God, Please Row My Boat


God, Please row my boat.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

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Me

(Note – Yes, I am safe.)
1-6-13     6:30pm

Just got home from RENT. I went with Taylor. Cried through most of it. Exhausted now.

I miss Brandon. I miss my theater family. I miss being me. All of the goodness that I am now isn’t ME.  I miss Sarah and Mr. B, knowing I had a role, a purpose. All of that was taken from me.

It’s something we never talk about in therapy. We talk about sense of self. We don’t talk about me. Is it too late to get her back? Is she gone forever? Is the opportunity gone for me to be me? I so desperately need me.

Please.

healing card - therapyI pulled a healing card today that says this, “It’s important not to get stuck in therapy. Therapy is a necessary boat that takes you across a rough river to a new shore. In time, though, you must step out of the boat and onto new earth and never look back.” There is a passage with it about not carrying the raft forever and being wary of letting supports be a substitute for life.

I don’t understand. Illness took me. Therapy took my life. Therapy forced illness to cough part of me up and became my life. I can’t get the real me back. If I let go of groups and therapy I have nothing.

I wish someone had warned me, told me, “Don’t let go! Not for anything.” But they didn’t. They were living. Now I am scared to breathe.

A little girl wants me to teach her to dance. I’m terrified. Please don’t touch me. You don’t understand.

Who am I?

I am a little girl.
I am a friend.
I am a dancer.
I am an artist.
I am a patient.
I am a child of God.
I am me.
I am not what I feel.

(“I’ll Cover You”)

I want to scream out, “PLEASE HELP ME! Someone’s taken my soul!” But no one’s there to listen, only hear.

If I can’t be who I was, I don’t want to live at all.

You couldn’t tolerate the stress of who you were.

I can’t tolerate the stress of now.

Touche.
Take your AZT.

I think if I got into a show it would bring me back. I would find me again. I NEED me.

Me is dead. She is gone.

No she’s not! I saw her last week.

Elvis has left the building.

My head hurts.
I want to die.

I know.
Do you honestly think in your state of mind you could do it?

I’ve done it before.

But not with the physical ailments.

True.
What am I supposed to do?
I can’t do this anymore.

Sing, take drugs & teach.
Work your way up.
Peanuts to packing peanuts.

Fuck that.
When do we start?

I want to die.

I know.
I’m tired.

Triggers

Theater
RENT memories
B- memories
USC memories
shame about my life
missing Sarah
believing I can never have me back

Vulnerability Factors

Janet’s death
pre-existing severe depression
exhaustion
allergies/infection
headaches
holidays

Thankful Taylor is texting me. Need to take – and -.
Make a plan, Michelle. You can do this.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

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

Fathers are people

4/4/12     11:55pm

What does it mean about me that I keep the only framed picture of my dad under a stack of pajamas in a dresser I never open? I just rediscovered it quite by accident. I can’t breathe.

SHAME. What does that mean about me? (crying)

The man never did anything to me. He’s been dead over 10 years. And I hide his picture. There are no pictures in my house, of anyone. Just empty picture frames. In the picture my dad looks happy, healthy. Half-smiling with his siblings. I just wanna hug him. Please, God. Please… Send him back to me. Like last year at jazz. I hear him. Not him healthy. But him.

The picture is of -, Dad, # & Danny. – doesn’t talk to me. Dad is dead. Danny killed himself. And I don’t know how to contact #. She doesn’t seem to hate me. I hated that picture because – sent it to me. But it’s special. The only pic I have of my dad healthy.

I wish he wasn’t a secret. That I could’ve shared my life with him instead of lying. Everything. Fathers are people not secrets. So are daughters. I didn’t want my mom to see the picture so I hid it. Guilt. Shame. Longing.

He’s not real. GET THAT AWAY FROM ME. (pause) Let me be. Please, I don’t want him to see me. I love you, Dad. Back in the drawer now.

I should plaster my walls with pictures. Start making life real.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

When I lost…

4 minute writing exercise at a workshop

3-17-12     11:30am

When I lost my faith I stopped dancing. When I lost my dancing I lost me. Somewhere in a corner she is locked up, crying quietly. I lost me. I don’t understand. She understands less. When I lost my faith, I lost me.

I used to believe I could do anything, that somehow God had blessed me and I would do good. But now I do this. They say this is me. But in the mirror she’s not what I see. When I lost my faith, I lost me. I miss being me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

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

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

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

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

(written during flashbacks of my dad after listening to I’ll Be Home for Christmas)
12-17-10 10:15ish pm

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

See the color
Feel his fingers, his breath

Bathroom floor
Tears flowing
All I want is a family.

I want someone to take care of me
To love me
To fight with
To sit quietly with
My dad.
I just want my dad.

Little trees
Pine needles
Running Away
Space People
Nurses’ Stations
Wristbands

The floors
The ceiling –

Laundry.
(deep breath)
Laundry.

