Take the hungry from mah belly!

David brought home the plague from one of the booger factories he works with. So, he’s been sick, now I’m sick.
But before I got sick, I cooked! Like a maniac.
First, a coconut curry squash stew:
I used this recipe as a starting point. More garlic, less onion, no bell pepper, I used crowder peas instead of chick peas because that’s what i had on hand. Instead of curry powder I mixed up a blend of spices heavy on the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, along with toasted cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek, coriander, smoked spanish paprika and a bunch of other things, I also added a small dollop of red curry paste and a big dollop of mild curry paste. I also added 1/2 a squash that I got from my sister. She told me what kind it was but I can’t remember. It’s about the same color as a butternut but slightly sweeter. Big, ridged on the outside. Good stuff. Served it on rice. David put coriander chutney on his, I put tamarind chutney on mine. Even better as leftovers.
Then, squash raviolis and pork tenderloin:
I sliced the pork tenderloin open and stuffed it with a mixture of chopped garlic, rosemary, olive oil and salt. I skewered it back together and let it marinate for the day.
Apple slices were tossed with olive oil, salt and pumpkin pie spice then baked in the oven at 225 for about an hour. This was to dry them a bit but still leave them juicy on the inside.
Ravioli stuffing was made from the other half of the squash, pureed and mixed with pressed ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper and more pumpkin pie spice (really, I was too lazy to try to make the right spice blend). Because I was feeling lazy and wanted something quick I didn’t make my own pasta. Potsticker wrappers are perfect for the cause, they are the right size and thickness. Unfortunately, they were out of poststicker wrappers at the little grocery by my house. I know from experience that wonton wrappers are too thin, so i figured I would try the eggroll wrappers cut into squares. Meh, I don’t recommend the eggroll wrappers. too thin.
Pork roast went into the oven at 325 for less than an hour. While the roast was resting I brought a pot of water to a boil. In a giant frying pan I melted half a stick of butter, tossed in some toasted hazelnuts, the roasted apples and some rubbed sage. Once hot I added the ripped up leaves of a bunch of kale and sauteed. Raviolis were cooked and tossed in the frying pan with the kale and apple mixture. Everything was mixed up, pork was sliced and everything was served.
If I were to do it again I would roast the garlic for the pork before I stuffed it in. I cook my pork to just under done, still pink, and that does not allow the temp to get high enough to cook the garlic enough to mellow it. It was good but the garlic was still too strong. And the too-thin wrappers made the raviolis difficult to manipulate once they were cooked. I have to be super careful because they broke too easily.
And for the dogs, I made liver treats!
Making liver treats for the dogs SOUNDS like such an awesome idea! They think it is awesome, they think it is the best idea you will ever have. The idea is awesome, the execution is not so awesome.
Puree one pound of raw beef liver in the food processor. Oh holy shit! You think you have seen foulness in your times! YOU THINK THIS!!! But you have not seen truly foul anything until you look at a bowl of pureed raw beef liver. Holy. Crap.
It looks like a bowl of blood flavored instant pudding! It is red! It is wobbly! It is sticky! blergh.
The nice thing about dog treats is that they are not an exact science. The end result gets fed to an animal that licks its own butt in the name of high cuisine. So, dump the Sheol Brand Instant Liver Pudding of Doom into the stand mixer bowl along with a couple eggs, a handful of flax seed meal, some olive oil and about a cup of self-rising flour.
Note on the self rising flour: I happened to have self rising flour on hand because David picked some up for me once getting it confused with bread flour. Self rising flour has baking powder, if you use regular flour then add about a teaspoon of baking powder.
Using the dough hook, start mixing the vile mess. Keep adding flour until the mass becomes less sticky and more doughy. The lesson I learned the hard way is that pureed liver has many of the same properties as epoxy glues and never stops being sticky (‘add flour until no longer sticky’ is a common instruction for me when describing making doughs. It doesn’t work for this.). Oil a pie plate well and dump the monstrosity in there. Try to smooth it out with a greased rubber spatula. It won’t work. It will stick to your spatula. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool.
At this point you will realize that your entire home smells like a cross between a slaughterhouse and your grandma’s kitchen on liver and onions night. God cannot hear your lamentations anymore for he has moved on to less smelly environs.
Once the lump has cooled, slice it into 1/4 inch slices and cut those into 1 inch wide piece. spread in single layer on a cookie sheet and dry in the oven at 225 for about an hour. Your dogs will love you forever and that will probably make up for the wretched odor that permeates every molecule of your home for the next 3 days.

aw hell no, what’s up dog!

