Incubation vs Hibernation

9-3-13     2:22pm

I was thinking about my life today while driving to Eastlake for a pickup. My doctor says I’m making so much progress, that he knew I had potential but never expected me to come this far. But where am I? Where am I going?

I’m not headed in any particular direction. It’s a day to day struggle to stay alive. I’m not in school pursuing a career. I don’t have a husband or kids. I’m floating, stagnant, goal-less. Well, I do have 2 goals but I’m not doing very well on them. I’m temped to starve to death or maybe just walk in circles. When I think about it I freak out. (deeep breath) Is this the end of the yellow brick road?

The word incubation came to mind followed by hibernation. I have stopped almost all events and responsibilities. I am tired. But I don’t think I’m hibernating. I am largely motionless but I am being nurtured and growing. This pause in my life is productive. My mind is catching up to me.

I feel very nauseous, head pain, weak.

I am incubating. If I don’t die, I’ll hatch. I will arise into my new life and follow the path wherever God leads me.

I’m scared to leave this place. I’m not moving forward. I am being carried. The angels are around me. My breath…

Incubation is painful like physical therapy. I am stretched and molded and melted, filed and rearranged. My body is trying to kill me. Maybe I need to die to live.

I really feel faint.
I need to lie down.
And see Dr. Collan.

Right now I feel panic like last night. I’m hovering on a subject so painful, raw. I want to go back to USC.

WHY did you take that life from me?
Why even show me or care?

My life is over. I want a new one. I want to die.

FG – If the new life was different but as fulfilling as the old one, would you stick around?

Hell, yeah.
I need. I just don’t know what. 
Jesus.

I’ve walked right out of my shoes. Now I walk on air – off-lifing. Where am I headed, running in circles in an incubator. I’m not ready to leave. But I’m close. I want a better life, to be free. That’s progress. In hibernation I shut down and rest. It rarely involves conscious growth.

I’m helping S- tonight. I’d rather be working on the Comfort Drive. I need to prepare for my mom’s trip and I need someone to help me improve my backing.

I feel overwhelmed but I’m here, incubating. I will be here as long as it takes. God help me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Grown-up things

7-4-12     10:46pm

I didn’t feel like sitting in traffic so I walked 3 miles after the fireworks tonight. Fireworks make me cry.

As I walked I talked to myself and God, enjoyed the cool night air, the freedom to move and to be me. I was thinking about a DBT lecture note in my journal:

Acceptance allows gentleness – making room for something in our lives without approving or judging.

I thought about Mom and Don and about independence. I’ve been thinking and planning and dreaming lately about what I want and what my future could look like. It greatly raises my anxiety. So as I walked and talked to God I tested out some positive affirmations, things to say to myself to make it less scary. I came upon this one that hits the spot:

I can do grown-up things without losing me.

(breathe…) I can do grown-up things without losing me. Growing up scares me. I don’t want to do it and thinking about it freaks me out. Like someone trying to kill me. But I can do grown-up things without losing me. Or killing me. Or changing me. I like me. I love me. I need to keep loving me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Pain is the price of admission

(a conversation between me & a voice in my head after hours and hours of writing)
4-11-12     1:43am

(big breath)
I am alive.
I am alive.

If I have no control over what happens to or around me and what I do doesn’t matter…
If there is no such thing as should or real…
If I’m the only one my importance matters to, why am I here?

‘Cuz I like it.

(??) What?

I said because I like it. And I always get what I want. You can’t have hugs and the ocean without pain. Face it. You fear life.

No shit. I know that.

Yeah. But you don’t know that you love it too. You can’t see that in order to feel joy, you must know pain. The music comes with heartache. The ocean comes with pain. The dancing comes with a loneliness that pushes you to death. There are no substitutions. You can’t get away. You can’t strain off the bad. It is one.

(stare)

Michelle, you don’t want to die. You want not to feel the pain. The fire inside and the physical stress of your body melting away. But it’s not going away. It’s here to stay. What you do with it is your choice. But, like you said, you have no control.