I miss my dad.
For What he was
What he wasn’t
What he could’ve been
What he taught through the silence I’m not sure I’ll ever learn
But I’m still grateful for it.

Why didn’t you stay on that mountain?
Why did you choose to come home?
Your life from my view is a map I don’t want to follow
But it’s my map.
I don’t get to choose.

Did you like jazz music?
What helped you get through it all?
I’m pretty sure it was your space people.
Crazy keeps us alive.
When I hugged you, could you let go or did you not want to?
I love you.
I want you to love me too.

So I put on a face and everything seems alright.
But inside I die
A little more each night.

I am sitting in a bathroom terrified of my life.
It’s just life
But it’s so much more than that.
This is IT.
Don’t you get it?
I’m not coming back.
There aren’t any do-overs.

I’m scared…
So scared.

S- wants me to sing tonight.
She knows it makes me feel better.
I don’t want to be on display.
I just want to be held.
Please, God.
Comfort me.

I am a child in need. –

I am worried about S- leaving.
I’m so scared of losing her.
So scared.
So scared.

Last night at the W-?
I am scared.
And I can’t seem to pull it together.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

I am scared

From my journal tonight. The dialogue is between me and me and me.

11-18-10     2:12am

I keep hearing the chorus of “You are More” by Tenth Avenue North. I feel the urge to say I’m sorry over and over again. Please. Just please don’t leave me.

I’m cold. I’m lying in bed. Today was the ninth anniversary of my dad’s death. It wasn’t much different than any other day. I saw my therapist, had dinner with Mom, took a nap and went online. I recall going to choir but that wasn’t today. I wanted to go to the cemetery but we didn’t. It closes at sunset.

I feel so angry, and sad. Helpless. Watching an illness is good training in codependence. It compeletely control you and is out of your control.

I’ve been napping in the early evening. I haven’t felt good and I have nothing to do. I can’t handle working on the endless tasks for the group. I need the group to leave me alone. To give me some space. You don’t own me. I don’t appreciate waking up to calls from strangers, urgent FB chat crisis pings, or 75 emails in a week about stupid shit I don’t care about from 1 person. LEAVE ME ALONE. (sigh) I need some respite.

I feel guilty tonight for telling a friend I wish her learning curve was steeper. It’s true but it’s selfish. It has to do with fly paper – a model of my feelings. Whatever she feels I feel. I can’t control it. If she’s happy, I feel joy. If she’s sad, I feel pain. When she hurts, I hurt. It’s like voodoo magic. Whatever’s there sticks. I should be angry at myself for not being able to control this phenomenon, but that reminds me I have no power and is scary. And I’m already scared enough. So I hope these people who affect me avoid pain. Because I feel that pain. You know? There’s no fix. But avoiding pain is impossible. I don’t understand.

I’ve been thinking about independence.
___

I am so scared. I can’t run away. I can’t get away from me. But I can’t stay here with me either. I will kill her, put her out of her misery.

Who is she?

She is that girl, that little girl playing and crying for her daddy. The one who wishes on dandelions and smiles and swings.

I love her.

Yes. She is beautiful.

Why does she have to die?
Why are you going to kill her?

Because she won’t stop crying. She is hurt and there’s no way to fix her and I can no longer handle her crying. I can’t take it.

Girl: I’m scared. Daddy, please. Make it go away. Please, Daddy. Why aren’t you listening? Why can’t you help me?

How often do you see her?

Every day. She keeps tugging at my shirt. Play with me. Hold me. Comfort me. Please, just make it go away.

I can’t take it. She’s driving me insane.

Do you love her?

Yes! That’s why I have to kill her. She deserves peace and so do I.

What would bring you peace?

If she wasn’t sick.

SHUT UP! I’m not talking to you.

If she wasn’t sick. And she wasn’t stuck in time. And if people understood that she’s only 7.

She is the hope. Why kill the hope?

So the rest of me can die in peace.

Do you really want to die?

No. I want to be free. I want to heal her with a magic hug. I want to never feel alone again. To never feel helpless. To be taken care of.

Can you give her comfort?

I wish.

Girl: Please, Daddy. Don’t leave me. I don’t understand. Please. Somebody help me. Get off the phone and pay attention. This teddy bear can’t cure me.

She sounds distressed.

She’s almost always distressed. Except when she’s exploring or brainstorming. Then she’s happy. Or spending time with people she loves. She’s like a cat. She needs comfort.

Does she get it?

Sometimes. Not enough to survive. I give her drugs to numb the pain. But they can’t fix her. She’s going to die.

She is broken.

Yes. She is broken. And she is all that I have. And when she dies I die. I want to hold her in my arms and make it better but I can’t. But she still keeps tugging on my shirt.

Where is my daddy? Why doesn’t he love me?
How do angels fly?
Can I have an ice cream? …
Hello?

I can’t save her. (deep breath) I can’t.

But you can’t kill her either.

