But I said no (a guest post)

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I’d help her tell her story on my blog, and I hesitated because it’s her story to tell, not mine.  But sometimes you don’t want to attach your name to your story, and so she and I talked, she wrote a thing, I edited it, she wrote some more, and I edited a little to take out identifying details before she agreed to it being published here.  This is her story.

I went to the bar that night with friends, a group of men and women I’d known for years, including a guy who had hit on me in the past but didn’t really know.  I’d always ignored his advances because I wasn’t single when he was hitting on me.  Some of us had gone out to dinner before, and I’d had a couple of drinks with dinner (vodka and cranberries, which used to be my favorite, but which I’m not sure I’ll ever drink again).  I don’t drink very often, but it had been a rough couple of months after a breakup with someone I’d dated for almost a year, so I decided to “let loose.”

After spending my Saturday running errands and cleaning the house, I got dressed and put on my favorite dress, a dark green, boat neck, cap sleeve, knee length dress with a kind of swingy skirt.  There had been talk of going dancing later, so I wanted to have a fun outfit to dance in.  When running errands, I’d stopped at DSW and considered a new pair of sandals, but I didn’t want to have blisters that night, so I decided to just wear my brown leather strappy sandals I’d been wearing for a couple of summers.  I carefully put on my makeup, brushed out my hair, and ordered a Lyft.  As I waited for the car, I talked to one of my neighbors who was coming home after a trip to Ikea.  We were talking about how ridiculous it is putting that furniture together when you live alone, and I agreed to help her put together her new couch the following afternoon.

Dinner was fun, something I hadn’t had in a while.  I hadn’t been out to dinner with friends since my ex and I had broken up.  A couple of drinks, delicious steaks and amazing chocolate desserts.  We paid the bill and decided to head to a bar fairly close to my house.  I was tempted to head home because I was a little tipsy and full after dinner, but I was wearing my favorite dress, and there might be dancing, so off we went.

When we got there, I asked for a glass of water, and my best friend brought me another vodka cranberry.

“A, you need to have fun.  Relax.  Have a couple more drinks.  Forget about that asshole.  Have fun.”

I decided to heed her advice, and one drink turned into two, turned into three, turned into this guy I knew from before handing me a shot of god only knows what.

“C’mon! SHOT TIME!”

I remember jokingly singing “shots shots shots shots shots shots”  with everyone before drinking it and slamming my glass on the table like everyone else.  I remember going outside to get some air and someone offering me a cigarette.  I’ve never smoked in my life, but I remember taking long drags and coughing while a girl laughed in my ear and then asked if I was okay.

I’m okay.  I thought about going home and actually pulled out my phone to order another lyft once I got back to the table.

“Where are you going?”

It took me a minute to remember his name, but I’d always thought he was attractive from before.  Some part of my brain was yelling at me to just go home, but my loneliness of the last few months and the alcohol surging through my veins was stronger, so I told him I was considering going home unless he had a better idea.

I would give everything I own to take back that statement.

I remember yelling goodbye to C as we left together a while later, her laughing and screaming, “CALL ME TOMORROW!”

I remember kissing him as we waited for the car.  I remember getting out of the car and realizing I wasn’t home.

“Oh no. I need to go home. I’m so sorry, but I should go home.”

He kissed me again and assured me that everything would be okay and that it was totally fine if I slept on his couch.  I remember being a little too drunk and thinking I didn’t want to take the time to get home and that sleep sounded fantastic.  I remember walking up the stairs, kissing him as we went up three floors to his apartment.

I remember going to the bathroom and wishing I was at home, wishing I could brush my teeth, wishing I had my pajamas to change into, wishing I was home.

When I came out of the bathroom, he was standing there waiting for me.  He tried to kiss me again, and I backed away.

“I really need to go to sleep.”  I knew I was slurring my words, and I asked for a glass of water.

“But we were getting somewhere.”

“I really just need water and sleep. I’m sorry.”  I was starting to get scared at this point, but my purse was in the living room, and I figured it would all be okay if I could just go to sleep.

“You should be sorry.”

I remember what happened next, but I can’t talk about it.  Not yet. Maybe in another guest post.

I finally passed out around 5 am.  I woke up again at 6:30, disoriented and in pain.  I desperately had to go to the bathroom, but I also had to get out of there.  I picked my favorite green dress up off the floor, now torn down the right sleeve and the front, so I had to tuck it under my bra strap to keep it up when I put in on.  I did this while in the hallway, very quietly so he wouldn’t wake up.  I couldn’t find my underwear, but I found both of my shoes.  I crept into the living room, picked up my purse, checking to make sure I had my keys and my phone, and quietly opened the front door.

“We should do this again.”

I jumped at his voice and went through the door, closing it quietly behind me, utterly ashamed.  Completely humiliated.

I pulled my phone out of my purse and realized that I was only about a mile from home.  I considered walking home, but I looked down at myself and realized the walk of shame isn’t a good look for a woman of 34, particularly when her dress is barely on.  I probably should have called the police, but I wanted to go home.  I ordered a lyft, it showed up, the driver asked me if I was sure I was okay, I assured him I was, and I finally got home where I could go pee.  I slammed the door open and rushed to the toilet.

As I sat there, I realized that while I’m on the pill, I wasn’t entirely sure he’d used a condom, so I grabbed my extra pack of pills, googled what to do for the morning after, took three of my pills, and got undressed while sitting on the toilet.  I know most people would have called the police or gone to the hospital by this point, but I was embarrassed.  I finished taking my clothes off while sitting there and realized that I had bruises.

A lot of bruises.  Dark purple almost black, these are new and don’t even hurt yet bruises.

On my calves.  On my stomach.  On my hip.  On my arms.  On my wrist.  On my buttocks that are now hurting while I’m sitting on the toilet.

And my face hurts, so I lean back and pick up a small mirror that I keep on the bathroom counter to check my hair before I leave.

I have a black eye.  Just the beginnings of one, but I can already tell it’s going to turn into a shiner.

While the bruises on my inner thighs make sense, none of the rest of these do, and I realize I must have blacked out.  And now I’m wondering if it was from alcohol or being hit.  I end up sitting on the toilet for almost two hours, unable to move until the phone rings.

