The Day I Chose To Be Happy

Dissociation has taught me something. Something it has been teaching me every day, every hour, building up to the realization of today.

I don’t want to be happy.

When I think of intelligent human beings, of innovators and people of brilliant ideas, I never see their faces in my mind as smiling. Surely to be a hard worker one must consistently sport a downturned mouth, especially when in deep thought, as though they thoroughly disapprove of their own ideas.

To quote a fellow blogger (taken out of context from *this* post, but the phrase has stuck with me):

…interesting people are never taken seriously.

–Ian Williams

I’ve thought (and said) many times about how I would love to be like the man whom the philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead summed up as: “That adorable genius, William James.” James was a philosopher and one of the greatest American psychologists, but that isn’t why I attempt to portray him. He was a deep thinker, compassionate, determined and always full of curious energy, ecstatic to discover the new, evaluate the unfamiliar, and second guess common sense ideas. They say he took the steps two at a time until old age stopped him, but even then he remained an empathetic, clever, quick-witted, honorable man.

I am what the Taoist monks would call a metal person – the polar opposite of a fire person who can be so energetic and lively (like a flame) that they tend to get bored easily and forget about their priorities. Metal people are perceptive and focused, and tend to focus so much on their priorities that their catchphrase can become “There are more important things in life than being happy.”

Perhaps logic isn’t logical in a world that isn’t fair. When we adapt with life and change our course with the tides. When every. Single. Individual believes different things, feels different things about different situations and scenarios. When really everything is up in the air and unpredictable and uncontrollable that even when we delude ourselves into believing we have the world on a string, something comes along to rip the cord our of our hands – heck, sometimes taking our hands along with it. Why should I be so calculating and critical and logical and distant when in the long run it won’t change a single significant thing?

I have been fearing regretting my choices, wincing when I recall a conversation long ago or last week when I felt like a fool, the memory stinging to the point of physical pain. Uwittingly conditioning myself to loathe with the taste of acid every tiny mistake I make.

Today is the today I chose to be happy.

This will be a project, no doubt. An experiment that I intend to have last the rest of my life (and being 17, I’ve got me a long way to go.) I want to be honest, fair, curious, unafraid of looking like a fool, wholeheartedly pursue what I love, ask stupid questions, and find one reason every day to be happy.

Odds are this is not what William James did, but I like to think he would have been pleased with my plan nonetheless.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

On The Inside Looking Out

Looking out.

Image by Ashley Campbell Photography via Flickr

Goodnight.

I know the term is intended as a form of goodbye, of ‘I’ll see you when the sun wakes up’, but no other seems to be fitting at the moment. It is eleven ‘o clock at night, and I don’t care to contemplate something more appropriate.

I wonder quite often who reads my blog. Views are not typically motivation enough for a new post, but even the thought of someone secretly ‘checking in’ on how I am typically is motivation enough for a new post. Over the years, even on my very first blog on my MySpace page some 5 or so years ago, there have been top-secret readers of my blogs. Sometimes someone halfway across the state, country and world. Sometimes it was my mom.

I wonder about my words lingering here, on your screen, on my screen. What you’re thinking of them and what I’ll think when I skim through this post a few months after it’s published. Because this is everything that I sincerely believe and think and feel, it’s a deeper sort of judgement by others because I am not being judged by my type of dress or how well I can sport a faux grin at some social gathering. People who have been reading my blog for a while, have seen me grow up through my own eyes the past few years. I suppose I’ve never paused and thought about it.

This is where I say something semi-related if you care to figure out the logic on your own.

I know something for certain. That if I don’t get into the university that I want, if I don’t get married by 26, if my reputation and the positive perception of yours truly is left in a million shattered pieces (stomped on for good measure into glittering dust, as is the typical practice), if ultimately my dream of being an active part of the criminal justice system by being a forensic psychiatrist doesn’t pan out, I know with reasonable certainty (though it may be just a rumor) that the sun will come up, and then go down, and the world will keep spinning. I don’t know why this often feels like an epiphany.

