Freeing the voices in my head

Posts tagged ‘Fear’

Weird and Wondering

Interaction with the other people in her life was like living in a horror movie.  She knew something very bad was going to happen every hour, day and night.  She wouldn’t be able to stop it, help or escape, and she would be traumatized for the rest of her life.

 

Good morning, world.  The above paragraph has been rattling around in my head.  I think it might be a good beginning for a story, a dark story, but the words and idea don’t want to advance any further.

 

Does it grab the reader? What comes next? Want to write the next paragraph or two or twenty? Go ahead and comment! heh…

 

Well, writing it out and posting it will hopeflly make it stop looping in my head. Have a lovely Sunday! 🙂

Mumbling and Fumbling

I have no ideas for tonight’s blog.  I need to email a couple of trusted people to be First Readers for my manuscript; the original Readers are all too busy, I haven’t heard back from any of them in months and really NEED input!  But the two people I have in mind are going through major family issues right now and I don’t want to intrude.  *sigh*

I’ve been spending my mornings painstakingly describing a location and am bored with it.  My writing weakness is not enough description, moving too fast, but I get bored reading (and writing!) descriptions!  I know it’s necessary, but I want to move on to the action part of my second manuscript!

Is it foolish to write the second manuscript in the series when I’m not even sure the first one is marketable?  Nah, I’m following my main rule: Write for me first, because it gives me joy.  If others like my writing, cool!  Maybe that’s why I’m bored.  Describing the location isn’t really what I want to do, even though, for something that might be published someday, it is necessary.

Reading the blogs of others is a break of sorts, but I know I’m just delaying…I need to finish the stupid description and dive into the blood, gore, monsters, heroes, FUN part of my story!

Yeah, I think I can, now, I’ve had my break…Onward!  🙂

Terror Alert: RED!

No, not “terrorist,” no one is attacking the USA.  It’s just Life attacking me and the people I love.  What is the most terrifying thing that can happen?  Well, if you’re a parent, it’s anything regarding your child.  Doesn’t matter how old they are, when something bad approaches or happens to your kid, you feel it – that heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, knee-buckling sensation: Terror.  At the same time, because you are the parent, you are not allowed to collapse screaming on the floor (which is what part of you wants to do).  Nope, you must act strong, calm, and deal with the situation.

About two weeks ago, we got a phone call late in the afternoon from our daughter’s ex-boyfriend.  She had been in a lot of pain in June from a pinched nerve in her shoulder that numbed her right hand and left her with fumbling fingers — yes, you can have pain and numbness at the same time; it’s happened to me.  She did go to a clinic, but not a chiropractor.  She has no insurance and little income because she only has a part time job.  By July 4th, she was better, but her hand was still kind of numb and tingly.

For the next two weeks, unknown to us, she battled a painful infection.  She did go to Urgent Care and took the antibiotic and pain meds they gave her.  The next day, she tried to call her friend for help.  By the time he could get to her, she was incoherent and having seizures.

We have a number of wonderful angels in our lives, most of them are our adult children’s friends.  Her ex-boyfriend has been through so much with her and she can trust him with some frightening issues, so she called him.  Then, he (thank you, son), called us.  When he got her to the hospital, two more angels went into action: our “other” son and his partner – paramedics.  They called us, too.  And then, the one angel I am most grateful for: the sweet wife of our “other” son, who works at the hospital, called.

Now, fed regulations protect private patient info so the hospital couldn’t tell me anything over the phone, but from the little info our friends gave us and the tone of their voices, we knew a parent had to go be with our girl.  When you hear that one piece of info – “They’re sending her to the ICU.” – you jump in the car and drive.

Now, we got lucky in a few ways and unlucky in others.  The bad part was her dad HAD to leave for South America the next day for work and would be gone for an unknown length of time.  There was no money for a plane ticket and no way to get one at 9 pm, plus, no one to pick me up at the airport and no money for a rental car.  We live in the middle of Texas (bum-f@ck Houston), daughter is in Arizona – it’s a 15 to 17 hour drive.  And I suck at long drives…and dealing with authority figures like doctors…

But…I’m retired and could go to her.  Our younger son is here with us, still getting all his papers together for his job, so he isn’t working yet, and we could do the drive together in a really good car.  Hubby has a good friend who took the dogs, the cats were left with a huge bowl of food…and we all headed out to our assignments.

