A brief Introduction

My Psychology of Personality professor asked us to stand up in front of the class and answer the question: who are we? A simple question, right? Wrong, I found myself unable to answer. Maybe if I was asked a few months ago I would have had a clearer answer. I can very easily tell you who I was. I was a 31 year old independent, hard-headed, determined, strong, blunt, honest, outgoing, social, loud (in a fun way), college going nanny. I was working towards helping children with Autism and other special needs. I was a person that adored going to work everyday, I sincerely loved hanging out with the special, amazing, fun and creative children I had the pleasure of being with all day. My mind was blown by these kids and the things that came out of their mouths. I was a part of their family; one time the 2 year old said to me, “my mom’s name is Alison, my dad’s name is Cole, what’s my Mila’s name?” I never would have thought the ending to that experience would come so suddenly.

When asked as a child about what I wanted to be when I grew up or where I saw myself when I turned 30, I had a much different plan. I drew a picture of myself surrounded by children, I always thought I would be a mother, no real career goals. I tried that when I was 20, I did the whole marriage and try to have kids thing, thankfully it didn’t pan out. My life really couldn’t be farther from what I drew in that picture. The more accurate picture would show a single, strong, independent woman. A woman very close to having a bachelors in psychology. A woman with a job she adores although excited to get to the next rung on the ladder. A woman that dabbled in promoting and booking bands because of her love for music. A woman of many talents and dreams to travel the world. A woman whose main career path was to benefit others more than herself.  I was quite happy with the direction my train of life was headed until it suddenly derailed.

When I say derailed I literally mean derailed. I used to go camping with my father at our favorite spot near Rollinsville and there was a train track near by. Being the thrill seeking type, my brothers and I would go to the tracks, hop around, pick up rusty old spikes, and put coins on the track. The fun part was to try and find them after the train had flattened them into thin unrecognizable shiny pieces of metal. We were warned that we could derail a train, I was scared to death of doing that but I’m not one to follow rules, we had done it so many times without derailing the train. Well, my life train hit that one coin, most likely a thick golden dollar that didn’t belong on that track anyway. Needless to say my brain was following this track I had chosen, but my body had other plans.

According to the invincibility theory, teenagers think they are immune to dangerous, even life threatening things, I really feel that theory does not just apply to teenagers. Why do people smoke cigarettes even though there are known dangers to it? The invincibility theory. Crazy, painful, and dangerous things happen to people everyday! We are certainly not invincible, I learned that the hard way. What was I afraid of at 31? I have my whole life ahead of me right? I can take better care of myself later, I won’t have health problems until I’m old right? The moment I turned 30 and my train derailed, those questions were answered for me.

This is not a sob story, I am not looking for pity. There will be laughs amidst the seriousness. There will be honesty, joy, sadness, and pain. This is my journey, my new journey to repair my derailed train and find a new track.

Advertisements

The River

Impulsivity A river rushes ferociously through the jagged mountains 

Changing its direction storm to storm

Creating and housing life and as it rips away chunks of earth

Vital for survival
Judgement

Stems from ones own perceptions

Can save your life in a sketchy situation 

Can breed anger, hate, misunderstanding and fear

Your perception is your reality 

Aliens

Shivering in the cold sweat of fear I peeked out from under the blanket engulfment I had made. If the fears I had were real; I really doubt I would be safe under a blanket, but somehow I felt a tiny bit safer. I looked past the eerie shadows to the end of the room to find the old brass doorknob on the closed white door. I built up all the strength and bravery I could, jumped out of bed and made a beeline for the door. I fumbled with the doorknob and opened it as quickly as I could with flashes of terror jolting through every vein in my body.

Finally, I was out of the nightmare fest they called my room. That was only the first step; I had to muster up the strength to ignore the terrifying shapes and possibilities of what could be in the darkness engulfing my entire house and somehow make it to my mother’s room. I took a deep breath; as I did so, I had to unclench my overly tightened jaw.

 

“You can do it Mila… you can get there, you definitely can’t stay here.” I mumbled to myself.

 

Running as fast as my little body could to my mom’s room took an amount of bravery I didn’t even know I had. Tears and sweat ran down into my eyes making my already scary surroundings much worse. Terror is a horrid feeling; my insides were all jumbled and they had forgotten where they were supposed to be. I suddenly understood why in cartoons when they were scared their insides jumped right out of their skin and ran away; mine felt as though they desperately wanted to.

 

“Mom, mom, MOM!” I whispered from piano to forte.

 

“What?” she annoyingly grumbled.

 

“I can’t sleep, I am really afraid of the aliens. They are coming to get me.” I replied.

 

“There are no aliens.” She responded matter of factly.

 

“Can I sleep in here? I really can’t sleep, I am really scared.”

 

“No, go sleep on the couch.” She turned over and began breathing deeply.

