Oh Alice, how I love thee

March 12

Bedtime stories

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent? Did it influence the person you are now?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has long been one of my most favorite and influential books to date.  Though in truth there are so many that helped shape who I have become.  Each time I read Alice I take something new from the book.  It’s the only book that I can say has grown with me when reading it during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  In my opinion, it makes this particular story timeless.

The loss of childhood innocence, learning quickly that the world will think you too small or too tall, never really being the right fit for what is needed.  As an adolescent, this struck me to my core.  In fact, I held on to it for far too long.  During puberty and into early adulthood I had the horrible feeling of not being enough.  It took me a long time to grow out of that – to figure out that I’m good with me and I don’t need approval to be me.  Through this story, I, like Alice, learned that I am the right size, after all.  I learned not to let the opinions of others dictate who I was to become.

The Cheshire Cat, with his broad grin and fearless behavior, can be thought of in so many translations. As a child, I thought him to be the secret, imaginary friend that tried to get you in trouble by leading you down a path you didn’t know and then disappearing.  As an adolescent, I thought him to be cunning and too knowledgeable.  The best line, for me, was when she asked which way to go and after she answered she didn’t know where when he asked, he simply said it doesn’t matter she will end up somewhere.  How true is that?  We never really know which path to take, but no matter which one it is, it leads us somewhere.  There is hardly a right or wrong.

The Caterpillar is another example of changing each time I read this story.  A simple three-word question and with it says everything.  “Who are you?” She has such a difficult time answering him, you can only assume she doesn’t know who she is anymore.  She’s changed.  Don’t we all?  She insults the cantankerous caterpillar by explaining it is dreadful being only 3 inches tall after all the caterpillar is only 3 inches tall.  Alice who struggles with her own image judges harshly the caterpillar’s size though it’s the same as hers at the time.  We often run into cantankerous, confusing people, but it doesn’t do well to insult them.

This story mostly taught me about adversities in life.  How the world constantly changes and confuses.  It taught me to expect the unexpected and learn that sometimes there is no logical answer to it and that’s ok, we’ll get through that maze one way or the other.  In this way, the story taught me to be more open-minded, not to follow simply to follow and to go with my gut in all journeys through life.  Life is a mess of puzzles, problems, oddities, and no two people are the same or think the same; we have to learn to accept it and move on.

 

Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality
Les Brown

 

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I’m losing my shit, y’all

I’ve recently opened up (a little) about this little alien disease that seems to have taken up residence in my body.  Depression.  I really didn’t think I would have it or be diagnosed with it, but what do I know?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Yesterday was some interesting business.  Thank God for medication and my husband because honestly, I don’t know how else I would have made it out alive.  Oh, and my new doctor.  I guess I should thank him, too.  Any who…

Yesterday started off as any other Monday does…with eye rolls, sighs, grunts, feet stomping, and whines – the kids felt the same way, too.  It was their first day back after fall break (what the fuck is that by the way?  They get a break because of a season change? Pfft).  About an hour after I get to the office I get a call from the middle school that my kids attend.  Lovely.  I answer, hoping and praying it’s some stupid “will you bring me a book” phone call so I can tell them they’ve lost their ever-loving mind and go back to class.  No such luck.  It’s The Middle’s counselor.

I listen as she explains the events that have transpired this morning, concern from a friend of The Middle’s led them to an investigation and a sit-down.  She’s been self-harming and that one single time that happened months ago “as an experiment” has been on repeat for a while now.  It’s at this point I can’t breathe, I can’t see, I can’t think and I have no idea what happened to my voice.  I don’t know how much time passes before I’m able to mutter a cognitive sentence explaining I’m on my way to the school.

On the way there I call Mr. EMT, who’s exhausted and hasn’t yet fallen asleep from working the night before, and crazily go through what was just explained to me.  He’s still dressed and he will meet me at the school and suddenly I feel a little better.  He’s home, he’s awake, he’s going to help us through this.  I love my Mr. EMT.

