Category Archives: Hope

Today is November 13, 2017. I am alive and well.

…aren’t we more like pack mules/than gods most days, picking our way/across the desert or up a mountain path with avalanches/and the heaviest of loads are our grudges and fears/while poetry and beauty rest on our shoulders like fairy wings/or one of those pastries in a shop in Paris,/almost too beautiful to eat, but eat them we do/with their frosting of butter and sugar and eggs.   Barbara Hamby

The truth of our pain is all we have, it is the key to who we are.    James Baldwin

An artist must learn to be nourished by his passions and by his despairs.  Francis Bacon

I love quotes and thought these all related nicely. I write “the truth of my pain.” Maybe it’s true that “it’s the key to who I am.” I also believe my passions are the key to who I am.

My pain is deep and not preventable. Because it’s deep it rarely shows up unless I let it. It can storm and I won’t get wet because of my umbrella. Discard the umbrella, and I get soaked. It takes awhile to dry off. Living with pain with no barrier to disguise it can lead me to tears. It also leads me to people who share my same experience. They have made it through and I can too. I watch as a raccoon puts his paw in a jar to fish out a coin. With his paw clenched in a fist, he cannot pull himself from the jar. He has to let go of the coin in order to free his paw.

I have let go of the coin. I write about having schizophrenia. I write about multiple suicide attempts, I write about being alcoholic. Pain can attach itself to all three of these things. But I don’t stay there. I let go of the coin. I step out of the mud. Sometimes I get help cleaning myself off. Help is always there and it’s okay to accept it.

My God takes care of me. My God always has my back. The right people are placed in my life at the right time. My friends nourish me. I am passionate about loving them. I also hope I nourish them. It’s beautiful to watch my cats bathe each other. They are always clean, but they don’t go outside.

I go outside. I live a good life despite occasional falls. I also write about great things, not just painful things. My car still runs after 256,000 miles. I have the money to get my teeth cleaned. I fill the grocery cart with fabulous foods. I loved the same man for fourteen years without straying. Although we’re apart, I still do love him. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am passionate about flowers bought on Friday, about words falling in line with each other to make a sentence, a paragraph, a page. Life is here. Life is staying.

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Today is October 9, 2017. I am alive and well.

Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world.      Pearl S. Buck

There are three things I learned from someone to never talk about amongst people I don’t know. They are religion, politics, and sex. I am a spiritual being. I am a political being. And I am a sexual being. Yet, I don’t really address these things in my blog. Why not? I ask myself that often. Is it because I’m afraid of losing followers of my blog? Maybe. Is it because these things are deeply personal? Maybe, even though I write about things that are deeply personal like suicide, mental illness, and alcoholism.

My first time practicing exclusion happened when I was 18-years-old. I attempted to harm everyone close to me so that I had no one who loved me. I wanted to be free to die. Somehow, in my mind, I couldn’t take my own life if people were loving me.

I did reach the point of not feeling responsible to anyone. I did attempt to take my own life. I ended up in an intensive care unit. Upon awakening in ICU, there stood my grandmother and grandfather beside my bed. I will always remember my grandmother’s face. In that moment, it was one of absolute love. I had not been condemned by my decision to die.

Present day, I still exclude others from my life. I don’t mingle with people that hate. I don’t want to expose myself to that soul depleting practice.

Can I love these people from afar knowing we are all of this world? We all struggle. We all experience pain. We all dream. We all have people we care about or have cared about.

Can I love the man who just murdered 53 people, injuring 500 more in Las Vegas? No. I judge him. I am horrified by him. Can I forgive the likes of him? Big question. Answer, I don’t know. Although, I do know forgiveness is in my best interest. I don’t want my heart to harden.

I hope Democrats and Republicans and people of neither party can hold each other in loving thought and with respect while still believing vehemently in what they believe. I hope that all people are touched by a bit of the divine. Even petting a dog or loving a cat is simply divine. Certainly, praying to a deity who is not understood and cannot be defined is divine.

As far as sex, well, I’ll just say have fun, feel deep, and don’t get pregnant unless you want to. This includes everyone from heterosexuals to the LGBT community. We can all have some part in pregnancy.

Today is September 4, 2017. I am alive and well.

There ain’t no use in dyin’ ‘fore yer time. Lots of folks is walkin’ ’round jes as dead as they’ll ever be.   Alice Caldwell Rice

I know what’s it’s like to walk around dead. I remember clearly waking up from a night’s sleep, from a nap, from several naps and having nothing to look forward to, nothing to feel joy about, nothing to love.

I was a vessel with no oars, adrift. I didn’t know I could swim to shore at anytime. Getting wet was painful. It reminded me that I could take a towel to dry off. I could get into clean clothes. Neither thing appealed to me. Both things required too much energy.

My grandmother was afraid to leave me in the house alone. She was afraid of what I might do….I might try to take my own life. A balloon will pop if too much pressure is applied. The latex that is left afterward is trash. I was certain to leave trash. I was certain to leave a life not lived. Harsh, but true.

My grandmother had to go to the mountains to close up the cabin for the winter. She asked my mother to come and stay with me. My mother did. She created a space for herself in the family room in front of the TV with sheets, an ashtray, and a bottle of vodka. Mom whose petals have long since fallen off leaving only the unblinking face of a sunflower.

I didn’t mingle with her when she was there. We were both dying in our own ways. Maybe my life greeting her life would cause a silent flame that had no place to burn. A candle wick unlit saves the candle from melting. Maybe we thought melted wax was too messy and impossible to clean from the carpeting. Our lives were not messy. They were stale.

I don’t recall the day I began to walk back into the living. But I know that I did because I am here and have been here for quite sometime, unafraid of leaving little messes in my wake. I try to clean up as I go and am usually able to wipe the water spots from the mirror leaving a sweet reflection of a kind smile.

