Strong Enough

12/13/2017     1:30pm

I’m sitting here scanning a box of poetry from high school. It’s been under my bed for years, now next to the couch for months. Today is the 17th anniversary of when suicide became real to me. I wish it’d never happened. And the impact of this writing I only read a few lines here or there of gives me ultra goosebumps, makes me extremely nauseous, and if I was standing I’m sure I’d collapse. (and the tears…) (“If You Want Me To” by Ginny Owens)

I want to be right in the middle of the pain. I feel SO guilty. I LEFT her there. But she was me. And I can’t get her now. And she just screams and screams and screams. I can’t imagine having been my teachers when I wrote or spoke emotional truth. (stare…)

The music is very loud and I’m not sure what to do. Supposed to give a friend a ride to a group I’m leading tonight, at which I anticipate there to be some problems. I can’t be this person, or get into this person, and then do that. But not doing it validates that she doesn’t matter and never has. (head in hands…) (“Stronger” by Mandisa)

I wish I could see David today. I need to write too. Something specific. This is really best done somewhere with a garden. ;) I have to be strong enough to stand with her. I have to be strong enough for her, strong enough for me. Strong enough to let go.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

So… this is life

3/20/15     9:55pm

So… this is life.

It’s 9:55pm. I’m sitting on the tile floor of a hotel next to an ATM. The world around me seems surreal. I did Scotty’s dance, taped Missi’s. People greet me and ask how I am. Some of them ask with a knowledge from Facebook of the hospital. Some have no idea. To those whose eyes say they know, I am trying to be honest. A new thing for me. My doctor warned me I would overheat on seroquel and geodon. She failed to tell me what to do not to. One intermediate Scotty workshop brought my blood boiling to a point it shouldn’t reach until well into a Saturday night dance or several advanced routines in a row outside on a hot summer black asphalt day. I must brainstorm for tomorrow. But I’m tired.

There’s cold air blowing on me.
I really love to dance.

I’m not sure why I feel sad here. I don’t feel connected. I don’t feel alive. I guess I don’t feel ready. Will I ever? I want to dance again but I don’t have faith in me. I need help to believe. I don’t even know what a healthy person’s life looks like. What am I s’posed to want? And for whom?

(deep breath)
STOP (DBT skill) Now what did that stand for? (practice skill) Well, now I feel sadder.

Check the facts:

  • I’m at Possum Trot.
  • I’m sitting alone in a noisy lobby.
  • I feel sad and scared.
  • I am also excited to be here.
  • I feel free on the dance floor.
  • My face and neck are twitchy.
  • I stayed awake today.
  • I got to hug and laugh with Scotty.
  • I am able to dance w/o pain.
  • Mom is here.
  • I am scared for it to be over.
  • I really want to dance and feel loved.
  • I am fragile.
  • I am safe.

I’d like to watch Peg + Cat now.
My head hurts.

I want to feel safe.
Will I ever be a dancer again?
I need to go to sleep.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

An expensive lie

8-6-13     8:40am

I am SO frustrated.
(close my eyes, breathe, listen to the wind chime)

I have a problem with debt. I also have problems with memory and confusion. I thought I was doing well with the debt until I got a statement in the mail today. I put $1745 on my credit card last month. What?! (deep breath) I remember shopping at those places. It isn’t fraud. But I’ve little idea what I bought. I remember 2 picture frames and a pair of shoes. Where did it go? What the hell? I thought I was doing well.

I’m not sure what do to. It’s all an illusion. I could cut up that card, but I would have to give up my life. Then again, this life belongs to the bank anyway – and probably the next life too.

I don’t know what to do. All sane minds would say, “Live within your means, dumbass.” That requires acknowledgement & acceptance of my means. I don’t want to be in debt. I just want what I buy more. I want that life. I could rent a room for the amount I pay in minimum payments every month. What an expensive lie.

I am poor. I live with my mom. The government supports me. I ride the bus. Without the aid of credit I would have $130 a month to live on. Some months less. I certainly don’t live like it. I finance smoothies and yogurt. I live a lie. (pause) It eats me.

