I have friends who can keep the questions in their place where they do not begin to eclipse my sanity....

Then maybe I can begin letting go of the question, as it turns out, the only answer is myself.

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Always willing to do what it takes

September 2014. 32 years old.

"Dad, I just don't understand why Cassie can't-"

He cuts me off. I'm not sure if he's tired, impatient, or both. We're driving home from my sister's house, the house in which she is being evicted from, as drugs and madness come first in her life. What he says next sounds like he meant it as a compliment.

"Teressa, you have to understand that you have a core of inner strength that not everyone has. It's how you got away from your mom and stepdad, how you got help at such an early age, and how you got off drugs. Cassie doesn't have that. You can't be mad at her for it."

Instead of feeling complimented, I bristle.

"Dad, don't you dare try to minimize the work, the years and years of pain and suffering, that I put into 'getting away' and 'getting help'. You talk about it like it was some God given gift, like I didn't have to do anything for it. I did. I worked SO HARD. It was blood, sweat, and tears - all literal. Every goddamn drop, absolutely literal."

The conversation dies. He reaches over and flicks on the radio.

October 1996. 15 years old.

"Can you contract for safety?" It's cold in the hospital room. Nearly a decade later, I would read a book by Marya Hornbacher in which the sentence "I'm convinced they keep doctor's offices at forty degrees" will be penned. This is a statement that could easily span back to the mid 90's.

I squirm. I shake my head towards the nurse. I say "No." I casually hike up the sleeves of my shirt to display the torn skin, the arms that are more cut than flesh. It's a bloody mess. In memory, it might have even been fresh blood. I'd been working on it. I knew I needed to present the case in the most desperate light possible.

Not that that was particularly hard to do. I'd been cutting for years at that point - and scar tissue cannot form over skin that is opened over and over again. This is metaphorical as well as literal. I'd come into the ER that morning under the knowledge that my soul, my very existence, was being sliced open, over and over again, and that I would never heal unless I fled from the knife.

The knife happened to be sitting in a chair next to me.

"Of course she can," my mother snapped. I looked at the nurse, silently begging her, oh god, begging her to know what was in front of her. Please, please see someone in trouble. Please, please see a child who is being abused. Please, please, PLEASE get me away. Save me. Save me.

Save me from them.

The nurse pauses. It's an eternally long pause. I don't know if I should begin sobbing or shouting. I'm poised on the edge of both. She looks at me, looks down at my arms, and says she needs to call Child Protective Services.

It worked. It fucking WORKED. I don't remember if I started to cry, but I do know that if I did, it was with relief, with the delirious joy of a sinner being snatched from the very jaws of Hell at the eleventh hour. My mother, responding with the fury of a politician whose nasty secrets are about to spilled all over the floor, begins to tell me how my stepfather will kill himself and it's my fault. Familiar refrains, songs with many verses.

I hear her. But I also hear the frantic beating of my heart, afraid to hope, knowing that hope was finally within my reach. It worked. I was going to get help. Someone was finally going to help me.

At 15, when the abuse began to leave me with such scars that I felt I had to repaint them on myself with my own blood, I'd tried to get help. It was hard. Who wants to believe a moody teenager? Hell, even I didn't want to believe myself sometimes. But one day, it became too much. I don't even remember what it was, what happened to bring that day about. All I knew was that I had to get help.

Get help by whatever means necessary. Get help by any and all measures. They were not safe to seek help from. They were the ones who hurting me to NEED help. Outsiders were needed. Outsiders were my only hope.

So one day, that one day where all I can remember is the horrifying force of knowing that either they will kill me or I will kill me, in a sense that I had never known before or since, I walked into the school counselor's office. I walked in with a plethora of old and fresh wounds on my skin and told them if I had to go home, I'd kill myself.

I had no intention of killing myself at that moment. But I knew, I fucking knew, that this was my only hope. My only shot of getting away, of finding people who would get me into the counseling I'd asked my parents for and had been denied by, my only shot of finding people who could help me heal. I knew that as I did not truly feel suicidal then, that it would come all too soon under the breaking force of their hands.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I have never been more desperate than in that moment nineteen years ago. Never before and never since. It's astounding what a person can resort to when they feel they are on the edge of madness or death.

To this day, I am convinced I was perilously near both.

The counselor calls someone. That someone calls someone else. A third call is rung back into the counselor's office. I am taken to the emergency room for evaluation.

July 2015. 34 years old.

"You are the strongest person inside I know."

I half roll my eyes towards Jesse. I enjoy compliments but as I've recently been struggling with my own ability to do as much as shower, it feels abrasive to hear something like that. But then, I had, only hours ago, lay in bed with him, talking about the 15 year old girl who sat in that hospital room. These sorts of conversations come from those sorts of conversations.

The change in subjects comes in speaking about Cassie, where I express my ever-present confusion and frustration that she can't just....get I did. In how I can verbally express that I understand why others haven't done what I did, but then express an absolute wonderment that others don't.

I wonder if I'm being too hard on people. God knows I'm often too hard on myself. But what it comes to is this:

I am no hero. I am not stronger than anyone. I am not a beacon of hope, self-awareness, or strength. I am not special. If there's one thing age has taught me, it is the value of keeping your sense of manifest destiny as muzzled you can.

So if I am not special and I am not strong beyond any normal human measure....why can't others get better? Or at least, the one woman we all know I am talking about?

What makes the difference? What made the difference? Why? How? When? Again, questions with no real answers. It's beginning to drive me a bit mad lately. (Perhaps I should remedy this by thinking less.)