At the school The Middle is in tears, Mr. EMT is his perfectly calm self, and I’m shaking uncontrollably as the counselor goes more in detail to what happened.  I’m numb.  I’m scared.  I’m broken.  My heart hurts for The Middle and all I want to do is grab her and hug her, all I want to do is tell her she’s going to be ok.  I wait for that until we’re in the safe bubble of our living room, away from prying eyes and awkwardness.  Here this beautiful little child sits and she’s scared, and she’s broken, and it takes everything inside me not to join her in the endless tears.  But I have to be strong.  I have to be the mom and her backbone.  We talk at length and we look at the paper her school counselor gave us with the name and number of a therapist who specializes in this and we all three agree it’s the best thing.

Mr. EMT eventually goes to sleep and The Middle and I spend lovely moments together talking about anything she wants to talk about.  It’s like any other day, but more.  I hate to leave her, I hate that I have an appointment with my new doctor, but I need to go to this more than ever.  We spend an hour going over me, what’s been going on, how I cope with things, and I let him know about the events of earlier and I lose it.  I crumble and I just cry.  It’s too much.  Everything is just too much.  I feel like a rubber band must feel when it’s stretched so far that it’s developing a hole just before it breaks.

He speaks of depression, how my medicine will help me out of it, and he mentions seeing the possibility of a nervous breakdown.  I’m not there yet, he says, but he fears I’m pretty close.  Maybe I am.  I gather myself back together and we talk for just over an hour.  He told me the one thing I’ve read from The Bloggess countless times that has always resonated with me, Depression Lies.  It’s not hopeless after all.

I left his office with a sliver of hope.  I might be losing my shit, but I have help finding it and putting it back together and most importantly, so does The Middle.  I think The Middle and I can both become better and we can do it together.  She won’t feel alone going to therapy because her mom needs it just as badly.  The scar we both carry inside and outside will heal with time.

This week’s prompt from Tina, at Not Just Another Mother Blogger.

“Best hidden away” and/or “scar”

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Strength

Strength is one of those words whose meaning changes with each person and each situation.  I have overcome a lot in my lifetime; some would probably even consider that I have strength or gained strength because of the adversities.  Looking back, I cannot say the same.  I remember praying for strength at an early part of my adult life.  When I consider what events unfolded after, I chuckle.  I’ve always been told by the wise women in my life that God answers you in ways you wouldn’t foresee.  For instance, if you pray for patience, you don’t become patient – you are presented with an opportunity where patience is needed.  If you pray for love, you aren’t given a knight in shining armor but instead a situation in which you either give or receive love.

I prayed for strength when my oldest son was born.  I shortly thereafter became a single, twenty-year-old mother, working three jobs, and living on our own.  I found the need to be strong, not strength.  Strength, I later realized, was inside me all along.

After a conversation with someone who is quickly becoming a very, very dear friend to me and someone I value a great deal, I began to think about those times of prayer.  It’s something she said to me after a heartfelt conversation, ‘when it’s time you’ll know’.  She’s right.

I’ve come to the conclusion that God gives us the qualities we pray for on the day we take our first breath.  He has already gifted us with these abilities and rather than conjuring them at the opportune time, He teaches us by putting us in situations in which we need to use these gifts to our fullest advantage.

Today, I chuckled after beginning a prayer to receive answers and strength.   I laugh out of fear.  Fear that not only do I possess the answers I request, but also because I know I have already been given the strength needed when I hear these very same answers.  It’s what I decide to do with the answers that define where my strength is most powerful and as I’ve been told once today….when it’s time I will know.  I find a bit of comfort in that when I know, I’ll be strong enough to overcome and close another chapter in my life.

Life is chaos, love, chances, decisions, heartaches, and strength.  Life is also as short as a baby’s breath.  I intend to live it to the fullest while I can.