Voyage 200

8-7-13     7:42am

SAMSUNG

I woke up early today. Mom and Don left for his MOHS. I ate oatmeal outside. My body is tired but I’m awake. Two of my fingertips are part numb. I am lounged on the couch.

I did something risky last night. I listed my Voyage 200 on Amazon. If you’re not familiar, the Voyage 200 is an incredibly fancy gadget, also known as a calculator.

For me it was a status symbol. Only a few of us had one. I would often borrow the teacher’s. Then I convinced the Department of Rehab to buy me one. I treasured but never used it. It’s still in the box. It’s been 5 years.

I love math. I always have. I got an award in the 5th grade for being the only student to ever ask for “more math please.” It was a puzzle, a game. It could twist my brain.

I loved calculus – especially my teacher. She was great. She made learning fun and turned it into a small group experience. I had 2 semesters with her. Then we had a falling out. It was more of a nuclear detonation. I had been in the hospital and was unable to drop her class. Instead of giving me an incomplete, as we’d discussed, she failed me. I haven’t gone back to math since.

I’ve held on to this calculator as a sign of hope, of what could be. I don’t want to let go of the dream. I was smart. I wanted to finish school. But every time I try I end up back inpatient. Yet the calculator is always there in the corner of the living room, both taunting and reminding me of what I could’ve been. What I still might be.

Now my need for money has surpassed my need for memory and it’s time to let it go. (deep sigh) It’s the only thing I own that’s worth anything. That’s a little disheartening to me. I think I’m ready to let go. I’ll most likely cry when it sells.

Voyage 200, here’s to the separate voyages ahead. May you find a safe, loving home. And may I find peace of mind.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

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

House of Cards

6-5-12     12:54pm

I just got home from a choir concert. Not my choir. A different choir. The last pops concert of my high school choir director. I got to sing as an alumnus.

I saw a lot of people tonight and had a good 3 hours to reflect on my life. On the dynamics between and not between us and on how I have changed, how I’ve stayed the same. It was not a fun 3 hours but I enjoyed the singing.

I am upset by something that happened. There are large portions of my life for which I have no memory. I remember a snapshot here or there, but the rest is blank. I haven’t had ECT. I just have gaps in memory. So, people were coming up to me tonight that expected me to know them and I hadn’t the foggiest idea who they were. My mom says that’s normal, but it’s not. I played along as best I could. I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t an environment in which I could just say I can’t remember ‘cuz I’m crazy. Or sick. Or whatever. I don’t understand. They were sharing memories about some concerts we did. I remember one song because I did the choreography, but I don’t remember the concert. I remember the music but not the events. I remember that I liked the guy I was talking to in high school and he remembered me, but I couldn’t remember who he is. 

I sit in my kitchen and cry. I DON’T WANT THIS! I don’t want to see these people and their lives. It hurts SO much… I don’t want to remember what I could’ve been. Please. Please. 

I seem rude for not remembering, as if these people weren’t important to me or special. And I feel scared that they will find out my secret, that I’m not okay and that although I’m becoming more honest I still lie every day. I always wanted to have a people. I’ve always had a book.

I sat next to a group of people I always looked up to but was never friends with. And I watched the choir director, whom I most days can’t tolerate, end her career as a high school teacher. And I was so angry at the kids next to me talking during her solo. I turned around and smacked one of ’em with my music. I’m old enough now to realize the gravity of the moment. And to remember to shut up. ;)

In my day to day life I’m not confronted with opportunities for comparison. I know it’s not good to play the what if card. But tonight… (pause) I want that. I want what they have. I don’t even know what it is. But they have independence and freedom. I have a house of cards held together by a lie. A journal. And a black card at Staples.

Would my life be different if I remembered? I think not remembering protects me. But I don’t remember me. Sometimes I ask people what they remember about me. I can’t remember.

