February 27th, 2010

Me: T-Rex

Artist's Way Week 5: Reading Deprivation Week

Technically week 4 was reading deprivation week, but I postponed it a bit.

So, first things first: I'm pretty sure that I'm done with morning pages. This was not a cavalier decision. I've been considering it for weeks at this point, but I stuck with it. Julia Cameron really hammers home the fact that morning pages & the artist's date are the two foundations of the program, and nearly everyone who's done the program swears by them. They are not for me. Sure, I have been told that “you can go ahead and write 'I have nothing to write' over and over, and eventually you'll find something to write”. I beg to differ. Unless you count, 'no, really, I have absolutely nothing to write. Not a thing.' Then I give up, feeling guilty for wasting paper & time. The page and a half that I averaged would take me hours in the morning. Totally not productive, and nothing I came up with was insightful or helpful in any way, except for the very first time I wrote them. So after struggling for two or three hours every morning for over a month, even filling a notebook almost all the way up, I just flat out am not doing them. I like the affirmations sometimes, and I enjoy the tasks. The morning pages are not for me.

Neither was reading deprivation week. I am a reading being. Should you ask anyone who's known me for any length of time what I'm best at, they would surely respond, “Girl can down some books, I tell ya what.” I don't even remember learning how to read. I've always known, and even in kindergarten, I carried books around with me. Reading is certainly part & parcel of who I am. And, it would seem, I need that to remain mentally stable.

The first couple of days were hard, but okay. Josh worked outside quite a bit, and I tend to get a lot done when Josh is out of the house. I did some pretty good cleaning. I wrote a couple of letters. I colored in coloring books, sketched a whole lot, exercised, talked to my sister for an hour, listened to Keller for several hours, watched tv with my honey, played Civ 4 instead of looked online, and made up more bedtime stories of my 'fearsome battles' instead of reading a book (see icon: the time I fought the T-rex is their all-time favorite and has spawned many more, including dragons & giant killer snails). Eh, not too shabby. The next day, I stayed on track with my daily routines (thanks, Flylady), but really only did the bare minimum. Worked on some more sketching, since I'm really trying to get my artistic groove back. I aimed to write a letter every day, but I really only did it the first three days. Cause after that, things got kind of bad.

At some point, I was particularly grumpy and Josh and I had a bit of an argument. We don't fight, you see. We've had maybe two or three fights in the nine years we've been together, and only a handful more slight arguments. I don't even recall what it was, except we both felt irky, and I ended up 'binge reading'. Only I didn't even really read. I just scanned yahoo headlines, twitter, and my f-list without actually taking in any of it. It was more a “fuck you, I can do whatever I want!” gesture, but I don't think any of it actually registered on me.

And...it got worse.

Without reading, I did not stay on track with Flylady. Luckily for me, Josh basically took over the dishes. I did laundry a couple of times & was able to stick to the menu I'd plotted out (in this, I didn't count following my recipes as 'reading'. Hope that's not cheating). I watched a hell of a lot of tv. Josh's new favorite is CSI & its sister shows (Miami & NY) during the day, and I have a standing appointment for a few hours of Criminal Minds in the evening. Do you know what this means? This means that my days started being FILLED with a bunch of vics suffering head injuries, including very realistic hospital scenes. And what does that mean for me, in particular? It apparently means that I still have PTSD or something. Because I've been spiraling into quite a horrid depression for four or five days now. Some bad shit.

I suppose that I fill my head with alternate, imo better, realities to escape the stuff I don't want to think about. I don't talk about it a lot here, but not a day goes by that I'm not right there, reliving them quite literally wheeling my mom's broken body under my fucking nose as I arrived at the hospital. Not recognizing her until they turn by my left side, and I look down and recognize the freckle pattern on her arm. So, so broken, and right the fuck under my nose. And those crime shows? Maybe it's different in LV, NY, or Miami, but in Asheville, it's the daughter, not the cops, who had to get up close and take shaved-staple-head pictures for 'the case'. For this particular daughter, those pictures are the memories I have of my 'honeymoon'...asking Josh to get the one shot I was too short to reach, and him doing it because he loves me, and then we all gathered to pull the plug & hear her body break down instead of hearing the machines. Such starkly different sounds. Every day, I relive that. It's usually not this bad, though.

That's how I spent these last few days. Unable to adequately escape those memories. Unable to find my spiritual center without turning to the Bible or one of my other religious texts. Not even Rumi. I tried praying & meditating, but that safe, healing center was lost to me.

Nights were almost worse. Thinking about broken bodies & mom for most of the days apparently triggered some other stuff, because my nights were plagued with memories - and entirely new storylines - involving my evil stepdad. Now, I've only ever touched on the abuse once in nearly five years of blogging. There's a good reason for that – I've worked through it. No, really, I have, no matter what the nightmares might say this week. I spent years working through that shit. I've done my forgiveness work and my healing work. That life was another life. I don't think on it or harp on it. I took what good I could and let it go. It's still a part of me – I've had a conversation with my kids once, and occasionally I'll share something with Josh, but even he doesn't know the half of it. And that's okay. I wouldn't change a thing, because I honestly believe it has made me a better mother, and that's all that matters to me now. I quite literally saw that karmic circle close when it was really over and done with. But something about thinking of broken-mom too much made me a vulnerable little kid again, and at night, I was back there with no escape. Only, in some, I was a grown-up with no escape. I would rather have nightmares about zombie-mom again rather than have all that old stuff come back up.

I wanted to do a ceremony, but I couldn't find my sacred space. I wanted to write a story for that Keller contest I'm so intent on winning, but I haven't even been thinking clearly. (Tomorrow is the deadline, so I HAVE to write it today.) I wanted to work on the WonderSaga. I wanted to paint. I've missed painting since college. I'm not very good, but I enjoy it. I went out, before reading deprivation week, and splurged on some acrylics & all the supplies I'd need, even though I felt guilty. Paint stuff is expensive. But I'd been wanting to do it for years, so I stocked up and looked forward to painting again this week, and then I just couldn't do it.

I did manage to unpack a few boxes of books for my new bookshelf Josh made me. I've almost finished setting up my cold frame, although I thought it'd be done and well-planted by now. I cleaned up again yesterday, even if my heart wasn't in it. And I've played a whole hell of a lot of hearts & solitaire on the old computron. And I drank a lot more than usual. I'd been weaning off, wanting to fast & get spiritual, and I totally spiraled the other way this week.

I haven't done my tasks for this week yet, but I will later on. I still need my artist's date tonight. I'll tackle the task stuff after I actually pound out a Keller story, but I'm dreadfully afraid that it will not be my best work & I'll not win the contest. My brain feels entirely fried. I can feel how my energy is way off kilter. (And, yes, I can hear in this entry how my tone is...off.) I look at my life pie and realize that I have no friends, and without the internet, I feel like I literally have NO friends at all. I know that isn't true. But I definitely realize that many of you help keep me sane, and I appreciate that. I just wish my friendships were a little more solid. Which is weird, because I don't actually get along with people all that well. I've tried making friendships, and I'm weird around other moms/women. In all my years of trying, lahermite was my only real-life friend that I could hang out with, and I met her online too. I'm actually surprised she put up with me, but we had some good times. I never even got 'home sick' at college, but I've been feeling it now. I want her, and I want my sisters – and they don't even like me either. I don't know. This week was not at all what I expected.

At least I learned a very important lesson. Amanda must always have a book or magazine. I usually do, but now I realize that it's actually very essential for my health and well-being.

So...I reckon I'll spend the rest of today reading deprived and sticking with the program. But I can't wait for tomorrow morning.