This morning I’m up and about and in the bathroom doing my morning bathroom things when I hear a bzz-bzzzzz…………..hubzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! I turn my head to see a wasp in the process of divebombing my head. What the hibbityhell? No, really, what the hell! It’s October, it’s snowing, shouldn’t you be dead or hibernating or doing a thing that is not being in my bathroom???
If you are a wasp or bee or hornet please do not exist in my bathroom!
So, normally I would just shut the bathroom door and seal it and wait for David to get home, he’s good with these things. He is not a “ninny-hammer” like I am. But there’s a problem. Of course there is a problem. What’s the point of getting upset if there was no problem. There was a problem. I had to meet David’s sister for lunch in just over 2 hours and I still had not showered. And here’s the thing, i can’t just show up at lunch unshowered. What if your sibling’s loved one showed up for lunch and had not bothered with even the most basic steps of hygiene and was babbling on about wasps getting lost on their way home from Martha’s Vineyard and getting lost in your bathroom and attacking you while you were trying to drop the kids off at the pool! You know what you would do! You would beat them to death with a pipe, dump their stinky body into a lake and call your sibling and explain that they would be better off with an orangutan. That’s your job as a sibling! Make sure the succubus attached to your brother understands the premise of soap.
Being all smart and shit, I run to the Pants to get their advice. Most people would call animal control and be all “holy shitburgers! be’elzebub himself is lording over my toilet!”. Not me, I’m awesome! I went straight to the Pants and got advice.
1. Spray it with hairspray until it dies
a. I don’t own hairspray! Curse this hipster hair of mine! I own countless tubs, tubes and spritzers of pomade, paste, wax and foam. The closest thing to “spray” that I have is goddammed “detailing mist wax”. I could coif the fucker to death, maybe even suffocate it in “Signature Aveda Aroma” but I own NOTHING that wuld allow me to lacquer up that beasts spirules and suffocate it.
2. Put out some beer, the sweetness will attract it and it will drown
a. I am out of beer (also out of wine!). I have a bottle of Svedka in the freezer and a bottle of peppermint schnapps in the cabinet (where did that come from? why do I own the foulest of the candied liquors??). But even if I did have beer on hand, I’m not sharing it with some miscreant arthropod that doesn’t have the good manners to die when the weather gets bad and instead decides to harass me on the toilet. No way! NO! It can buy its own damned beer, screw you, wasp! But also, even if I did put down some beer for it I’d still have part of a beer left and you can’t just put that in the fridge for later, it’s not soup. So what would I do with part of a beer? Drink it? at 10 in the morning? Right before meeting David’s sister for lunch? I’m not sure what would be worse showing up a stinky blubbering mess or showing up unshowered. Hi, I’m the unemployed girl that lives with your brother, I can’t shower because there is a monster in my bathroom and yes…yes I have been drinking!
So I decide to grow a pair and get in the shower. Figured he probably would not be brave enough to tackle me while I was naked and soapy (it would be like trying to wrestle an oiled bowling ball). Get out of the shower, and there he is sitting on the door staring at me. asshole. He buzzed his wings a couple times which is the wasp equivalent of smacking his chest and saying “you want some of this? huh?”. I grabbed the bottle of mist wax and waggled it threateningly as I scooted past him. I had no faith in its ability to keep me safe, but I figured i could get at least one good distracting mist out and then chuck the bottle at his head.
Lunch was good, no one got beat in the head with a pipe. I made it home and now I can’t find the wasp. But that’s okay, David will be here soon enough!

Ask Auntie BubboPants

Hello my tender little chicken butts!
First off, thank you so much for you messages of love for Maddie and Chester. Maddie has he stitches out and is fully recovered and back to her old goofy self. The two of them are back to being good buddies and crabby siblings.
So, let us see what is on the table for this week’s column, shall we?


