Tag Archive | fear

These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Take race out of the equation. Would he have pursued him? Called the police? Tailed him even after a 911 operator told him to stop following the boy? Gotten out of the car to confront him, knowing that police were on their way?

Now flip the script. If Martin had been white and Zimmern black, would that verdict have been different?

Sad thing is, racism was, and still is, an issue in our country. The thing is, until I was almost in middle school, I didn’t know racism existed.

I live in a city that’s a nice mixture of many races. I grew up having block parties with people of many different backgrounds. I was exposed to other cultures at a young age. I remember having cow tongue tacos (tacos lenguas) with our next door neighbors. Skipping double dutch or doing drills with the girls down the street. Watching tv with my friend while her mother put cornrows in her hair. Learning to speak Spanish from the kids in the neighborhood. Playing marbles for “keepsies” with every kid on the block gathered around to watch like it was the World Cup. This was my childhood and it was great.

Fast forward to Fourth Grade. I was a smart kid who was pretty socially awkward. I got bullied a lot. One of my bullies was a girl who I had been friends with at one point. While we were on our way to the library, she balled up her fist and made a motion like she was going to hit me. When I flinched, she asked me if I was prejudiced. I had no idea what that meant. As I stared blankly at her, my friend Travis spoke up for me. “If she was prejudiced, she wouldn’t be friends with me.” As we continued to the library, Travis explained to me what prejudiced meant. By the time he was done, I wanted to cry. How could someone think that my opinion of them could be based on their skin color?

I guess that’s part of the reason I don’t understand the hate and anger that people are throwing around about this case. As a parent, I feel anger over the not guilty verdict. As a human, I feel sadness over this senseless loss. I don’t understand the anger and hate though.

Over the past couple days, the comments I have read on social media have been outright horrible. Some have even made me cry. My news feed is blowing up with views from both sides of the fence. Many people are posting other crimes that may have been racially motivated, saying why didn’t this have national coverage? Why didn’t Obama make a statement about this? Plain and simple, it’s the media. The media chose to take this case and blow it up. That had nothing to do with the government, the president, anyone else other than the media.

On the flip side, I have heard people call for the death of Zimmerman. Some have even commented that they would like to find him and do it themselves. What is that going to solve? Nothing.

I’m happy to say that these extreme comments are only from a few on my contacts list. It still saddens me to see people I care for so full of anger and hate.

A gentleman on Facebook named Alex Fraser penned this response. I found it to be both insightful and true.

Hopefully, one day race will be a non-issue in America. I often think back to my childhood neighborhood and wish that the whole country could come together as we did. I know one thing for sure. So long as people allow hatred and anger to well up in them at moments like this instead of concern and compassion, things like this will continue to divide us instead of unite us.

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…And They’re Off!

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, no one I’m close to understands the way my mind works. On one hand, I find this fact comforting. If they knew what went on between my ears, they’d probably head for the hills. Hell, I want to head for the hills sometimes.

On the other hand, this leaves me feeling impossibly lonely most days. How do you explain to someone who’s not bipolar what it’s like to deal with it? And if you figure out how to do that, will they still want to be around you?

I’m at the point where I don’t care who knows what it’s like to be in my head. I’m going to break it down for you now.

Disclaimer: Mom, if you happen to read this, yes I know I’m “over-sharing” on the internet. Yes, I know potential employers can read this. Hopefully I will find a profession where my candid nature and creativity will be celebrated, not stifled. I love you and appreciate your concern, but it’s more important to me that the people I love understand me.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to it. Have you ever had several people talk to you all at once? If you have children, you probably know what I mean. It makes your head spin, right? Now, imagine that this happens all the time, but it’s in your head. Sometimes it’s normal conversation, sometimes it’s intelligible, sometimes it’s negative and makes you want to cry, but it’s there. No one else can hear these things but you. Sometimes it’s not voices you hear, but sounds like a doorbell or an animal.

Now, I can usually discern “the voices” from real people, but the sounds are more difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked someone, “Did you hear that?” only to find out that whatever I heard was in my head.

I also see things that aren’t there. This doesn’t happen nearly as often as my auditory hallucinations, but it can be alarming. Sometimes it’s something simple, like a figure moving in my peripheral vision. Other times, it’s a complete person right in my center of vision. My mind likes to put my dad in front of me a lot. My dad passed away almost 5 years ago. You can imagine that might be a little upsetting. Not quite as upsetting as the time I “saw” my leg split open and bugs pour out, though. *shivers* I still get the heebie jeebies thinking about that.

How many of you like horror movies? The feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins can be pretty exhilarating. It’s not so much fun though when the horror movie’s inside your head. When I’m going through some of my worst states, I have horrific images that randomly pop into my mind, causing me to feel ill. I also get scared sometimes for no reason at all. My heart will leap into my throat, my heart will start pounding, and the fright or flight response will kick in. It’s more than just a little uncomfortable.