I can’t help but think of a talk I had with my mother the last time we were in The Cheesecake Factory, sitting comfortably and chatting in a booth by the back wall and waiting for our iced teas and salad.

“You know something?” I said suddenly, looking around at the filled chairs and booths and the bustling waitstaff.

“Hm?”

“In this room, there are probably a dozen people having a conversation similar to ours. And extend that to the country, to the world.” My mind flicked to a paragraph from Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, in which he suggested that, if infinite parallel universes exist, then odds are that millions of doppelgänger are having the exact same conversation, contemplating your existence just as you are thinking of theirs. “There really is a huge world outside of ourselves. How many people have had this conversation, right now, saying the exact same thing I have except perhaps hundreds of years ago, or maybe a moment ago.” I wondered what philosopher started the conversation I was having at that moment (from the bored look in mom’s eyes, the one that I was having with myself, so it seemed.)

Every now and again when I feel my inner teenage drama queen bubbling to the surface with dangerous speed I remind myself of this idea. Of how many people have felt what I have, and how many times. I suppose I just confuse myself until I simply forget what I was upset about. Though (as evidenced by my posts throughout the years) fighting illogical logic with philosophical logic doesn’t always pan out. The philosopher in me finds the illogical stupid, and the illogical takes offense and points out that the philosopher can’t possibly know anything. I am, after all, seventeen. I’ve yet to attain enough life experience to beat my naivette side into submission. And then I give up, because there is no getting past the feat and the joy of youth. I’ve been looking around so much for extraordinary people to hold onto in my everyday life, I sometimes end up meeting ordinary people and finding something extraordinary about them (and on rare occasions, vice versa).

I can feel the edge of change, of newness, of instability. I suppose I want to find a few people who can be their extraordinary and brilliantly abnormal selves consistently enough to be the sanity I can turn to… Oh, grand, that was just of those nail-on-the-head moments (something I’ve been trying to figure out on my own, but then figure out as soon as I write it.) I need predictability right now, not change, not him (long story short – I fell for a guy the second I saw him in December in Lowes, he showed immediate interest as well, and when I started my anatomy and physiology class, I discovered he is one of my classmates. And sure as anything he recognizes me. I’ve been avoiding him because I know what will happen even if I promise myself we’ll only be friends. I need to fix me right now, I’m not okay and I only recently admitted it to myself. I’m never considerate of Heather Madame, even when she has really needed me as of late. How on earth can I treat a human being I know I’ll end up really caring about as well with the correct amount of decency? I would take a bullet for Heather, but that hasn’t stopped me from being incredibly selfish. I need to focus on sticking to my treatment and working through my anxiety. I need my brilliantly abnormal, consistent humans to rally around and not change for a few months…You now see the waste of the phrase ‘long story short’ when it comes to my blog…) When I imagine life as I would want it one day, I would want predictability and repetition, loyal friends and a tight-knit group with similar but diverse thoughts and opinions.

I’m not even certain where my mind is trying to trail off to. It’s nearly midnight now, so I suppose I should get to sleep and look upward and onward and beyond. Who knows, perhaps my doppelgänger somewhere has already figured this out for me. Now, to find her blog…

Goodnight,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Getting There To Look Back

Today was my first day of work. At my first job.

I suppose I haven’t mentioned this – about a week ago a man whom I shall call Mr. Lewis (his face reminds me of the character ‘Lewis’ in the USA Network show ‘Suits’:

 Strides into the self-storage office where the notorious Heather Madame works and asks if she happens to have any friends looking for a part-time job. I’ll save you an unusually long blog post (though this is me we’re talking about) and say simply one thing led to another and here I am – well, there I was. Sitting behind a large desk in a comfy leather chair staring at furniture catalogs and studying for an exam on Wednesday.

