World Suicide Prevention Day. PS- I REALLY hate running.

Before I wrote this, I didn’t even know it was World Suicide Prevention Day. Another blogger informed me. But it just so happens that a few weeks ago, I read a beautiful piece in the Associated Press on assisted suicide:

https://www.apnews.com/2ee08672b8c1445ca09e0e09ab262c30

I’ve been a proponent of the Hemlock Society for most of my adult life, death with dignity. Especially since Bill chose to bow out on his own terms.


Then this last week, I read an an article on Congresswoman Wild’s story on suicide prevention following the unexpected suicide of her partner. I wonder, how much less traumatic would it be if we could have a conversation and plan our death the way Robert Fuller did in the AP story? 

In the case of Rep. Wild’s partner, the article mentioned he was depressed partly because he had had a botched surgery that left him in chronic pain and the things that he enjoyed most such as jogging 5 miles a day, he could no longer do. And that struck me.


Maybe jogging was his coping mechanism. Like dancing is mine. Or maybe he just thoroughly enjoyed it so much that when it was taken from him, nothing else adequately filled that space. But I also know how chronic pain can suck the joy from us. My mother has been suffering for decades and until medical marijuana was legalized in my state and made the pain bearable, I was dreading but fully anticipating her eventually giving up.

You get so used to being in pain that you don’t even consciously think about it but unconsciously, it taints everything in your life. Low-grade, chronic pain is a current running through your nerves end-to-end, eroding your psyche and quality of life.

Combine chronic pain with being robbed of a daily activity you enjoy most like dancing or jogging… and it’s not that life is over but life as you needed it to be is over. The light has gone out. And shut the f-up about it being “selfish” or “just find something else to do that makes you happy”…
He loved running. And then he couldn’t run anymore.

And then I think about how much I hate running. I have at least a hundred excuses why I can’t or shouldn’t run. Everything ranging from bad knees to I need to have external motivation like Pennywise chasing me. The funny thing is I follow a few blogs from joggers. The reluctant joggers are my favorite because they are relatable. I try to find inspiration to run in their tales of miserable slogging and “just do it” attitude. They are inspiring but still not enough for me to run. It’s 100 degrees here. Global warming makes it 120. I could wait til the sun goes down but then I’ve lost my steam. My iPod isn’t charged or I’m not particularly feeling my current playlist. It’s wet. It’s dark. I might trip. I might get hit by a crazy driver speeding through the neighborhood. My dog doesn’t want to run either. He says we should call it an early night because he heard me reading aloud from some random health professional that sleep is just as important as exercise when you have an autoimmune disease. And life is short. Too short to do things I hate such as running.

But I can run. Not fast and not far but I am physically capable where others are not. Where the Congresswoman’s partner was not. And it eats at me a bit, clearly. Maybe I should run for him. Maybe I should run for everyone who can’t. Maybe I should run for my mother because she’s still hanging on through the pain, partly because she knows I need her to stick around. Maybe I need to run because for some, that simple act that I hate so much, might have been the difference between a life and death decision. Of course it doesn’t bring him back. And if he was alive, I’m guessing he wouldn’t give two shits to know anybody was running for him. Just like I wouldn’t be satisfied watching someone dance for me if my own legs were lost. I understand that much.

So I have a nagging sense that I might need to run for him. In my own struggle with pain, illness and depression…it’s a silent, lonely battle. I should run for us both. Because I still can.

But shortly into the slog, I began walking which ended up being a leisurely 22 minute per mile stroll while reviewing choreography in my head. Not a run. But it’s a start.

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“Fucking around and falling in love” Angel Olsen

The duvet slips away from my shoulders, exposing breasts, nipples tighten under the cool air. I long for an extra pair of arms and lips at times like these, company in my bed.

My mother remarked on how handsome M is. She asked if he was single and I said “yes but he is emotionally unavailable” and I laughed. I don’t know if that’s even remotely true but it’s easier to say out loud than “I don’t believe he’s interested in me.”

Even as I had a successful date last week with an attractive, younger man. I say “successful” because he showed up. That is half the battle, isn’t it? Affectionate and attentive, I doubt we have enough in common to pursue anything but I enjoyed his company. But I haven’t reached out to him since. He’s not “the one” so I’m not motivated to make an effort.

And I stopped texting M. His disinterest depresses me.