Dear Auntie BubboPants
I’m a knitter, not a crocheter, but I’m sure crocheters have the same problem sometimes. I’m the only person in my circle of friends who knits, so when the holidays pull around, everyone expects me to knit them something amazing, and everyone bombards me with gift requests. It takes time to knit something nice, and I can’t knit 50 sweaters in 4 months (which is about how much holiday knitting time I give myself)! But everyone expects something unique from me and it’s STRESSFUL!!!! They’re wearing me out! What should I do?
non-signing chicken butt
Dear NSCB,
First things first, go here and get acquainted with the Selfish Knitters! Learning to say “no” takes time and practice and finding a group of people who understand and support you in this journey is important.
You have to learn to say “NO” and you have to learn all of the ways in which it can be said.
“No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have time for that.”
“Maybe after the holidays? You can buy the yarn, I’ll knit it up, also I like cookies and caramels”
“ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.”
“How about after the holidays I teach you to knit? that can be my gift to you!”
This brings me to a yearly rant…
Whatever the reasons for engaging in the exchange of gifts over the winter solstice may have been, they are now long long lost. This is only sadness to me. It’s become a social construct, a tool, a weapon, a threat, a device, a reward. No longer are gifts given freely and without reservation. On one side we have receivers who request specific items, who argue the validity of their gifts, who compare the values of each gift and rank the givers. On the other side we have the givers that punish the giftees for perceived infractions over the previous year, or who knock themselves out trying to buy the perfect gift for someone who will not appreciate it. People receive gifts that they do not want givers wrap gifts they cannot afford.
And in any given group on any forum on any website you can find gift related arguments and flame wars raging.
This has got to end. Really! This is pure insanity. It starts with you!
Gifts that are given under any duress are not gifts. Gifts that are given with expectations of valued return on investment are not gifts. Gifts given with reservation or hesitation are not gifts. Gifts are by definition not obligations.
Gifts that are opened and judged, weighed, valued or compared are not gifts deserved.
What was once a small tradition meant to bring light and celebration into the darkest part of winter, a way to share meager holdings among the community so that all might benefit has become a race to the bottom.
As the holidays approach I implore each of you, my little chicken butts, to find a way to change your thinking even a little bit on the subject. For each gift you give, make it a give that has meaning and heart behind it. For each gift you receive, be truly grateful, do not compare or judge the gift, only accept and love the gift.