“Hey girl, did you get you some last night?  I was worried about you for a minute, but B is totally into you, so TELL ME.”

I hang up the phone, ignoring it when it rings again.  And again.  All day.  I send a text to my neighbor telling her that I’m so sorry but I’ll help her put her couch together tomorrow.  I spend the evening figuring out how to use makeup to mask a black eye.

I may have gone home with him, but I never once said yes to sex while I was conscious.  I certainly didn’t say yes to whatever happened to me to cause this bruising.  Yes, I was drinking. Yes, I kissed him.  But I did not consent to this.

 

 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter

This is hastily written and not edited because I feel like I need to say something.

So when I was in law school, I first heard this song “In The End,” by a band called Linkin Park, and I was young and stupid and just thought it was a fun song to scream along with when out partying with friends.  Spotify wasn’t a thing, youtube wasn’t a thing (it may have been, but I sure as shit didn’t have internet at home – only school had that), so I only heard music on the radio or on cds that I bought. I didn’t have a lot of extra money then, but I bought the CD (Hybrid Theory) and I listened to it a lot.  “In the End” was my favorite song:

“I’ve put my trust in you, pushed as far as I can go, For all this, there’s only one thing you should know. I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.  I had to fall to lose it all, but in the end it doesn’t even matter.”

I’m pretty sure I listened to this song on repeat when my boyfriend/sometimes fiance broke up with me/we ended our relationship.  I was in my early 20’s and so naive.  We got back together, and I still don’t know what happened to that CD.  Asshole probably took it with him, but WHATEVER I AM NOT BITTER.  I’m still a little bitter.

Fast forward to 2007.  I’m at a job I’ve had for about a year or so and I hear this song on the radio (I always have background music or talk radio.  I have a hard time with pure silence). “Shadow of the Day” and the lead singer’s voice sounds familiar.

“I close both locks below the window
I close both blinds and turn away
Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh

And the sun will set for you
The sun will set for you
And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in gray
And the sun will set for you

In cards and flowers on your window
Your friends all plead for you to stay
Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh”

My mental health issues weren’t diagnosed then, but I was definitely dealing with them in my own ways, not always good ones.  I bought the CD and listened to this on repeat for weeks.  I wasn’t yet suicidal, but I thought about it sometimes, kind of abstractly.  One day a year or so later, I went to listen to the CD, and my stereo (still in my house but only the radio works now) refused to play it.  I took it out to my car and listened to it in the car.  I wondered about hoses and how that works when you park on the street rather than in a garage.  When goodbye is the only way.  But I couldn’t sort it out, and I got out of the car.

Where I promptly dropped the CD and stepped on it.  Seemed like karma.  Not my time and all that.  I took it as a sign.

If you know me IRL or even from FB or twitter, you know my musical tastes trend towards rap.  But every now and again, I like to just rock out.  It’s rare, but I like to do it sometimes.  When Jay-Z and Linkin Park released Numb/Encore in 2008, I vaguely paid attention and this was PERFECT.  Eminem and Dr. Dre even got in on a remix.  My mind was BLOWN.

“I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be . . .

For one last time, I need y’all to roar!”

And I promptly forgot about it unless I heard it on the radio, and then I CRANKED IT and sang/yelled at the top of my lungs, not giving a single fuck about who saw or heard me.  Poor those people.

When Chris Cornell of Soundgarden (a band I always liked but didn’t love) died by suicide on 5/18/2017, I decided I needed to listen to some rock music and turned to Foo Fighters (love me some Dave Grohl) and Linkin Park.  I turned to my old favorites and screamed in my house to “In The End” and “Burn it Down” and wept while listening to “Shadow of the Day.”

“Shadow of the Day” has been in regular rotation since then.  If you haven’t heard it?  Take a moment and listen to it here:

 

In some ways, it’s perfect for the way I’ve felt for a while.  In other ways, it makes me sad.

And then today, I did a presentation for our legal interns with a co-worker about what we do and the kind of law we practice.  It started at noon, ended around 1:40, and I only wanted to slap the shit out of one kid for being a smartass.  (Kid? I’ve been doing this for years, don’t be a wiseass because you think you’re cute.  You might be handsome, but you’re an asshole, and that makes you ugly.)  I got back to my office and checked twitter to see if I’d missed us being bombed off the map yet (obviously we hadn’t been).  First headline I see:

Chester Bennington committed suicide.

And I got ANGRY because he did not COMMIT anything.  He was a victim.  He was a victim of his own mind and his own brain, and he DIED BY SUICIDE WOULD YOU ASSHOLES GET THIS RIGHT ALREADY.

Then I realized who Chester is.  Who he was.  He was a husband.  He was a father.  He was a friend.  He was the man who screamed those lyrics that saved my life more than once.  He was the man whose friend died by suicide on 5/18/2017.  Who had struggled.  Who couldn’t find his way to the light because depression is a fucking monster who drags you DOWN.

And I sobbed, big ugly heaving sobs at my desk because I try to ask for help, but what if this happens to me, and right now I’m in a place where I DO NOT WANT TO DIE, but sometimes the depression is louder, and it SCARES ME.

I’ll maybe edit this later and make it a bit more coherent, but for now, this is the best I can do, but I needed to say something as I’m silently screaming through my tears and the voices are telling me I’m not worth shit.  That I may as well find a belt and hang myself from a doorknob.

And on a happy note? Because I can’t leave you like this.  May I have this dance?

Sometimes you feel low for no reason

Except there is a reason, and it’s called your brain or your biochemistry or whatever you want to call it.  And you’re tired of feeling low.  You’re tired of feeling broken.  You’re tired of your brain (possibly) lying to you as you wonder if it’s true that nobody other than the people who have to care give even one single shit about you.  You were on a high just a few days ago, but now you’re lower than you’ve been in a long time.  You wonder if the pills you have would be enough to do the job before you remember that your therapist has told you it’s time to lay off the xanax for a while because it’s addictive, and if the ones you have left aren’t enough, then you end up in the hospital or just VERY hungover and have no xanax, so that’s not an option because you’re not sure if 5 prozac (for the depression), 3 xanax (for “emergencies” for the anxiety), 2 depakote (it’s a mood stabilizer to work with the mania when the depression is low and the mania is high because of the prozac), and 2 leftover cymbalta (from when we were mainly worried about the anxiety) would do the job.  Yeah, it’s a lot of meds, and half the time, I’m shit at remembering to take them or even decide to not take them because they make me feel a little dead, hence my wild ups and downs.  It’s complicated.