 

I guessed I was on my own. I fought the urge to scream and made my way to the dark, spooky living room. I didn’t know how the living room was supposed to help; it was ten times scarier than my bedroom. I looked up at giant spider in the shadows and had to remind myself it was a plant. I wrapped the blanket around my whole body until only my eyes were visible. I tried to calm down and tell myself there was nothing to be afraid of, but I wasn’t very convincing. I don’t know how long I was awake, but when I woke up the fear had subsided and I could see clearly thanks to the glow of the morning sun.

 

***

 

I am not sure if my childhood fears were abnormal or if everyone had fears like mine. Most of my fears stemmed from things I watched. It all started with Ghostbusters. I put off taking baths until I was forced to because I swore the green goo would come through the plumbing. Whatever it was couldn’t be good. I was also terrified that something would jump out at me behind the shower curtain. I still have a hard time going to a bathroom with the curtain closed.

I wasn’t just afraid of the bath; it was the sinks, toilet and pool. All of these were sources of terror for me. Whether it be because Jaws was going to eat me when I was swimming or a grotesque rotting hand would grab me when I used the toilet; I was terrified of it all. I spent much of my childhood trembling under my blankets because of my over-active imagination. I was sometimes aware of how irrational these thoughts were, but I couldn’t control them. Once the adrenaline flew through me, it took over and there was no escaping it.

All of these fears were like apple pie compared to the one that tortured me the most. Why did my dad have to make me watch x-files. I don’t know if I am the only one to keep their childhood fears, but to this day I still have my nighttime panics. I will be curled up in my bed, and I have to pull the covers over my head. If my legs are to close to the edge I have to pull them closer to me. I am a 32-year-old woman and sometimes I am still terrified of Aliens. What is wrong with me? I am not sure I am actually terrified of Aliens; maybe it’s just the familiarity of the feeling. Maybe I am just afraid of feeling terrified and that’s what did it as a child. As an adult I realize being afraid of Aliens to the extent that I am is pretty irrational. Maybe the fear of Aliens is somewhat feasible because there is no proof whether they exist or not. At this point I am not so much afraid of Aliens coming for me, but that recognizable fear keeps me awake. Maybe I just need to face it somehow.

When I was a teenager my friends and I had a séance at my first love’s house. We were convinced there were spirits of his relatives there. We saw weird things like lights go on and off and the TV working on it’s own. I was terrified of ghosts for a long time after that weird night. I faced it when my Grandfather died. I was lying in the spare room and thinking about the tragic yet necessary events of the day. I was sort of staring off into space, just thinking. Then, I saw it, my Grandfather’s smiling, wrinkly face. His giant ears made me giggle because I spent hours staring at them as a kid. They were soft and dangly and he would let me play with them. He looked up at me and I felt completely at peace. It was as if he wanted to say goodbye and let me know he was ok. Not just ok, but his smile stretched from one floppy ear to the other and I knew, he was happy. I was never afraid of ghosts again. Hopefully one day, I can meet an Alien, a nice one.

Misunderstood

 

J

uicy not

round. My mouth

is confused by the

texture, It is rough

and like sandpaper on

the outside, sweet and juicy in

the in the middle. I can relate with

this fruit. Hard, weathered exterior,

soft and warm on the inside. We can

both be misunderstood. We can both

be judged. We are put into boxes

neither of us belong to. Give

us a chance, you may

be surprised.

Pain

Pain

 

I am a thorn in your side

You must face me daily

I make you want to hide

You must face me involuntarily

I am a puzzle no one can solve

I am a force to be reckoned with

With no sign of resolve

You are losing faith

I make your life

Difficult

I test your

Friendships

I test your

Patience

I test your

Spirituality

I test your

Strength

Will I conquer you?

Or

Will you conquer me?

Death

Until recently, I have been living life with the thought of death in the very back of my head. I never really gave it much thought, when I did I would become very anxious. Most of us think it will happen to us when we are old and that we don’t have to worry about it now. Lately the realization that we do not last forever has been very apparent, almost inescapable.

I lost my best friend of ten years 6 years ago. He was 33, the age Jesus was when died. That was the hardest thing I have experienced in my life. He had been struggling with his alcoholism for a long time. We always talked about trying to be together romantically, but I told him he needed to do some work on himself and remain sober. His alcoholism would have been detrimental to him, to us. Drinking for him was very dangerous, he would have seizures from the withdrawal. He became someone else when he drank. I have seen alcoholism, I grew up with it, but never to this extent. After many attempts to stay sober, he was finally really doing it. He was really working on his life and mending the broken pieces. He lived in Arizona at the time and we spoke nearly every day. We talked about how great he was doing and were planning on him coming back in November so we could finally take our relationship to the next level. He died at the end of August.

I was in class last Wednesday and we were discussing death. We had to write our own obituaries, it was an interesting assignment. I spoke up about how I have been faced with the realization that my body is falling apart and have been contemplating death more lately. I’m not quite sure how to explain this whole emotional process I have been going through. Being forced to deal with all of these things that normally happen to much older people is scary. What is my body going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Is this how I am going to die, my body is just going to fall apart on me? How do I deal with the reality that my body will no longer allow me to fulfill all of my hopes and dreams? What kind of quality of life will I have now? Am I going to be in pain for the rest of it? What am I going to do, and how am I going to survive financially?

