Every Body Remembers Part 2

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post

The continuation of a Really Real Trauma Post.

This is the reason we had story time.

Back to today.

I’m eating lunch in my college cafeteria.

People in police uniforms start filing in, more than 20, maybe more than 30.

My stomach clenches.  I can’t tell if I want to freeze in place or if I need to get out of there quickly.

See, our school houses a police academy.  Normally when I go in for lunch, they are already there and sitting down.  Normally there aren’t so many.  Normally it doesn’t bother me.

I pack up.  I walk over to throw my trash away.  Two of them are using the microwave next to the trashcan.  I contemplate crossing the entire cafeteria to use the other trash can.

I ask myself why I’m reacting this way.

I don’t think about my own story from so many years ago.

When I’m driving and a cop is behind me, I immediately want to pull of the road.  I immediately start thinking of how I’m supposed to react if they pull me over.  What’s the least likely to get me in more trouble.

Even when I’ve done nothing wrong.

I remember how, literally overnight, 3 year old Kidlet went from wanting to talk to every police officer he saw, to hiding behind me when he saw a cop car and even screaming in terror if one came close.

“How were you so calm when you got pulled over?” I asked Wonder Woman the night she got a ticket.  I was in the passenger seat all but shaking.  It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized I had my hands in my pockets and then I was petrified to take them out.  “What am I supposed to do if they talk to me?”  “How am I supposed to react to keep us both out of trouble?”

Today as the police academy students filed into the cafeteria I immediately started looking for a way to keep myself safe.  I immediately questioned that reaction because I’ve never been hurt by a cop.  I even said to myself “What has a cop ever done to you?”

I don’t think about that part of my story.

It was so long ago.

I’ve been through so much since then.

It barely seems like a blip on the radar.

I was halfway across the campus before I remembered.

“That’s what a cop did to you.”

But my body doesn’t forget.

Not even for a second.

My stomach clenches.

My thoughts spin.

I go into flight or freeze and would never consider fighting.

Trauma is hard.

And, now that I recognize it, I can work on healing it.

 

Every Body Remembers Part 1

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

More specifically, this is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Trigger Warning:  Violence, Police Violence, Mention of Drugs

Story time.  This is long, one of my longest posts in awhile.

When I was around 22, my son’s father and I were dirt poor and facing homelessness.  It was the first time my mental health prevented me from working and he wasn’t able to get or hold a job either.

I found a mental health program that would pay our rent for a year if we could find a place under $400 a month.

We looked and we looked,  not finding a single thing.  The offer was about to run out and we were desperate.  Finally we came across a beat-up, slumlord owned, row home in one of the worst areas of the city.

We moved in.

We put our living room in one of the bedrooms on the second floor because bullets were less likely to come through those windows if shots were fired (and they were, leaving a hole in the car I was borrowing at the time).

We were the only white family for blocks.  I got pulled over regularly and learned to carry not only my licence, but my utility bill and even a copy of my lease.  The only people that looked like us in that neighborhood were driving through buying one of the many types of drugs that were sold from most corners and in front of the abandoned houses.

Our time there wasn’t all horrible.  We made friends with the neighbors, both the ones trying to “clean up the streets” and the ones selling the drugs.  We stayed out of the drama and got to know them all as individuals.  We got to know their stories and why they ended up where they were.  We cried real tears when someone we knew well, who just happened to be in a feud with another dealer, was shot in the head and died.

They also looked out for us.  They knew we stood out and could become easy prey so I was often escorted from my car to my house if I had to park far away.  Once, in a miscommunication between us and roommates, our front door got left wide open while no one was home and someone from the neighborhood watched our place for almost 12 hours.  Of course part of that is the fact that no one wants the cops to show up on “their street.”

But one day the cops did show up.

I had just gotten Kidlet out of the tub.  I can still see where I was standing, with my tiny 3 year old, wrapped in a towel, on my hip.  I heard breaking wood and the front door slam open and “This is the police” and countless footsteps stomp through the house and up the steps towards me.  Guns were drawn and pointed at my face.  At my 3 year old’s face.