Me and Heather Madame woke up early today to grab breakfast at The Cafe before going to the storage office for hot chocolate while I waited for Mr. Lewis to arrive and for my first day of work to begin. I feel as though I should go into the conversation between me and Heather as we sat in the back room of the office, sipping our hot chocolate and sitting semicomfortably on the metal fold-out chairs around a table covered in various documents and writing utensils. We talked about how she was doing after her panic attack and the stress she has been under. I want to talk about that here, but here’s the thing: during the conversation, I did something I have never done before – my mind flicked to my blog, and I contemplated taking mental notes on the conversation to report back here.

Can I say simply, I feel like a dirtbag because of that?

After we spoke, she had to take measurements of something in a unit to report back to Carlisle (her fiance, whose father owns the self-storage business) so I whipped out my flatiron and went to work on my hair and make-up while she went about some business or other.

Mr. Lewis appeared about ten minutes early and I went on over to the furniture store where I know work – I’ll call it The Gallery. He trained me for an hour or so and then left with his son (an adorable tough-guy 5-year old with spikey blonde hair and intense blue eyes – he reminds me of a pale, young Taylor Lautner with his strong browbones and simple nose), leaving me to watch the store and try not to burn the place down while I was at it.

All I remember of those long hours, at least very clearly, is the pacing pack and forth from one end of the store to the next, memorizing prices and reciting the discount protocol for the on-floor items. The pointed heels of my shoes clicked and echoed in the empty air around me, sometimes accompanied by my mumbling of mnemonic devices. It was a rather lonely day, very few people came in which, according to everyone who has been in the store, including the woman working next door, is very unusual. The person who stayed the longest was said woman, who owns the shop to the left of The Gallery. An older woman, with grey hair and kind eyes. I was so desperate for human contact by the time she came in that I followed her everywhere and commented on everything she said. Me and Heather spoke on the phone and, since I forgot to bring any lunch, she snuck me over a few pieces of jerky and I drank a Gatorade from the minifridge by Mr. Lewis’ desk. Batwoman would not be pleased if she knew I wasn’t eating protein every three hours, but there was little I could do at that point. I remember two hours before closing I was pacing the floor (again…) thinking of how bored I was, I studied for two hours, talked to Heather until she left for home, memorized the prices on every sofa, loveseat, dining table and headboard in sight. Now what was there to do but pace and think of how I had done all there was to do? I wanted to go home and sleep and, for goodness sake, eat something besides another mint from a bowl on the clearance 7-piece dinette set.

I then resisted the urge to slap myself across the face.

Ever since I turned 16 last year I had been trying to get a job. Any job. I only got 4 job interviews from hundreds of applications filled out up until the wee small hours and in any form possible. And there I was, walking around on my first day of work thinking about how much I wanted to go home?

I won’t deny that this didn’t completely erase my boredom and want for edible materials, but it did make me feel immensely grateful for where I was, and silenced the petty complaints that had started coming to the surface of my thoughts.

Tuesday The Candywoman wants me to return for another day of babysitting (I had been a nanny for her two kids:

Andrew

And

Madison

It’s money. Goodness I hate that I really think that, but that is the main reason I’m going to babysit for The Candywoman one last time. I know I want to help her, I saw her heart breaking as she shut down her business (she had a chocolate shop in the same building as ‘The Muffinwoman’, who owns The Cafe me and Heather Madame run over to whenever we have the time and extra money), but blame greed for being my main motivator for this upcoming babysitting stint. I hope money doesn’t rule my life, my thoughts, my motivation always. When I’m a forensic psychiatrist some 15 years in the future, I’ll be making around 500$ an hour – no money fears there. I just hope I don’t always think so much of money. When we lived in the mobile home, I remember the feeling of worry and tension always, will we be able to live here another month? Do we have enough for food tonight? Is everything going to be okay? Money offers security, safety, certainty. I hate the struggle for money, the need for it for security and a comfortable life.

Money can’t buy happiness, it just buys the roof over your head, the food that keeps you alive, and the clothing that keeps you warm and socially accepted.

On the 20th of next month me and mom are going over to Baylor University for a tour – if I set my sites on Baylor, this means letting go of my original dream of going to UTPA (University of Texas Pan-American) but I think as far as motives go, I’m on the right one with this. After me and mom’s grand showdown I thought about exactly why I really wanted to go to UTPA. The answer is childish and juvenile and I thought I would be above it. I wanted to go because my mom didn’t want me to.