A week ago I threw away the razor blade that I originally bought to scrape my city sticker off my window but had put in my medicine cabinet just in case because knives really aren’t practical.  I just now went and checked to see if it’s still there.  It’s not, but I found the pencil sharpener that I use for my eyeliner, but that razor is tucked deep into its plastic shell.

You also remember that you have reasons to not do this, that today wasn’t that bad, that people got shot today, that people went out to dinner and were murdered today (Somalia, I think?), that someone was raped today, and that your life is actually good and you need to stop feeling shitty about your life because really it’s quite good, isn’t it?  I mean, three people told you you looked cute today (so the fuck WHAT if two of them were sketchy as fuck dudes who probably wanted money or smokes), that the voice in your head telling you that you’re fucking worthless and nobody wants to hang out with you is probably lying, that someone accused you of fabricating evidence during a pre-trial when you KNOW what you said is true, but you had to ask the arbitrator to consider recusing himself because he admitted from the get-go that he thinks the doctor in your case isn’t credible and can’t be trusted but you backed down on it because you don’t want a reputation as THAT lawyer who causes trouble, but you stood your ground on standing by your doctor’s opinion because you believe you’re not wrong on this.  You got mad and you got indignant, but the only outward indicator of your anger was your left eyebrow going halfway up your forehead as people accused you of lies, but you told your boss, and he listened and believed you and he believes IN you.  That you are good at your job, that people who are on your team come to you with questions about their own cases, so obviously you’re not an incompetent moron, and the imposter syndrome is real sometimes.  Sometimes you also don’t care about run-on sentences or commas, and this whole paragraph makes you mad because normally you care about grammar.

So you pour another glass of wine and wonder if maybe you should quit drinking altogether, if maybe you should go to an AA meeting even though you NEVER drink before work and you wouldn’t DARE to drink during the day on a work day, but maybe you drink too often during the week after work.  But you drink during the week because you had a bad day and because, yet again, nobody invited you to do anything after work or last weekend or next weekend, and you’re back to thinking about the pills and wondering if there are enough.

There aren’t enough.  There might be enough if you finish this bottle of wine.  You’ve had two glasses, and if you finish it and add the pills?  You go to google and you do the math.  It might be enough.  It might not be enough.

Excuse me, ma’am, can you take our picture?

I’ve come to realize there’s an age when you truly become a ma’am when you live up North.  You might occasionally be called miss, but that’s usually a kid whose mom is around your age and knows the dangers of calling a woman ma’am when you don’t live in the South.  He’s veering on the side of caution, hoping you’ll be flattered, smiling back at you when you beam your very best smile back at his face.  That smile where you hold your head just right, praying to a God you only occasionally believe in that the wrinkles on your neck don’t show.

There are times when you don’t have the energy for that smile, when it’s been a long couple of weeks and an even longer day.  A guy who is probably five years older than you approaches as you pray someone is walking next to you because you just used up every ounce of your give a fuck and don’t even have time for this.

“Ma’am?  Excuse me, ma’am?  Can you take our picture?”

And I do because I’m not a complete asshole.  I line them up just right, Dad with his three kids, one of whom needs a little reminder to stay in the shot after the fourth one of him running away.

“Kid, get in line or your Dad won’t buy you an ice cream on the way home.”

Yeah, Dad was pissed about that, but I didn’t give a fuck because I didn’t want to be taking this picture anyway.  I said I wasn’t a complete asshole, not that I wasn’t an asshole at all.  I handed the phone back to Dad, who asked me where he could buy an ice cream.

“I have no idea, but I’m sure you’ll pass a gas station at some point that has a cooler.  Enjoy your weekend.”

I hear you asking why I was so rude about it.  I know I didn’t have to be, but I said it was a long couple of weeks and an even longer day.  I’d just used up what was left of my smile taking a picture with one of my cousins who was at the baseball with her gorgeous family.  And the sole of my shoe had literally just decided it was DONE and half detached from the rest of my shoe, so I was limping along, trying to keep my shit together after a day where everything had been going so well until the Tigers fell apart.

I had a fancy seat for the game, I had a seat at the bar for the rain delay, I had a delicious vodka lemonade, I got to sit in the sun and chat with the great guys sitting behind me.  The Tigers shit the bed, but I was having a good day, great even (y’all know how I am about sunshine).  And then it was time to go meet some of my family to say hi before going home to relax.  I was washing my hands in the bathroom at the same time as a woman wearing a Konerko jersey.

“I don’t know why you all even bother to come here when your team sucks.  Why don’t you go support your city?”

Excuse me?

“I mean, Detroit sucks, obviously, the city and the team, so shouldn’t you and your friends be there trying to improve it instead of spending your money here?”

I stopped washing my hands and faced her, raging with anger, wanting to run away, but I couldn’t let that go.  In all the years I’ve gone to games here, of all the shit I’ve taken, NEVER has anyone been this rude.

“I’m here by myself.  I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and consider it home.  I come to games here because I like seeing my team play.  I can’t afford to go to Detroit that often.  Usually people in Chicago are really nice.  I actually live in the city, and I’m not sure what suburb you must have come from, you rude cunt.”

Her mouth fell open, and my hands were shaking as I walked out without bothering to dry my hands.

As I stood on the escalator to exit, I wondered why do I live here?  I love this city, but I couldn’t find one single person to go to the game with me.  On a gorgeous day.  When everyone else has plans that I wasn’t invited to because I isolate myself.  I’m not sure it would be any different in Detroit.

And then I met up with my family.  One of my cousins (third cousin? Second? I dunno, but she’s amazing), her husband, and her son who had come here from Grand Rapids to see the game.  O is getting to be the age where hugging his weird cousin who is old enough to be his aunt is gross, but we all hugged, and my cousin B may have noticed that I held that hug for an extra beat.  I will love her forever for not pulling back.  I needed that hug.

As I’m walking away from them, something pulls my shoe and I realize the sole has literally come off of the back half of my sandal.  Great.  JUST FUCKING GREAT.  I’m limping along, wondering why I live here, wondering why I push everyone away, wondering why I don’t live in Detroit, why I even fucking bother.

