A thought from today.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
God has been all around me lately and on Tuesday He spoke this prayer. I was trying to think of a name for a Facebook group of my friends and words wafted through as I walked to the car. Then BITS came in. I wondered if it stood for something. I got “Blessed in the Struggle.” I like that. As I drove down the rather steep hill from my therapist’s office this prayer came to me, in lines and different colors. I finally pulled over to let it come through. I AM BITS.
I am BITS.
I AM Blessed in the Struggle.
I welcome His purifying pain.
I release my need to understand.
I submit my life to the Lord.
Every piece I’m angry about,
every care I hold, like each stone in the lake, I let go of.
My pain was never mine to begin with.
Jesus is mine.
Please Lord, show me your way.
Teach me how to read.
Teach me how to be, free.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
You know, I never thought it would be this way. Maybe because I never really thought. No one taught me what’s required to be a successful grownup, what it’s like to lose a love, to lose your life.
I’m sitting on the living room floor. Just switched from “Code Black” episodes to meditation music on the tv. I’m surrounded by the contents of what yesterday was my purse. I emptied it this morning and haven’t been able to figure out what to do with it. The air is on but I’m not hot. There isn’t always a happy ending.
I stayed home today. Got home super late from the ER with a friend. I didn’t have anything pressing today so I slept, kind of. Woke up to a call from another’s doctor. And the headache from the night before. It pressed on unto an 8, still moving. Took 5 prns and a few hours to even somewhat subside. So confused. The muscle weakness made an appearance today. I made a few videos. I did that the other day too. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been so scared. Too scared to pick up the pen or to write truth on the page. Or I want desperately to write but am too physically weak or tired or in too much pain to do it. Or I just can’t post what I need to say because the truth that’s eating the inside of me will eat through the outside of others. So much I want to tell David and I’m so scared. I really wish x was here but she’s not.
I’m so tired. I’m dancing the line between driving and acquiring a new bracelet. It holds no magic power though. I’m sick. I can and do help a lot of people, but I’m still sick. I feel so alone. Disconnect from those around me. Talk of needing to find a sustainable way of living long into the future without the help of others terrifies me. I’m trying to hold out ’til the 20th for my ECT with Dr. M. I got a confirmation call today about an appointment with a new neurologist on Monday that I thought had been cancelled. Honestly, I don’t have it in me to figure out food much less bring together all the facts this lady needs and communicate them in a way that makes sense to humans. (silent tears to piano music)
(long pause, visualization)
Was it meant to be this way? Always on the outside? Maybe one of my parents was successful living disconnected but made me with someone normal and I’m some fucked-up hybrid with all the skills a disconnected person needs to survive but an incredibly deep need, a longing, together to be. A polka-speckled universe. Cornflower blue. (pause)
I need to reschedule a meeting tomorrow so I can leave an appointment early to meet with a friend’s doctor, who is also my doctor occasionally and that of one of my other people, to talk about things she won’t agree with or understand and come up with a solution I don’t support at all. I had it all planned out – appointment in La Mesa, meeting at the cafe next door, picking lavender for the afternoon and then the OCD meeting. Maybe a visit in between. Now the appointment is in Miramar at a facility I need to powwow with but shouldn’t right now, in a place that embraces secrets as I hunt for my truth. My meeting will be replaced with a few hours of arguing. It may be followed by helping a person discharge, which will take the rest of the night. If not, the other person hopefully will be there by then. I take refuge in the quiet moments there. I talk to the staff and take in what my body calls love – acceptance, warmth, care and concern. We help each other and they’re proud of me. (staring)
I know what I need. And I can’t have it. Even if it was there I can’t do it right now. I had two somewhat regular gigs helping people that paid for my doctors. Now they’re gone and I have to solve for x. I have a little bit of savings and my mom is helping me, which is a trigger and a blessing. I surrender. I’m not sure what to do. I was already really struggling. Now the bumpers are down and I’m on my own. My therapist talks about finding a way to be self-sufficient one day. Right. I’ve no idea how.
I need to write but I need to sleep. And I’m craving candy. I get paranoid around this time of night and I keep thinking someone’s here, that someone’s watching me. I have to go. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me. Kinda like buy one get one free. ;) I really wish that I didn’t feel censored and that I could write and keep up with my charts. 6 years of my charts. I WANT to do them. They matter to me. I must sleep.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
…I shouldn’t be in this group. I really don’t care. I feel angry. Angry. Angry.
Cog says anger is secondary to hurt or fear. Am I hurt or scared? Yes. Of what? Well… I feel hurt that I feel alone. Hurt that I can’t perceive most of the people around me as anything but idiots – people who can’t possibly understand me. Hurt that it’s my fault, that even after so many years of effort on personal growth, even after becoming a me I love, I don’t know how to teach other people how to “get” me or even understand on a base level what I say. I also feel hurt because people trust me enough to believe I’m okay. (slow, deep breath)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I can’t do this.
I’ve been home about a half hour. I took an Uber from 1925 Elm, wherever that is. It has not been a good day.
I actually woke up when my alarm went off at 8:30am and started researching how Facebook Live works so I could share Women’s Day at the church with my friends. K- had texted letting me know T- was speaking because he knows my friend really likes her. I didn’t get an event up yesterday due to the NAMI Walk but I put it on my page and I wanted to be able to share it, especially with that friend. I told a few people at the NAMI Walk too.
My body hurt quite a bit today from missing my 5pm meds yesterday during a nap, but I got up and took a shower. I had laid out my clothes – a really cute black and white skirt and black top. I heard my mom getting dressed, which baffled me since she neither likes that church, or Women’s Day, OR ever wants to go there. She said she just hadn’t been feeling well. Bullshit. She’s spooked from almost dying and wants to go to church so somehow “going with” me, which means driving me, which means us being late on a day I’m specifically trying to capture everything, seems perfectly sane. Right. But my balance is off today and I’m running into walls and dropping everything and I still fucking hate everyone, carried over from yesterday. I forgot my purse and she was determined for me to eat yogurt instead of writing or changing the last few settings on my phone or figuring out how to tweak a camera accessory to work with my phone.