I have an argument for leaving tags on bras. Women generally remove the tags from all our garments but considering how hard is otto find a good bra, I’d like to know what style, size and brand it is to replace it when it wears out.

A dancer friend of mine invited me to come out and see a jazz band. Assuming because he is a dancer friend that it was a jazz conducive of dancing. Instead it was the jazz I hate. That contemporary jazz that sounds like everyone is doing a solo. And I catch myself staring the entire time staring at the drummer’s fruit stripe .socks to avoid watching the musicians on stage make bedroom eyes at each other. Another thing that irks me about jazz, watching men circle jerk each other onstage with instruments. Happy to be thought of but that was 4 captive hours, $40 and 100 miles I’ll never get back.

I chuckle at the public service announcements around the building where I work. Warnings like “Spying doesn’t pay” and beware the disgruntled employee, they could be an insider threat. Hell, might as well report everyone in this line of work then.

App dating: If he writes nothing in his profile I automatically think he’s lazy and swipe left. If he writes “just ask” in his bio, he might as well have not written anything at all and I swipe left. Although I think guys are starting to get the hint about fish pictures. I haven’t seen as many shirtless shitter shots as in years past but they are still a thing. As I’m clicking through, an “Eeww!” escapes my lips every time a SSS pops up. Doesn’t emmatter if it’s a dude with 20 pack abs or Larry the Cable Guy in his third trimester of beer gut. Same reaction.

I catch up on blogger I’ve been following for 10 years. Has it really been 10 years? 10 years since I’ve been blogging too. He’s only gotten more vulgar, I think. Pushing the envelope until there’s nothing left to push it seems. But is he really getting more vulgar or a have I become my mother, growing increasingly conservative as I get older, my mind shrinking like my spine with age.

I was a little too content in my decision to drop all my cabaret girls from Facebook. Oh, we could still communicate on the private page and they might not even notice that I dropped them. I even hoped they would notice and ask so we could open the door to that conversation like a teenager wishing someone would find her diary and say “I’m sorry, I didn’t know”.

I would tell them: You judged me. You all did. And you attacked me when I was down. And I felt like an outsider in the group ever since. However, I have a lot of sequins so I have no intention of quitting. But I don’t need social media reminding me just how few real friends I have.

I was also too content to use the excuse that traffic delayed me getting home, making it so that I wouldn’t get to the last acrobatics class on time. So I poured a stale mug of wine purposely into my “Blessed.” mug and settled down to two heaping servings of leftover whole wheat pasta. Carbs and more carbs. Comforting. And inflammatory as well as constipating so dessert I figure should be a protein mug cake with an ex lax ganache.

Then I should take a selfie while surrounded by my pets with the caption “I’d love to but I’m busy”.

“Touch me again and I’ll drown you, you bastard” Mrs. Doubtfire

Got an email today from one of my cabaret ladies that upset me to the point of ruin. I think we managed to hash it out but it’s still clings to me. When did I become the bitch that nobody likes? Most of my life I was a people pleaser, how can I help? That burden looks heavy, here let me carry that for you… And then a few years ago I realized but the people I thought where my friends at the time absolutely drained me and couldn’t even remember my birthday even when we shared it. The birthday is not important but the fact that it was a one-sided relationship. I had a lot of friends but when I took inventory of who would step up in my time of need should I need anyone, my answer was crickets. So I began doing things by myself and for myself. Now I have a small cultivated, tolerant handful of friends. I’m not mean. I just put myself first more than I used to.

But this email made me realize that the alienation I’ve been feeling was not entirely in my head. People were put off by my sullen attitude but rather than asking what was wrong, and I may or may not have admitted to anything, they just kept letting it rub them the wrong way until I was alone in a corner at rehearsals and the last show. Again, I think with a bit of communication on all of our parts, we can get past this but it still ruined my day.

No, more than ruined my day. Left me sick to my stomach wondering if I should quit. Maybe they wanted me to. Maybe everyone would breathe a little easier if I tapped out. I was going down that rabbit hole. And of all people, Robin Williams popped into my head. Now aside from the clinical depression, I don’t for a minute draw a personal comparison to the humor and talent that man had but my point is, here is a man who is successful, and beloved by most of the world. And he killed himself. We assume often I think that someone kills themself because they are lonely. True, it’s difficult to connect. But I think there is an irrational voice that tries to convince us not only that we are not loved but worse, we are not LIKED.