“Ma’am? Can you take our picture?”

 

I should have said no, but I hope that kid got his ice cream.

 

I wish I didn’t do it, but it hurts so good.

So in spite of the fact that I’ve laid my soul pretty bare for you guys, there are some things I haven’t told you.  I’m going to tell you one of them now.  I know, you’re like, “elm, you’ve told us so much and there’s more?”  Yes.  There’s more.

I’m a cutter.  I know, gross, right? Who DOES that? Who cuts their own skin?  That’s for teenagers with angsty feelings, right?  Adults don’t do that, do they?

They do, actually.  Or I do, anyway.  But not all the time.  Let me explain.

I’m a very clumsy person.  I trip a lot.  I bump into stuff a lot.  I’ve kind of always been this way.  I went over the handlebars of my bike when I was around 10 because I’ve never been very coordinated.  And when you fall, a lot of times, you get cuts and scrapes.  And they start to heal and you get scabs.  And they itch.  And you know it’s gonna hurt if you scratch, but you do it anyway, and there’s something satisfying about peeling the scab off your skin.

“God, elm, gross.”  I hear you.  It is gross.

I know.  It is gross, but the pain it brings is so fucking soothing.  It’s a pain that won’t kill me but still brings some of the pleasure that cutting my own skin will bring when I’m in my darkest hour.  It’s a pain that lets me know I’m still alive without taking that final step.  It’s soothing.  I know other people do the same thing but for entirely different reasons.

My dermatologist has asked me what some of my scars are, and I’ve had to be honest with her about it.  When I’ve had chunks cut out of my skin, she’s begged me to not pick at it until she knows if she’ll have to go back in to take out more after the one time I let the wound dry out so it would become a scab and she saw it.  She asked me why I did it, I put her in touch with my therapist, she took another piece of my skin to make sure the cancer wasn’t still there, and it took everything I had to not let it dry out again.  I don’t know why I do it.  But I can’t help it.

There’s something about peeling the scab away from the skin, the pulling, the pain, the blood, knowing that it will heal over and I can start over.  Knowing that this is the one kind of pain I can inflict on myself that isn’t going to be permanent, other than a scar.  It’s something I do so I don’t do something worse.  Scars don’t scare me.

When I haven’t been clumsy, and there are no scabs, I’ve cut myself.  Only shallow cuts, never anything that will kill me.  Those are the cuts I’ve made when I need to feel the relief, but I’m not ready to die.  Those are the cuts I’ve made when I’m ready to heal again.  The ones where I need to feel the pain, but I’m not ready to die.

There’s a spot on my index finger that I couldn’t leave alone after hearing the news about Chris Cornell this morning.  He is proof that money and fame don’t buy you happiness or protect you from the bullshit that depression is.  I burned myself trying to get a piece of pasta that fell out of a pan over a week ago. I told you I’m clumsy.  It hasn’t healed yet, probably because I keep messing with it.

But it’s better than the alternative, right?

13 Reasons Why (I haven’t died by suicide – Yet?)

I haven’t written a love letter to you guys lately, and it’s well past time that I do so.  I’ve been watching the new Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” which is based on the novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher.  I now own the book, but I haven’t started reading it.  I’ve been VERY public about the fact that I’m watching this show.  Some of you have chided me, telling me it can’t be good for me and to NOT WATCH IT.  (and you know how I feel about people telling me I can’t do something – my mania says I DO WHAT I WANT)  Some of you have asked me to watch it if I feel I need to but to please reach out for help if it becomes too triggering.  A couple of you have even encouraged me to watch it and share my insights.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll write anything about how I feel about the show.  I’m having a lot of feelings, but I can’t yet put them into words.  I’ll say this.  It’s not my story.  It’s not why I’ve ever been suicidal.  I’m morbidly curious about the suicide on screen as that’s one way I’ve been ready to die by suicide.  I may not watch that part.  I haven’t decided.

So far, none of it has been triggering (thanks new good therapist!), though I can see how it could be if I were unmedicated or happened to be in a particularly dark depression.  Or maybe I’m just on early episodes.  I have very strong feelings about what I’m watching, but none of it has seemed at all like it relates to me, my mental health issues, or my suicidal ideation.  That doesn’t mean it won’t trigger me, and I will reach out if it does.

I know, you’re thinking, “okay this is great and all, but WHERE IS MY LOVE LETTER.”  Jeez, y’all are impatient.  Settle down.  Get your beverage of choice.  Get some tissues in case you’re a cryer like me.  Get comfy on the couch.  Get ready to read.  Because here are my 13 reasons why I haven’t died by suicide.

1. My parents deserve better from me

As y’all know, I’m an only child.  I’m not the person my parents hoped I would turn out to be (40, single, no kids, mental health issues), but I know they’re proud of me.  I know they love me.  I know they support me and have since I was born.  They’ve let me make my own decisions even when they had other hopes and dreams for me.  And I know it would destroy them if I took my own life.  I am unapologetic about the fact that I don’t want children and about the fact that I have zero intention of ever getting married.  I cannot apologize for my mental health issues – I hate them too, but there’s only so much I can do about them.  But I can do everything possible to make sure that I stay alive.  This isn’t to say that the families of people who did die by suicide didn’t deserve better or that the person who died did anything wrong.  It is not for me to judge.  None of this blog post is about anyone other than I (me? Hell if I know for sure).

2. My cats deserve better

Torii Hunter M. and Tyrus Raymond M. (last names protected bc this blog isn’t entirely public) are my current cats, and if I died, I’m not sure what would happen to them.  Sure my parents would take them, but Tyrus has become insanely bonded to me (like right now, he’s literally trying to climb inside the fleece I’m wearing and purring so hard he just choked a little).  And they’d be home with me when I did it, and I don’t know how cats process stuff, and my cats deserve to have me here.  That litter box ain’t gonna scoop itself.