The most plausible solution is to stop spending. I’m not sure I have that in me. I’d rather die. That’s how scary it is – admitting to myself that no matter what I wear or eat, who I know or what I accomplish, I’m still that poor little girl from the ghetto sitting in the corner wanting more, praying to be like Jane, to live like the others. Money covers that up well. The smell of poverty. It can’t cover up sad eyes.

I’m angry at myself. I didn’t want to be like her. I should’ve known better. Yes I should. But I didn’t. What do I do now? What do I do now?

I’m so tired. I woke up at 8 o’clock because I accidentally took my night meds at 6 last night. I ate oatmeal. Now I’m tired. I was going to go to the gym. Then I opened my mail. Now I wanna die. Brilliant. I’m tempted to go back to sleep.

I took a moment to pray and walked myself mindfully through the whole process of getting oatmeal to me, seeing it in my head.

Please, God. Bring me peace.


I’m ready to change.

Pay off my debt.
Get rid of things I don’t want or need.
Tell the truth.
Take care of me.

I’m going to the gym.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

More about Jenga

1/4/11     9:49pm

I saw Dr. T today. I made it through my appointment without crying. By the time I left, my lips and eyes were twitching, I was fighting my urge to vomit and couldn’t breathe. I took some Xanax, sat in the sun on his steps and sang “Lord, I Love You.” Then I got cinnastix from Pizza Hut and potato soup and salad from Outback. Then I went to sleep. I just woke up.

I texted S- earlier. She really sucks at empathy but it was nice to interact. I was gonna go to the cog lecture with M- but I need to knock myself out.

I didn’t go to Mom’s appointment today but I sent questions to ask the doc and notes. She’d told me there was a tear (singular) and I assumed this surgery would be simpler, less difficult to recover from. But she didn’t ask what her most recent MRI means ’til today. She has 4 tears again, like last time, but THIS time she may have “blown her bicep.” What? As well as redoing a more complicated version of last year’s surgery, he may have to “cut through and reroute” the muscle.

She didn’t seem concerned as she told me this. I stayed as calm as I could. I asked what happens if this doesn’t work, since she only has workman’s comp until August. She doesn’t know. (deep breath…)

I just sit here, not numb but not feeling, eating hot dogs, repulsed by the sound and light from the tv. Make it rain, please. I’m sleepy.

When the Jenga tower is falling, it’s scary. But once I’m on the ground in the rubble it doesn’t matter anymore. I just stare and wait. I texted S- earlier that I feel like my life is a Jenga game and someone just toppled the tower. She sucks at empathy. Kiwis in a shoe store is a lesson I never learn. She said, “Well then change it and don’t let anyone control the tower but you.” “I am the tower,” I said. “Well be the board too,” she replied. I don’t think she’s ever played Jenga.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011


1-2-11     3:12pm

I feel like crying. I feel very alone and I don’t know what to do. I’m sitting on my bed. Just came in from writing about trees after storming out because Mom was bugging me. If you ask for my help you can’t get mad at me for not doing it YOUR way – “the right way.”

I stood outside for awhile hearing Silent Night. I am so confused yet so aware. And so tired… My season is gray. I am surrounded by stupidity, evil, things that make no sense, things I wish didn’t make sense. And it’s all beyond my reach. I’ve been trying to convince my mom to get a dog. I can’t even take care of myself.

In all likelihood, soon I won’t remember this and I will feel pleasantly confused and tuned out. But I’m not there yet. There are windows of reality to endure. Mom doesn’t understand why I’m  mad. And she thinks I’m mad at her. I’m usually not. And there’s no way to fix it. It just is. Need some disco and a nap.

I am wilting. I am laying on wet leaves in the forest staring up through the trees at the sky. I know the wolf is coming, the flood. I just need to lay here.

Reality is contagious. Careful where you point that thought.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011

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

The floors
The ceiling –

(deep breath)

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? …

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