Dear Auntie BubboPants,
Goodness! I never anticipated getting into a mess like this!
You see… I met this guy. (Don’t all of the biggest problems seem to start this way??) I met him in April and hated his guts for absolutely no reason at all; he was dating my friend and was never unkind to her, or me, or anyone else. I hated him passionately and fought with him at every opportunity. He persisted in trying to be friends with me, and eventually, I accepted that yeah, he’s a pretty awesome person. He is several years younger than me, and has significantly less experience than I do, and I don’t expect perfection – I know that things are complicated when you’re young, and the future can be pretty intimidating.
Said awesome person cheated on his girlfriend/my friend with me – and I was cheating on my soon-to-be-ex-husband. This went on for a couple weeks, and finally we agreed it had to stop. We were honest with the people who needed to know the truth; his girlfriend couldn’t care less, she was just happy that we were happy. The ex blames the guy for the end of our marriage, but no one really cares what he thinks (and he’s wrong, anyhow).
Ending things didn’t last long, and the guy and I got back together. This time we were dating, and there wasn’t anyone else to get in the way of it. A month in, he broke up with me quite unexpectedly – only to come back a few days later telling me he was really sorry, he’s just scared of all these things he’s feeling, and he loves me. This has happened 3 times now, each time a month or so apart.
The last time, we didn’t get back together. However, that doesn’t mean anything has actually changed – when we can’t see each other, he texts or calls throughout the day. Most days we talk on the phone for anywhere from 4 to 7 hours. One day I had lost my phone and hadn’t talked to him for almost a full day, and when I found it, he was afraid I was avoiding him and was really upset. Neither of us is seeing other people, and honestly, Auntie, I do love him in a way I wasn’t really prepared to deal with. He says and does the “boyfriend things,” but is adamant that we just be friends. He has told me more than once he knows he’s “just going to fail at being in a relationship” and he’s so afraid of doing something that would be seen as unforgivable, that he’d lose the person he’s with.
I love him, and I accept that he’s young and complicated and life seems daunting sometimes. I’m not a patient person, but I’ve never minded waiting for him… because I know that eventually, things are going to work out. Even everyone else sees how things are with us, and that we just “fit” in a way most people don’t (and they comment on it, repeatedly, to both of us). I guess what I want to know is – how do I help him be less afraid, or how do I change what we’ve got going on so if we’re just friends, we’re acting like we’re just friends?
-Confused Chicken Butt
Dear CCB,
Writing an advice column is sort of a weird experience. You see, about 85% of the letters I get have the answer somewhere in the letter. Mostly the writer is upset or confused by something, knows what they have to do, but doesn’t understand why. These ones are sort of easy because I have the benefit of being outside the forest and can help them understand the map and get around the trees.
There’s maybe 10% supertoughies that require me to do research or find people who have better insight into a situation than I do. These ones are harder, but only because they require more effort on my part. Luckily I have friends and family with a nice, wide range of experiences and expertise and most can be bribed to help me.
Then there’s the last 5%, the thorny chickenbutts of doom! The ones who send a letter full of information, and ask a question that I cannot answer because the question is unrelated to anything I want to actually say based on the other information in the letter. These letters are a quandary for me, my job is to answer questions, but my obligation is to be open and honest and tell you when you are being a chickenbutt in a bad chickenbutt way as opposed to a good chicken butt way.
You, my dear CCB, are being a 12pound chickenbutt, right here, right now, I am obligated to say it.
The reason why this relationship is continually n the rocks is because it seems that neither of you is capable of understanding what makes a good and healthy relationship. You hated him, he persisted, you found him to be awesome, you both cheated on your respective partners.
Not awesome. Seriously, not awesome. Okay, so you say your relationship with your husband was at an end, that this was a symptom of that and not the factor. Fine. But what about your relationship with your friend? Does your friend not deserve fidelity and honesty from her friends and boyfriends? Do you look at your friend and say, “you deserve to be deceived and cheated on?”
Both of you entered into a relationship with a person who has proven to be blithely indifferent to the very social contracts that allow us to trust one another. In the end, does it matter that your friend “couldn’t care less, she was just happy that we were happy”? You didn’t believe that this would be the case before you engaged in this cheating or you both would have been honest with her before it happened. Whether or not she is as happy and accepting as you say is not for me to judge, but I will say I have my reservations about it. Sometimes when confronted with such massive betrayal from two people you trust it is easier to cut your losses and let it go. Perhaps she is happy that this happened before she got too committed to him, perhaps she is happy that two people who obviously deserve each other have found each other.
Your relationship with him is based on acts of deceit and mistrust. The way you write to me about them indicates that you feel no remorse about your actions and in my opinion this is the big neon wedge in your relationship. Does he know that you will remain committed to him? Does he know for sure that this untroubled breaking of trusts is a single aberration in the general scheme of things?
My advice to you is probably not the advice you want. It’s not advice that uses your words to give you a map to the goal you want. It is advice that uses your words to give you a map over harder terrain. Let him go. If he is as young and unformed as you say, let him go and find a new way. Do this because you have much work in front of you. Take some time away from dating and away from relationships and take some time to focus on yourself. Learn to exist as a single person. Relearn to love yourself. Then take some time to learn how to be a good friend, how to give to another person, how to not just take the things you want even if it seems you could have them freely.
You are standing at the edge of a very powerful and life changing moment, it’s a step you can take, but you have to do it alone. It is too easy for you to put your weight on others and call it good. Bear this burden yourself, learn to carry yourself. Then you can learn to lean on someone else.