It’s difficult when you feel like you have no one close enough to talk to, and if you did they wouldn’t understand, or there are certain aspects of your job and the day to day war that you can’t discuss. I met with my VA psychiatrist for a biannual follow up a couple of months ago right after C was killed and she asked if I needed to speak to someone and I combusted and nodded. She said she would put in a referral to the social worker. That was two months ago and I’ve heard nothing. But I even suspect the VA social worker is too burned out to give a damn about my problems. And I’m probably not high-risk enough to warrant a speedy appointment. But really, I don’t want to talk to someone that I feel can’t relate. Or worse, doesn’t LIKE me.

Back to war tomorrow. Next weekend I will be punishing my body in an attempt to heal my spirit hiking a few days around the Cascades. I’ll be with retired Army and retired Marines. And there probably won’t be a single war story between us. I’m looking forward to it.

“If you can’t hold on, hold on” ~The Killers

I told my family I loved and appreciated them. I don’t say it enough even
though they occupy the first row of my mind. I’m nearly 43 and my mother
still covers me with a blanket. I fear the day she’s no longer here. I’ll be
alone and that’s a fact.
Last night, I was dry-eyed as I moved a few pictures of “C” to a folder
where they would be out of sight but not deleted. Even the picture of the
apple and honey as he observed Yom Kippur with me long distance.
I’m compartmentalizing, I think.
Although as I nurse my forsaken body from a the most punishing training in
years, the grief creeps into the stillness. Of all feelings, there is an
intense loneliness that I havent felt in years. Back when I used to think I
would die alone and cry myself to sleep barricaded by pillows at night.
Well, I still believe I will die alone but I had reached a space where I was
okay with that. Now, I’m back to wishing I had someone that I could call
just to come over and “distract” me for an hour or two. Take the edge off.
Touch me. But it can’t be just anyone. Who do I even want? Who even wants
me? Both faces are necessary to make a coin so I’m flat broke as ever.
Thirteen days, I’ll be another year older and had plans to again, again, to summit
mountains. One of my few friends will be with me this time and as honest as
we have always been with each other, I’m afraid he will mistake my
loneliness as an invitation. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of doing
10+ miles a day on a mountain right now with my knees and feet swollen and
taped. I don’t know if I’m up for conversation either.
During a round of acupuncture at a community clinic, I watched him through
my eyelashes: former Cavalry, Afghanistan vet, a humanitarian, a healer,
married with two kids. Two fat tears leaked out and I was grateful for the
darkness. All the good ones are gone. Or their dick doesn’t work.
Or they didn’t pick me.
That’s something my mother gently reminded me of. Maybe that’s not THE point
she was trying to make as the only person I’ve discussed the death of “C”
with. But that was my take-away and maybe what helps me cope when the image
of him unstaring, with a bullet hole in his head comes unbidden to mind.
“You offered him a better life, and he didn’t take it,” she said. Reminding
me, he didn’t choose me. If I hadnt completely moved on, I must now. That
business will have to remain unfinished. It was finished to him. I thought I
could “save” him but he didn’t want to be saved. How often do we do that to
ourselves? Cling, thinking we will be the unshakeable force of change in
someone’s life?
And I’m back to wondering if G-d exists, if there is a “plan”, if I have a
“purpose”, if I will die alone…

Later. X-rays confirm one of my feet is broken. Mountaineering is off. Well, postponed until September. I ate the plane tickets. I’ll be at work on my birthday but the worst part is my coping mechanism, dancing, is off the table for six to eight weeks.

“C”

I didn’t hear it from a personal source. No, I learned about it at work, in
detail. More detail than his family will see or know.
Sure, he told me he and his wife were separated, that they were getting a
divorce, that she was already seeing other people…he used to show me her
insane emails and texts and photos of the bruises and scratches she would
leave on him…I got a firsthand taste of her crazy when she found out about
us. But it doesn’t matter if she was nuts or if he lied about the separation
or how many girlfriends he had during his three marriages…none of that
matters because I loved him and it’s hard for me to call it a mistake.
Although it was the first and last time I ever got involved with a married
man. Every day, I drive by a road that bears his name and my eyes are always drawn to it. 
And now he’s dead. Shot in the head by an enemy sniper on a night raid in Afghanistan.
Obviously, because of the circumstances of our relationship, I can’t show up
at the funeral. His kids never met me and his still-current wife
would very likely attack me. And I’ve disrespected her enough already for my part in the affair. So with exception of messaging my mom and my three closest friends who knew what he meant to me, I’ll bear this alone. I
read an article in which his second wife gave a beautiful testimony. I’ll
keep it. 
Unsure about the necklace though. The twisted pearl he gave me for Christmas four years ago. I often thought about dropping it into the ocean, but couldn’t ever bring myself to do it. Holding on, like a charm that might
bring him back to me. It didn’t and now it never will. 
He was my Lightning Strike.  He was everything I desired in a man. Perhaps I was blinded by the chemistry which was unlike anything I’ve ever felt with anyone else. The way he would look at me, unapologetic. We were confidants and compatriots in arms before we were ever lovers. Sitting outside in the darkness watching for incoming rockets like shooting stars. He set the bar by which every man after him failed to hurdle.