For so long my mom had been pressuring me to go to a college close to home, or somewhere where they wouldn’t mind moving closer to me. UTPA is next door to Mexico and not in the area where my mom would be most comfy. Also, they have a grand doctoral program and the students have a high acceptance rate into medical schools. After the fight, I looked at why I really wanted to go to UTPA. I realized that, when I’m finally on my own, I want to be on my own. My brother is 19 and has no plans whatsoever for any education or job or serious career path, comfy cozy hanging back at home. I have such big dreams, big ambitions, and I want that to be a new chapter in my life, a chapter that doesn’t include my old life dropping in every weekend to tell me how difficult and unlikely it will be for me to accomplish any of it.  I flipped through the Texas College Guide (there is no shot on this earth I’m going to college anywhere but in Texas…ya’ll) a few more times when Baylor caught my eye. The more I looked into it, the more I liked what I saw. Even the location (which is closer to *cue heavenly music* McKinney) is fantastic. It’s also about two hours away from my mom. I want to go to Baylor, whatever comes with it comes with it (mom hates hour-long drives anyway.)

As much time as I spend contemplating other people’s perception of me, I also spend worrying about regretting my choices. When I’m old and grey will I hate myself for doing what I’m doing? For what I’m going to do? I know regrets are impossible to avoid, but I want to do the right thing, with the right intent. So if it goes south I can know my heart was right.

Ten minutes ’till midnight. Goodnight.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

If Even For A Moment

The craziest thing happened last night, she said. She had had a panic attack.

Heather Madame. A panic attack.

I remember one day (it feels long ago but I know it wasn’t) that me and my brother were biking around Watauga. I had bribed him with several quarters to go to Half Price Books before heading home. He wanted to leave, I made up every excuse to linger. Finally he said he would just wait outside with our bikes while I finished up. As I left the register, new books in hand, my phone buzzed with a new message:

We need to leave. Now. Mom thinks she’s having a heart attack.

Mom is what the Taoist monks would call a ‘fire person’ – energetic and lively but, most relevant to my point, they are excellent storytellers and tend to be drama queens. I knew it was possibly her asthma acting up, giving her chest pains, but I rushed home anyway. Half of me expecting to see an ambulance parked in front of the house, half of me expecting to walk in and find mom kicking back and watching I Love Lucy while drinking black tea. I grabbed my house key and fumbled with the lock before shoving the door open with my shoulder. She explained her symptoms, I snapped at my brother to open all of the windows and get her some ice water as I asked her whatever question popped into my mind until I ruled out a heart attack. In the middle of the questioning, I attempted to hypnotize my mom (yes. I just said that.) to calm her down. It only frustrated her and irritated me. She was not a logical thinker at the moment and I was no hypnotist. All I knew of the practice was what I read from psychology texts, and I had developed a bizarre faith in its efficiency to calm stress and heal addictions. So, naturally, it would work on simple anxiety…Ha. Well, as is usually the case these days, she called Batwoman and, as is usually the case these days *cue superhero theme* she knew exactly what to do. It had been a panic attack.

I live with anxiety – with attacks, a nightly sense of impending doom and relentless dissociation (the only time I haven’t dissociated lately is when I am writing). I feel like these are my bullies. They mess with me, they hit me, make me feel stupid and keep me quiet. I am okay with my bullies doing this to me, because it is normal now – or at least as normal as it can be. But when I see one of them attack someone I care about…it feels twisted, wrong.

Flash forward to today. When Heather told me about the attack she experienced, I recognized phrases she used and feelings she described. And I felt helpless and sorrowful that I didn’t know it was happening when it occurred. I knew there was nothing I could do to make the post-attack anxiety vanish, but I found myself offering anything I could to help her, like she used to do with me. I would be a bit confused when she would because there was nothing anyone could do. But I suddenly understood. There is nothing anyone could do to change the attack or remnant, lingering fear hours (sometimes days) after, so what else can a friend offer but their time and assistance for every petty little thing? She tried brushing it off, saying a popular phrase of mine when it comes to attacks “It’s life, what are you going to do?” I felt for a moment that I was speaking to myself, and when I recognized the words, I immediately thought Ohh no you don’t.