I hear “O Sifuni Mungu” (Swahili) in my head and my whole body tingles. Oh to be 13.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Remember

2-20-11                4:30pm

Some things should just stay forgotten. I found something today, something I didn’t remember existed. A book of notes from the cast of My Fair Lady. In it were so many memories and accolades, things I need to hear and things I wish I had never found. Not because they’re not wonderful but because they are too difficult to read. I miss that life. It was a very hard time for me but it was the best. It is so far away now. And I am not in the theater. And I’m not doing what I love. Yet it’s here, in this box, reminding me what I’m not. What I could be. What I was. What I don’t want to remember. It wasn’t all bad. I wasn’t all bad.

I don’t want to remember anymore.

M

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 Miss Math

10-19-10              8:34pm

I’m sitting at M’s listening to the rain. She’s taking a math test online. We’re cleaning her room.

I miss math so much. I miss the certainty. I miss knowing there is usually an answer. I miss feeling smart. And I miss Terrie.

Up until close to the end, math was always my friend. I got an award in 5th grade for being the only student who ever asked for “more math please.” When life is crazy and nothing makes sense and I need a moderately stressful yet intriguing and rewarding distraction, math is always there.

It is math that makes me believe I can be better than this. That maybe I could be a John Nash – someone who conquers their illness and actually succeeds. I like that feeling. I miss it. And I miss the way it feels to work that part of my brain – to strategize and remember.

Math does not care what I look like or who I am. It is not missing punctuation. At the right level it’s not confusing. It just makes sense. Plain and simple. When life can’t, math can. I miss math.

-M

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Old Maid

My Old Maid Card

6-4-10   4:13am

Looking at this makes me so happy! :) So many good memories…

My mom is going through her dresser looking for my savings bonds. In the process she’s pulling out all this family history stuff I’ve never seen. Like both of her parent’s marriage certificates, grandpa’s pipes, the newspaper announcement of her birth. Really cool. When she brought my old maid cards in the kitchen I screamed. I love Old Maid! It’s a lame game but the pictures on the cards were always special to me, especially Old Maid. I know if you end up with her you technically lose, but she’s my favorite. She’s pink and she’s awesome. :)

She reminds me of my aunt. And I remember playing in a hospital waiting room while waiting to pick up the landlord of our old apartments that we moved out of when I was five. Gladys. I said, “Let’s play!” and my mom was confused. She said, “How come you never want to play with me and now you do?” Ummmm… Old Maid?

The cards smell so wonderful. It made me think. I’m actually old enough that now MY things have that wonderful old book smell. Weird. Could just be ‘cause they’re in the middle of a drawer of actual old things. Either way they smell great and they have that yellow tinge to them. Those characters are like friends. Call me an Old Maid any day. ;)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Ballet Memories

5-14-10                 12:02am

I miss ballet so much. The dance, not the people. And Talara. I guess she’s a person, but a very special one. M- posted a song that took me back. “Le Petit Nicolas” by Gabriel Yared. I closed my eyes to listen. I felt the choreography in my body and saw rain and a pink and purple sunset from the door of my old dance studio. I felt the cold. My body tingled. It flashed from that to the view of darkness from a stage with a black floor, the glow of yellow light from above. I danced in an ivory tutu with a bead on my forehead at the point of a hair piece. In the silence at the end I heard applause and felt warm.

I miss ballet. I miss telling a story with my body. I miss lyrical as well but it’s not as dramatic. Having a place to put all the emotion is a gift. The energy and sadness, the joy and the pain. To shape them into something beautiful, delicate yet empowering…

There were green parrots every day in the summer that would squak for awhile around sunset.

I still have my bloodstained pointe shoes. They were Talara’s. So much driving. So much music. So much beautiful pain.

I love the dance. I hate the people. I’ve never met a ballet person, other than Talara, who got it, who understood what it was like to be me. Ballet’s not cheap and poor people don’t do it. Just the outfit and shoes required for a class are expensive. And there are so many non-dance rules for what you can and can’t do and wear – colors, hair, tights, skirt types and lengths. I can’t process it all. It’s like a cult. And if you don’t get it or do it wrong, it’s like you’ve got Rabies. I’m sorry. I have no money and like pants. But I love the dance.

It’s a dance in which I place my body on purpose.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010