I know. I love her too much. She’s all I’ve got.

Do unicorns fly?
Can I get one as a pet?

She still believes, you know. In hope and God and love and faith. And unicorns. She loves everything good and beautiful, always stops to smell the flowers. She believes in Santa and knows that people are good.

And you don’t.

I try… I try.
It’s like trying to believe you are blessed as you watch your house burn to the ground.
I am blessed. I just can’t.

She is your bunk mate.

She is my best friend.

A dilemma.

Quite. (long pause)
I feel rage and I am scared.
I am scared.
I am scared.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

The Candle

I went to Survivors of Suicide Loss Day this weekend and everyone lit a candle in memory of their loved one(s). While the conference itself was great, it was the candle that moved me.

As I stared at it I felt & thought many things.

The Candle

5-22-10                 11:31am

  • Guilt – I’m supposed to do something to save it but I don’t want to.
  • Fear – doing something to help it will hurt me or draw attention to me.
  • Helpless – there is nothing I can do to affect the time this candle burns, what I do won’t matter, won’t make a difference.
  • Hopeless – It’s not my place
  • Life – As I watched I noticed a brown speck near the wick just twirling, a sign of life.
  • The Pain of Waiting – I don’t know when but I can’t stop it. I just wait. Like D- and the bus stop. I just want it to stop. I want to blow out the candle. Just make it stop. Please.

I’ve noticed no one else at my table is watching the candle.

When it was lit, I didn’t pay attention. As it burned, I didn’t watch. But I noticed when the white candle was completely clear. Now there’s nothing I can do but watch. If only I had noticed. There’s nothing I can do. This candle is going to kill me.

I want to protect the candle. Fear of someone blowing it out. Wondering if that would be more therapeutic.

I don’t want to eat lunch. I don’t want to leave it.

People eat lunch and talk.

I just watch…

I miss my dad…

I’m tempted to ask how long these candles burn. But no one can know.

I’m angry I can’t change it.

Didn’t want to leave but had a good conversation.

Automatic Thought – I shouldn’t be here.

Angry. Damn it! Go out candle.

Angry – my perspective is so different. I shouldn’t be here.

I forgot & went back to blow out the candle. The effect. And I walked away.

I know the people around me did not experience this candle as I did. But it was so powerful. To go through so many emotions and stages of trauma and grief in such a short time with a candle is amazing. It’s powerful and difficult but good. Thank God for the candle.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Comparison & The All-Perfect Person

5-11-10                 2:46am

I don’t compare myself to other people a lot. Or at least I don’t consider it comparison. But I observe almost everything. And I think. A lot. I remember when I was younger saying, “I think, hope and love too much.” I think I still do. But I find myself processing my observations and wondering what they mean about me.

I was supposed to be going to New York in two weeks to sing at Carnegie Hall. At first announcement it would be covered by grants. As time went by it would not and I have no money. I hate hearing about this trip to New York because I will not be going. I don’t want to know. Just don’t tell me. And please quit asking if I’m going. Another friend is going next week. Another is there now. I don’t understand. I get the logic. No money, no trip. But I don’t get the reason behind no money. Why life is what it is, why I’m here. A distant friend died last week and in the email I got it said he fulfilled his dream of singing at Carnegie Hall last year. I almost screamed. WTF!

I look at the lives of the friends I grew up with, what they’re doing. Some of them have totally bombed but most of the people I was close to in dance and theater are still in dance and theater. The musicians are musicians. They’re doing what they love. But I’m not. I guess you could call that comparison, but I don’t want to be like them. I just want to be doing what I love.

I don’t know how I got here or why. I didn’t wake up one day and choose this. But I can’t change it. And it’s dangerous to try. I’m know on a journey towards something. I just don’t know what.

There are people who are very special to me whom I barely know and try very hard not to freak out with my interest. It’s not socially acceptable to be completely intrigued by someone and communicate it. The words that come to mind are obsessed and stalker. But I’m not a stalker. It’s a way of life. It works like this.

At any given time, I need to have at least one all-perfect person. I know this person is not really perfect, but to me they’re pretty close. I find them interesting. They make me think. There is just something about them that is special. And they like me back. I hang out around this person. Not usually with them. I try not to bother them too much. But I help them as best I can and they help me back, sometimes. Just knowing I have this person in my life makes me feel safe. Being near them helps me feel calm. I need this person, would do anything for them. It’s not romantic. They’re usually like a mentor or teacher or counselor type person. Sometimes just someone I look up to. Everything revolves around them. But like I said, they’re not really perfect. And eventually something happens. They make me angry or I make them angry and they die or leave or move and I lose them and my whole world falls apart. And I have nothing until I find another.

It’s a twisted system, I know. I’m really trying to make it different. But I did not have a cloth monkey. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work. That cloth monkey study is something I think about often. There is such a need…

I’m constantly scared of losing people. People I don’t really have. I need them. I need the fantasy. I really just need.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010