There is no anti-life pill. You can’t strain out the seeds. Can’t sugarcoat it. You have pain.

You also have music. And hugs, and flowers, and writing and what you see in your head. You have God and the pirates.

(crying)

You have me.

But it hurts so much.

I know.

I’m so scared.

Like Jim said, you don’t have to understand right now.

I just have to be.

Just be.

I love you, Mom.

I love you too.

Acceptance is realizing the pain is an entry fee, a price of admission, to the theme park of life. Non-refundable. It’s your choice if you have fun or not.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Acceptance

9-6-11     2:55am

Someone asked me tonight how I accept all these crazy versions of reality I experience and am not freaking out all the time. Have I done ACT or some special kind of therapy? No, not really. I’ve just lived through it.

The first time I experience something new it freaks me out and if it gets bad enough I usually end up in the hospital. Like this last time in July when I was talking gibberish and then not talking at all and then talking all weird. Freaked me out, understandably. But it happens now and I’m fine with it. I have a category to put it in. I know what it is. Or maybe I don’t know what it is but I know that it won’t kill me and it will pass.

I seem to have more and more of these things. These things that I know are bizarre to the rest of the world but have become quite normal to me. So when the universe is orange and I’ve been poisoned and there are people following me I am more able to approach it as an experience than an attack. Some strange experiences can be quite fascinating. I am always hesitant to stop one with medicine too quickly. I lose some of the beauty. It’s not something I can just get back. I enjoy the parts that aren’t super scary, the writing that flows through me. It doesn’t last. I keep it ’til it’s dangerous.

I think dealing with all the physical stuff has made that easier. When there aren’t answers I come up with my own. My own systems of coping, my own reasons, my own rules. My own way of accepting. I may not like what’s going on but there’s no one who’s gonna save me so I might as well enjoy what I can and throw the rest to Hell…

I’m so tired tonight. My brain is foggy and the words aren’t here to write. There are pauses in my mind where thoughts go. It doesn’t sound right and nothing rhymes.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011

Tree Seasons

1-2-11     2:52pm

There are 3 trees and a daisy bush that I watch from my back stoop. They teach me about life. (pause)

I’ve been watching them lose their leaves and wondering what they must be thinking.

Why are you leaving me?
Oh my God, what’s happening?!
No! No! Please! That one is my favorite!
He’s my best friend!
I’m cold.
Why isn’t anyone helping me?

Then humans come in and cut off branches completely out of their control and haul off their leaves on the ground.

It’s much like our lives. And it happens in seasons. But do they know? Do they understand? Is the tree freaked out by this major loss or does it understand what is happening, why? Is there an innate acceptance that this is what is and any attempts to stop it are futile?

Each of the trees is in a different stage of unleafing. I wonder if they compare themselves to one another and feel jealous or proud.

Why does HE still have leaves?
Haha! Sucker. I have more than YOU do.
You all lose. I’m leafless first.

What do they think of the nonshedding trees? Is there grief over the loss? It got me thinking about the cycle of grief.

Life has cycles, like trees, but not Kubler-Ross’s five cycles. I believe there are four, matched to the seasons. Love (summer), Loss (fall), Grief (winter), and Acceptance (spring). They can change at any time for any reason but in my life they tend to go in this order.

Love (intense feeling) could be a person, a project, an idea or ideal. Loss (involuntary action) is its fall from dream-state, it’s emerging reality of flaws or its actual loss. Grief (reaction) is the processing of loss, reaction to a lack of control, and reassessment of who we are without this and why we are still here. And Acceptance is the freedom to move on openly knowing we will lose again but embracing the moment anyway.

Some days I look in the mirror and am surprised at my leaf count. I thought there were 3 left. I was sure of it. But today they are gone. And it’s cold. And the daisy bush is dead. I know just on the outside but that is all I see.

What are your tree seasons?

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© Michelle Routhieaux 2011

The Storm

12-20-20    2:16am

S-’s grandma died tonight. It’s got me thinking about storms. Helps that it’s raining. I texted, “I know right now it’s a tornado. Just remember I’m not afraid of the storm.” She took it as me thinking she was afraid. It had nothing to do with that.