Once in Arizona, in the hospital, I learned more – they will tell a parent things in person, thank goodness, maybe, sorta…It is terrifying to hear your child (I don’t care if she’s an adult, she’s still my baby!) was “Code Yellow” – which is just a step below “critical.”  Terrifying to learn she continued having seizures and stopped breathing at one point, terrifying to see her hooked up to a breathing tube and in a chemically-induced coma…looking like she’s 12 yrs old…and weighing under 100 pounds when she’s 5’6″ and should have at least 20 more pounds on her.

We can joke about it now (ah, morbid humor  it’s the only thing that keeps us sane), but it took a four-point restraint and two burly staff to hold her down to keep tests done before they doped her.  The boys related how the ER staff was talking about the 90 pound girl throwing all the men around the room.  Our paramedic boys also told off the people who were speculating with disrespect regarding our girl’s behavior because she’s “our sister-friend.”

Ah, validation when the test results came back clean – no drugs or alcohol, but very low potassium level, electrolytes, nutrition values, etc.  Perhaps a reaction to the antibiotic or previous pain meds?  No one knew for sure, but she did, indeed, have a nasty raging infection in her body.

It took a few days before they allowed her to awaken.  And, of course, we all wanted to know what had happened, what she could tell us.  But her first words were “What the hell happened?”    She doesn’t know, either.  She took the proper doses of meds and went to bed, then woke up unable to control her body and fingers and frantically tried calling her friend.

We may never know what happened.  I believe it was a combination of everything.  I have seen a low potassium episode before – my mom was found wandering around her yard late one night in her pjs, yelling for my dad – who had been dead for six months.  She was confused and didn’t know me or my brother (this was way before she slipped into dementia).  She fought the paramedics, then flirted with them (75 yrs old and still feisty!).  An infusion of potassium and voila!  All better.

Our girl is also allergic to penicillin and some of its derivatives.  It’s possible the antibiotic – one she had never taken before – is another one she is allergic to; she did have trouble breathing.

Then, there was the infection and the fact that she hadn’t been eating much for almost two months…

Well, I took care of her once they released her, feeding her, fussing over her, and left her with lots of proper food, juices, and a clean apartment (!).  I’m back in Texas now, but I’m still gonna worry, that’s a given, that never ends.

Is the terror over?  Can I lower the alert from red to green?  Nope, never.  Maybe yellow?  No, I’m Mom – the terror alert remains at Orange, a constant gnawing bug I hide deep inside and try to ignore.

So please remember – if you have a friend who is a parent, no matter what age their child is, don’t ever call them late at night.  Because before she/he sees who is calling, the Terror Alert jumps to Red: “My child is in trouble!”

Hey, it’s a parent thing…  🙂

 

Honor Guard

In 1943, 1944, 1945, the world was struggling through a Second World War.  My dad enlisted and at some point before he was sent to the Pacific Arena, he was honored with his first award.  He was one of the Top Ten Marksmen in the nation.  Cool, huh?  He was a Marine and reached the rank of Sergeant.  But he really wanted to be a pilot and fly a jet.  He couldn’t because he didn’t have 20/20 vision.  Ah, the irony – good enough to shoot anything on the ground, but not good enough to fly.

He was sent to a tiny island in the Pacific.  The trip over there involved being on a troop carrier.  Hundreds of Marines – the toughest bad asses ever – crammed together with Navy sailors.  Grunts and grounders, rookies really, with no idea what was about to hit them.  The sailors knew; they’d been out there, they had survived a few hits.

During the passage, the ship came under fire.  Being a troop carrier, they didn’t have the option of fighting back.  They had to run the gauntlet, let the better armed and fortified ships do battle.  Imagine the bowels of that ship, hundreds of young men (my dad barely out of his teens) crammed into crew quarters built for a handful; many of them had never been near the ocean and most of them were seasick.  There weren’t enough life jackets for all of them, and the Marines were under orders to keep their gear with them.

