© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
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
I feel sad. Tonight is my 10 year reunion – prime time for comparisons. In typical me fashion, I wish there was an RSVP list so I could plan out my night. There is no agenda. I don’t know what to expect. I posted on FB last night in the reunion group asking what “casual cocktail attire” means – the official dress code. Several people I know replied they’re wearing quite fancy cocktail dresses and that their husbands are dressing up. I was just planning on wearing a dress I like, nothing fancy.
I have my doubts about even going. I anticipate it being a huge trigger. I wanted to be successful, to have degrees and a car and family. I am successful. Just not by my standard. I’m like that firework that shoots off in unexpected directions. Dazzling yet unpredictable. I only like it in the sky.
Who am I?
I will be faced with many questions if I engage tonight. Where do I work? How many kids do I have? What degrees did I get? What am I doing with my life? I don’t know. And I don’t really care. I wish this was a barbeque picnic. Too much hype. Too much pressure.
I’m very tired. I woke up at 7:30, even though I went to bed late. In sharp contrast to the past several mornings, I do not feel bright, chipper or productive. I don’t want to be alive. My body is heavy. I don’t want to move. Yet, I’m awake. Is this from skipping 2 doses of my Flexeril yesterday or not sleeping? Why did I wake up?
I don’t know who I am.
I feel angry.
I want to sleep.
Whatever I decide to do tonight will be okay. I don’t have to share my secrets. I don’t have to be strong. God is my date. All powerful. He will lead me.
PS: Compare me to me if you must. That’s the only change that matters.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2013
The choice is never clear.
I made a decision today – to go to clog camp next week. In Utah. With my mom. For $340.
I haven’t been to clog camp since 2004. I really want to go but my gut says No. It’s a lot a lot of money but that’s not the only reason why. I don’t feel safe to go. I don’t feel healthy enough. I just want to be me again. You know? Maybe just for a weekend. To not be confused or scared. To dance like everyone’s watching. To feel confident and free.
I remember feeling that way at clog camp. On top of the world. With people I love. They call me The Machine. For my steel trap memory. We eat popsicles in the late afternoon.
The choice is never clear.
Nor is the question. I don’t even know what it is. What am I asking?
Why am I going?
What is the purpose?
Will I get to go again?
If I go will I be able to handle it? If I can’t, what happens next?
If I don’t go, will I be able to forgive myself for my illness stealing my dream?
The choice is never clear.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2011
Just for this moment I feel peaceful, calm. I have this song in my head. It’s so powerful & true. Listen.
This is my time to shine
This is my place to find
All that I have inside
I never knew
This is my time to show
What I must have always known
That nothing’s impossible
And dreams come true.
And dreams come true.
Overcoming all these things
Here I finally find my wings
Now I know I’m ready to fly!
I may not be a corporate executive or a research scientist, or on Broadway or a doctor. But this is my time. I’m successful and loved. And I love myself. I am making things happen. No, God is making things happen. I’m seeing change. And I get to decide.
I have overcome a lot of things and now I use my choice to decide. Listen.
I may not have control over the outcome but I have control of my actions, the decisions I make. I decided this week to push myself. There’s only now. I’ve got nothing to lose. Everything is a choice, every choice an opportunity.
I get to decide to stay in my house and feel bad or go out. I ate goat cheese yesterday, and golden beets, and cucumber. Wow. I never try new things. And I liked it. I liked being eagerly uncomfortable and the tremendous feeling of success.
This is my time to realize that I can make a difference and that there IS power in persistence. I’m tied to little. All I have is time.
I decide today to go out with the guy who’s not dark and twisted, the one who scares me with his normalcy. And makes me smile. Because I want to. I decide to go out by myself and eat good food and take in great music just because. I deserve it. I decide not to let myself fester, not to lose this momentum by being idle. I decide to take care of myself and to take chances. And to sleep. Cuz I get to decide. This is my time.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
When I read posts from M- I feel such compassion. I don’t know just what draws me to him. I’ve never met him. I only know him through FB. I think it’s the fact that he’s genuine. (My stomach hurts.) And the volume of genuine posts. If you make me think or occupy enough of my think-time, you become a close friend, whether I know you or not.
I noticed tonight he seems to swing a lot. Mood swings that is. Extreme highs and lows. Joy and strife. I was riding with my mom thinking about this. I felt concerned and wondered if he’d ever sought help. I realized it’s not really my place to ask but also that it’s not my place to kill the dream.
I realized – I’m on the other side. If I could go back to my days of creative highs and performance and laughter and joy and strife and craziness, would I? I have given up so much in the pursuit of not happiness but stability. And what do I really have? Not stability, less happiness, I guess less strife. Less psychosis. But there is little traveling, almost no dancing, no theater. My grand ideas are mostly limited to mental health and don’t usually happen. I have no degree. I have talent but I’m not doing what I love. I’d like to go to Fresno in a few weeks for a convention but I can’t afford it, have a choir performance and Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. I’d much rather do midnight workshops and dance all day.
I didn’t know what I was signing up for when I started taking medication. I just needed to get the Hell away from what was happening. I think if I’d been accurately diagnosed things might have been different. Maybe not. I remember the first night I heard voices. It was the scariest night of my life. I’ve been through a lot of scary things, but that tops it. My psychiatrist told me it was “normal” for people with depression to hear voices and not to worry, did nothing. (deep breath…) I would not go back to my days of skinniness and days of dancing and top of the world highs if it meant taking back the voices and the visions and the feelings and everything that went with them. But I yearn for those days. If you haven’t experienced them, you can never understand. It’s why we go off our meds. To feel them. Sometimes almost anything is worth getting that back. It’s like trying to convince yourself every minute that eating only peanut butter and jelly for the rest of your life will be as full-filling as eating as much of the best food you’ve ever tasted for a month and then starving.
This bitter perspective is not quite something someone new to mental health should hear or can handle. Would you jump at that? Maybe if you are desperate or REALLY like peanut butter. But it’s something they NEED to hear. But nobody says it. Nobody says to the artist, “This pill may save your life but you won’t paint the same.” No one says to the actor, “The stage might not be your friend.” No one bothers to tell the dancer, “By the way, in six months you’ll either be too fat to dance or you’ll be fat enough that you hate yourself enough not to.” No one says that. They should. But they don’t.
So I find myself on the other side. I’ve been through creativity and performance and crazy wonderful and terrible highs. And I’ve been through years of treatment and its ups and downs and effects. And now I’m here, on the other side. I think I’ve learned all I can from programs. Therapy keeps me going because it gives me someone non-judgmental to talk to. But I usually have the answer or it’s me that has to figure it out. I’ve been on tons of meds. I’m not on many anymore. And I watch people. I watch them feel and interact. I know when something’s wrong and sometimes what. Not much surprises me. Not much other people say scares me. And I want to help. What I have been through helps, but it doesn’t not hurt. It takes from you. It’s not free. Life in entertainment may be crazy but it’s a choice. Everything is a choice. (sigh)
I wish there was a way to get “better” without losing the creativity. Without losing what makes us us. On the other side now. I can’t cross back. Not for long…
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010