My impulses are pretty well under control, but I still get them quite often. When I’m feeling “off”, I tend to have more issues controlling them. My impulses can be financial; wanting to spend money I really shouldn’t. I can also get the urge to hurt myself or others. The urge to run away is a strong one. I usually fight these all off pretty well, but sometimes I slip when it comes to the money.

I isolate. I hide because I’m afraid people will see my crazy. Some days, I glue myself to my bed. Yes, I can be lazy and I do have the tendency to procrastinate, but when I stay in bed like that, it’s usually because I’m not feeling like I can control my impulses. I’m afraid that people will see me for how I really am and they won’t like me anymore. I’m afraid I went be able to control my anger and I’ll hurt someone. I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay rent next month because I have the urge to blow every dime in my bank account.

The medication my doctor has me on makes things a little more bearable, but all of my “symptoms” are still there. I’ve been on several different medications. They all had pretty icky side effects. Extreme bitchiness, exhaustion, facial tics, and being totally out of it are all side effects I’ve experienced. I have to go back to see the doctor in a couple weeks. He’s made mention of possibly trying me on something new. This thought terrifies me. We tried several different medicines over the course of a year before we found that lithium seems to work well for me. I really don’t want to play that game again. What must be done will be, even if it doesn’t thrill me. I guess it can’t be worse than what I’m already going through, right?

Crawling in my Skin

I sit here, trying to write.  There’s so much to this book and it keeps knocking around in my head, making me more than slightly bonkers. When I write, I usually listen to music. I can’t do quiet. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I have so many kids, but the quiet creeps me out. Plus, I love music.

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Headbanging, Beavis and Butthead style

Anyway, I’m writing (or trying to) and all these hard rock/metal songs keep coming on my Pandora. Apparently, I am too wound up to listen to this music because it is really making my skin crawl. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. I mean my skin is actually crawling. It feels like I have bugs under my skin and it has me pretty freaked.

So I change my Pandora playlist. I guess listening to the music from Tim Burton’s flicks has a calming effect on me, because the crawling in my skin feeling is gone. Now I just want to kidnap Sandy Claws, Throw him in a box, bury him for ninety years, then see if he talks.

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It’s amazing how the strangest things can calm a person. Now that I’m centered (mostly) again, it’s off to created worlds and lives, only to destroy some of them. Today, someone in my book dies. *cue ominous music* Dun dun da dah!

Daddy Issues

It never fails.  The holidays are here and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get my mind off my dad.  Then again, he’s never far from the front of my mind.  After four years, one would think I would be coping better with the loss.  Not so much. 

I took an advanced composition course this semester.  Most of our assignments were memoirs.  I took the opportunity to try to exorcise some demons and wrote about things that were very near to my heart, or my nerves.  I believe that being transparent is important when writing any sort of personal non-fiction.  So I wrote about my father.  What follows is the paper I submitted.

Just Like My Father

            When I look at my life, I can see imprints left from many who have influenced me through the years.  Some of those impressions have left me for the better and others for the worse.  When I look at all of those who have helped shape me into who I am today, no one has had more impact than my father.  He’s impacted my life on every level, from the superficial to the fundamental.

I look a lot like my dad- the twinkling, mischievous eyes, his unruly hair, and his stocky build.  I even have his cleft chin.  Few knew he had one because it was always hidden under his beard or goatee, but I recall sticking my fingers into the dimple under all that hair when I was young.  I don’t ever remember him not having some sort of facial hair.  I have his chunky “man hands” and his large feet that caused me to be very clumsy in my youth and still do from time to time.  The similarities don’t end with the physical features.

I have his love of all things geek.  Star Wars, Star Trek, and anything comic related were exposed to me at a young age.  Our musical tastes are so similar that we even describe it the same way, “I have very eclectic taste in music.  My music collection is all across the board.”  Maybe I picked it up from him but I remember saying that from a very young age.  Our sense of humor is in line as well.  Occasionally dry, always sarcastic, a bit witty and sometimes twisted, our humor isn’t for everyone.

We would go into thrift stores quite often when I was little.  I think my dad bought everything but underwear second hand!  We would go every few weeks to browse the stores.  I remember going shopping and putting on the old, goofy 70’s clothes that were still on the racks.  We always has a good time in those stores and Dad always found what he needed, even if it took a few trips.  I remember the pride that my dad would have when he got a great deal.  He’d brag about it like he’d won the lottery.  I know why he did because It’s something I do now myself.  Dad taught me to be proud of being cheap.

My dad has been my greatest teacher in every sense of the word.  I remember him getting The Reader’s Digest delivered to his house.  We would look up the word of the day and try to use it as often as we could until the next issue came.  After we got the internet at home, he would have a word emailed to him each day. It became a form of friendly competition between us to keep track of how many times the word was used.  Through these competitions, he taught me to love words and how to use them well.