I walked out of class feeling rather deflated and I heard my R2D2 text tone go off. I looked down at my phone and received the message that my friend Mike had passed away. He was also 33, way too young. Many people I know suffer greatly with this loss. At the funeral I saw him, the second dead body I have seen my whole life. That body wasn’t Mikey any longer, it looked like him, but I knew then he was gone. The reality really sunk in as I stood there staring at his lifeless body.

Both Mikey and Erik no longer have to suffer, that brings a little bit of comfort I suppose. They were both taken too soon, they had so much more life to live, so much more to give the world. I still haven’t been able to fill the hole that Erik left and now there is a new one. This hole is felt not just by me, but by the entire community we shared.

Lately I am scared to go on Facebook because of all the recent loss in our community and I realize the older I get, the more loss I am going to face. I never thought I would face so much of it in my youth and early adulthood. I envisioned all my loved ones growing old with me, than reality hit. We are fragile, any one of us could go at any moment. We get to choose how we live our lives. Granted we may not be able to choose what happens to our bodies or when we leave this earth, but we can choose how we spend the rest of our days. Life is precious. I have learned through all this that I need to cherish those close to me, and most importantly I need to cherish myself. Give someone a hug today and tell them you love them.

Dear Mikey

I am in a positive psych class and our assignment was to write a thank you letter to someone. I chose Mikey who left us yesterday. It saddens me that he will never read it, but I needed to write it. He was much too young and will be missed more than he knows. Like my best friend Erik that passed away and fought many of the same battles. Both of them gone at 33 which is much too young, but I know neither of them have to fight these battles any longer. If you want to help with his services you can do so here Mikey benefit

Please feel free to share your thanks to Mike and/or stories in the comments below.

Dear Mikey,

It saddens me with a huge heart that you are gone. I want to write you this thank you letter even if I cannot give it to you. I want to thank you for never judging me too harshly even when you were around to see some of the stupid mistakes I made. I want to thank you for being patient with me when you wanted to take our friendship to a different level and I wasn’t ready yet. I want to thank you for always being the sweetest, most caring person when we were together. I want to thank you for trying to cheer me up in times of woe. You really cared deeply for others and were often so selfless and kind. I want to thank you for putting others before yourself at times even if you really needed to take care of your self-first. I want to thank you for showing me what strength really is, and for fighting this tremendous battle that you had to fight. I want to thank you for sharing your music, the honest and talented musician that you were. I want to thank you for making me laugh and cheering me up when I was down. I want to thank you for sharing your passions with me and showing me that kind of passion exists. I will miss you and the world has a void now without your presence. I am going to go watch a horror movie in your honor and will be missing your company.

photo credits: Aaron Thackeray

photo credit: Aaron Thackeray

The derail

I suppose technically I had signs the derail was on its way. There were a few break downs prior which I repaired as they came. After a significant car accident, I was diagnosed with three bulged discs in my back which caused my left thigh to go numb and my back to “go out” as they say. I went through fluoroscopic injections, physical therapy, acupuncture and yoga. I suppose I didn’t want to admit this was a problem not so easily repaired. I would have flair-ups and occasional bouts of pain which I dealt with as they came. I was able to continue working and maintain a mostly normal life.

Around the same time my relationship of almost 3 years began to get pretty rocky. You know when you love someone so much, but you realize you aren’t really compatible and want different things? We had a puppy, a house, and had built a life together the past few years. As hard as it was, two weeks before my 30th birthday we decided to call it quits. These things happen, and life goes on, our trains continue trekking. Then came 30, and that’s when my train derailed.

The first train car came off the track when I met the man I thought I had been looking for. He was everything I wanted: kind, loving, affectionate, giving, and he made me feel loved and wanted. Needless to say, I felt like I was fooled and being cheated on is no fun. I ended up not liking the person I became with him and found it hard to trust him and move on after that. I didn’t feel like I was loved and understood after that and it ended badly.

The second car followed when my back started acting up again and weird symptoms arose so I started to see a neurologist. He decided to get an MRI of my brain to figure out why I had numbness and pain throughout my body. He found a lesion in my cerebellum and told me it wasn’t linked to my symptoms, it was also a fluke they found it. I was told to wait 3 months to see what it does.

Finally, my back decided to completely fail me one day during work. I ended up in the hospital for 10 days while they tried to figure out what was going on. I couldn’t walk or move without the most unbearable pain I have ever felt. It had to have been bad because I have a high tolerance, I have many tattoos I simply floated through. They couldn’t find the problem (which was right under their nose) and I have been seeing doctor after doctor ever since. The verdict: spinal arthritis due to degenerating discs.

This brings us to the current day. I have lost by job due to becoming a “liability” and not being able to physically work anymore. I loved my job and I miss it dearly. This is my life now, I walk with a walker, the social and concert going me is gone, and I’m barely making school work. Pain is daily and prevents me from doing many things. I am working on my optimism, but I am being tested. Now that we are caught up, welcome to my journey, the good, the bad and the ugly.