I like storms. All kinds of storms. Most people hate them or are afraid. But I don’t mind getting wet. I also don’t mind putting myself in danger most of the time for a good cause. I stop on the freeway to help people who are stuck. I talk to homeless people. I give money to strangers. I salt the chickens and empty the whitehouses. I search for people who are in danger. I listen. Instead of running from the fire or crisis, I walk towards it.

When I am in crisis or someone I love has died and I am devastated I find that most people are afraid of the storm. They mean well and say things like “they’re in a better place” or “I’m here if you need anything” or “I’ll pray for you.” But when it’s 3am and I’m pissed at God ‘cuz it’s not fair and I haven’t showered in a week and am a mess from crying, calling them will not yield support. I don’t need to hear that it will all be okay or that time heals or that they know how I feel. They don’t. And it makes me mad.

I do my best to be the friend who brings an umbrella for you but is not afraid to brave the storm. To sit with you in the rain until you’re ready to come inside. I’m no stranger to hospitals, 3am phone calls, people crashing on my couch, safety missions, long text or IM conversations. And I don’t bullshit. I choose my words carefully. Silence is often more powerful than words.

I know what it’s like to walk alone in the rain. To have someone who walks with me for awhile, who listens, who’s not scared of my plight and respects me – that is a Godsend, a gift I pay forward.

I may be terrified of my own storm, but holding hands through yours makes me stronger.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

The Prayer

12-17-10

I said a prayer yesterday. I’ve been sick for a week and I was laying on my mom’s bed staring at the ceiling. It started out a standard prayer – thank you for this, please help me with that. But then I stopped and it changed. And I just said to God that I don’t expect any of it. I don’t expect any of these things I ask for and I know they are out of my control. I know and I ask for help accepting that none of this is up to me. I am part of a plan too big for me to even imagine, serving a purpose I might never comprehend.

When I’m supposed to understand, I will. Until then, I’ll wait and know that my life is in His hand.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Will I?

5-26-10                 2:46am

Will I?” from RENT keeps playing again and again in my head tonight.  It’s such a powerful song. It’s a many part round of this phrase:

Will I lose my dignity?
Will someone care?
Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?

RENT was my soundtrack for several years. When I was living with Mary I listened to it for days at a time while pacing her backyard (when I wasn’t crocheting and watching Law & Order.) It speaks to me. At the time with being at-risk for HD it was particularly relevant. I was constantly wondering what would happen to me. The show is still relevant. I’m just less scared now.

I think practicing mindfulness and acceptance has really changed me. I know I’m going through something I can’t change, something I can’t fix. But I’m not scared right now. Just for today, I’m okay.

One Song Glory” also speaks to me.  Especially the line that says, “One song, before the virus takes hold.” I think I’m writing that song. I think that now is my time. You know?

Do you ever feel like something really big is happening in your life? Like you’ve gotten to this very moment for a reason and you’re about to find out?

I’m pretty sure I will lose my dignity. And I don’t know if someone will care. And I probably will not wake up tomorrow from this nightmare. But it’s okay… It’s okay.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Maybe it’s time to dream

5-15-10                 2:55am

My friend posted this today:

Is wondering what’s more important love or a dream? What was the biggest thing you had to give up to pursue your dreams? –S

My original response:

I gave up my dreams to pursue me.

But I’ve been thinking. Why does one have to be more important? Can the dream not be love? Can you not love the dream? Do you really have to choose?

I did give up my dreams to pursue me. But maybe I’m thinking of the wrong dream. I gave up my dreams of being on Broadway and of getting a Ph.D. and of curing disease and having a family, of owning a dance studio and having a place and a dog. But the dream I followed was me. The dream of stability, of enlightenment. Okay, so I wasn’t after enlightenment but it would be nice.