She was pissed that I’m cranky, for which there are more than a few reasons, some of which are physical. When we got to the church we were the ninth car, including -’s. “Where are the humans?” I said. We were eight minutes late so I thought maybe for once they started on time. The doors were closed. No one opened them. I let my mom in. When the few humans who were there noticed my mom was there they were all excited and happy to see her and saying how they’d been praying.
(make a smoothie, move to couch, turn on piano music)
Everyone was happy to see my mom. I’m glad they paid attention to her. I sat down. The service hadn’t started yet, which I find annoying. – came down from going over a song to hug my mom. He hugged me too. He looked old today and I said so. He said it looked like I got the notification. He gestured towards my outfit. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. The other ladies for Women’s Day were in black & white. I’m assuming that’s what he meant but I still have no idea. I said I wish I had gotten the notice/notification for this day sooner so I could send it out to my people. He said no, that he didn’t want any more notices or people, he just wanted Michelle. I stared/glared at him confusedly. What the fuck was he talking about? I told him you can’t have Michelle without notices or reminders, and I bring people. Again with the no more notices, just Michelle. He said he was changing things, blah, blah, blah. I looked at him again and said, “Don’t make me hit you today. I am not in the mood.” I was not joking and there was no way what I said would have been taken that way. I don’t even remember the last thing he said to me. I just know it was in the same vein. I grabbed my purse, stood up, hands raised in surrender and said, “I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t be here. I’m out.” And I stumbled my way down the aisle and out of the church. I guess I’ve stormed out of enough events in my life that no one bothers to follow, or text, or call. It’s not in the best of neighborhoods. I don’t like being followed, but I’m not sure what meaning to attach to being ignored.
I don’t know what – was referring to, or what he meant. I certainly don’t understand. It was his notice I was talking about. HE sent it to me. He calls me his “new evangelist.” While I don’t like that word, it’s a type of outreach. What is Michelle without networking, without outreach? Really? Go ahead and define me without anything related to connecting people to other people or resources, without some component of organization or information, without sharing, or teaching. I dare ya. Spreading the Good News, or sharing the Gospel, is NETWORKING. I can’t not be me. And I don’t intend to.
I was aware as I left that I didn’t have my journal but I didn’t dare turn back to get it. I walked. I had my purse and my phone. I walked up 49th to Federal, down to Euclid and called an Uber at Elm. I knew it wasn’t safe for me to be walking there. I don’t fit in. I didn’t care. If someone had tried to mug me I would have just handed them my purse. It’s not worth a fight. I’m dressed too nicely on a Sunday morning to be a prostitute and I’m white so that rules some things out. On Federal a police car passed me, turned around and drove past me again. He did this several times. I was paying attention to my surroundings as I walked, but also to my body. Yesterday and today my face has been tense and twitchy, but I noticed something new today. As I walked, my hands were open static, palms forward. They just stayed there. My fingers weren’t moving. My soul was frozen. I give up. I stopped to smell red and yellow roses, said hello to the homeless people as I passed on the street. I smelled the two types of jasmine, picked one. I stopped to stand under the shade of a few trees. I just wanted to write but I had no paper. I needed a safe place to stop.
I wish I had wanted to die. Precarious situation. I’m used to feeling awful and wanting to die. It brings relief and I’m okay. But I didn’t want to die today. I just couldn’t stop the feeling. It’s all over. Nowhere to go from here. Dr. M said we can reset the inside of my brain but not my life. Sometimes I think it’s better to feel worse than good. At least in death there is hope. In this, it’s just endless bullshit followed up by a helping of confusion and then some more shit on the side. Why try to feel or get better if being better hurts worse?
There were no words in the UberPool. Driver barely spoke English. Before he arrived I looked down at my phone and my mom had sent me a text message. It read, “Don’t let the Devil keep you from being in church this am. Come back in, please.” I replied, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ll see you later.” I was so hurt. How dare she? Sure. I use everything I have in me to get to a service I’m doing something special for, am extremely triggered and offended by something someone important says to me, leave so I don’t scream or hit someone or say something their delicate ears can’t handle and somehow it’s the DEVIL keeping me out of the church? Riiiiiiiiight. I’m in bed with Satan and my goal is to fuck up the church and cause a scene wherever I go just to get in the way. I’m sorry I never realized the beauty of this plan. I suppose all the people I bring and media I share are Satan-derived too. I earn Hell-points for everyone I bring to church or convert and extra for each time I get upset and leave. (close and roll my eyes) Why even try?
M’s coming over in a half hour to work on folders. I don’t care to see anyone. I don’t want to work. I hate the new labels. I need to return the proof for the table runner. I need a nap.I think I’m getting sick too and my doctor isn’t returning my message. (sigh) Mom called to say she’s bringing food home. I JUST WANT TO WRITE AND SLEEP.
God, please help me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I feel so good. My body is really sore and I can’t drive but I feel light. Colors are crisp and clear. They may only last a moment but I have ideas. I smile warmly for no reason. I breathe deeply without having to think.
Today I had ECT (my 1st since April). A change in anesthetic caused some problems but I am so much better. I am blessed with an amazing doctor who genuinely cares about me and a dream support team. Friends are helping with rides. I am released to rest and sleep (both from my depression & ECT).
It’s been almost a year since I was doing somewhat okay. My current therapist says he doesn’t recall ever seeing me not in crisis. Late summer I started to get worse. My repeated calls for help fell on ears that considered them my norm. I prepped to go inpatient in Sept/Oct but thanks to an amazing arsenal of coping skills and extra sessions of therapy I was able to hold off. I asked for ECT. My doc wanted DBT-IOP. I got pushed into a different program instead due to my people being in DBT, despite my multiple warnings that it was not a good idea. It was, as anticipated, a catastrophe that ended with an event appropriately described as trauma that I’ve yet to be able to process. In 1 day I went from 25+ hours of treatment/therapy per week to 2-3 hours. Not good.
Lately my suicidal ideation has been through the roof. I’m fighting for my life. I’ve also been impulsive, angry, self-harming, dark, unable to access empathy, scared, feeling alone and hopeless. Last week I called my therapist at midnight. I packed for the hospital. I cried.
