I am valid too

6/13/2017© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

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Midnight Musings

7/23/16     12:44AM

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?

(sigh)
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 don’t understand

7/10/16     11:12pm

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?
Me: No
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)

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Courtney & Michelle 1/2016

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

If you’re the prayin’ type…

3-27-14     10:30pm

I feel like I should be typing on a typewriter. The sound of the keystrokes is more fulfilling.

It’s 10:30pm, still an hour and a half in the day. I hope it is dull. I woke up in a terrible funk. A curl-up-on-the-couch-and-stare-afraid-to-move-no-thoughts-unable-to-do-anything funk. I managed to scribble a few words on the page. After a few hours I ate, turned some music on. I dragged myself out the door, despite the paranoia telling me I couldn’t go, that they were watching me and they’d find out. I didn’t want to go to choir. I needed someone to help me. But my mom was asleep and I couldn’t ask. I thought of calling my therapist or my doctor but my words were slipping away and I couldn’t explain it, didn’t know what to ask for or from whom. So I went to Staples. I figured binder shopping on rewards couldn’t hurt. I was able to drive safely. I was astonished. I figured I’d swing by Starbucks for a banana and a cup of hot water to warm my throat so I wouldn’t crack while singing my solo in choir.

This should be a simple thing – getting a cup of hot water from Starbucks. I had finally made it to a semi-stable place and calmed myself into being able to wait 15 fucking minutes in line, pushing me late for choir. When I got to the register the woman told me they no longer serve hot water there. What? She claimed that one of the partners got burned and it was a liability and that some people bring their own stuff to put in the water. ??? I just stared at her. I asked if I could order something else on the menu minus everything but the water. She said sure. She asked what I’d like. I asked what on the menu has water in it. She said if she did it for me she’d have to do it for everyone and glared at me. My emotion was at a 10. It took EVERYTHING in me just to stand there and not move, not make a sound. I put the banana down, put my hand up and said, “I can’t do this,” and walked away. I was to the car by the time I realized I could have ordered tea with the tea on the side. Not that I drink tea. I would have paid $10 for a damn cup of fucking water. What she said made no sense. And was rude. And was just beyond what I could tolerate.

I sat in the car not moving, barely breathing for several minutes. Couldn’t scream. Couldn’t talk. Needed to die RIGHT THEN. I kept seeing myself stabbing me in the stomach with the ice pick my mom used to own but now doesn’t remember. The urge was SO intense. I didn’t move. Cuz seriously, I don’t need to be driving like that. I was pissed when I remembered I’d agreed to live 6 months for the DBT program. Fuck. When is that up? Eventually I started driving. I had the urge to admit myself to Grossmont as I passed by. Air 1 helped. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the college from the mall. The freeways were all twisted and I kept missing the off-ramp, driving in circles. I was so mad. I wanted to quit altogether but I thought choir might help me feel better. I made it to the school, paid for parking, got a big hug from Derek. Much needed. Sat next to Karen. I told her I was a 1/7.5 on the mood chart. She got it, invited me to a movie this afternoon. Singing was much needed. Bumped me up to a 4 for about an hour, then I crashed to a staring 2 for awhile. The movie brought me back up. Honestly, the best film I’ve seen in quite some time. I needed the feel of home. It’s Kind of a Funny Story. After the movie we went to dinner. Then I skipped choir, hit Walmart, and crashed again on the way home.

I’ve been crashing a lot. I’m concerned. My doctor says I need to cut back on what I’m doing but I don’t know how. I know if I don’t I’ll only get worse. I don’t know how. I wake up in the morning when my alarm turns off, not when it comes on. I need express instructions. I am tired during the day and my back is spasming and locking up on me. My head pain has returned and my blood pressure has dropped markedly. I can’t concentrate. I don’t write. I can’t think. When I come home at night I shovel M&Ms into my mouth (literally a giant bag every night) and fall asleep on the couch on or around 9pm. My mom wakes me up and I go to bed. There are all these positive opportunities for me right now. I even just had a great weekend at Possum Trot, which was awesome. I don’t know what is happening.

So tonight while I was curled up on the couch falling asleep next to my almost empty bag of M&Ms I heard my mom shouting into the phone. It seems my sister-in-law died unexpectedly this morning in my brother’s arms. What? Right. I know. Where the Hell did that come from? I got up and came in the kitchen to read the post-it note she was scribbling on. I would have known this sooner if I’d checked Facebook today but I didn’t. Lovely. My mom told him he shouldn’t be angry at God. Actually, IT’S OK. Not that she’s dead but that he’s angry. I don’t understand. And I don’t have to. I just have to go. After an errand in the morning, my mom and I will go up there. Crisis is a good distraction but why death? He was finally happy. I don’t understand.