He would tell me stories about the things he went through in his youth and things he did as a child, good or bad.  He admitted to me he wasn’t a perfect child; sometimes, he was about as far from perfect as one could get.  Through these stories, he taught me that it’s okay to be imperfect, to make mistakes.  “That’s how you learn, Amanda,” he would say.  “Besides, only one perfect person ever walked this earth and look what happened to Him.”  He usually delivered this line with a wink after a long lecture.  It was his way of letting me know we were okay and all was forgiven.

My dad has never been very into religion, but he’s always been a believer.  We used to sit on the end of the pier or atop a rock, watching the waves from Lake Michigan crash in.  He’d stare out over the lake and say, “I’ve always felt closer to God here than in any man-made church.  Let nature be your church, Amanda, and you’ll never be away from God.”  Maybe it’s the Chippewa in him, the heart of our ancestors, that call him to nature, but it’s something I adhere to myself.  He taught me how to reach my spiritual side through these quiet moments.  He knew how to help me through the loud times, too.

While I was growing up, I clashed a lot with my mother.  Some of it was normal mother daughter turmoil, some of it was much worse.  When it would get worse, she would send me off to stay with my dad.  These were some of my happiest times.  My dad talked to me, he listened to me, and he was there.  Whenever I needed someone to lean on, my dad was usually the first person I turned to.  He was sympathetic but also practiced “tough love”.  “Amanda, I can tell you what to do, or not to do, until I’m blue in the face.  Fact is, you’re your own person and you need to make your own mistakes.  My job is to catch you when you fall.”  He allowed me to be an individual and gave me my first real tastes of being responsible for my own actions.

While I was living with him, I received two separate reprimands from teachers.  In both cases, he asked my side, called the teacher to get their side, and came to his own conclusion on how to proceed with things from there.  In the first circumstance, he made me go back and apologize to the teacher.  In the second, he agreed with my stance and felt the teacher was in the wrong.  In the first circumstance, he taught me that it was okay to admit my mistakes and apologize for them.  In the second, he showed me that just because someone was a “superior” didn’t always make them right and that he would always be there to back me if he felt I was in the right.

In our fights, he taught me that just because you were mad at someone didn’t mean you stopped loving them.  My mother’s love always felt conditional, but my dad made me feel loved unconditionally.  I only remember my dad really yelling at me about five times during my teens.  Instead, he talked to me.  Like one adult to another.  Any teenager couldn’t ask for anything more.

When I got married, my dad and my step-father both walked me down the aisle.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.  My dad cried when he saw me in my dress and again as we danced to Bob Carlie’s “Butterfly Kisses”.  I had seen him cry a few times before that day as well.  He showed me that real men can show their emotions and still be masculine.

As I grew up and ventured out on my own, my dad continued to be a steady presence in my life.  Whenever I needed an escape, I would call dad and we’d talk politics, religion, football, kids, or anything.  I realized he wasn’t just my dad.  He was my very best friend.  No matter what I was going through, he was always there.  When my now ex-husband found himself in legal trouble that threatened to destroy our family, I decided not to share it with my dad.  He eventually found out about the legal turmoil, like all good dads do, and scolded me saying, “Amanda, how can I be your champion if you won’t let me.”  After all those years, I was still his little girl.

My dad taught me how to be a good friend by being a good friend to me.  Watching him raise myself and my sister, I learned how I wanted to parent my own children.  He was my example on how to be a good spouse, always communicating and striving for compromise.  My dad was everything I wanted to be.

Four years ago, I got the worst phone call of my life.  Three in the morning, I answer my phone.  It’s my step mother.  “Amanda, I don’t know how to tell you this.  Your dad died tonight.”  My father, my greatest teacher, my best friend left me far too soon.  The man who I could always turn to no matter the problem, wasn’t here for my biggest problem yet.  I never considered at 25 I would lose my father.  My heart hasn’t been the same since.

Still, I trudge on.  Some days are better than others.  Sometimes the stress of life gets to me or something happens that I’m bursting to share with him and I still reach that phone, ready to dial his number.  I have to remind myself that I don’t need the phone anymore.  I can reach my support system anytime now, no dial tone required.  I just need to look within and all around me.  I often go for walks through the woods or down to that rock or the pier by the lake just to talk to him.  He’s in my heart, in everything.  My greatest teacher, the man I look so much like, is still teaching me.  He’s teaching me about coping with great loss and moving on, even if it’s just one small step at a time.  I am lucky to have been blessed with such a great father, teacher, and friend.

I wanted to pay tribute to a man who was so much more to me than just a father.  Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to let go?  Hopefully, my blues will subside soon. I know Dad would kick my ass if I spent another Christmas in Grinch mode.