My dad asked a sailor what they should do if the ship got hit and started to sink.  He had to look up to ask  – that sailor was over six feet tall, built like a battleship, and seasoned; he had cold seawater for blood.  The guy shrugged and glanced at the heavy pack my dad was clutching.  “Ship sinks, you’ll sink.  Better ‘n burning.”

Ouch.  But I’ve lived with a Merchant Marine for 30 years, I know that tone my father heard in that sailor’s voice, I know what he meant – the ocean is a bitch, but she’ll kill you faster and less painfully than any human.  But for my dad, first time on the ocean, far away from home, that was a wake up call: Death’s right here, boy, stay alert!

They survived without taking any hits or damage and made it to the island.  It wasn’t a combat post, really, just a supply base with a few jets and jeeps, Quonset huts, those few hundred men – carved out in the middle of that island with a dirt road – trail, really – leading to a tiny village near the shoreline.  My dad had made a few friends.  His best friend was a pilot.  The day Mike took him up in a jet for a flyover…ah, my dad’s face lit up at a memory he cherished so that he couldn’t find words to describe it.

Dad often got the job of taking a jeep to the village to check for supplies dropped on the beach or to pick up fresh fish and local produce – the Marines couldn’t befriend the islanders, but they didn’t want to alienate them entirely.  One day, he was on his way back to base, fighting to keep the jeep straight on that muddy rutted track, when something  he didn’t remember what  ran across the road.  He jerked the wheel, the jeep hit something and went flying.  Dad remembers it flipped and he woke up beside it in the ditch.

As his blurred vision cleared, he saw something that made his blood freeze and his heart stutter.  He was surrounded by six Japanese soldiers, all of them staring silently at the unarmed Marine lying on the ground.  Dad slowly got to his feet, fighting off the vertigo, urging his body to stand tall and proud, stoic in the face of Death.

And then, something miraculous happened.  All six soldiers politely dropped their weapons at his feet, raised their hands, and surrendered to my dad.  No one spoke – why bother?  He didn’t speak Japanese and they didn’t speak English.  Dad picked up their weapons and glanced at his overturned jeep.  As one, the soldiers went to it and heaved it upright.  They stood in the road and waited while Dad got in and prayed the vehicle would start.  When it did (thank god for good old fashioned solid manufacturing!), he drove up onto the road to his waiting prisoners.  They marched back to base – six men ahead of the barely mobile jeep and its barely conscious driver.

Dad thought they surrendered because they were tired and hungry and scared.  Maybe they were deserters.  They were in ragged mismatched uniforms, muddy, far too thin, and young, so heartbreaking young.  He never found out what happened to them.  The MPs and his CO took over the second sentries spotted his little parade.  By the time Dad was out of the medic’s hands, the Japanese boys were gone.

These are the only war stories my dad ever told us.  I don’t know if he ever saw real combat; maybe I was deemed too young to hear the other stories – the ones that weren’t funny or weird.  I wonder about that because there was a hint of something, a brief sentence overheard…

“He stepped off the ramp and just sank.  We couldn’t help him; we were dying.”  What ramp?  Where?  My immediate thought brings heartrending images:  men in those boats, trying to hit the beach at Normandy and some of them drowning before they make it ashore because of their heavy gear, and others being shot in the water while struggling to swim…My dad barely able to watch that beach sequence in “Saving Private Ryan,” the tears running silently down his cheeks…Where WAS my dad?  What else did he see and do?  He never said.

Ask any WWII vet and they say, “It was the worst time of my life…and the best.”

I salute you all and thank you.  May we always remember and honor you, our guardians of freedom.  Semper fi!

 

The Muck Inside

First, my apologies.  This will not be a funny or happy blog, and if you are a depressive with suicidal tendencies, be aware that this may be a trigger post for you.

I get so angry at people who judge suicides.  “Oh, how cowardly!”  “Damn, how selfish!”  “How could he do that?  What the hell was he thinking?”

Whoa, wait.  I’m a depressive with suicidal tendencies.  Fortunately, I’m also a dysfunctional depressive – when in an episode, I have no energy to get out of bed, so I have no energy to carry out my suicide plan.  So, I’m here and safe.  And yes, I have a suicide plan.  It’s been worked on and honed to perfection from the age of fourteen.  That’s clue one:  If a depressed person actually has thought out a suicide plan, get them help immediately.