The strangest contradiction is that I need people to think I am strong. I need to be told I am strong, because no matter the mountain crawled over, it still sometimes blocks the sun. Words are what pull me back from the rocks, into the light, into where I can believe in myself as a full and realized human being.

So if I need to be told I'm strong - and I admit and recognize that as such - why do I still flinch when I'm told so? It's utterly paradoxical, my need to be told I'm strong and yet my recoil at such statements.

That 15 year old in the emergency room that day, she needed to know she was strong. God, I wished I could have told her.

She did not feel strong that day. She felt desperate. She felt sorrow. And more than anything else, she felt fear. Outright terror about the fate of her life, held in equal measure by those who could save her and those who could destroy her.

I'd never been so afraid in my life as I'd been in that room.

And yet she still lives in me, as all of our past selves live in us. Was she strong? What was so different about me, in that room, at that time, that did not, could not, translate into anything similar for my sister? Is strength born, taught, or given?

And does the answer matter all, so long as we are always willing to do what it takes to get help?

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(no subject)

Terrible sound quality, as usual. Highlights: Hair, Depression as the Prince of Lies, Cassie (durrhhh), and being too dead to notice how I died.

The words are there this morning but they are about the mundane. The morning routine. Nail polish. The snap of the lighter, the first draw of a cigarette. Things that aren't terribly interesting to write about - and even less interesting to read about. But I know enough about writing to know that if that's what's there, then I ought to write it.

The morning routine is simple enough.Time and Chance come to all menCollapse )

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I am receiving comments. Receiving, pouring over, and gaining hope. I'm sorry I haven't gotten to replying - the net center here is hit or miss with hours. But I am receiving. And maybe...just maybe you guys are right.

Except I know you guys are right. That's what I'm holding onto right now. If you guys can be right, then I can hold on. Second chances, early dreams - late dreams, even. Digging through lies of isolation that depression uses. These things I know - but these things I also forget.

Last night I was talking with Jesse about what a difference a year makes. A year ago today, he was burying his mother. A year ago, I was writing about the nuances of being on Lithium. Neither of us knew the other even existed. And yet, as happens, this person whom I had no concept of, of whom I had no idea was alive, let alone leading their own life, has changed my life in a significant manner.

There are people we meet who, for better or worse, inevitably wrench us from the path we'd been walking onto another path altogether. People whom reshape the plans of the next year, the next five years, the next five decades. And we never know who these people are, nor do we know their significance until the old blueprints have been flung aside and the new ones pressed into our hands. We do not know who these people will be, whom change the course of our entire lives, until such change actually happens.

I find that both beautiful and frightening. Each new person welcomed into the fold - will they be one of those people? And if so, where will it all lead?

How will my life be different a year from now and to whom will such change be accredited to?

Will it be as dramatic as meeting David, whom for both great ill and blessing, changed the course of my entire, literal life? Will it be more comfortable, such as meeting Jesse and our current relationship, leading into something healthier and wise? Will it be a death, a birth, a new friend, the loss of an old friend? Will I, for that matter, even be alive this time next year, to experience any kind of change at all?

I do not know. I know well enough to not be overly excited, as the Universe has a funny way of punishing eagerness. But I do know that such change WILL occur. It is simply a matter of waiting, of living Life in between.

Still, I have to admit...I'm curious to see what tricks Life has up its sleeves.

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What I am

I received a call from the mental health clinic today. While I will have to return the call tomorrow, it came not a moment too soon. The tide of self-defeatism is still high and the job interview I had today was of no help in stemming it.

It was supposed to be - or I thought it would be - easier than it was. Tech support at the place where Pat works. I have no real computer experience, absolutely no hardware or software experience. I don't know why Pat and I thought to give it a try. But try we did. He got me an interview, of which I am very grateful for. I knew well enough not to emphasis my lack of experience, as Pat and I were working on training even before the job started. But when the technical questions came, and I could only say, over and over, that I had no experience but I was willing to learn....

I do not expect to receive a call back.

I know what my next step is. Housekeeping. Retail. Places where I'll be paid minimum wage and be lucky to get 25 hours a week, and begging for a set schedule so I can work two jobs that might get me close to 40 hours (but between getting ready and travel time will put me closer to "working" 60 hours and whatnot). I know where to go. I know what to do to keep my head barely above water, the slightest deep breath dragging gallons of seawater into my lungs. I know what to do to not drown.

What I do not know how to do is swim.

There is no fooling myself anymore. There is nothing to be said that can convince me that I am worth or able to live a life than anything on the lower of the lowest rungs of the American eco-stratosphere. Those around me seem shocked that I would come to this conclusion, as if thinking this way is the very problem itself, as if I've simply run across a small streak of bad luck.

This isn't luck. This is the direct result of decades of poor decisions. Spending all that time being a junkie. Screwing around in school. Staying at Super 8 for years when I should have been aiming higher. Being crazy and having to miss so much work and school over the years because I just couldn't hold my fucking shit together long enough to be an adult. I kept saying that I just need someone to take the chance on me, to give me a break.

Thinking on it, that kind of bullshit goes to kids who are just coming out of an inner city school and who had that one teacher that believed in them and all that movie bullshit. I'm 34 years old. Adults don't get second chances.

People don't take chances on adults. And god knows, why would they, if any of those adults are anything like me?

I'm glad the clinic called. I need someone to talk to. Desperately. Self-defeat is beginning to spin into self-loathing. This is not healthy. This is not what I need.

It may not be what I need.

But it damn sure seems to be what I AM.

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