3. I’m not done with my baseball quest (this list is not in order of importance after numbers 1 and 2)

As you may or may not know, I’m on a quest to see the Detroit Tigers play a game of the best sport in the world in every park in the MLB.  I’ve been to 18 of the 30 parks (Oakland, Chicago White Sox, Comerica, Wrigley, Cleveland, Camden Yards (Orioles), Fenway, Minneapolis, Kauffman (KC), Busch (STL), Angels, Great American Ballpark (CIN), Ballpark at Arlington (TEX), Marlins, PNC (PIT), Nationals, Yankees, Turner Field (ATL – I’ll do Sun Trust after I get the 30 that existed when I really started this).  I’m getting Arizona in 11 days.  11 more to go after that.  Interleague play makes this easier, but it’s going to be a number of years before I’ve gotten them all.  I’m hoping to get them by the time I turn 50.  Donations for my travels are encouraged since you’ll never have to spend money on a baby shower gift. (I’m kidding.  Maybe.  Not about the baby shower thing.)

4. Baseball has literally saved me from myself

There was a night I was sitting in my bathroom with a razor at my wrist with a bathtub full of warm water, about to take off the rest of my clothes (Who gets into a bath with all their clothes on?) when I got a notification from MLB that the Tigers had taken the lead in a game I wasn’t watching.  I was so deep inside my head, and usually my phone is on silent.  And I have notifications turned off on MLB.  But I’d done an update earlier that day, and I’d taken my phone out of its case – putting it back in the case usually flips the sound back on.  So I looked at my phone and ran to turn the game on.  The Tigers won the game, and I stayed alive for another day.

5. Chance the Rapper

When I was a child, I was pretty religious in a sense.  I went to church every Sunday, I was a junior deacon.  But eventually I declared myself done with god and with religion in general.

Until I started listening to Chance the Rapper when I was 36.  This mixtape Acid Rap came across my earholes thanks to an NPR show called Sound Opinions (hosted by local music critics).  I listened, I loved it, I listened some more, and then I kind of forgot about it. Surf (by The Social Experiment) released in May of 2015, and I listened to it (it might have been Sound Opinions again, I don’t remember).  I remembered why I love Chance (Sunday Candy is magic, y’all).  He gets closer to god in this one, and I started to wonder.

Then Coloring Book dropped in May of last year.  I forget exactly how I heard about it, but it literally changed my life.  If you’re FB friends with me, you know how much I love him.  “All Night” is a fun song and has always been my favorite, but “Blessings” touched me somewhere deep inside that I’d forgotten.  Something I’m realizing needs its own number.

6. Blessings keep falling in my lap

“I’m gon’ praise him, praise him ’til I’m gone. When the praises go UP, the Blessings come down . . . it seems like Blessings keep falling in my lap.”

From the very first time I heard it, this song spoke to me.  “Are you ready . . . for your miracles?”  There is something about this song that reminds me that I am fortunate.  I know there are people who have it MUCH worse than I do, but I also subscribe to the theory that just because someone has it worse than you doesn’t mean that you don’t have problems.  I was ready for my miracles.  I was ready for the Blessings to fall into my lap.  And I started to believe in God again.  I didn’t start going to church again or anything, but every time I was in the bathroom seeking out the razor, I tried to remember that I am blessed.  I am privileged.  I have mental illness that I can’t control, but I can fight against it.  I can use my privilege to fight for other people.  Because I have my Blessings and they keep falling in my lap.

7. Beach glass

In 2011, I left a job I hated more than any job I’ve ever held, even the one where I got fired basically because I wouldn’t sleep with my manager.  I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent the winter of 2011/2012 looking for another job.  Mother Nature smiled on me, and it was nice outside that winter.  I started going to the beach to listen to the water and began picking up what some call sea glass but what I call beach glass because Lake Michigan is fresh water.  I was picking up a hundred pieces at a time, and I needed a hobby.  I started making jewelry out of it.  Some of you have pieces that I made, and I hope you still love them and wear them.  Once I found a new job, I didn’t go as often to the beach to pick up glass, but there’s still something about going and listening to the water, eyes on the sand, blocking out the sounds of the city.  The day after the election, I took the day off work, and I went out to brunch, followed by a gorgeous November morning, picking up glass, taking a nap in the sand, and picking up more glass.  They’re treasures from God only knows when, probably beer bottles if they’re green, brown, or white, but who knows.  And when they’re aqua, lavender, red, or, my favorite, royal blue, you wonder where that glass has been and whose life it touched.

8. Walkenchippen

I have no idea if I’m spelling that correctly, but it’s my thing with my Dad, so that’s how it’s spelled.  When I was a little girl, my Mom worked as a florist, and she often had to work Saturdays at weddings and whatnot.  So I’d hang out with my Dad.  He’d do a Daddy-do (a really terrible pony tail) and let me eat cheese all day.  You know those rounds of cheese that are about 8 inches long and covered in wax?  I knew where to find the cheese slicer and would eat so much cheese.  But I also remember there being records played and getting to go walkenchippen.

I can hear you, “elm, what the FUCK is walkenchippen?”

Walkenchippen is when your Dad puts Barry Manilow on the record player, and you’re a small girl so you stand on his feet and you dance together to “Copacabana” and “Can’t Smile Without You” but somehow you remember “Bandstand” the best.  There’s a reason I love Barry Manilow, y’all.  I’m going to see him in a few weeks, and I’ll be there alone, but I’ll remember walkenchippen.

9. You will learn how to drive this car if it kills us

I currently drive a manual transmission 2013 Mazda CX-5, and if you know me at all, you know I LOVE THIS CAR.  It’s pretty basic (not as basic as the first car I bought where a radio was an option), but it’s a manual transmission.

Yes, I live in a city, but I hardly ever drive.  I generally put about 4000 miles a year on my car.  I just got the car’s oil changed for the first time in almost a year (and holy fucking hell there was a dead rat or squirrel or SOMETHING caught in there and they normally never touch cars with that, and thank you, and I still need to send them pizza or something), but when I do drive my car, making sure it’s in neutral, slapping the stick left and right to make sure, zooming at lights, seeing how long I can go in stop and go traffic with never tapping the brakes.

But to get to this point, I had to learn how to drive a stick shift.  Enter my Mom, age roughly 39, with a five speed manual transmission Plymouth Voyager.  My Dad did most of the learning to drive duties, but I had to learn to drive a stick.  On a mini van where the stick was like a fucking baseball bat.  With a woman who has more patience than I, but we are so very similar.  When I was a passenger, my Mom would have me shift with my left hand while she operated the clutch.  I don’t think we ever stalled.  We’re a good team.  Until we aren’t.  I stalled out when driving, and I remember yanking the emergency brake, getting out of the car and walking home.  We were all of a block and a half from my house, but MAN DID I HAVE FEELINGS.