They laid hands on and prayed for me at church on Sunday. It was unexpected yet utterly calming. I was surprised last week when my pdoc offered ECT. In one moment she validated and made my ongoing normalized experience true. I was confused. Even this morning I was panicked as they put me under. But Dr. M had my hand and I could feel God and see the outlines of my angel and D- and some unknown to my left. I am exhausted and sore but I am okay.
God, thank you for blessing me with family & friends and kick ass doctors. Please continue with my healing and keep using me for Your will.
My next treatment is Thursday. I wonder how long they will last – not the set but how long between treatments before the effect begins to wear off. I’m itching to do weekly. I can drive then. ;)
I enjoy resting and sleeping now. And rain
Update 1/31/17 1:46am:
I had a treatment on Thursday and another today. The weekend was really bad but I feel better now. I’m getting some rest and reminding myself to do one thing at a time, be “gentle to self,” as we say in group. I’m proud of me and grateful for my treatment team, my friends and ECT. There is hope in electricity.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I’m sitting in the VA parking lot. The potluck was tonight and I pulled it off well, got a special award from Libby. I cleaned up and socialized, kind of. I feel weak and dizzy and faint, like before I passed out yesterday. I walked the stairs anyway. I want that star.
(rest on my fist the space between my eyes)
Mom didn’t come.
I missed my opportunity. I fucked up. This is my fault. I need and wanted ECT. In the time I could have done it and recovered I tried something else to appease my doctor, which went horribly wrong. Now I’m in a med change. She’ll want to know if it’s working tomorrow.
Is my new med helping? Is it better or worse? I’m not sure how to answer that. Before I was severely depressed and non-functional. I wanted and needed ECT and had time to do it but needed help with logistics. Now I don’t know what I am. My best guess would be rapid cycling mixed episode with mild psychotic features and marked memory impairment. I go back and forth from bitter to rage to desperation to confusion – lots of confusion – and back. The period I’m not supposed to have now comes for about 3 days every week and a half. I’m bingeing a lot, making myself ill, impulsively maxing out my credit cards. I shut down completely in private and in public at inopportune times. I’m isolating from everyone, including D-. Fighting with Mom every day. Is that better or worse?
I missed the opportunity. They don’t come often. Today I went back to work for F-. I’m expected at group and outreach events and appointments. Because my moments are split I don’t get to pick ECT anymore. I don’t get to do what I know works for me ‘cuz I’m feeling now. Fuck.
(curled over, feel my heart beat on my skin)
What do I do now?
Just keep working.
I didn’t matter enough to fix. :(
Not my turn.
3 – When Daddy hides the roller skates, run run away.
No like Daddy clip his fingernails.
Ice live in penguins, Mommy.
I get to see J- on Thursday. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it but I want my life back. I NEED me back.
What do I want/need help with?
(stare, hear a GameBoy game song)
3 – I want to go humbly. I mean home. You bozo.
(VA police sweep)
The difference between now and then is that in the darkness I felt hope.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I feel sad. (pause) I’m sitting on the couch, tv off. Mom’s asleep. The clock is ticking relentlessly, rain falling on the metal overhang outside. I watch the candle flicker. I don’t know what’s happening.
What’s happening now? I’m sitting in my room. I want to run away but I’m here. I feel my heartbeat where my butt touches the cushion and heavy in my chest. Most of my toes, the side of my left hand on the page. It’s hard to raise my gaze. “I want to die” is on my mind. It’s just a phrase. I’m not getting out.
God sends encouragement just before I need it. And I’ve yet to pair the thought that something bad is about to happen with the joy. Thank God for that.
I just stared at him. All I could say was, “Wow.” And I walked away. (prolonged stare…)
Am I really a miserable human?
(barely moving) Too painful. I don’t want to write. Have to. Need to.
(starting to pass out, not breathing)
After church today I stayed to talk to Matt about the choir, to ask what the fuck is going on. He seemed confused by the inquiry. The choir is chaos. I don’t get the details because I’m on the outskirts but I joined the choir in 2013 when God told me to. I didn’t go for the church or the pastor. I went to sing and to fellowship with Diane. I like the people. The goings on sometimes are questionable but only because I’m not on the inside. I come to most rehearsals. I show up for church. In the past I was able to sing a few pieces for special music. But this year everything changed. There was unspoken drama that caused Diane to quit and many other members to leave the church. I have no details. Bobby took over the choir temporarily. I like him as a human but choir practice sucked. Then a few weeks ago he quit too. Again, I have no details. Richard stepped in to direct temporarily though he lacks any ability to do it and we follow Helen and guess. Sometimes there’s rehearsal. Sometimes there isn’t. When there is we just go over hymns to sing and mark our books. Different choir members shout out what we need to do, direct from the loft. “Special music,” aka the music we sing as a highlight once a month, has become a joke. Even prayer time is lacking. More people keep leaving the church.
At the last rehearsal I went to two weeks ago I asked if in one of the ones I missed if there was a State of the Choir conversation, what was going on in regards to finding a new director and fast. No one seemed to know. They said maybe Matt was working on it. When I asked Richard for information he said he didn’t know. I said, “But you’re in charge.” Silence. The choir concurred that no one had any idea how to even go about looking for a music director or where to find one. I said I do. At least I have contacts who do and would probably help.
At church today Bonnie said she hopes I’m there on Thursday. I said I don’t know, that the situation is making me really angry. I don’t even get texts anymore about whether there’s rehearsal or not. She tried to make it better saying we’re working together and blah blah it will be better soon. It’s not okay. It’s not okay. Music is what ties the service together and speaks to souls. It matters.
After the service I went to talk to Matt. I asked what the info was on finding a new choir director and told him how unhappy I am at the current situation. Richard’s a great guy but he’s NOT a music director at all. Now is when we should be buckling down and starting to work on Christmas stuff. What we need is asking the impossible – someone who is skilled/talented at music and directing, experienced with hymns and traditional music, willing to give at least 2 half days a week, plan and execute holiday performances, coordinate special music, get along with everyone and do it all for free. (listen to solo piano on Pandora)
Matt seemed to have no idea what I was talking about in regards to the choir being in shambles. He said Richard was directing. I’m aware of that. I wanted to know who is looking for a new director, who is working on this. He wasn’t concerned. He said he’s not going to bring in a performer or hire a music director. He said he’s not like most churches. I asked if that meant he was expecting someone from our congregation to just stand up and do it. He kept talking about God’s will and that whatever God wants will happen. I told him I believe in God’s will but I also believe I have to DO SOMETHING too. I told him I’ve been in this choir for several years. I didn’t come to Trinity for the church or the sermons or the people. I came because God told me to come and sing with Diane. And I did. And I put up with a lot of bullshit to stay in it. Now she’s gone and Bobby’s gone and the choir is a mess. I can’t tolerate much more of this. Music is important. It’s connecting. It hurts to watch the program fall apart and the people do nothing. I’m so angry.