Dear Auntie BubboPants,
I hope you can help me, I seem to have developed a severe case of not being able to knit without major froggable errors found in projects rounding the bend to being finished. It may be due to overconfidence, but now I’m afraid to touch my lace shawl for fear I’ll wreck it too.
I know some of the solutions, like use more lifelines and stitch markers even on the simplest projects. I just hate ripping back all those stitches especially when it’s happening on every project I touch these days.
How can things be so wrong when I knit along thinking they are all okey dokey until I take a close look and then….AAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!! The top of the cookie socks do not match the bottom, one side of the shawl is shorter than the other by 30 stitches. It’s a nightmare. Have I ever really finished anything, or is it just an illusion?
For now I’ve taken up reading books, watching movies and I may even get back to my quilting. What do I do when my fingers itch to knit? Is there such a thing as depressed hands? Or is my mind loosing track all together?
What to do? Oh, What to do?
Dear Shiningwaters,
oh dear, I know, I’ve been there. We all make mistakes. There is a mistake in every single thing I make. It’s not there intentionally, but if I find an error small enough to not affect the entire piece then I leave it there. I like them, those tiny human errors that keep us from getting too excited about ourselves, those little missed stitches that keep us humble (admittedly, however, it’s way way less messy to miss a stitch in crochet than to drop a stitch in knitting).
But this isn’t what you’re dealing with, is it? You’re working and discovering that you missed something little with big big consequences. It’s frustrating as all hell and sort of demoralizing. I’ve been there! I took a break.
I just went through a funk where it did not matter what I crocheted, it just turned out wrong. None of my calculations were right, none of my estimates were close, none of the yarns chosen were working out.
I did the thing that people throughout history do when they are vexed to the very limits, I took a break. I did other things. I taught myself to make jam and I learned how to can things. I studied up on subjects of interest. I watched more movies, read more books, colored with crayons. My hands itched to hold the hook again, but I ignored them. I distracted them with rolling out pasta dough and coloring in pictures of spongebob and writing stories about snails. Then the urge to crochet subsided and I continued to focus on other things, felting, embroidery, computer games. And I waited patiently. When the urge came back I sat down and tried again and whatever had plagued the connection between my mind and my hands had cleared and I could crochet again.
Rarely do we heed the opportunities to learn new hobbies or new ways of interacting with the senses. This is a chance you should not let pass you by. Grab it and learn something new!


Dear Auntie BubboPants,
I have a question for you and hopefully it won’t be hard to answer.
I’ve been with the same guy for about 4 years. I’m 23 and he’s 24 and we are going to graduate from college in December. We get along so well and I can tell him anything, but I’m at this point where I feel like I could end it without being too hurt. I don’t really have a reason, i just don’t have that urge to stay with him, other than the knowledge that i might not find anyone i can get along with as well.
Here is my thing. We are at the point in our relationship (4 years) where many relationships/marriages end. I’m thinking maybe it has to do with oxytocin not being released as much, or some other hormonal thing. I don’t want to end it just because I’m not irresistibly drawn to him, but I don’t want to stay if it isn’t meant to be and there is someone who is perfect out there. I don’t know that there is, but if so they can’t be much better than my guy.
So if you have any information or wisdom you can give me on the doldrums of relationships I’d love it. I’ve looked stuff up, but I never find exactly what I’m looking for.
Young and Restless
The relationship doldrums! They happen, they are not uncommon, they can be survived…if you both ant to survive them.
Okay, so, if you read my column you know my theory about the selfishness that is the beginning of a relationship. Yes? When we start dating someone we do it for selfish reasons, “he makes me feel happy, he makes me feel good!” This is true and it is not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. The difference between dating someone and really falling in love with them is when that shift happens and we look more towards what we can do for the other person and less at what the other person does for us.
The doldrums usually happen sometime after that shift. We become complacent in the balanced ‘give’ and ‘take’ in the relationship and we stop thinking about it. and he stops thinking about it too. and you both stop thinking about it. and suddenly neither of you is really making the effort to make the other person happy, are you? If you were you wouldn’t be writing about the doldrums, you’d be writing about all the effort you put in that is not reciprocated.
But the doldrums (and the attendant lack of reaction hormones like adrenaline and oxytocin) can be fixed. It’s actually sort of easy. You start by going back to that time when you were actively making an effort to make him happy. You don’t have to greet him at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap! But a surprise note in his lunch can mean so much, or a card in the mail just to say you love him. Take an interest in HIM again, remind him why he fell in love with you in the first place. You’ll spark him up and he’ll start taking an interest in YOU!
Relationships are like the careers of the soul. Just like with any career you don’t just get hired and then glide on through to retirement. You work all the time. You focus and exert effort and you have triumphs and you have bad days and the rewards can be great. You don’t just find the perfect match and suddenly you’ve reached your goal! No way, finding the “perfect match” is really just the trailhead to a path that you will follow for your lifetime. The journey is the goal.
Go make a card for him and mail it off. Doesn’t matter if you live together! I just got something in the mail from David, something goofy funny that now hangs on the fridge and makes us laugh.