“Oh, but she’s just looking for attention.”  Nope, clue number two:  If a depressive is talking the “I hate my life, I want to die” talk, don’t ignore it, brush them off, or storm about being angry with them.  Get them help immediately.

You ignore us or get angry with us because you are afraid.  You don’t know how to stop us or help, and, the biggie, you are afraid of any talk of Death, so, you react.  Don’t.  Just do your best to get us some help.

Because, you see, we aren’t being selfish or cowardly.  Inside the mind of a depressive, we really do believe you would be better off without us, that we are worthless and therefore, shouldn’t be alive.  Getting angry at us just proves to us that you want us gone.  Since Life is already too horrible, we seek Death.  In our minds, it’s the only way to escape the horror and remove our disgusting presence from your life.  We really are thinking of how our death will benefit you.

That how twisted and crazed we are inside.

In here, the voices of horror are quite often loud and they never shut up.  They tell us how terrible we are all the time and we can’t hear you over those voices.  Every outer influence from bullying to denting your car to breaking a glass is more proof of our uselessness and the voices scream louder.

The expectations of you and the rest of society are too much for us.  We try , try, and fail, again and again.  We’ll never be good enough and you’ll be better off without us.  So, down go the pills, or the knife, or, POP, off goes the gun.

It isn’t easy to put a knife to your arm and start slicing it open.  It fucking hurts.  A lot.  A depressive has to be really done with the mental pain to withstand that physical pain.  Doesn’t sound like a coward to me.

Selfish?  No, to us, you already hate us every time you criticize us or get angry with us.  There are no lines of “I’m just telling you for your own good; I still love you.”  We aren’t hearing that.  We can’t.  The voices are screaming too loud.  So, since we hurt you so much, we’ll just go away.

I’ll always regret not being more aware for my loved one.  He didn’t reach out, didn’t speak of it, he just spiraled down, and I didn’t even catch the signs.  He drank too much, fought too much, argued all the time, decided we hated him…  If only I had visited his home more often, sat down and really talked to him, told him I knew where his mind was…  If only.

So, don’t blame yourself.  There’s really not much you can do, except try to see the signs.  I saw them and didn’t act on them because I was too deep in my own murk.  If another depressive missed all that, then you can’t be expected to see it.  If you’re lucky, your loved one will toss out a hint or two.  Don’t ignore those clues.  Go get help.

It will be five years tomorrow; I love you, C, and still miss you.

Thank you for reading.  Now, go, hug each other, but most of all:  Listen, listen to each other without reacting.  You might be surprised by what you actually hear when you really listen.

Under The Bridge

When I wander into Memory Town, I usually get stuck at the bridge.   I used to have a bit of a phobia about bridges – I hated driving across them.  My too vivid imagination could see me steering the car through those inadequate guardrails to plunge down into the water below.  There are a number of phrases about bridges.

“Don’t burn your bridges.”  Huh, does that mean I can go back over the bridge if I don’t like what I find on the other side?  Okay, I know it means watch what you say (or do) because you can’t take it back and the other person might shut you out of their life.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”  Put off the bad until we’re ready for it or can’t avoid it any longer?  I’d like to cross it now and get the agony over with, thanks.

“It’s water under the bridge.”  Meaning let the Past go, move on, etc.  Ah, but this one, this is the one that gets me stuck.  I climb down and have to look under the bridge.

In real and memory terms, the water under a bridge is always dark, murky, full of debris and dangerous currents.  Ugly things live under there, lurking, waiting, ready to snatch at the unwary observer.  Stuff that should be dead and gone get caught in whirlpools swirling around the pylons of the bridge.    Garbage that sank to the bottom reaches twisted limbs up to grab a swimmer’s ankles and pull the victim down into the mud.  An undertow can pull you to the center and suck you down, trapped in the dark shadows beneath the bridge.  You can drown under the bridge, fighting to scramble back to the bright and clear waters on each side where you can see everyone else enjoying the sun sparkling on the river.