That’s when he said it. I thought maybe he would say if I felt so strongly about the program I should step up and lead, but he didn’t. He said Richard is the director for now and that he won’t be appointing anyone to replace him without really getting to know the person over time. He said, “Maybe this is God calling you to go somewhere else…”
I just stood there staring at him. We didn’t say anything. My breath stopped and my eyes squinted. Finally I said, “I’m just gonna leave that with a ‘Wow.’” I walked away without words. I grabbed my purse, looked at the choir loft, thought about the post-it on my hymnal from the first time I was there. Then I left.
I wanted to leave, to hide, go somewhere else but I’m still home. I don’t understand. I think I was just asked to leave my church. It’s not a horrific idea but I don’t get it. I bring people in. My friends like that church. Matt helps them when they need it. My mom gets along well with the people. They have free donut holes. It’s by my house. And it used to have people in it I called friend. They’ve never instituted any of my ideas or requests and they know very little about me, but they care. I don’t want this to interfere with the journeys of my friends. But it interferes with me. Not something I expected.
I don’t know what happens now, just that I feel very alone. Maybe it finally is time to change churches. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I am SO blessed. I’m sitting on the couch with my dog cuddled up next to me. Mom is sewing as we watch Big Bang Theory. It’s some sort of dream.
I woke up this morning. Yep. I wandered around my house most of the day confused and anxious, freaking out and shutting down. I finally found the guts to write to my brother’s step-dad about what I want to do with his body. I sent the message over Facebook and went through a basket I haven’t touched in ages while watching NCIS. My niece’s mom contacted me for the first time. Then the step-dad responded in agreement and my fear fell away. I could BREATHE. What a blessing. I also got to chat with a friend from Level 1. Thinking of her lifted my spirits.
In the afternoon God told me to go cut lavender. So I found my scissors and went 56 minutes before sunset. I prayed for God to sit with me as I cut the flowers, to bless me and the people who grew them, to heal the people who will receive them. I asked Him to let me just be. I walked and sat and cut. I listened to the neighbors. I watched the families interact. There was a butterfly that flew by. I say automatically, “Hi, God.” Sometimes instead I say, “Hi, Dad.” I pay attention to them and to the flowers.
As I sat on the ground collecting purple flowers I heard a buzzing. It was a hummingbird. It flitted around the plant beside me then came over to the one I was working on. I stayed still and watched. It backed up and stared at me. Then it moved forward, forward more. We were face to face and I didn’t move. God sent me a hummingbird. It hovered long enough to hold my attention. When it was ready it flew away. I praised God for the day.
I met a neighbor whose mom is a patient at Mesa Vista. I shared DBSA with her. I really hope this one house’s inhabitants show up soon. I REALLY want to cut the flowers in front of it. Mom wanted a bun taco from Del Taco so I drove through. I hadn’t been to that Del Taco or through that drive thru since November 16, 2001, when I left my dying father. The lady who gave me my food at the drive thru looked different. She didn’t fit the image of a fast food worker. I told her she looked too skilled to be working at a Del Taco. She said her husband owns the franchise and she fills in where needed. I told her about not being there since 2001. She told me her daughter, who was 26, died three years ago. She also told me about her mother with Alzheimer’s and their struggles. I offered resources and gave her lavender. She was amazing. She said to come back more often. I don’t know her name and I don’t like the food, but I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to see her.
I listened to Snap Judgment on the way home, bought bananas, made a smoothie and walked into my living room to Mom sewing. I don’t know what inspired her to do that (she is AWESOME) but I’m glad she’s back in her element.
I am so blessed. I’m exhausted but joy fills my face – and my soul, and my toes. Hallelujah blessed. Yesterday and the day before we SO awful. And today I’m okay. Held by God. I’m even back in touch with my old ballet teacher, who has been in the wind for years, and my 8th grade history teacher. They both appeared like the butterflies and the hummingbird.
Look for the small and so meaningful blessings in life. A hummingbird shouldn’t have to stare me in the face for God to grab my attention, yet today it did and it worked. God is with me. Don’t let me forget that.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Trying to write something difficult… So I went shopping… and put stickers on my keyboard. I was sitting on the floor where I usually sit but the smell of dog urine on the rug and the drama of Cedar Cove on the tv have pushed me to the kitchen. I don’t know what to say…
(eat cereal and scan a drawing to distract)
My brother died last week. Well, almost 2 weeks ago. I found out last week I am the legal next of kin. I’ve been asked to sign over my rights but that’s not what I want. I’m very angry about some of the things that happened, and worried about the effect of my actions. “Family” can be such a nasty thing.
I also found out on Thursday (yesterday) that if I want to continue on in Phoenix Rising training I have to do it in Colorado or Vermont, that I can’t do Level 2 here. It’s what I’ve been looking forward to for months. I already didn’t know how I was going to pay for Levels 2 & 3. I didn’t anticipate adding travel in so soon or needing to be stable enough to travel on my own by November. I can’t keep up. I don’t know what to do.
My drawing this week said I’m not alone and that I’m not running. I feel myself not running. In fact, the world seems to be standing still. But I do feel alone. Very. I wish I could feel that moment of wisdom where I wasn’t.
Today I got an email from the management of a choir I sing with. They had talked about us singing at some event on the Midway but never sent out info. Now it turns out they’re giving us a month’s notice to commit to two days of rehearsal in a row followed by the show the third day. This would be great except I just bought concert tickets for a whole group on the first day and I have a support group event the next. Fuck. I don’t understand. It’s Comic-Con. Why can’t one of those superheroes come and rescue me?