More thoughts

This is something I wrote in an older Auntie BubboPants column that I don’t think I ended up posting here. It’s just a portion of the column, but I think it’s relevant:
On the subject of depression and the reasons one might or might not have for experiencing it:
As a society we often mistake the emotion ‘sadness’ with the mental state ‘depressed’, we even use them interchangeably. Sadness is an emotion, it is a reaction to stimulus. Sadness can be a symptom of depression, but it does not have to be. Depression is a state of mental being, it is more physical than emotional but it often expresses itself emotionally. To be more precise, the outward expressions of depression tend to be more emotional than physical. This makes it far too easy to equate depression with emotions and forget the very real physical changes that lie behind the situation.
It’s easy to look at a person who lost something dear to them and say “it makes sense that they are sad”. It’s much harder to look at a person, see the wild vagaries of hormonal imbalances hidden away inside and say, “it makes sense that you are depressed”. Instead we see the outward manifestation of emotions, sadness, hopelessness, anger, and we say “this makes no sense! you have no reason to be sad! or hopeless! or angry! Go put your pants on and get outside! Suck it up, chica!”
We are visual creatures, we need to see things in order to understand them, but more importantly, we are experiential creatures. We learn by experience and then we create rich and varied databases of information and understanding based on our experiences. We also have amazingly advanced frontal lobes on our brains that allow us to simulate situations based on input AND our experience related databases. What the hell does that mean? It means that we can look at someone who is sad and pull in all the data about their situation and then pull in data from similar experiences we have had and run simulations to better understand what’s going on.
Claire is sad. I will look at Claire and talk to her and determine that she is sad, her boyfriend did not like the pie she made! I will pull that data in and then I will add my own experiences: I have also made things people did not like. I have also been sad. I have direct connections in my own experiences between being sad and people not liking things that I have offered.
Result: Claire’s sadness makes sense to me. I can relate.
Jim is hopeless. Jim just got a new car and has a nice butt. I have felt hopeless. I have also gotten a new car, but I’ve never really had a nice butt. I have never felt hopeless after getting a new car. If I run a simulation of me having a nice butt I cannot come to the conclusion that I would feel hopeless.
Result: Jim’s hopelessness does not make sense to me. I cannot relate.
The flaw in the simulation is that we do not take into account the relevant factors. We’re feeding the wrong data into the brain simulators and therefore the results can only be incomplete at best.
History and literature and anecdotes are FILLED with stories of those people struck hard by fate who just ‘kept going’ despite it all. Bad parents, industrial accidents, malevolent societies, none of that could bring the hero down. On the other hand, there are an equal number of historical and literary figures that seemed to “have it all” and yet still could not find comfort or happiness.
To make matters worse, many societies see this sort of disparity as a form of moral failure. If you have been ‘blessed’ with such favor and still you are sad it can only mean you do not fully appreciate it and are ungrateful.
Clinical depression is one of those things that even the experts don’t have a firm grasp on. It’s slippery and confusing and amazingly inconsistent from person to person. It can stem from experiences or childhood traumas or not. Some people are helped by talk therapy, others by SSRIs, and some people struggle for years and never find solace.
I write all this because it is an issue that cuts close to the bone with me. I have an amazingly excellent life. I have a boyfriend that loves me and is patient and kind to me. I have a wonderful, loving and supportive family. I have two great dogs, one of which contributes to this very column. I am blessed with wonderful friends, people say I am smart and funny and I like to think that is true. On the other hand, the biological family I grew up in until I was an early teen was terrifying and unbearable. I carry the scars both physically and emotionally from that. I have struggled my entire life with depression, at times it has been crippling. Some people have said, “well, it makes sense that you would be depressed considering your childhood” and other have said, “but that’s over and done. You need to focus on the now and stop wallowing”
The answer is somewhere between those two statements and it exists independent of them as well.