I’m tired. I am tired. I will go tomorrow and do whatever is needed. Greg is family. MY family. I pray this brings the family closer instead of pulling them apart. I hope my brother can hold on. I love him dearly. I also hope my staring, body-crashing episodes are paused for the duration of this crisis. They are not needed. I should tell my people. I should also sleep. It will be a long day.

Thanks for reading, listening. I know I haven’t been posting. I write things that just never make it here. It’s been a bumpy ride. Please keep my family in your prayers if you’re the prayin’ type. Thanks.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Breathing

the girls 201012-29-12     10:31pm

It hurts to breathe…

The air in me is hollow.

My brain laments with grief.

My head hurts. I just got home from Denny’s – a gathering of distraught friends. I took tissues & Play-Doh and ate plastic cheesecake. I am not okay.

I am not okay.

I feel God holding me, thankfully. Mom’s on the phone with Don. I don’t care. I am stoic with small bouts of tears. I need to talk to someone who’s not in it. I need to let go.

I hear “I Need You Now” by Plumb.

Armando said I look very calm. I’m about to implode. All my cells are on high alert. My head hurts. I don’t move much. I’m not hungry. I stare. I can’t tolerate noise or stress. I just want to be.

I was the last person who saw Janet. I shared her last meal. I had that privilege. And I am in pain. And all the questions are coming up. The what did she say and why didn’t you see the signs and did you knows. I didn’t do anything wrong.

I can still feel her hug.

How many times have you heard me cry out?
How many times have You given me strength?

I made arrangements. Let everyone know. Am answering texts night and day. Planning a memorial. Secured a minister. Set up a therapy group. Sat with Chrissy. Breathed.

It hurts to breathe.
It hurts to be.

I took a shower today.
This is how I deal with crisis.
I shut down. It is absorbed into my body, the fabric of my being and it doesn’t exist. I cry alone. I sing. I breathe.

Janet is dead.
It hurts to breathe.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Janet was my friend

12/29/12     5pm

Dear Jesus,

I don’t know if she believed or not, but I like to believe that Janet is in your arms today. Please bring her all the comfort and peace that she couldn’t find here and introduce her to joy. Thank you for the time you gave me with her. She is an amazing friend. Please be with Chrissy as she deals with this trauma and help me to provide comfort and support to the group. Give me strength to hold everyone up, to maintain my link. Thank you for giving me the resources and fortitude to do this. Thank you for hope.

In your name I pray, Amen.

Janet 2010

Janet hung herself.
I’m going to the donut shop now.
To be with Joe & Chrissy.
(pause)
Janet was my friend.

Chrissy found her.
Janet was my friend.
I saw her on Wednesday. We worked, talked, had dinner.
I knew she was bad.
I didn’t know how close.

Was the cleaning up all part of the plan?
I doubt it.

She hung herself in the bathroom.
The bathroom we just worked on.
With the flowered rug.
And the Tinkerbell towels.

Janet was my friend.

We went to Noodles & Company after.
She bought me food. We talked.
She laughed.

I met Janet in 2004 in Henry’s group when she was living with her family in Borrego and getting ECT. She was a wreck, but she helped me. She would walk me through guided imagery. We talked on the phone hours a day. She jumped out of a car on the freeway, ran away. Her parents screamed at me. So much drama. But she was my friend.

I couldn’t tolerate her anymore and was glad she disappeared. I hadn’t seen her in years when she showed up at DBSA. I heard of a Janet and prayed it wasn’t her, but it was. I was scared it would be the same drama with her parents and Fidaleo and 17 drugs. But it wasn’t. She was different.

The crippling depression Janet experienced while at DBSA was a vast improvement from when I met her. She had skills, sometimes hope, and a desire for a good life. She lived on her own or with a roommate, drove a car, fed her cats. Those cats were her family, her reasons for living. And the whole month of Halloween.

Janet was a broken little girl living the devil’s fairy tale. With a body that wouldn’t die. But I guess enough is enough sometimes. Her body & mind were weary. It was time to let go.

I can’t imagine her believing it would work. One last try out of desperation. Care for the cats and care for myself. I don’t blame her. She endured years of torture, loneliness and pain. The people she wanted love from the most were mean to her. She had nothing left in the reserve. No doctor, dwindling meds, persistent severe depression. She had her note cards and her kitties and her best friend. She fought the good fight and now it’s over.

Janet was my friend.

I find myself grappling now with the what if and why questions. The words that have no answers. The words that need no response.

I’m going to the donut shop.
Janet was my friend.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

He loves me

7/18/12     1:08pm

I had the most intense dream last night. It was about Dad and J-. I can’t recount in too much detail. I’m still in a fog an hour later.

I was looking for J- and his secretary, this lady, kept telling me I could only contact him through FB. I was confused and frustrated, but finally I figured out that was code for him being a patient at MV. I went to visit him in the ICU. He was a mess. Didn’t wanna see Rachael. I’m worried about him. I said I would come back. The next day I had a Hell of a time getting there. Kim was following me on a skateboard. Had to navigate the ocean to find my way.