My mom didn’t fare so well. She died at the age of 58 from alcoholism; her liver stopped working.

I regret the love that went unshared between us. I believe the most valuable thing we have to offer is our time. I didn’t give my mom time. So, today I hope to spread kindness in this world. Walk into life with a smile for others. Corny, yes. Necessary, yes. I reach out today and am offered a bouquet.

Today is August 21, 2017. I am alive and well.

It takes far less courage to kill yourself than it takes to make yourself wake up one more time.   Judith Rossner

I have spent days finding life particularly hard for no good reason. I trip on the curb of a sidewalk in front of a beauty parlor. One of the manicurists sees this and comes to offer a hand. She picks up the magazines I have dropped and my keys, than reaches for me. I don’t take her hand for fear of pulling her over with me, both of us landing hard on the sidewalk.

An invisible hand offering to pull me up each morning is always there. Most of the time I actually take it. The grip is strong. I don’t fall back against my pillows but instead place my feet on the floor and stand. I turn on a light. My little area in this world brightens. My cats walk figure eights around me and between my feet. I am able to feed them kibbles for breakfast.

I use to wake but not wake, if that makes sense. My body would motor around the house heavy with depression. It hurt to move. It hurt to talk on the phone. It hurt to sit at the table with my grandmother with whom I lived. Magically, this changed.

I have attempted suicide many times in my life. My last attempt was 20 years ago. I remember it clearly. My grandmother found me unconscious in the living room after I overdosed on Ativan and called 911. I woke up in the ICU a day later to the stare of an East Indian doctor. She was young. I guess mid-thirties. Petite of stature. Probably, 5′ 4″ and a hundred pounds. She took my hand and told me I had much to do in this lifetime, that my life was important. I said nothing but let her face imprint itself on my heart.

I’m no longer the cactus who refuses to bend in storms, refuses to let go the thorns. Instead, I’m a bush who waves in the wind and allows herself to be pruned.

I can’t say that I wake up happy all the time, but I do wake. Eventually, it occurs to me that I’m living in love. That my life is charmed and blessed. I’m a 6′ tall woman with no weight on my shoulders. My stride is wide. My gaze no longer haunted. I roam around in my day a free spirit. The ball and chain that I use to be attached to sits quietly in a corner of my bedroom as a reminder that movement has not always come easy to me. But now I do wake. I do walk with my breath a steady in and out.

Today is July 24, 2017. I am alive and well.

So, I need your help. I have to date received 20 rejections from agents regarding my second book, Emma. I rewrote the query in the hope of making it stronger. Below is my new version. I would love it if I could get a yay or nay from you; nay you wouldn’t read the book based on the query, or yay, you would. Thanking you ahead of time. me

Emma, the Giraffe at the End of the Hall follows my book Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia. Kirkus review called Mind Without a Home “inventive, jaggedly lyrical, and disturbing.”

Emma is my continued journey away from the crippling effects of schizophrenia. Unlike years ago, I am addicted to life. Life shows up in good form and in bad. The dark isn’t a terrible thing; it’s simply a moment without batteries. My mind is treating me well; dust stops at my ears. I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet. I am a little beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.

I make a home outside the psychiatric hospital with a lover, Guy, and two Shih Tzus. Seven years go by, and I remain hospital free.

I lose the lover and dogs without losing my mind. Guy was good to me for as long as he could be.

The book comes at a time when people with mental illness are targeted in the media after  hellacious acts on their part. The percentage of those challenged with mental illness committing a crime is really low. My account lets people know that someone living with schizophrenia can be a sane and productive member of society with no tendency toward violent behavior.

The book is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid but lucid in its own way; the hat covers my grandmother’s head allowing the air to slide along her nose. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like there is a plate in my head that I need to dial into. And the other realities still exist.

Today, I am comfortable single with many friends to be responsible to. I am loved beyond the edge of language. A great sense of peace occupies my days.

I would be happy to send you more, or the entire manuscript, to help you decide if it is for you.

That is the end of the query. Someone told me I needed to drop one of these two sentences,”I am moving like a swan in sneakers without webbed feet” or “I am a beetle surfing the air on a green leaf.” Which one do you think I should cut out?

Again, thank you for your help.

Kristina

Today is June 19, 2017. I am alive and well.

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.  -Thoreau

My dreams are not fancy. I dream about being able to purchase as many jars of jam from the grocery store that I want. I dream about dining out all week long. I wish to buy a Toyota ForeRunner to replace my 1998 with 252,000 miles on it ForeRunner. I dream of a house with at least two bathrooms and a yard and a baby Shi Tzu who my cats love. My second book would sell to great acclaim and because of this, people would  run to buy my first book. The fact that laundry just tripled with the new washing machines being placed in my complex would not bother me.

The things in my dreams are not outside human capacity. I don’t dream of flying, my body surfing clouds and traveling in sunsets. Reading minds is not something I would care to do just as I would not want to clobber people who are mean to me recently or ever. Oh yes, there was this one guy who was locked in the psych ward with me who called me a freak.

My dreams don’t move me to a national level or world view. I don’t dream of impeaching the president or reversing climate change. Getting rid of cancer and AIDS would be fabulous but I rarely think of these things, which reminds me of how self centered my dreams really are.

I do dream of my grandmother and mother returning from the dead in 50-year-old bodies. Sharing my life with them and my new found freedom from the effects of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses would be possible. Would happen. Both my grandmother and mother would know that I’m happy. It’s possible that they do know this even though they’re dead. Possible because my cats often times act as if someone I can’t see has entered the room, their gaze significant and penetrating.

Dreams are wonderful things. On some level, they bring with them hope. Longing does not make me sad. Longing propels me to live deeply. Say yes to life and life says yes back. It’s that simple.