September Mislaid

Halfway through October I come to you to talk of September. September. I almost lost September.
It started in June. The signs should have been obvious, but they passed me by. There was my birthday and I refused all attempts at a party. I love a good party. I loved a good party. In June I would have none of it. Whatever tenuous grip I had on normalcy was lost in June and I spent the summer spiraling deeper and deeper.
I was drowning and I could feel it and my few attempts to kick up to the surface were feeble distractions at best. Then came September. The spiraling stopped, I settled onto the bottom and I found comfort there.
I could feel it, that growing complacency, that urge to let go the final lungful of air. But I am lucky, very lucky. That part of my brain that never fucking shuts up, that part of my brain that will not let me rest, the part of my brain that eats at me would not stop screaming. It woke me up, reminded me that this was wrong. That I have an obligation to those around me.
So, one afternoon, alone in my bedroom, I composed the email. I had been sending out occasional updates to friends and family, a way to let them know that my lack of communication came from a real issue, but hey, everything was going to be okay. Right? This was not that email. I chose a tighter circle of recipients and I wrote. It was the hardest thing I had done in a very long time. This was the nakedly honest email, this was me revealing my shame. This was not the “Hi, I have problems, let me tell you a joke and don’t worry, I will be okay” this was the far more humiliating, “hi, i have problems and there is no joke to be had and I am not going to be okay.”
I struggled and fought in that email, I could not find the words. My words are me, they are the tiny building blocks with which I build the representations of all that I am. For the past year the words were not correct. I was failing myself with unintentional misdirection. I found it was almost impossible for me to craft sentences or paragraphs that built a picture that asked for help. Over and over the words that came out expressed the state I was in but hurriedly also created a framework of comfort for the reader. “Do not worry” it was like I could not control my fingers and it was all I could type.
It took amazing effort but I managed to send out the truest email I could. Help me. My ship is sinking. I am not okay. Worry about me.
I hate being helpless. I am the one that helps. It is my job. I help. It is my soul and my function and my core. How can I ask for help? Do I even deserve to burden those around me with such requests? It’s one thing to be overwhelmingly depressed but it is quite another to hit that stage of acceptance.
Acceptance. No more depression, no more sadness, no more overwhelming struggles. You hit the stage of acceptance and you’re done. Your life is laid out before you, all things are clear and you accept them, you say thank you, and you check out. I knew how close I was to acceptance and I knew that once I fell into it, it would be a matter of days before I parked my car at the end of the Ford Bridge and said “Thank you” for the time I was allotted.
I could not let that happen. I wanted to, oh believe me, I did want to, but that part of my brain that never lets me rest, oh she did scream at me. I could not rest until I asked for help.
The response was overwhelming and now I am able to write this. The honesty is scary, but the reality was scarier.
I am not “better”, not by a long shot. I do not feel “better”. Everyday I struggle because every single day I know that “Acceptance” is still just around the corner.
I have a therapist now, someone who understands me better than the last one did. It gives me hope, it sheds some light in the tunnel so I can find my way forward. I have the support of my friends and family, each one contributing valuable pieces to the puzzle. I have David, my immensely patient David. He should have run long ago, but there he is. He loves me.
I write this not for sympathy or to be all “emo”. I write this to put an honest face on something so stigmatized. I write this so that you might see that even those that seem “okay” can struggle and fall. I didn’t have to write this. It would have been as easy to write something from Chester or share a recipe or rant on about politics. Those are comfortable masks for me. Those words come fast and cheap for me. These words that I wrote are true work.
I am not better, I am still broken. I do not want to give the impression that with a few giant steps the world will become an easier place. Life is not a sitcom, so easily wrapped up after a wacky struggle. I am honest about this because I know there are so many others out there, stigmatized and struck silent by this insidious disease and I do not want to lead them astray. More importantly, I do not want them to see a miracle where there is none. There will be no false portrayal of a cure, no sharing of an easy fix that does not exist. There is nothing easy about swimming your way back to the surface, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.