I’d like to join them, I try to stay with them, but the dark mess under the bridge still needs clearing out.  I keep hoping if I push the crap around, the murk will flow away and I’ll be free.  It’s a big job and no one out there in the sunshine wants to help me.  They don’t want to hear about what’s hidden under the bridge; they believe I should just leave it alone and walk away.  A few friends have tried to help, but I don’t want them trapped under there with me, so I gently push them away.  Somehow, I think my beloved will be strong enough to help without getting caught, but he won’t go anywhere near the bridge.  They all want me to forget, move on, walk away, and never, ever speak of what’s under there.

But I can’t because the water under the bridge is flowing through me every day.  I live there every moment, unable to break free.  How can I escape when no one wants to hear my shout for help?  When no one will listen as I try to clear the mess out?  They have tried, for about five minutes, just as I’m starting to reveal the darkest debris.  They wave it off, send up a platitude or two, and scurry back out into the sunshine, leaving me to drown.

I thought Love would be the thrown life preserver…but that’s no life saver, that was just another trap…  Someday, I’ll write my way clear, someday, when it’s all on paper, in print, they might read it.  Someday…I’ll just swim away.

You Did What?!

I’m on my laptop for a few hours here until hubby finishes playing on the desktop.  I’ve been whispering and mumbling to it…Randy (hubby, who is definitely a Mr. Grumpy before his second cup of coffee) is pouring that second cup and notes, “Who are you talking to?”

“My laptop.”  He rolls his eyes and slouches back into the office.  It’s okay – in just a bit, he’ll saunter back out here to the kitchen, lean over the table and share morning kisses.  Oddly enough, I was the grump in the morning for years.  Not anymore and not by my choice; kind of difficult to sleep in when a 90 pound boxer leaps on top of you whimpering to go outside NOW!  Also difficult to be mad about it.  He’s a big, clumsy, goof of a dog and full of joy.  Boxers really are the clowns of dog breeds.

Anyway, my point here is that I don’t write much on my laptop.  The poor thing is over two years old, needs updates that stupid Norton Anti-virus keeps blocking, had a defective battery from day one, is an irregular – great price but when we got it home, we found out why.  The battery for one and the fact that the keyboard is deep bronze-colored while the keys are black.  Impossible to see in most light, and it’s been forty-some years since my high school touch-typing class.  I stuck white sticker letters on it, but half of ’em have fallen off.  Having been a professional proof-reader, I do go through my writings, but if there are mistakes today, I’m blaming the laptop!

Onward!

Last night I mentioned I’m a coward.  Not entirely true.  I can be brave and have been, but there are some things I just can’t face.  My flight impulse kicks in (and my fight impulse kicks me in the butt about it later) and I run or hide.

I enjoy scary movies, rollercoasters, trying new things.  I loved sky-diving – we sat on the floor of a tiny stripped down puddle jumper of a plane, the only seat was for the pilot.  Being total newbies, we all went tandem (strapped to an instructor – I got the hunky six-foot-five Swedish guy, oh my!), except for our son-in-law Charlie.  He was a hot wire power lineman and convinced the instructor to let him jump solo.  That’s a memory I cherish – Charlie, whooping and hollering with glee as he drifted down to a perfect landing.

I loved stepping out onto the strut, feeling the wind trying to whip me away, I loved the free-fall, whooshing faster than I’d ever gone, I loved the incredible view after the chutes opened and we drifted to the ground.  My BODY did NOT love the drifting.  It protested by dry-heaving all the way down.  Swedish guy said, “Tuck your nose into the neck of your shirt so you don’t vomit on us!”

We landed with me laughing between dry-heaves.  Swedish guy swiftly unbuckled my gear and pointed out the bathroom.  I made it there in time.  Hey, better than Brian!  Our oldest son came down laughing, too, looking fine.  He took two steps and graced the desert with his breakfast.

Was that bravery?  I’m not afraid of heights, airplanes, high winds, or hunky Swedes, so I don’t think so, but other people do.

I watch some scary movies, crouched back in my seat, trying to muffle gasps and screams, but fully watching.  Other scary movies are peeked at through the fan of my hands or merely listened to from the floor of the car after I’ve slid down from my seat to hunker under the dashboard.  Just ask Melissa Crandall!  Ah, darlin’, we went to the drive-in, can’t remember the movie.  “It’s Alive?”  Or was it the remake of “The Thing” with Kurt Russell?  Good movie, but lots of parts I couldn’t watch.  I will never watch or even listen to the original “Exorcist” movie again – too disturbing on too many levels, scared the shit outta me!