I wouldn’t wish a panic attack on anyone..except Hitler, and maybe Obama during a press conference…and the absurd human being who wrote The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis because, I am telling you now, that man is one of the reasons any credible handwriting analysis books are still found side-by-side with mystic and pseudoscience texts!

…ahem…

I mean also, that not only did I become Heather for Heather, she became a Hannah to me, when she had her attack. I got a taste of what it must be like for her to hear what I’m going through when I tell her. It’s a bitter, cold feeling. What can you do? What is there to do except offer anything. It feels like being on your knees in a chilly wind on a frozen street, and you’re holding out your empty palms, not to receive, but to request to give. Give what? Look at your hands, you have nothing. You can’t do anything. Look at your friend, they’re beaten and shivering. You are in the cold because they are, but you can’t give them sunshine, you can’t give them a thing in the world because there isn’t a way to ‘fix’ a thing like this.

Heather is under a massive amount of stress, and she rarely thinks of herself.

Yes, yes I believe cold and twisted and wrong is how it feels. And not just with the attack, but what is surrounding them,the events, the thought at the very moment it happened.

But what is there to do but sit out here, in the cold, offering empty air and consoling with inaudible words? What can a friend truly do, except this? This is somehow enough, because it can never be enough to cure, but enough to comfort. If even for a moment.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

I Didn’t Know Where Else To Go

Watch faces

Image by cbcastro via Flickr

It’s late, I’m scared.

12:24AM, everyone is asleep right now. I tried reading a few chapters in some novel from the library, but I saw something from the corner of my vision and couldn’t focus any longer.

I didn’t know where else to go, so I came here. I keep feeling a specific moment of tension. Like a volume gauge, the fear starts very softly, and peaks so sharply I wince and quickly shut my eyes, willing, praying for it to stop. The moment feels like a moment of death – a certainty it is my final second on this earth. And it won’t stop. I’m getting a headache, there’s a ringing in my ears. The room feels stuffy, like the air has been replaced with cotton.

Why can’t I feel peace about dying? I know little about anything, but I know it shouldn’t be this way.

I’m at a loss for words at the moment, they won’t come to me. It feels so loud yet utterly silent in my mind right now, loud enough to not think straight but quiet enough to know I’ve discovered nothing new, that I’m thinking of nothing of value.

I have nowhere else to go but here. Should I call Olga? No, she’ll tell me something I want to hear but don’t need to, it wouldn’t be the truth. Besides, I’ve taken the pills she told me to for treatment for anxiety, and here I am. Heather wakes up early to make it to Fort Worth for her college classes, I’ll leave her be.

I’ve taken a moment to pause and breathe – it’s about 1:00AM now. As it usually goes, I’ll be alright. But I won’t be. It’s just life, so I say. But it can be miserable. I’m tired of saying I’m okay, the thought of saying something to brush it aside has the waterworks started up already. I will be okay, but won’t all of us? Back to reaching and climbing and crawling to get back to a state of semi-homeostasis? I reach halfway before hitting the bottom again and I tell everyone “I’m going to be okay.”

I’m tired, I’m scared, I want to be somewhere safe again.

I’ve let fear rule so much of my life. There are times when I want to be somewhere and do something and I feel an attack come on, and I’ll think about what all of those little panic attacks have stolen from me, and I get very angry. I stare down the fear and paranoia until it leaves me alone, only to lose my courage by the time the next one strikes. And then another, and another, until I get angry at the fear again and chase it away.

One of my favorite behavioral psychologists, Paul Ekman, said that fear and anger are often surprisingly hand-in-hand. I wonder if he even knows how this combination of fear and anger extends to panic attacks and tolerance being lost, little by little, by the patient.