Even so, I found the strength to break it off, telling him I was not the
“mistress type” and sneaking around and never meeting his kids was a reminder that I was indeed, doing something “wrong”. I hoped he’d follow through with a divorce and reach back out to me eventually but he never did. Although “C” once told me I was better to and for him than anyone
in his life ever had been, in the years that followed, I thought of him often and never heard from him. So maybe I was the only one between us that cared beyond the moment.
Maybe now I should bury that necklace, the same as they bury him. 
I’m oscillating between dazed indifference and involuntary bursts of tears.
I think of him, naked and shining, climbing atop the furniture in his room,
catching ladybugs and releasing them outside…

“I’ve got my love to keep me warm”

I felt a bad mood coming on like the first tickle of a cold on my way out of work this evening. I stopped by Starbux thinking a caffiene boost would be a quick cure (and give me energy to dance tonight) but they got my order wrong and as I drove off, I fought back the urge to hurl the cup screaming into road.

An old friend – a close friend – popped into my head and I realized I hadnt talked to him a while or seen him on social media so I decided to send a text to check in (because I’m not a good friend these days)… but I couldnt recall his name. It’s like forgetting your sisters’ name. And it didnt escape me for a moment and pop right back in place like a disclocated shoulder. An hour later, I was crying because I still couldnt remember his name and was sifting through the countless bullshit saved numbers on my phone’s contact list to find him. I finally found him, sent a text but havent heard back. I’m a little concerned because he’s prone to depression. Social media makes it easy to keep tabs on the people we care about but at teh same time, it makes us lurkers in their lives and not active participants. We are watching over them and we care but they dont know that.
Our lives have become nothing more than a collection of hashtags.
If my friend who’s name escaped me is in my Top 10 of friends, the guy who is in my Top 5 was so upset with me for neglecting him that he deleted my number from his phone. I know this because (1. I know that’s something he does with people he truly angry with and 2.) he didnt immediately know who I was by the time I got around to returning his multiple calls. Instead of greeting me with “Hola, Amiga!” as soon as the call connected, he asked politely “Who is this?” (no, he wasnt joking or trying to make a point. I do know him well).
As Im failing at friendship as a whole, my Asshole Best Friend is suicidal again. His other best friend and I have discussed it behind his back, trying to figure out how to best handle it: Tell his father who will put him back in Rehab? Tell his sister who will kick his proverbial ass? We both lean towards the latter. If he does take his life, I won’t be surprised but I”ll aslo feel responsible because how can I not? If I was a better friend…
But we are not responsible for the behavior or happiness of others, are we? Or is that just another popular “self help” quasi-Buddhist nugget of modern-day wisdom that we are supposed to swallow to make us feel less guilty for shirking our responsibility to be kind humans?
As I was crying this afternoon, I ask myself out loud “Why are you upset?”
Is it because you’re a bad friend?
Is it because you’re a bad girlfriend who is unhappy with her current romantic albeit asexual relationship; who may be sticking it out because she already bought him an expensive, non-returnable Christmakkuh present?
Is it because photos and mirrors reflect reflect an old, tired, washed up ghost?
Is it becaue you havent achieved what you expected to by this point?
is it because you had worse than a mild wardrobe malfunction at last weekend’s cabaret show and your entire tit flopped out like an unwelcome fish onstage for everyone to behold?
And then, to snap myself out of that, I went in search of words of wisdom, my copy of The Happiness Advantage that Ive only dented by about 20 pages in several months…and of course I can’t find it. It’s not where I distinctly recall leaving it. And the anxiety is rising again because I’m back in the near empty parking lot, walking right past my car, searching for the car I traded in two years ago…embarassed, confused, and a little frightened.