My Mom and I had a lot of fights when I was a teenager, when I was in my 20’s, when I was in my 30’s, and we’ve finally seemed to figure out our shit now that I’m in my 40’s.  But every single fucking time I get in my car, I’m glad she didn’t give up on me learning how to drive a stick.  It brings me joy, and she gave that to me.

Oh, and no I won’t teach you to drive a stick.

10. Baseball/Music festivals

At some point in May 2016,  Chance the Rapper became a pretty big deal, and I got tickets to what is now known as the Magnificent Coloring Day.  It was near on impossible to find someone to come with me, but I’m fine going alone because it’s Chance and I’ve long since quit giving a fuck about going to things alone.

But I wanted to share it with someone because I knew it was going to be a day that would actually change my life.  See above about finding God and Chance.  I wasn’t wrong.

My friend T met me there, and I was in the beer line when Kanye showed up for a surprise set.  He’s texting me, people are running and screaming, and I’m like, “y’all this beer line just got short as fuck, and Kanye ain’t gonna do one song and quit, so I’ll wait.”  I was right.  Kanye was amazing.  Those tickets were $51 (with the bullshit ticketmaster fees), and GODDAMN I COULD HAVE LEFT THEN AND GOT MY MONEY’S WORTH.

2Chainz with Lil Jon might have been first, but then John Legend came out.  AND COMMON JOINED HIM ON STAGE AND WE HELD UP OUR FISTS AND PROMISED TO FIGHT FOR BLACK LIVES BECAUSE THEY MATTER.  This wasn’t trite bullshit, though it may seem that way.  I was tired and ready to go home but SO EXCITED BECAUSE IT WASN’T OVER YET.  Alicia was coming on you guys.

I’m 40 years old, and I think I’ve got myself figured mostly out, But when Alicia came on, I had tears running down my face as I screamed out the lyrics to “No One.” No one could get in the way of what I was feeling, and my friend T and I kept looking at each other and asking “Is this really happening?”  It was.  And that girl was ON FIRE.

We still had one more act to go.  Chance.  I will admit I was a little confused about the puppets at first, but Carlos the Lion is now my second favorite puppet ever (Snuffy is forever my #1).  He basically performed the entirety of Coloring Book, and I. Found. God.  I’m not saying I became a true believer, but it brought God back into my life.

I tried to get you to go with me.  Yes, you, you who turned me down because you don’t like rap music. Don’t doubt me on music all the time, friends. I know what I’m talking about every now and again.

I went to MCD.  Are you ready, for your blessings. I AM READY.

Are you ready, for YOUR MIRACLE. I’m not so sure about this because sometimes I’m still ready for it all to be over.  I can’t lie to y’all at this point.

11. when you take my call

I know people hate talking on the phone.  I get it, but when I’m getting close to or in a full manic episode? I need to talk to someone.  This is complicated.

I don’t call you if I just want to chat.  I know calling people is taboo.  I’m not stupid.  And I’d usually rather crawl into a pillow fort and talk to nobody for weeks.  When you take my call, it eases my soul from the get go, just knowing that someone still cares that I’m here.

I don’t usually want to talk to you either, but sometimes. Well, sometimes I just need to hear a voice so I know it’s okay to stay here.

12.Have you ever tried to list 13 things you love? 13 people?

I love you. Don’t doubt me when I tell you this, but also please know that I don’t trust you, not yet, maybe not ever. I challenge you to give me 13 reasons why you’ve stayed, even if you’ve never considered leaving.

13. You must have lost your marbles. You always were so forgetful. In a hurry.

Every single day, there’s a voice in the corner of my brain telling me today is the day, that nobody actually cares, that nobody will really remember me if I’m gone. That you might even be relieved if today is the day.

Then I start thinking about my 13 reasons why I haven’t died by suicide. Sunshine, music, beaches, laughing, and even crying when it gets too hard. 

Don’t forget the happy thoughts.

I will write more love letters to you, but I’m tired, and I’ve already told you more than I’m comfortable with, so I’ll leave you with this.

If I could fix it, I would ;

Mental illness is real.  It’s not something you can just wish away.  It’s not something you can just decide to have a good attitude about.  It’s not something you can ignore.  Oh how I wish it was.

There are times when you’ve fallen asleep with no worries, and then you wake up from a nightmare, positive that someone is in your house. You leap out of bed in a panic and frantically check every lock, pacing and checking.

Some people have a significant other to calm them down.  I don’t have that person.

So I wake up screaming and then run around and check the locks, terrified that someone is already in the house.  Keep in mind that there’s nowhere in here to hide if you’re a human.  Doesn’t stop me from checking behind the shower curtain again before I go back to bed.

I don’t even know if I have someone I trust enough to call when it’s really bad.  If I’ve called you and sounded manic and crazy, it’s a precursor to something really not good, and I thank you for taking my call. There’s a good chance you actually saved my life.  I’ve tested out a few of you to see if you can be trusted to actually show up and save me.  I’m not criticizing because you all have your own lives, but so far, I’m not sure that I’m not alone in this.  Some of this is the depression telling me that you don’t care.  Some of this is evidence based.

“Hey elm, are you ever going to write about Cosmo again on your blog?  That was fun and this is depressing sometimes.”

I don’t even remember the last time I got an issue of Cosmo.  I do remember taking the last couple that showed up straight to the recycling after taking a couple of notes.  You know what’s depressing?  Having someone tell you that your depression is boring and they’d rather read about that guy you fucked in 2011.  Yes, the sex was amazing, yes I miss having him in my life. But he is my past.  I’m trying to move forward.  Anyway.

I have 9 tattoos.  One is a semicolon on my left wrist/forearm. As is true of most of my tattoos, this was done on a whim, and it means more to me than any of my other tattoos.  It means that my story isn’t over.  There’s more to come after the break.  Project Semicolon was created by a woman named Amy Bleuel.  She created it after her father committed suicide.  She suffered from her own mental illnesses.