Okay, I’ve started rambling, this is a good sign.

I’ll be alright.

-Hannah

P.S. I’m disabling comments for this post because you are my friends. Many of you think too highly of me and don’t seem to see how I don’t deserve any sympathy or encouragement you’ve always offered me 😉 I came here in a moment of high emotion – of distress, I don’t want a single one of you to feel obliged to say anything to me. And if not obliged to speak then obliged to speak well and say the right thing. I suppose it would feel wrong of me to do anything besides this. I hope you can understand.

I am profoundly grateful to know you all.

Fear of Being Afraid and Lack of Worry

It’s 5:14AM – I woke up around four with the usual suspicion that my days, hours and minutes of life were coming to an end. There comes a point where part of me understands what’s happening and is a tad annoyed, another part of me is just too tired to deal with it but has no choice, and then there is the part of me that is convinced I’ll die if I try to sleep in any other position except anatomical. Dare I say it? I’m tired.

I checked my pulse, finding some reason or other to be terrified, thinking about the rate being much too slow – and then much too fast, and then I was scared because I was starting to have a panic attack. I sat up, dissociated, read a chapter or two in my Bible, tried laying down, started to breathe normally. But then I felt a pain in my chest.

Oh, poo.

So now I really must be dying! Heaven help me I’m in my final moments! This is it! This is it! I’m going to die!

5 Minutes later

This is it! I’m going to die in horrid agony! Maybe it will be some rare form of atherosclerosis, or a teenage heart attack! Oh, goodness me! The chest pain! I must be having a heart attack! I’m going to die!

5 More minutes

Oh no! Early morning hunger pains! My systems must have gone cannibal by now – feeding off of my own adipose tissue for means of energy, destroying valuable insulation! I’m going to die from being eaten from the inside out!

If it sounds as though I’m making fun of my senses of impending doom – I am. I’m tired, I’m annoyed, I want this to stop. I am so completely worn out from being scared all the time, anxious about everything, cautious and worried and sensitive. I didn’t know it was even possible to be so logically aware of what is going on in my own head, and yet still fall victim to the absurd antics of my paranoid mind. But it is, and I do.

I considered calling or text-messaging Olga, I knew she wouldn’t mind at all, she would welcome it even. But I worried that as soon as I contacted her I wouldn’t be afraid anymore (ha – how do you like that, folks? I was afraid of not being afraid.) And then what? I knew I still would be concerned about my current state of, oh, say, living, but I still felt something hold me back. I can’t remember the last time I’ve reached out for someone in my fear. I often have dreams of having a protector of some sort. We’re often sitting in a train, looking out the window. It’s snowing and the sky is dark. The train and snow images are no doubt wish-fulfillment, my mom showed me a video she took from her train on the way to Paris and I longed to be there, it looked simply breathtaking. My protector is always wide awake, and I’m always lulling peacefully to sleep, not a care in the world because they will always be looking out for me, worrying for me. My head rests against the cold window and I watch the world pass by. And once I fall asleep I wake up to find myself very afraid. I worry sometimes of doing what my Aunt Carla did – she was lonely and had emotional issues, so she got married. So I wonder at times if I keep wishing for a real protector if I’ll end up rashly marrying the first guy that comes along with a ring and a bank account. Followed no doubt by an even more rash divorce. I don’t like the idea of having a large wedding. Honestly what I would love to do is grab several of my greatest friends and get hitched in a comfortable, simple dress with a bouquet of flowers picked out by my goddaughter (who has yet to be born – her name will be Chloe, and she will be Heather’s daughter.) And I’m doing that bit again where I just type up one thread of thought with another as they associate. But, I suppose, if you’re a new reader you should adapt – this happens frequently.

Alright, it’s nearing 6:00AM, and I do believe I am at last exhausted enough to hopefully get back to sleep before my panicked study binge in time for Anatomy and Physiology in a few days.

Goodnight/Goodmorning,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

This Is Where I Say Something Witty

Get a grip.

This has become my mantra the past few weeks.