At My 3 Year Old’s Face.

After demanding to know What The Fuck was going on, my sons father was cuffed and slammed against the stairs.  I remember seeing him, defeated, sitting on the bottom step.

They brought people I’d never seen before in from out front.  People just passing through?  Someone they thought was involved with whatever they thought was happening at my house?

While sitting on the sofa with my still mostly naked son, strangers from out front cuffed and on the floor around me, cops watching me, they threw random clothes at me and told me to dress him.

I asked for a warrant repeatedly.  Hours? later they produced one.  Something about having to remove the judges name being the reason for the delay.  I’m honestly not sure.

They said they saw us dealing drugs through our front door.  Said they had been watching us for years building a case.   My son’s father said it was because we were white, because we could only look like us, and be in this neighborhood, for drug reasons.  They said they had no idea what race we were.  Those two facts do not go together.

My sons father and I smoked pot at one point.  From what I recall we didn’t have any actual marijuana leaf in the house though, we hadn’t smoked in quite some time.  We couldn’t even keep the lights on.  We weren’t getting high.  They found a box of seeds and stems and some paraphernalia.  They threatened to arrest us for that if we didn’t just sit still and shut up and drop it.

A little while later they took what they found and left.  Broken door still sitting wide open with no way to close it.

We never heard another word.

There’s a point to me telling this story, but this is long enough, I’ll tell the rest in a part two.

Question of the Day

What are you currently reading?

Nothing, I have a really hard time reading for fun so I don’t often read anything longer than an article or two.

But holy shit my major term paper on the book I was supposed to read this semester is due in less than 2 weeks and I haven’t even read the book let alone started the paper.

AHHHHHHH!

I guess I better start reading, maybe?

The book is “The Truth About Stories” by Thomas King. So, I guess I’m reading that.

What about you?  What are you reading?

3 Hours Later

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I went to sleep at midnight last night.

I woke up at 3am.

I tried to go back to sleep but at about 4 I finally got up.

My 3 hour sleep nights end up being my most productive and often, my most positive mood, days.

I’ve cleaned the kitchen and pulled meat out for dinner and made myself breakfast and written a 3 page paper for English and started another paper for Health.

And it’s not even 6 am.

But now I’m tired and my alarm would be going off any minute now.

MOAR COFFEE!

It’s almost like being sick and sleeping for two days was the mental health reset I needed.  Yesterday I woke up super early and went through a very busy day, including hours on multiple unfamiliar buses, and I didn’t crash for a change.  Lately I have been crashing each day and ending up on the verge of tears for over the most mundane things.

I mean, for the most part, things haven’t been horrible, I haven’t had too much of the asshole brain going on, just quiet chirps of suicidal thinking.  I haven’t been soul crushingly depressed, but just enough that it’s a struggle to plan out a menu for the week, or cook dinner each night, or even get out of bed when I need to.

I haven’t really been going to school and I’ve been brushing it off as “the teacher doesn’t actually care about attendance anyway.”

But it’s depression.

And right now it feels like a breath of fresh air.

We adjusted some meds at my last appointment 2 weeks ago and I think that made a difference.  I see her again today and I don’t think we need to change anything, I think I’m okay where I’m at for the time being.  It’s rare that I see my pdoc and we don’t shift something around.

I write about the super bad, and I write about the super good, and today, so far is just somewhere in between.  So here’s what that looks like.

And I like it.

Forever and Always, Always and Forever

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Sometimes it just hits me.

She’s gone forever.

Sometimes, I’m just answering a question “Who had the biggest impact on who you have become?” and I realize, she’ll never get to experience the person I am now.

Always and Forever, Forever and Always is what we used to say.  And for a long time I said we were still Always and Forever, Forever and Always, in a different sort of way.

Today it hit me that she’s also gone, Always and Forever, Forever and Always.

Sometimes, that emptiness in the pit of my stomach feels like it is infinitely deep.  Like the tears may never stop coming.

Like, as much as I changed my life for the better after she died, the hole she left behind will never close.

Yesterday I felt like maybe, I wanted to take down the shelf in the house that is still dedicated to her and I.  Today I’m glad I didn’t.  This ebb and flow of emotions.  The waves of grief and moving forward.  The desire to leave it in the past and the push of feelings into my present.

I miss her.

Right this moment I’m having a very hard time with the idea that she’s gone, forever.

I miss her touch, I miss her voice, I miss who she was, and I hate that I’ll never know who she would have been.

I hate that she’ll never experience this version of me.

I wonder what she’d think about my new love of pink.  I wonder how she’d feel about my love of unicorns and bright colors.  I wonder how she’d feel about me sharing everything on Facebook and the blog so freely.

I wonder if I’d even be doing it if she hadn’t died.

I miss her today.

I hate that she left me.

I’m happy with my present life.  I don’t want to give it up.  I wouldn’t want to make a choice and I’m glad I don’t have to.

But I can’t believe she’s gone, Always and Forever, Forever and Always.

Hey, Mom.

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

We have a totally different relationship now.

It’s 6am texts with “Hey, mom have you heard this song?” while he’s finishing his shift at work and I’m still sleeping.

It’s check in texts from both of us “How’s work going?” “How are you feeling today?”

It’s almost weekly phone calls and the occasional video chats where we catch up on how life is really treating us and discuss serious world topics that make my heart swell with pride when I realize how grown he really is.

It’s both of us talking about our relationships and how happy we are but also talking about problems and getting advice from a different perspective.

I still love those texts where he shares a song with me.  Music speaks to both of us in ways that a lot of people can’t fathom.  One of my favorite trips was shortly after Parker died, a road trip together, to NY, going back and forth sharing the songs that were getting us through the loss.  By the end we were singing each others songs and crying together.

This morning he sent me one of his current songs.  I did what I do and pulled up the video and the lyrics.

By the end of the first chorus I was crying.

That great big ugly cry that felt like it had been pent-up for years (but it hadn’t).

I knew why he sent it to me.

Not to make me cry, of course, but it spoke to me about his childhood, in a loose round about way, without being specific.  Of hard times he and I had, before he left, where we fought non-stop about everything and anything.  It spoke of a mother, me, who wasn’t well and a kid who finally understood that the mother was doing the best she could.

“And though you say the days are happy, why is the power off and I’m fucked up?”

And the thing is, we could both be reading totally different things into these songs. Sometimes we discuss them and realize we are.  I haven’t had a chance to really talk about this one with him.

I love that he trusts me enough to share this stuff with me.  I didn’t have a relationship with my parents where I could have discussed my music with them at his age, or really at any age.  They didn’t get it, and didn’t really want to.

My relationship with Kidlet is different now.

It’s 2,700 miles different.

It’s full-grown man different.

It’s still pretty damn amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Just to watch her breathe.

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I had a bad dream this morning.

I won’t go into details, but in it I became a sorta kinda widow this time around.

The kinda widow that isn’t really a widow, because she looses her fiancee. So what are you when you don’t lose a spouse because you aren’t married yet, but the person you were supposed to marry, dies.

And I woke up gasping, because this can’t happen to me twice.  I can’t lose “the love of my life” twice in one life, and I rolled over to watch her breathe (I’ve done that on so many other occasions), but she’s not home.

So for just a second I thought of calling her at 6 in the morning just to hear her voice on the other end of the phone.

But, that would be rude.  And that would be letting anxiety win.

This is life as a widow.  Early morning dreams of death and dying and of it happening again.

Life as a widow is really meaning it when I need to know you got there safely because I know what my anxiety will be doing until I have that confirmation.

Life as a widow is stopping at the doorway to our room some mornings just to watch her breathe.

It doesn’t happen as often anymore.  I have it under better under control.  My brain feels more secure in the fact that Wonder Woman will still be alive when I wake up.  That she will come home safely after work each night.

I panic less often, reaching for her warmth to feel her chest rise and fall.

But when it happens and she’s not home I’m left gasping at 6 am.  How do I really know this wasn’t some sign.

How do I know she’s she’s still okay.

Oh look.

She just commented on something on Facebook.

Crisis averted.