The first “Alien” movie – awesome!  We walked out to the car laughing and chatting about our favorite parts…and checked every nook and cranny to make sure no “face-huggers” leaped out at us.  I turned on every light in the apartment and left them on, still couldn’t go to sleep.  The phone rang, yep, girlfriend was in the same state of delicious fear.

Now, I have never seen the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and don’t want to.  The trailer freaked me out.  One: Chainsaws – loud, dangerous, noisy, did I mention loud?  Two: deformed, masked, crazy mutant guy.  Three: Women portrayed as blonde bimbos just lying there screaming.  Add the very real childhood memory of having someone leap out of the dark to do god-knows-what to you and, yeah, you’ve hit some of my Fear buttons.

When we first moved to Tucson, AZ, Old Tucson Studios went all out for Halloween.  (My fav holiday, then Christmas, but the rest of ’em, eh.)  By that time, the sound-stage had burned down and the place was mostly an amusement park.  I’m not sure, but I think the last movie filmed there was “Geronimo.”  It was still a wonderful place to experience and the Halloween theme/party of “Nightfall” was a blast!

The three kids were teenagers by then and not used to the desert climate.  In October, it can be hot during the day, but when the sun goes down, it gets cold!  I was the only one with a  jacket because I’m always cold, and I shared it with our daughter – stylishly dressed in the teen girl uniform of short shorts and a tiny tee my mom (and husband!) would have called lingerie!  Our sons were a bit better off in jeans and T-shirts, gallantly doing their best to imitate their father – who seems to have stone skin – but they were rubbing at their arms.

We still had fun; only noticing the cold when we had to stand in line for a show or ride.  Then, one of those rotten, er, sweet kids saw the “Fun House.”

“Let’s go in there.  We’ll take our time and warm up.”

Okay, I could do the fun house; I hadn’t been in one since my own teen years, but sure, I’m game (Husband, wise man that he is, declined and waited outside).  I don’t mind the swaying, dipping floors or the spinning tunnel you have to walk through, and I don’t freak out about spiders and cobwebs.  The crazy mirrors are funny; I like the one that makes me look tall and skinny!  But.  I hate the dark inside buildings, hate flashing lights and creepy fingers brushing across my skin.  I was getting a little freaked.

Then we stepped out of the dark corridor into a wide-open, empty area that looked like the inside of a black canvas circus tent.  It was well-lit, too.  I stepped to the fore with a smile.  “Oh, looks like we’re at the exit.”  Indeed, we could see an open tent flap across the space.  Now, remember, I’ve never been in this kind of “fun” house, and the kids are behind me.  I can’t see the boys smirking and our girl rolling her eyes…

We got to the center of that space and…ROAARRR!!!  “Yarrrgghhh!!!”  From behind a curtain, a screaming masked mutant seven feet tall (Hey, I was scared!) and wielding a huge growling chainsaw leaped at us, at me!  I shrieked, reached behind me, and THREW the first child I grabbed at the monster.  Then, I ran.

The chainsaw was silenced, allowing a lot of very loud laughter to billow out of that tent.  I cowered behind my husband, only just realizing I had sacrificed my youngest son to save myself.  What kind of horrible mother does that?!  The three of them strolled out of that tent with the unmasked mutant, laughing their asses off.  The man clapped my husband on the shoulder, saying, “That is something I’ve never seen!  Sure wish someone coulda got a picture!”  He walked away while the kids gleefully revealed my terrible sin.  “She just tossed Jim to him!  Good thing there’s no chain on the saw!”  Oh. My. God.  I apologized profusely to my baby boy (who, at thirteen, stood almost as tall as his dad and was built like a football quarterback) and he laughed it off.  I was mortified, shaking, riding the guilt train for the rest of the night, and, hoping, oh dear god, hoping, this incident would NOT be a story repeated for years to come.

But, it is.  They all tell it and the listener always stares at me and says, “You did WHAT?!”  Sigh.  I can laugh it about now and share it, but, yep, there’s your proof — I’m sometimes brave and daring, but I didn’t just run from the monster – I gave him my beloved son to save my own ass!  Yep, so, sometimes, I’m a coward to the core.