The biggest thing I gave up in my pursuit of happiness has been control. I am pretty successful at what I do and in my recovery. And the biggest thing I keep giving up is control. Accepting that I am not in control is uber hard to do but so important. It’s not me who’s driving my destiny. I can’t control others or my body or the world. My life is in God’s hands. I still like being in control of things. Just not everything.

I also gave up thinking I matter so much and giving a damn. I used to care what everyone thought. It was so stressful. But now, there are very few people whose opinions I respect and whose criticism can throw my whole world off. I just don’t give a shit. I can’t afford to. I don’t have the energy and it doesn’t help me. Realizing I really don’t matter that much is hard but it’s helpful. That thing I said that’s stressing me out probably DIDN’T ruin his life. My late bill won’t kill me. Missing the meeting is NOT the end of the world. And without me, life goes on.

I also gave up love. I’m not sure I can say I gave it up though because I never had it. I don’t think I’ve given up the dream of love, just the hope that it will ever happen. I don’t stress about it most days. It’s out of my control. I’m just doing what I can.

I used to dream big. I remember dreaming about a party for my sweet 16. I remember it included ice sculptures. Lol. In reality I got a banner at Possum Trot and a dance with Jeff Driggs. Not quite an ice sculpture. The retreat was dreaming big. REALLY big. So is the movie night event this summer and the studio. But they’re not dreams I actually expect to happen.

I gave up my dreams to pursue me. Now that I’ve found me, maybe it’s time to dream.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Help & A Magic Dress

5-11-10                 6:04pm

M- posted this this morning:

What would you do if you knew someone needed your help, but you knew there was nothing you could do to help?

I’ve been thinking about it all day.

I find myself in that position often. So many people want or need my help, but I often don’t have it to give. I pray. And call my contacts. I have an extensive network of colleagues and resources. I usually know someone who can help or know someone who does. But there are situations that can’t be fixed, hearts that can’t be mended, questions that have no answers.

The short answer is – I pray. And I hurt. I have to accept there is nothing I can do. It’s not easy. And sometimes there is something I could do but it would hurt me to do it and I have to say no. And sometimes I have the perfect solution but it’s not my problem to fix.

Helping people is tricky. Many times I find what people are looking for is not a solution but comfort. Someone who will listen, a hug, a note just to say you care. For me, just being near people who mean a lot to me helps. Like Sacha. Her voice and her presence, for the most part, are calming to me. If there’s nothing I can do, it’s not my help they need.

I run a non-profit support organization for people with mood disorders and their friends and family. I see a lot of people in crisis. I get 3am phone calls, emails and texts 24/7. I’m the designated crisis person because I know what to do, what to say, who to call or not call and why. But it takes a serious toll on me. And it’s taken many years to realize that I can’t save them all. It’s not my responsibility. Does it hurt me to watch some suffer? You bet. But, for my own sake, I can’t save them all.

So I do what I can do, what I’m willing to, and I pray. God, please hold this person. They’re hurting and there’s nothing I can do. Then I make sure I have the support and comfort I need. Helplessness eats at me, especially if who I can’t help is special to me.

I also find it frustrating when I’m the one asking for help and there are no answers, there is no response. It would be nice sometime to find someone like me who will do everything in their power to find an answer. Until then I pray, and write, and sing, and accept, and help people. Every day.

—–

5-12-10                 2:17am

I love what he said later: “I just wish I could make a magic dress that when worn would heal anyone of sickness or woe.”

That would be such a beautiful dress. I close my eyes and smile just to think of it… Makes me feel light yellow and reminds me of the little yellow house I dreamed someday to own. :) I don’t know of a dress that can heal but the one I bought for my birthday this year made woes goes away for awhile. I was still sick but when I wore that dress I felt beautiful. And that feeling, that feeling like I was worth it and could conquer the world, won out for awhile. Just one night. I remember that feeling. It didn’t matter that I was sick. I just felt good. I didn’t want to take it off…

Tonight it makes me wonder why if everyone’s searching for the answers we haven’t found them yet. I don’t know. A magic dress. Why not? Are clinical trials required for healing articles of clothing? Hmmm… Sign me up! :)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010