I feel like I’m bitching about stupid problems no one needs to hear about anyway. Except for I need to hear about them and I’m eerily quiet. I’m doing the best that I can. I really am. I’m taking my meds, going to my appointments and therapy. I see myself stronger and more grounded than years ago. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to stand in the fire for what’s right, even if I get burned. I’m just learning what it feels like to rely on faith.
I ran over the large remnant of a blown-out tire on the freeway Wednesday evening. I didn’t notice a problem until last night when I stopped to pop the bumper back into place. I told my mom and she discovered it has torn that piece under the car that stops stuff on the road from flying up into the important parts of your car. Lovely. She duct taped it. I think it needs more than tape but she won’t let me file another insurance claim. Last month I scratched a car in a parking lot. For the trivial nature of it it was quite the trial.
I miss how life used to be. I know it sucked but I miss having friends. I miss hanging out and liking each other and staying up all night at a coffee house and having pancakes in the morning. Now most of us have gone our separate ways or are busy or crazy or, let’s face it, dead. When I needed someone to sit with me this week to figure out my brother’s arrangements I literally didn’t know who to call. I went through my phone and finally settled on getting resources from some people I’m on a board with. I cried almost the whole day. Then I sucked it up and helped a friend. I didn’t want to lead a group on Monday but I took one when needed. And when I needed to pass it off at the break because I couldn’t take anymore there was no one there to take the clipboard. The people who used to work crises with me are not there anymore. My transition committee didn’t even show up to the last meeting – not a single one of them. (pause)
Maybe my relationships are affected by my place in the group, but I know that’s not all of it. (fall asleep on the floor) I’m friendly but distant. I don’t share a lot with people, though they share so much with me. I don’t show up to social events I’m invited to, most of the time because I am legitimately tired. And somehow, thanks to -, everyone thinks I call PERT or force people to go to the hospital whenever there’s a crisis, which isn’t true. I miss having friends.
I really want to complete the Phoenix Rising training. And I want my family not to hate me when I have the guts to make my decision regarding my brother known (probably tomorrow). I don’t think doing my best is wrong. It’s just hard sometimes.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
“Friends” on the tv. Ellie asleep on the couch next to me. Phone dinging intermittently…
I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
Yesterday I was unable to move or get out of bed until after 5pm. Zoe laid with me. I tried to write. I did get up one time. When my mom came home I tried to keep it from her as best I could. All my energy I used to get to the bathroom and take a shower with my shower chair that I promptly dried off and hid since she hates that I have it. I wanted to catch up on work all day. I guess it’s not in the plan.
Today I woke up with energy and surrounded by the Holy Spirit. God put a grieving widow next to me in church to comfort as she melted down. I ate chicken with my mom and when I came home to start working on the computer I saw a Facebook post from Chuck. My brother died today. Everything stopped. I posted a few pics and the news, then broke down sobbing. I don’t understand. I wanted to leave but there was nowhere to go. I went to my room, curled up on the floor, tried to read “Stellaluna” unsuccessfully. I couldn’t breathe. I slept all afternoon on my bed.
I don’t understand. Everyone’s dying. Last week Fatima and Ron. This Wednesday is Ron’s funeral. Today it’s Courtney. He’s my brother.
The people on Facebook say they’re sorry for my loss. I’m not sure why that phrase is so prevalent around death. I met my brother twice, dreamed of him for years. He had HD like my dad – the only one of us that got it. Mark met him with me once. All he wanted was death. I couldn’t help him. He refused treatment. And he lived far away. For awhile he called a LOT in the middle of the night. I haven’t heard from him in awhile. He crosses my mind but I haven’t called.
I called his step-dad Chuck to see what happened. “He wasted away,” he said. “The disease took it’s toll.” I don’t believe that. He said, “I’m glad he’s gone. He was miserable… He knew it was pretty close.” I guess Courtney hadn’t eaten in 2-3 weeks and refused care or hospice. He even stopped smoking, which was his thing, and going to the corner store. He laid on the floor by the door of his 5th wheel. He was constantly cold, died in a hoodie and snow jacket in the middle of summer. Chuck said he was, “gettin’ a little bit fantasy,” meaning he was talking about things that never happened like fires and earthquakes. Courtney was against medical treatment, IVs, feeding tubes, etc. There will be no service. He said, “Cremate me and throw me away.”
I don’t know what to do. My body barely moves. I really needed to work today, was looking forward to having time to catch up on life. But instead I slept, and when I think not a whole lot is there. I stare, stop moving. My world is cold.
Last week there were group crises. My level of functioning was such that I spent many hours staring. I even cried a few times. (staring…) I don’t understand.
Mom: Are you okay?
Mom: Why are you not okay?
Me: Well, people are dying all around me, I can’t keep up with my work, my body’s trying to kill me and, consequently, I can’t think.
Mom: Well, people usually die in threes so no one else will die for awhile.
What the fuck? There is no magic voodoo number on crises. They are not limited to sets of 3.
I can’t do this. I see Dr. H in the morning. I don’t even know what to tell her. Why does it bother me so much that my brother is dead? I couldn’t help him. (stare)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
6/30/16 I’m sitting in a conference room at the VA in an empty meeting. I’ve been wanting to write on this prompt from my brain for some time but I’ve been scared. I’ve been letting someone else control me. Someone mentioned last week that I hadn’t posted on my blog in awhile. There’s a reason. It’s just not pretty.
5 weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. Things had been getting progressively worse for some time and he decided a FB message was the appropriate tool to communicate with. He brought over my stuff, we exchanged keys, and he left. You’d think this would be the end. It was only the beginning. M- started (or continued) stalking me. He sent me notes through text, email, Facebook, Messenger, left me voicemails and off-topic comments on my blog. He went through other people to get to me, asking them to text me for him or contact me another way. He contacted my mother. He even hijacked someone else’s Facebook profile whom I was talking with to get to me. He at least stopped dropping by my house unannounced or at least I don’t know it. I took him off my FB profile as a significant other. I was confused but felt relieved.