We saw Batwoman last night to get my supplements for my various mental and physical maladies. We were only supposed to stay for a few moments and leave, so don’t inquire as to how the situation went from a discussion of supplement dosage into a mother/daughter therapy session. I haven’t been remembering many details of conversations lately, usually I could type up word-for-word what happened, but nothing is in order in my mind lately, everything is scattered. I just remember laughing with Olga and my mom one moment and then crying on Batwoman’s shoulder moments before leaving the beautiful apartment building, with its white iron balconies and pretty bridges surrounding. I remember talking to my mom and having this conversation witnessed, like John Gottman’s ‘Love Labs’ which observed arguments between married couples to see which ones survived and which ones ended in a fiery divorce. My mind flicks to my latest day in Anatomy and Physiology class – the feeling of devastation when Mrs. Bare announced the weekly vocabulary quiz. I turned to my right and whispered over to Sydney, “Was that posted on the class site?”

“We have vocabulary, like, every week.” She replied before turning away. I felt Matthew watching me (a young man for another blog post entirely) and swallowed hard, staring with ice in my stomach at my blank notebook page where the definition assignment should have been lying plain as well. I flick back to saying goodbye to Olga, I suddenly sobbed and she stroked my hair like a mother would a child and spoke softly as she hugged me. I wanted to be comforted, but my mother was standing nearby, waiting for the tears to cease.

I want her to see I’m on her side, but I want Olga to help me.

I hold back when I speak directly to my mother, to Heather, to everyone in my life. Because no one needs my baggage. No one should have to be placed suddenly into the role of therapist when they have asked for nothing but simple conversation. But there is suddenly this person in my life, Batwoman herself, who has made it clear that (her words precisely) she would love to be my therapist. She wants to hear it all, she wants me to call her in the wee small hours when I need someone to talk to. It’s an incredible gift. No guilt, no regret. But I have yet to call her. Because she knows my mother.

The odd thing is, I trust her. She is what the Taoist monks would call a wood person. She creates boundaries and breaks them in her life, she is honorable, and she takes the initiative. I know she can be trusted because she does not gossip – it simply isn’t her, she is above it. I know if I asked her to then anything I say would go straight into a vault and never come out. But…

It’s been a long time since I completely let go of everything I was thinking to someone – I know, dear friends, here I am, baring my soul every few days. But this is different. To have that human connection and look someone in the eye while I say the things I tell all of you – there be dragons, either that or it’s the edge of the world. Heather used to be my unbounded confidant, but I care too much about her to put all of this onto her like I did before. I was so selfish, and I’m human enough that I still am, but now I know what I value enough to lie to.

Get a grip. Get a grip. Get a grip. Hold back here and there and write it out before stuffing it away in my doctors-bag style purse along with a dozen other little notepads and journals. Tiny progress reports on my life from there to here and onward. I sometimes wonder what the police, or anyone, would think if I were killed and they were stuck with all of it. Sorting through my various streams of consciousness at key points in my life. I’ve tried to read my notes through the eyes of an observer. Sometimes I feel envy, other times pity, others yet, anger. So much of my time is spent wondering how others perceive me – and trying to live up to, and move beyond, any of their expectations. But lately, I feel like I’m being dragged underwater, a ball and chain clamped to my ankle, pulling me down, down, down until I wonder if I should stop holding my breath – no, I am not holding my breath, I realize. I am not slowly and peacefully glancing wistfully up to the surface, wishing I could find my way back to where I once was. No.

I am thrashing. I am screaming, I am clawing at the open sea around me, watching the moon and the stars and everything I had such a clear view of turn murky and dark.

Get a grip. Get a grip. Get a grip.

I am so terrified of failure, of looking like a fool, of being perceived incorrectly, of having my character and reputation torn to shreds, that I’ve forgotten that it’s okay to look like an airhead. Appearances don’t matter and they won’t hold up anyway. But my mind is everywhere, I can’t remember what I used to remember so easily.

I don’t feel like I’m going crazy, I just feel like I’m losing my mind.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic