Breathe

Did you know that October 10 is Worldwide Mental Health Day? If I am going to be completely honest, I didn’t either until I saw a post from my internet friend Joni. I’m still figuring out what is going on in this space and getting reacquainted with the blog, my new self, and all of you. My tattoo is a huge part of me and I thought I would share the story again today for all of those who suffer in silence.

We all need our versions of the semicolon and this is mine.


On the inside of my left wrist is a small note that I left to myself many years ago.

Breathe.

It’s a reminder that when things get rough to keep going.

Breathe.

It’s a story that I typically don’t tell unless you ask about that little bit of script.

Breathe.

I have dealt with suicidal thoughts most of my life.

Most people have a to-do list, I have a mental to-stay list. I don’t talk about it much because who wants to hear that I have a plan in place and there are dark days I am annoyed that I still have items on my to-stay list and can’t follow through with my plan.

On an evening several years ago all of the stars aligned and everything pointed to this being ‘the day’.

My husband and the girls were out of the house and the husband would be the one to find me. Not that it will be easy to find me, but he knows where to look as we have had frank and honest conversations about these feelings swirling in my head.

As I drove home from getting gas in the car, because the last thing you want your loved one to have to worry about when they are driving around making funeral arrangements is getting gas in the car, my phone rang. I wasn’t going to answer the call because I didn’t want to be distracted and I didn’t want her to think ‘what if I had just gone over instead of calling her.’

No one should ever have to live with that kind of guilt, so I answered.

She asked me if I wanted to come over for a glass of wine, I refused, telling her that I had plans. She knew I was alone for the weekend and wouldn’t take no for answer, because slightly tipsy and pushy friends are like that, so I decided to alter my plans for a few hours and stop by.

As we sat in her basement sipping on our wine, she told me I didn’t seem like myself and asked what plans were so important that I was trying to blow her off. I don’t remember what I answered but I told her I was doing something permanent.

I remember the look of panic in her eyes as she finished off her glass of wine and tried to lighten the mood by asking if I meant getting a tattoo. Before I knew it I was being whisked off to one of our local tattoo parlors that were open at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. And when I say whisked I mean I drove, because my friend had had a bit too much wine, couldn’t drive, and doesn’t realize that she saved my life.

As I pondered what I was going to get tattooed on my body so I could go drop her off and then head home to finish up life, I realized that the moment had passed. I chose breathe to be tattooed on my wrist as a reminder that spur of the moment decisions have permanent consequences and cannot be undone. When life seems too hard, when the voices get too loud, when I have all of the items checked off of my list I need to take a moment and just breathe.

Often times when I am struggling or stressed, you will find me rubbing my wrist and just trying to breathe.

I have tried to talk to doctors about my issues and they all seem surprised because I look happy and well adjusted. They don’t want to hear about my anxiety or the sleepless nights or about how I can have a rational conversation with them about the horrible things I want to do to myself while I’m dressed nicely and functioning as an adult. They have given me multiple choice tests that I second guess being truly honest with them on because I don’t want to seem that crazy. Because when things you think or do are staring back at you in that generic black and white font, they seem worse. Maybe they are right, maybe it’s not that bad. I mean everyone has stress in their life, right?

My husband has asked me if I am afraid that one day I will run out of reasons to not follow through with my plan. My answer changes based on my mood and mental state at the time. But afraid, not really.

I don’t share this to make you uncomfortable or to be concerned.

I share it because more people need to be talking about it and not just today.

 

Edited to add: When I am feeling especially overwhelmed I listen to this.

Putting the Happily Ever After in Teenage Pregnancy

This post was originally published June 8, 2013, one week after my oldest daughter graduated from high school. I’m republishing this post as a way for old and new readers to get to know me as I figure out this whole blogging thing again. Not sure what I mean about again? Feel free to check out my post about cartwheels here.


I don’t know what was going through her head when she stood there in her cap and gown with her baby on her hip.

It’s sad because I really want to remember.

I know she was overwhelmed and confused and not understanding why so many people kept telling her how proud they were of all she had done. And I know how much she hated all of that attention.

I wish that she didn’t get so anxious over things that she couldn’t control.

I wish that she didn’t let her mind linger in the dark places telling her awful things.

I’m so thankful she never followed through on any of those horrible things she was thinking.

I wish she understood more when people told her what a great mother she was.

I wish she knew the enormity of the words, “I could never do what you are doing, I don’t have it in me.” when they were spoken to her.

I remember the anger that she felt when someone would talk down about teenage mothers. The letters she wrote to different talk shows hosts explaining that there are decent teenage mothers in the world; ones that don’t disrespect their parents, ones that take care of their babies, ones that the world wouldn’t call whores.

It was with much sadness that she realized that the world doesn’t want to hear those stories. What is there to sensationalize?

****

I look back at my life and I know that my daughter made me into the person that I am today.  She molded me and made me want to be the best person I could be.

She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders, always encouraging me to go after my dreams.

She has made me change the way that I look at myself, because I never want her to have the same fleeting thoughts go through her head that plagued me for years.

There was a time that I felt guilty for deciding to keep my daughter.  In those early years I would sometime wonder if her life would have been better had I decided to give her up for adoption? Life isn’t like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book and I can’t go to page 73 and see that she would have been happier.  I have to know that I decided to do what was best for myself and my daughter.  I raised a responsible adult who has made the world a better place with her being in it.

Teenage parenting is always a tricky topic; when I talk about the pros I don’t want someone to think I am encouraging it. Each situation is different and you have to chose what is right for you and your family. I chose to parent. I talk about it here in my space because it is part of my story.

Teenage pregnancy isn’t a death sentence.

Let’s just let that sink in a bit; Teenage pregnancy isn’t a death sentence.

I know that I didn’t understand the enormity of the choice that I was making when everyone around me had their opinion on what my choice should be.

I knew that I would never be able to give my baby up and that I would do whatever I could to ensure that she had a better life than I had; between divorced parents, poverty and childhood molestation the bar wasn’t set very high.

My then boyfriend decided to join the Navy and asked for my hand in marriage.  My parents did all that they could to help me finish school.  Teachers,student celebrates graduation with mother under arbor mentors, and friends reached out when I didn’t expect them to.  They encouraged and supported me and saw that spark of potential in me that I didn’t even knew I had.

 I wish I could go back in time and tell her to keep her chin up because in just 18 very short years you will be standing here on this same track watching that baby you have on your hip walk through those same arches. You can do hard things, you were made for this and I love you.

Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” – Marcus Aurelius

Conquering the Cartwheels in Life

fear meme

My first cartwheel in I don’t even know.

Is there something that you used to love to do? That one thing you used to do it all the time and now you can’t remember the last time you did it. I am sure that you stopped doing it organically and then one day you realized that you can’t remember the last time you attempted to even do it.

One of the houses we had growing up had a large lawn that I adventured all over with my brother. If I wasn’t riding my bright pink banana seated Schwinn around I was cartwheeling across the enormous yard; at times making myself dizzy with the amount of them I did in a row. And then one day I stopped. I don’t remember why I stopped, but I do know what kept me from turning another cartwheel in my adult life.

Hello fear and doubt, there you are, telling me all of the reasons why I shouldn’t or even couldn’t turn a cartwheel at the age of 41.

  • I’m too old
  • I would need to use my rescue inhaler
  • I would fall over
  • I would twist my wrist
  • I would wrench my back
  • I would break my collar bone
  • people will see me try and possibly fail
  • people will laugh at me
  • people will talk about me

Typically if this was a task that I would seriously consider doing I would soon abandon the idea at bullet point three or four. But for whatever reason I became obsessed with trying to do a cartwheel just to prove to myself that I could in fact still do one. Everywhere I went I surveyed the area to see if I could maybe sneak a cartwheel in without injuring myself.

Yes, I even thought of doing them at the gas station, but decided against that because A, cameras and B,all of the breakable things, including myself.

Then on a sunny afternoon on the last day of September I found myself on the lawn of the Perry’s International Peace Monument with it’s level ground and lush green grass and I decided to talk myself into seeing if I could still do a cartwheel. To keep myself accountable and to remind myself I at least tried I decided to record my attempt on my phone in the broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon.

And as an OG blogging peep if I attempted to do a cartwheel and I didn’t share it on social media did it even happen at all?

When is the last time you attempted to do something that your mind or others have convinced you that you can’t do.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie

Fear and doubt have stopped me from writing here and really anywhere. I used to do it all of the time and then for no reason, fear and anxiety I just stopped. I have cheered on my friends who I have met through this space. I traveled around the country loving on, mourning with and celebrating with people I would have never crossed paths with if it wasn’t for my place here that got me started.

And just like that first cartwheel I did, these first posts aren’t going to be pretty. The flow will get better and I promise that I will learn how to stick the landing. Please be patient with me as I am learning where I need to go with my new old space.

If you need cheering on with something leave it in the comments and I will be happy to help push that fear and doubt away.

 

Feel free to share the image just give credit to @hdurdil