It has been up and down since then. I haven’t felt this boxed in or trapped ever. Some of the things he’s done leave me honestly scared. He won’t let go. I can’t post on my blog because he reads it, can’t share in group because it goes back to him. Every time my phone dings or buzzes I’m on edge because it’s usually him and I don’t know what he wants. Will it be insults today or over the top compliments? Have I ruined his life or saved him? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. He researches me online, talks to everyone about me. I don’t even know what people know about me anymore because he tells everyone everything. I’m a pretty private person. I don’t appreciate mass sharing. There have been days I went to comfort him and was yelled at for an hour. He’s the first person who’s ever said something to me so mean or hurtful that it literally took my breath. I couldn’t breathe. He acts as if his assumptions are truth and won’t believe anything to the contrary. The mood instability and purposeful manipulation grind me down and make me mad. He’s texted me “911” to get me to respond when there was no true emergency.
He asked to stop by after church on Sunday to drop off a letter to me. He stayed awhile. The conversation was uncomfortable but he was respectful. I thought maybe he’d changed. Nope. He went home and started messaging me that I need to change my profile picture on FB because it’s not very flattering, not the best of me, and he’s not the only one who thinks it. FUCK YOU. Who the FUCK do you think you are? I AM NOT YOURS.
In a continuation of the emotional blackmail, he posted on his website that any donations would go to me for my Phoenix Rising tuition. He put up a story about me that’s not true speckled with tiny spots that were. That night at group he brought me a journal and some candy and a drink. So wait, now I’m good again? I can’t keep up. I accepted them and said thank you. I asked him to take down the story since it’s both private and not all true. The one thing that’s really important to me and my future is that Phoenix Rising training and he KNOWS I need money for it. Why not tie me to him for the money? Brilliant idea, except that it isn’t. It only hurts me having to choose whether or not to stay in the abuse for the money. The answer is no. Thing is, I’m not even sure he sees what he’s doing. He honestly believes he is helping… I think.
Today I went to his baptism with another friend. He asked if my last FB post was about him. That SO pisses me off and he knows it. He’s back to saying he loves me and that he’s going to marry me and that when he gets back from rehab he’s going to chase me again. He says he KNOWS I still love him and am still IN love with him and KNOWS we’re still lovers in our hearts. He says he KNOWS he broke my heart (by cheating on me, et. al.) “Stop pretending like you don’t still love me,” he says. He claims to know what I think and how I feel and my history, which he doesn’t. He wants to be “friends.” He says, “That’s all we really ever were anyway.” No, it’s not. We were in a relationship. He was part of my family. He messages me in despair and sadness begging for attention and help. Last time I called him when he sent me crisis texts and he said he was fine, that he had talked to some friends and used some skills. I was livid. He said, “Well you didn’t HAVE to call. I’m trying to give you some space since you think I’m stalking you, even though I’m really not.” He wants me at his going away party this weekend and to agree to take one phone call a week from him while he’s in rehab for the next two months.
I can’t do it. I have laid back, kept quiet, tried to deal with this on my own. I have respected his privacy, though he doesn’t respect mine. I have altered my life. I have constant anxiety. When I think about him I get angry. When I see him in person it’s hard to breathe. Texts and FB messages haunt me. Hugs eat at my soul. I can’t get away. Last time I saw him he told me he was going to frame all my PRYT art and hang it around his house. That’s just creepy. I have waited, played along, pretty well I think. Friends and church members have encouraged him to keep pursuing me. He told me we are destined by God to be together and that no matter what he’ll find me and we’ll be together. I don’t know what to do.
I’ve been waiting to set any boundaries because I’m scared, both of the backlash towards me and the very high probability of a spike in his suicidality. I don’t hate the man. I have compassion towards him. I care but I am not in love. I am under attack. I really don’t want to hurt him.
Since what I send to him usually becomes public knowledge anyway, I will spare him the hassle and make this an open letter:
I’m sorry you’re feeling so scared about this new journey next week. You will make it. I’m also glad to see you get baptized today. You are a man of God now and strong in your faith.
The past 5 weeks have been very hard on me. Your constant pursuing and intense emotions and reactions have left me trembling, fragile, ANGRY. I don’t hate you. I have compassion both for you and what you’re going through, but it can’t include me anymore. Contact from you (good or bad) sets my body on alarm. I feel fear. It’s hard to squelch my anger about what you’ve done. Apologies don’t erase memories. And neither does any other excuse. I truly treasure the time we spent together and what you’ve done for me. We both grew and expanded our lives. But that time is over now. This is a new time. And in this new time we need to focus on ourselves.
You are leaving for rehab on Tuesday. I’m proud of you for going, for having the courage and strength to face your demons. I don’t want you going there thinking the whole time about how you’re going to get back with me when you’re released and live happily ever after. You’re not. I’m not interested. I’m not in love with you and my heart is not broken. I do feel sad though that it had to end like this. It’s not what I expected.
It’s important for me to be specific so these are the boundaries I’m asking for.
What is okay:
I know it’s a lot to take in. We will see each other when you get back and maybe someday when we’re both healthier we can be friends (by my definition). I’m not your best friend and I’m not your lover. Until then, we can be fellow group members who really care about each other.
Please leave me alone, M-. Please.
It’s time I take back my breath. This is my life and I want to live it. So, hopefully you’ll be seeing more posts from me soon. If not, at least you’ll know the pause is not from fear. Just sadness. And living my life.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Today I woke up with a migraine – 5th day. I went to F-‘s and tried to be productive. I wouldn’t call it a success. I cancelled S-‘s. I knew I wouldn’t make it. I’d already had one sobbing meltdown (or was that yesterday?) and the pain was too high. I planned to rest before choir but made myself a hair appt too – gentle to self. I sat outside in the breeze for an hour while they rotated my tires. Choir got cancelled, which I’m glad about, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go home.
My mom and I have been fighting a lot. I can barely stand being around her. I’m fragile and didn’t know what to do. I cried and cried after getting a warning from a cop for apparently cutting someone off. I’m close to max. Then Mom texted that it’s baby day and she’ll be staying the night there. Praise the Lord. We need some time apart. A thousand things I want or need to do. I hope the one I accomplish is rest.
I really wanted the new baby to be a part of my life. I miss the girls terribly. I trust God has a plan for me. I’ve been using my body a lot to ground me, making friends with the present. We don’t speak the same language but it makes me laugh and I’m curious to learn its story.
I can’t wait to sing at the fair this weekend, to welcome God and spread His news. I give up control. I’m doing the best I can. That’s all I can do. And I sing “Hallelujah Anyhow.”
God, please bless whoever’s reading this. Guide me, move my pen, hold me tight and don’t let go. Show me Your will.
God is so good. Praise Him with me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I sit in Target. My insides tremble. My face wants to scream. I just left the DBSA event. A fair amount of people showed up and were happy. No one asked me about M-. A few people asked how I am in general, never touched the subject. It shouldn’t be a secret.
Yesterday M- broke up with me. After several months of escalating issues he had reached the borderline of verbal abuse. Constant fights, arguments & insults, passive-aggressive and manipulative behavior. He continuously reminded me I have “no relationship skills” and even stated multiple times that no other boyfriend would put up with the shit I give him. I’m not a “normal” girlfriend. This isn’t a “normal” relationship. I know. He makes so many assumptions and believes them to be truth. Ego flies high between crashes. “Walking on Eggshells” for Borderline doesn’t begin to describe it.
He posted on FB that we broke up both on my wall and in DBSA. In the DBSA post he also said he didn’t want comments and requested that people let us both grieve, said we’re too good of friends and plan on remaining so. Bullshit. BULL-SHIT.
I’m not grieving. I’m not sad. I’m angry. I have taken so much shit from him recently. It’s not okay but I let some of it slide due to fear of a spike in suicidality, which I was correct about as indicated by his new FB photo. I’m angry that he’s not working on his issues. And I’m angry that he needed me to let him go, asked how much longer I was going to make him lie in bed all day alone. I can’t do it. I have managed his money, been involved in his healthcare, answered his calls and texts and put up with some very hurtful things he’s chosen to say. The recent severe symptoms are difficult to handle but I won’t be mistreated or berated or used.
Each interaction begins and/or ends in a fight. He tells me over and over how I have to sacrifice for him, that I’m not a “normal” girlfriend, that he loves me IF I change. He’s putting in the time waiting because I’m supposed to change into what he wants. I stand my ground. It wears me down.
I’m proud of myself for staying assertive and setting boundaries, for not changing who I am just for him. I’m proud of myself for not responding with anger or harsh words. I used my skills. I’m not perfect but I did a damn good job. (tingles) Now the pain is inside of me.
After his FB breakup message I replied asking what the boundaries are he wants for our intertwined lives. He called several times with more insults and asking about my previous relationship. I kept redirecting to the issue at hand. He insisted on coming over right then to give me my stuff back. I was not happy, said it wasn’t a good time. He came anyway. It was an awkward goodbye, however short-lived, since the texts and FB messages resumed arriving late telling me he knew I was up demanding that we talk. Messages too that he still loves me. Today he asked me to come over because he needs to go shopping and asked for food help from -. I replied that he has his debit card now, why does he need me?
I was clear from the beginning about my boundaries. This is the first time I’ve actually stood up for me. I’ve just been taking it, afraid he couldn’t tolerate a loss, but slowly it kills me. I don’t need to be with someone who sees me as a template for what could be. I am already me. Far from perfect, many issues, but I’m proud to be me.
I’m not caught up on the end of my relationship. What keeps running through my head are the biting hurtful things that he said. I feel sad that a man I love has such poor insight and ability to care for himself. I feel sad that I can’t change him, glad I’m not trying. I feel angry that he paints himself the victim, that no matter the issue somehow it’s always my fault. All I asked for was respect and for him to listen. He’s just not able. I feel sad to watch him spiraling when there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I am not sad or hurting because he broke up with me.
I thought there would be pause. No such luck. He expects me to come by today. I want to scream and text back, “I’m not your girlfriend anymore. Remember? That’s not my job.” I think I would be so much more angry if I didn’t understand the root of the behavior. But knowing why makes me feel somewhat helpless. I have to remind myself that illness is not a pass for bad behavior. Boundaries are for EVERYONE.
Mom and D- are at a street fair. Neither of them responded to my note but I’m glad they’re getting to spend time together. He’s leaving tonight. That sucks. There’s a withdrawal effect that takes time to dissipate.
When I woke up this morning I slowly moved through my room, freezing at different spots. Last night I completely shut down. I changed my sheets (huge task for me) alone. Mom said she would help but was with D-. I started putting things away. I have a long way to go. I need simplicity. I need me. My gospel choir concert is tomorrow. Yellow pillow. (close my eyes)
It felt good to learn that I’m lovable. Now I have to keep loving me. Dusty light bulbs, show tunes and all. I need to gift myself some rest, set the pain free.
Oh, by the way, my ECT is on hold for now. I miss how it reset me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I’m sorry I haven’t written in awhile. It’s not because I don’t think of you. I’ve been busy and scared to share the truth. Today’s truth is not so scary.
It’s almost midnight. I have a bunch of stuff to print for an event I have to leave for by 6:30am tomorrow. I’m trying to read a few articles on FB but my computer is too slow to load them, thanks to having to redistribute my cloud files and them ever so slowly resyncing. The tv in the living room is blaring an infomercial and my mom is in her bedroom talking to her jackass boyfriend on the phone. Mine just sent me a short video mocking people who have too much stuff in their front seat when you go to ride with them. Last week he wrote “horder” in the dirt on my back window. I don’t understand. It’s a trigger for me to be made fun of, but if you’re going to do it anyway at least spell the insult right. He finds it funny. I don’t. My car is full of donations waiting for a specific space at a specific hospital that means a lot to me. There’s nothing humorous about that.
I folded clothes for a friend this morning after a long walk. I couldn’t breathe so I rolled on the floor and stretched for awhile. If I listen in the quiet my body tells me what I need. I met with someone about a partnership with my support group and had a muscavado brownie. Fucking amazing. (Eclipse Chocolate) I wrote beforehand in the car, enjoyed the peace of just the sound of wind in the trees. A man with some unnamed movement disorder kept driving around looking for parking. Eventually he came up to me on his motor scooter and handed me a beautiful red garden rose. He said he came to take his girlfriend to dinner but she wasn’t there. So I got the flower and a dinner invite. While I passed up the offer for tacos, the rose was nice.