Amy died on March 24th. She was a victim of suicide.  Yes, a victim.  Because while some people may say that she killed herself, I know that’s not true.  Her depression did it.  Her depression murdered her.  The voices lied to her too many times. I get this. I hope her death was peaceful, and my thoughts are with her family.

I wish I’d had one second with her before she left. So I could tell her how amazing she is. How she is loved. How she has done such a thing and brought so many of us together. How we will continue to fight in her memory.  I hope she knows, and I hope she is finally at peace and the voices never call to her again. Because if you take that step and you’re still tortured, then death is truly the worst thing.

But back to me (Because it is ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEEE ON MY BLOG – okay that’s annoying even to me, but fuck it I’m leaving it in).

I have more friends than I ever would have imagined.  I love you all.  Really, I do.  It’s why I say “Love you” when I end every phone call.  It’s hard sometimes at work to condition myself to not say it. You never know when the last time will be, so you have to tell people you love them.

There are days when the razor is sharp and I’m ready to be done.  But you pull me back in.  There are days when I hope that I die in my sleep and don’t have to do the next day.

Today isn’t that day. Maybe tomorrow. But not today. Today I’m celebrating with my friends.  I’m celebrating the life that Amy lived. I’m planning the next tattoo, the next time I’m going to hang out with you.

I’ll tell you that I love you, and I do.

Oh Honey, but you could also do this!

As some of you know, I’m a long-standing member of a running forum. I joined in 2005, and I consider many people I’ve met from there to be some of my very best friends.  Some have been to my home, I’ve been to some of their homes, I’ve run races with them, I’ve gone to baseball games with them, one of them drove over a giant dead thing with my car on a road trip to Georgia (NO I WILL NOT EVER FORGET THAT), I’ve met and hugged your kids, I’ve been in a wedding, and I’ve been to two others.  Some of you I’ve never even met.  (Yeh, I changed it so I’m now talking to you. Yes, YOU. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)  I’ve cried on shoulders, and I’ve had people cry on mine.  I’ve had someone talk me out of killing myself, and I’ve tried to help people when their lives felt hopeless.  I hope I helped, and y’all can always call me if you need me.  I’ll do what I can.  And if you’re one of the people who’ve helped me when I needed it, I hope you know how much I appreciate it and how much I love you.

I first joined the forum at the suggestion of my Dad back in 2005 or so. It was hilarious at times (“I love big cock,” I replied to a thread about saying something out of character (my nickname was Prudence), and my Dad replied “ELIZABETH.” Much hilarity ensued, and good times were had by all).  Over time, I decided to join the Women’s section of the forum, and hoo boy, women can have their moments.  Some women left the forum forever, but I’ve remained friends with so many of them as well. After we ran something like 200 miles together over the course of 2.5 days, we’ve had breakfast when you’ve visited the city I call home, we’ve eaten so much amazing food, never being the girls that ordered salads because we were on a diet (after all, one frozen pizza is one serving), we’ve had drinks and laughed our asses off, I’ve told you I swear to god I didn’t get you pregnant after keeping you out too late the night before the Chicago marathon drinking wine, we’ve sat at the bar the day before a marathon (this seems to be a theme – don’t hang out with me the night before a PR attempt) wondering how long that asshole is going to sell us this story about his boat, probably ruining your chance at a PR and the text messages after from your at the time DH led to me calling you HOLLERING about how I shaved nothing for you and holyshitthisisembarrassing but STILL HILARIOUS, and girl, you know who you are.  I spent a day with one of those women in NYC last summer, and it was a day I will never forget. It forged a friendship that will last for all time, as so many of these friendships will.  Just because I didn’t mention the moment we shared here doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean the fucking WORLD to me, especially you with the dirty books and the dirty blog.

And do NOT even get me started on that fucking chocolate croissant.  I have a brown belt, and I’ll slap you if you touch my kid’s hand. (Raise your hand if you STILL almost piss yourself laughing at that.  Okay, just me.  Whatevs.)  Celebrate with me, friends.

Anyway, so on this women’s forum, we bitch about stuff sometimes. Things that bother us. Work, friends, husbands, girlfriends, kids, whatever. And after years of getting advice, someone (I honestly forget who) said that sometimes you just need an “Oh, Honey.”  You don’t need advice, you don’t need a recommendation.  You just need someone to hold you close (or not even touch you at all), and say, “Oh, Honey.”  It’s worked WONDERS. It became a bit of a catch-phrase – if you don’t want advice?  Just tell us that you want an “Oh honey,” and girl, we are ON IT. We will “OH HONEY” your ass off.  Because we are nothing if we are not supportive.  God forbid you’re the person who our friend needs advice about because goddammit we have our pitchforks ready and sharp.

So when I’m telling all y’all what I’m doing with my house? I’m gonna start ending it with an “oh, honey,” because while I love your good intentions? I NEED TO GET THIS SHIT OUT MY GAHTDAMB HOUSE and your well-meaning suggestions are doing nothing other than sending me into a rage.  If you still give me a suggestion that I didn’t ask for?  I’m gonna show up on your porch and leave whatever it is on your porch to deal with it.

This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate your advice. I do. But right now? This shit has to GO, and it’s going how I decide it’s going.  So unless I ask for your advice? OH HONEY my ass off and let’s go have drinks, okay?  Don’t be offended – I don’t have time to stroke your ego.

Anyway. OH HONEY I HAVE A LOT OF SHIT TO DO THIS WEEKEND!

On another note, this doesn’t mean we won’t give advice if you ask for it.  Be prepared for that because you KNOW it is COMING.

These bags are scented.

I’m in the process of clearing out my house, and I bought garbage bags to make it easier.  All day, I’ve been like “God what the hell do I have in my drawers that smells like perfume?”

Turns out I bought scented garbage bags. I hate scented things, and I’m not even sure how I did this, but it makes it easier to get it out of the house. I apologize ahead of time to the people at the SA.

Anyway, let’s talk about books. What do we do with them? I have TONS of books. I’ve re-read many of them, but I think it’s time to let them go. Tomorrow, I’m going to put them in these scented garbage bags and take them to a local shelter or something. Otherwise, they’re going in the garbage. I’m sorry I’m doing it, but they’ve become too much stuff. It’s nothing against those authors (there are a lot of books I’m keeping) so much as it’s stuff that has to go. I have a tiny attention span lately when it’s not baseball, so I moved on.