Somehow I found a lady from Social Security. I don’t know what she was calling about but she had so much information. Information nobody has. She told me that my

(mom touches me. need to SCREAM. her energy is stuck to my ear. can’t breathe.)

She told me my mom was there when my dad died and that she stopped them from saving him. I couldn’t breathe, so much crying. I was injected into the scene. I watched but I saw something they didn’t. Before he died, after they stopped trying, he woke up. He opened his eyes wide, smiled hugely – a grin like I’ve never seen – pointed to him, pointed to the ceiling. He looked at me, said “I love you,” smiled big, pointed at the ceiling again and was gone.

(deep breath)
I wasn’t angry anymore.
I felt peace. I heard his voice.
He loves me.

This woman, my worker, knew a lot about me. She knew things about my life I don’t know. But we were putting flowers in a vase and she said she knows I drive a lot. I told her I don’t, that I don’t have a license. She said I have a permit. I said that I don’t. She said, “Then that’s the next step.” And my mom woke me up.

What I take from this:

  • J- is sick/stressed. I should stop sending him emails.
  • My dad is okay. I can let go, disengage. He loves me.
  • I need to get my permit this week.

What a dream.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Dear Daddy (Nov 2003)

written on the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s death, posted now for Jingle’s Poetry Potluck (and because I’ve been thinking about it).

Dear Daddy,

Need me.
Feed me, the way I fed you.
Comb my hair.
Don’t tear.
DON’T TOUCH ME

Where did you go?
I don’t know.
I NEVER KNOW
And for as much as I’d like to I can’t, pray I never will.

The bruises, restraints, overpowering drugs.
The anger
The incredible loneliness.
Talk to me Daddy.
Be one of the voices in my head.

Why did you hit me that day?
Why didn’t you stay on that mountain?
GET OUT OF MY LIFE – hold me tight
If you could come back and do it again, would you?
Would you call me your child?
Why in the sky do the clouds always shroud the image of your body from my wandering eyes?

© Michelle Routhieaux 11/17/03

Tick Tick Tick

8-22-10                2:56am

I was listening to Sacha talk to this guy on Friday about his son, a singer who’s not living up to his potential. And there was something she said that sticks with me. It’s a very small and powerful phrase. “Tick tick tick.” He’s 24 and time’s a wastin’. There’s not much left.

It has a different meaning for me, but it’s generally the same.

Tick tick tick
Your life is almost over
Tick tick tick
Before you melt away
Should you stay one more day
What will you be?
Will you be free?
Will your dreams come true or will you watch them melt away, today?

Tick tick tick
I don’t know what time it is
Tick tick
Or what day, or the year
Tick
I don’t care.
I just want to be happy.
Tick
How to be happy … what was I saying?

Tick tick
I know the time is running
Tick tick tick
Faster than I can see
Tick tick tick
And soon I will catch up,
Or maybe it will catch me.
But hopefully when we meet we’ll have some good stories to tell,
Of dancing (tick) and singing (tick) and feeling mighty swell.
Cuz when we meet up (tick) I won’t be walking away.
Tick tick tick.
Just give me one more day.

I know my clock is ticking, in every meaning of the phrase. It makes me quiet and fills my face with vapor. Tick tick. (close my eyes and sigh…) I won’t be walking away.

(thought continued in So Let’s Play)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Dig Up the Chickens & What I Want You to Know

3-13-10                 7:07pm

Even if I die tonight, please dig up the chickens. The mummified chickens in the hillside of the Flying Hills playground.

Those chickens taught me a lesson. I didn’t want to touch them. Dead chickens are gross. But no one else want to do it, so I did. I salted and patted and changed the chickens. And something interesting happened – a sudden change in dynamics. They were grateful for me doing this unmentionable task, then expected me to do it, then made fun of me for doing it… What? It seems to be a pattern.

——

My right hand is shaking and I feel like crying… I’m scared… (smile) Sacha just walked by and sang, “Cheer up, Charlie.” She’s beautiful.

“You are nobody ‘til somebody loves you.” – lyrics Daniel’s singing.

What I Want You to Know

  • That I love you.
  • I may hate people but I love deeply too.
  • Don’t let a chance for happiness pass you by, even if it means driving an extra hundred miles out of your way in the snow.
  • Say what you mean, no matter what people think.
  • Please don’t say it’s a shame that I died so young or that it’s before my time. Bullshit. It’s been a long fucking life. I have spared no experience, no expense. And the thought of living another 24 years like these just might kill me.
  • Please laugh. For every reason & no reason at all.

-Ahhh, half hour in comes the smile. :)

I’m so glad I came. :)

PS – I sold the hole punch. The new doctor is great.