“I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see” ~Sweet Charity

That title is a lie. These days, I do. Everyone except the one I’m with.

Surrounded by people in the office and feel like typing helps…sane as long as I’m typing, like a shark that can’t stop swimming lest they die.

Havent slept in two nights, I was late to work both days, took sick leave to cover my butt but I still burn all my leave as fast as I earn it for bullshit like that. I’ll never get more than an extended weekend at this rate. In 10 months of employment here, I still can’t bring myself to the commitment that a signature block signifies but perhaps something along the lines of “Over-educated, executive-level-manager-turned-desk-monkey”. Today, one of the letters from another department gets kicked back for bad grammar and punctuation. I fixed it -simple-and sent it back but the response was “The Director’s office will wait for review by the Coaches”. Right. Because correcting grammatical errors in reports is above my pay grade these days.

I was happily hacking down trees on my mom’s property in the woods two weekends ago. Too bad park rangers make $26-28k annually. Loves the woods! Handy with a chainsaw! PR experience a plus! Cant live off that check though.

Had a meeting with my Army career manager yesterday. First face to face in a year and admit that I was sucking in HARD (#gradschoolgut). I agreed to consider deploying again with SOCOM and fought back a cold sweat. I swear, if the Air Force would take me back, I’d celebrate. Did I ever tell you about that rainbow I saw on the flight line at Patrick AFB when I went out there three years ago to interview with the C-130 CSAR unit? Oh man, I was CONVINCED that was a sign! I KNEW in my heart that I would retire there, back in a blue uniform (or green flight suit). What the fck happened to that? Nothing good has come from my Army experience.

Cant talk to CK right now either. Eleven months now without orgasm. Frustration elevated back to DEFCON 10. He was crying about how while doing his Jane Fonda stretches this morning, he lost his balance and bumped his shoulder. I found his weakness unattractive. And hate myself for feeling that way. And for fantasizing about the guy at work that “offered” me his fully functioning c*ck (and no, I didnt take him up on it).

How ‘bout this for a signature block?

“Bitch, BA, MBA, Executive-level-manager-turned-minimum-wage-desk-monkey”

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?

Do you wanna build a snowman?

No, I want to build pipe shelves. Starting with a toilet paper holder with a small shelf above it. If I can make that happen I think I can go crazy with industrial-meets-rustic shelving.

I have these moments where I feel like myself. I’m not depressed. Ive been depressed and I don’t think this is depression. But I don’t feel like myself either. But then the lsight switch flips on when I walk outside and think about going for a hike or just being inspired by a project (like the pipe shelves) and think “yeah! I wanna do that!”. And then it passes so quickly. The light switch flips off and I’m left alone in the dark again.
So maybe I am a little depressed.

Which might stem from always being tired. A coworker asked me how I was feeling and when I replied “tired” he said “That’s not too bad”. My eyes narrowed and I said “Sleep deprivation is an effective form of torture”.

But I got up when the alarm told me to and didn’t reach for my phone right away. Instead, I took an extra few minutes working through my morning routine. Took time to blow dry my hair and carefully apply eyeliner. I probably don’t look different as a result but it helps me feel a bit more “put together”, at least on the outside.

“And all I really want is deliverance” ~ Alanis Morissette

Plugging away at monkey work, typing up a veterans benefits letter for a widow whose husband, my age, died of cancer. Coincidentally he was born and died on the same day. My birthday. She only asked for one letter but I gave her everything she was possibly eligible for. And it’s still not enough.

I answered a flyer hanging in Starbucks, a woman searching for a Kidney donor for her husband. I called the hospital and did the initial screening but they informed me that I was not now or ever would be a potential donor for a kidney. The damn MEN 1 again. I joked “Am I so broken that I can’t even give my body away now?”

I should be grateful but I still hate the job and continue to search for something else. It’s hard to get a call back. I tread that line between enthusiastic and annoying with recruiters. I also suspect I blow formal interviews. I know my worth but struggle to articulate it. I rely too heavily on my professional and personal references to say nice things about me. I appreciate it truly but I need to be able to get a job on my own. One of those references pointed out gently that we need to soften my edges. And I agree, I’ve become a Jagged Little Pill over the years. But can’t we just have a conversation? Do you want someone who fits your organization’s needs or someone who just interviews well?

Dont mind me… tired and rambling.

This is what Friday night grad life looks like.