I wrote for about two hours tonight. I went to my therapist’s office and laid on the floor in the hallway. There was no one there but the cleaning crew. It was a good safe choice for writing, complete with great jazz music overhead. (God-damn vacuum infomercial. Grrrr. I’d turn it off but that would attract my mom’s attention and she would start in on me again.) (sigh) Too late. She’s silently scolding now.
I don’t understand. All I want to do is write. I want to be by myself somewhere quiet and encounter my mind, vent my soul for a night. I miss riding the bus and trolley. I had that time to listen to music, to think and write. I could solve problems and develop ideas. I could passively observe. Doing everything quickly does not appeal to me. I want the privilege of moving slowly. God’s showing me a direction He wants me to move in but I’m too distracted to take the path. Like anything is really more important than God’s will, right? I feel sad and I want the right and the space to just feel it.
My ECT is on hold and I’m facing multiple losses right now. I don’t really talk to my friends. I’m not leading groups very often. I’m working on sharing in them. I’m starting to unfold and re-experience the traumas in my life. It’s scary but worth it. I want the darkness out of me. I want to let it go. I’m trying to learn to be a girlfriend. I suck at it but there has to be something said for trying.
I’ve been trying slowly to organize my possessions and get rid of things. I know I have too much but some of the stashes have a reason and most of the boxes are wired with memories. That’s not just a box of envelopes. It’s so much more – 3 therapy sessions worth of stories. And there are a LOT of boxes. Boxes, piles and bags everywhere. I have my stuff, group stuff, mom’s stuff, dance stuff. I have no office so my things are everywhere. I try. I know my mom and I have “issues” when it comes to things. Let’s face it, we’re hoarders. I know that. Do you think I don’t know that? I try my best not to think about it every day. It hurts when someone throws it in my face.
I’m so tired. I have a resource fair in the morning and then a Super Choir rehearsal. I’m hoping after to do some writing. Most likely I will be chastised all morning to type instead. Can’t I do both? Life is not all about work. I know this. My mom does not…
I’m sorry. I’m rambling. I just felt like talking with my fingers to someone and you were the person/audience that came to mind. I miss writing and sharing me. What helps you set aside everything you’re doing to follow what God’s told you or what you’ve discerned, even when it goes against all reason and odds? How do you set aside what logic tells you is required and do what you know your soul NEEDS? I don’t know how to do that. I want to learn. (Mom is at it again, nag, nag, nag. I wish she could just be content.)
I have to go prep for the event I don’t want to go to now. I hope to share with you more soon, maybe even some core truths. We’ll see. Thanks for listening.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2106
I want to write but I’m SO scared.
Curled up in a ball on the floor,
Scenes flash through my head.
TERROR, Horror, Guilt, No control.
I don’t move.
I can’t do what they want me to.
They don’t know who I am.
Tick, tock, tweet, meow, the sound of cars.
My mind has passed by.
Why did you leave me?
Radical acceptance. No batteries.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Little girl – I’M STILL HERE
I don’t matter.
-not a core belief, a truth
-embrace it, let everything go
-it’s a lesson, not intrusion, that keeps coming back
It’s what will set me free.
“It’s a loving anger.” -Bill
Urges during class – SH, run away, die
The cat behaviorist on “My Cat from Hell” said last night there’s a very small window during which a feral cat can be socialized. Am I past that time? If so, what will happen to me? I feel like I’m going to die, very close to the wisdom of the Lord, letting me feel Him close to me, letting myself be here with Him. I feel like I may pass out. But in this moment I’m okay. The pain is okay.
Is there anything other than pain?
Why don’t they tell us pain is okay?
Why didn’t they tell me pain was a gift?
Cog teaches the benefit but not the requirement of its presence for life.
“I can’t wait to do this again because I want to hear your next insight.” -B
(walk to 7-11, car)
Look up. Look at me.
Open your eyes. -Rhonda
Jane has cancer. (breathe…)
(still hear “Thy Will“)
So much pain. No tears to cry. I lock her in a closet. She is me – the truth not the lie, not the disease.
I don’t want to lose this feeling, this access to being. How can I learn to stay me?
(still very dizzy)
How much of me can I withstand right now and be able to come back to functioning?
(feel the strong pull of shutdown)
Lord, please don’t let me forget.
Acknowledge Shutdown is important
It shields & protects me.
Even possums play dead.
But I want to matter.
(hear “Please Don’t Let Me Go”)
I wish I had therapy tomorrow. I don’t know where to go.
(music is slower, falling asleep)
Urge – go to sleep, avoid work, stop helping Kelli, walk away
In my body – pain level 7, dizzy & lightheaded, hard to keep eyes open, can’t focus eyes – dart all over or roll back, jaw clenched, very still, shallow obstructed nose breathing, only feel a few parts, head tilted to the left.
I want to feel, to be the lessons. I need someone to integrate them with. And I need to do this every day. How can that happen? Am I willing or able to care for the feral me? Putting her down isn’t an option right now.
(hug yellow pillow)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
He bought me shoes. M- bought me shoes today. We went to the outlets by the border to find him shoes and I found an Aerosoles outlet. He gave me money and I pitched in and bought four pairs of shoes. I feel guilty but happy. It’s been a long time since I let myself indulge.
I have a hard time accepting help or gifts. I am constantly telling him, “No.” Even now I’m curled up on the couch at the massage place because I declined a massage. He’s getting one. What does accepting kindness bring up for me? Hope. Guilt. Shame. Fear. Anxiety. Self-hatred. Sadness. Automatic thoughts: I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve this. I don’t matter. I don’t want to owe him. I want to be independent. But there are things I can’t afford that I want. I’ve done really well the past year or two not buying, denying myself. I don’t know how to find balance between getting everything I want and buying nothing. It’s self-deprivation and even looking brings up shame – shame that I’m not independent anymore, that I couldn’t make it.
The more amazing he is, the more shame I feel. I’m not. I try to be. I try so hard, but I’m not. I want to be everything for him, for our lives to intertwine and not just intersect. I want to learn to stop running. M- is safe. I am safe… We are safe, Michelle. He bought me shoes.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016