I started on my dresser because I’m not taking those books anywhere today. Thong underwear I don’t think I ever wore (I’ve never really cared about panty lines – I wear underwear, so deal with it), mismatched socks (some of them go to this drawer to die, but WHERE DO THEY GO – seriously I wonder about this), socks I’ve never worn, pantyhose I used to wear. GONE. So I go on to the next drawer, full of sweaters I once loved and will never wear again because I’m getting rid of them.

And he grabs my arm and tells me to stop yelling. That nobody cares.  I’m fighting against him, but he’s pulling my skirt up and laughing.

“You know you want it bitch, shut up.”

I don’t want it, but I do what I can to fight before I give up and pray this is over soon.

“You know you want a piece of this.”

God no, and I’m fighting again because I asked for help but this isn’t help, this is a nightmare, and please just let it be over soon.

“chirup!”

I look up, the room is still dark.

CHIRRRRRRP and something hits my arm.

It’s a milk ring.

It’s twenty plus years ago, and it’s like it was yesterday.

Operation Clear My House (aka Nevertheless . . .)

Operation Clear My House to help clear my mind has commenced. It’s long overdue, and I’m being ruthless about it. I’ve already recycled at least 10 big reusable grocery bags of stuff (lots of cans – see below about the kitchen) and two garbage bags of crap I don’t want and will not hold onto to take to the goodwill, a food pantry, or SA. Some of that was prepackaged food things I haven’t eaten in years. I didn’t bother checking dates. If I won’t eat it, it’s not going to a food pantry. I’ll make a donation to one tomorrow. They’d rather have money anyway.

I started tonight with the kitchen. We won’t talk about how old some of those bottles of dressing were. No more buying things just because they’re on sale. I love going to the grocery store, so I’ll go buy things at Devon market when I need them. Only cat food, soda, and things like tp will be stocked up on. There was no need for an eight year old can of chickpeas to be in my cabinet because I once loved making hummus. Lemon pepper that I remember buying in my first fucking apartment. I don’t even LIKE lemon pepper that much (as evidenced by the fact that it was basically full).

Tomorrow I’m tackling the bathroom. The linen pantry (that has TONS of half used bottles of things I’ll never use again), under the sink (bottles of nail polish from years ago, half used things of hair products, various barrettes and clips that are probably broken anyway), and all the crap on the counter. Sets of sheets that I haven’t used since I moved in here over 10 years ago? Those I will take to the SA, but they must be taken within a week or they go in the trash. A laundry hamper half full of clothes that I don’t like that much anyway and haven’t bothered to wash? Trash. All of it. Which reminds me I need to find my key for the dumpster. Prying the lid open to cram stuff in isn’t going to work tomorrow. It’s time to be ruthless.

I recycled the cans and jars from the cabinets (thank god for a garbage disposal in the sink), but the bathroom stuff is just getting tossed. I’m fucking diligent about recycling about 80% of the time, better than most people, I’d bet, so I cannot feel guilty about this. I have to take better care of myself, and it’s starting at home, goddammit.

I got my new tattoo on Thursday to commemorate all of the powerful women in this country and to remind myself that I cannot just fucking give up on my home and my life because it’s too hard to tackle. People that give up end up on Hoarders. I love that show, but I don’t want to be on it. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t kill myself for any number of reasons, but a big one was knowing that people who love me would see my home in its current state. That’s not right, and I will change.

Yeesh, is this what confessing feels like? If so, I’m so glad I’m not catholic (not the only reason, but I digress).

I rarely, if ever, invite people into my home. If you’re a good friend you may have noticed this, or you may not. In my circle of friends, we go to places rather than meeting at each others’ homes. This has been a huge relief to me.

There is one person (not counting a few repairmen, and I apologized profusely the entire time they were here out of shame) who has been in my house in the last three years.  ONE. This isn’t right. I’m a wonderful cook (and a braggart apparently!), and I love to have people over. But I’ve been ashamed of my home, and it’s well past fucking time for that to change. Mind you, I keep the bathroom and kitchen clean amongst the clutter, but the clutter has to go.  The not dealing with this shit because it’s too hard? The being careful about taking pictures of my cats so you don’t see the stuff? It has to stop.

Now, I’m never going to have a home that looks all perfect where people apologize for the mess that you can’t even see. That’s just not my nature. But when I was thinking about hiring a person to help me with this, I realized that I have the power and the skills to do this, and it’s gotdamn past time for me to start. I have to start on this persisting.

So, I started tonight with the kitchen, which still needs some rearranging but looks better than it did by far. Tomorrow, the bathroom and hopefully part of the dining room. The bathroom needs to be done tomorrow (or should be done tomorrow – I need to be kind to myself), but the dining room can wait until Monday because tomorrow night the Grammy Awards are on, and you know I’m gonna be with my ass planted on the couch cheering my heart out for Chance (there will be a FB thing – I feel more strongly about this than any other award show ever – Chance is great. He’s probably saved my life, but that’s another blog). So I need to get on it early. Maybe I’ll leave the politics shows on after I watch CBS Sunday morning – that will motivate me. Make my life better = making me stronger = more will to fight.

Then the rest of the dining room and living room on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday. I only say to Wednesday because I do have shows I like to watch on Tuesday. I still have to be a little bit me. My bedroom will be last because if I can’t get the rest of my home right, I have no reason for anyone but me to be in there.

I’m going to a concert on Friday (RUN THE JEWELS!!!!!!!!!!!!), and the friend I’m going with lives somewhere in the city that it would cost a lot for him to take a cab home after the show is over. At one point, I considered paying for his $50+ cab ride home so he wouldn’t sleep on my couch. This is stupid, and asking him to accept my home as a cluttered awful mess is also stupid. So I guess I have him to thank for finally kicking me in the ass. Or maybe it’s me, getting that ink on my arm and realizing that I can’t do it if i continue to give up.

I think all of the times I’ve sat with pills, a razor, a sharp knife, or even googled other ways to kill myself (and while I wish I was never in a place that awful and never am again), and I have to thank Mitch McConnell, Senior Senator from Kentucky. And Elizabeth Warren, Senior Senator from Massachusetts. She was warned. She was given an explanation.

 

Nevertheless, she persisted.