As I was telling you in my last letter, my therapist has been working with me for quite some time to help me find a way to slow, separate, shelf and (hopefully someday) master my thoughts and bring some calm to the chaos in my mind. Since even the idea of sending email “Tupper” to vault my thoughts is completely and forever out of the question now (as I’m sure you can understand), I’ve been getting by with my normal “deal with it as long as I can and when I can’t handle it anymore turn into a human sloth and stream videos” for a few hours….or maybe a few days.
About a month ago, I picked up a pack of 3×5 index cards while I was out shopping. A girlfriend of mine in KC has given me some ideas about a story she’s thought of and she wants me to draft a screenplay. I am not sure why she wants me to do this, as I’ve never done so nor ever claimed to have written anything even remotely kin to a screenplay. But she insists that it is something that, if I were to just give it a try, would make both of us rich and famous. Between you and me, I have zero desire to be famous or rich for many reasons but she’s a really good friend and I decided “why the fuck not?” because if I were able to pull it off, I’d really like to do it for her.
So I picked up the index cards because I had no idea where to even start and when I was college, anytime I had to write something and felt overwhelmed by the information I had and bewildered about how I was going to put it all together in a way that made sense, index cards were my alchemy and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to throw my nerd magic at the screenplay idea and see if it turned into anything worthwhile. I’m still not sure if index cards would help me turn my friend’s idea into a screenplay because I never got that far. However, I have discovered they are still magic all the same.
About a week after bringing the cards home, I opened them in order to make a note about some movies my daughter wanted me to watch. I was on the phone with her and she was rattling off some indie film titles that I knew I’d never be able to remember. So I looked around for something to write on and the cards were just sitting there; waiting to be written upon. Later that evening I thought of something I had forgotten to tell her during our phone conversation and, since they were open and handy, I grabbed another card and wrote what I wanted to remember on it. And I’m sure you can see where this is going. As soon as I started using them for jotting down this or that thought, the index cards quickly proved to be exactly what I had been looking for back when I accidentally slut shamed myself to a major corporation while trying to vault my thoughts through email.
Jan was right! The thoughts and ideas are vaulted and, for the most part, stay vaulted once they are written on a card. And once a thought has been vaulted, the brain juice that was tied up in thinking that thought is freed up…to obsess about the next thought or idea that, as it turns out, slides right in to take the vaulted thought’s place – because it would appear that I have an endless supply of those motherfuckers.
I’m not sure how long it is going to take me to sweep my mind free from these thoughts or what (or who) else I may find in there. It’s impossible to be certain of anything and I’ve learned not to set myself up for disappointment by assuming I’ll even have a tomorrow, much less set up expectations that certain things will happen in my tomorrows. Although it’s tempting, I can’t allow myself to start thinking about how I might go back to school and get a different PhD (in a field I actually enjoy this time) if I can manage to get the bridle back on my mind that the car accident knocked loose. I don’t want to start letting myself believe that I might be able to find my integrated self and, if so, be able to babysit my future grandchildren without supervision just in case Little One shows up unexpectedly and needs to take a nap. If I can find a way to quiet my mind so it doesn’t speak to me in a way that triggers me to shift, I do believe I will have an easier time just being a human who interacts with other humans without worrying I might do something regrettable or embarrassing…or stabby. It would be so wonderful to not have a tape playing in my mind reminding me of my embarrassing times, shame points, soul wrenches and humiliations but that may never happen.
Despite having found my index card vaulting solution, I still might live the rest of my life thinking about things like that time in 1988 when I got my ass kicked in a cat fight with a girl half my size at some big hair rock band concert, or that day last year when I numbly hung up my phone and turn on the television and watched the breaking news coverage about the man I loved so deeply who had only moments before fallen 60 feet to his death at his job site, or the time in high school when I punched my mom and she fell backwards into the open refrigerator and I laughed at her and walked away without even helping her up, or that time I got black out drunk playing the game Pass Out in a room with six or seven Saudi Arabian cadets from the local military academy and woke up naked and alone in the back room of the emptied house with my clothes laundered and folded neatly beside me, or that time when my son was an infant and I served on jury duty for trial where the young father had been home with his newborn baby girl while his wife was at school taking her last exam before graduating with her Nursing degree and the baby was hungry and there was no more pumped breast milk left and the dad was hoping the mom hadn’t gotten caught up in the traffic from the bad wreck down the road and how my own breasts were so heavy with milk and leaking as the dad described how the baby was crying and my soul was so heavy with grief and breaking as he described getting a knock on the door and finding two police officers on the other side.
Why, I’ve often wondered, can I remember all of these dark moments through my life in such vivid detail, but I cannot remember many good ones? Just as I carried shame forward and left pride behind each time I moved from one character to another throughout life, did I do the same with my pain and my joy? I do not remember where I read this but I remember it very clearly when, shortly after having been diagnosed, I learned that people with the my diagnosis have the highest rate of suicide among all of the psychiatric diagnoses and I sometimes wonder if the others like me left their good memories behind them, too. For the record, I have never attempted suicide although my mind has dwelled upon it and considered it in the past. Were I not a mother, I’m not sure I’d be here on this couch writing this letter to you. But I am because my babies kept me here. But that’s enough about that.
I’m so grateful my life has become so much Lighter than it has been in the past. On a daily basis, I am restored and fed and I’m no longer so afraid all of the time. In becoming a minimalist and reducing my worldly possessions to only what I absolutely need, I have liberated my life from the constricts of an address; giving me the personal freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do and be around whom I want to be around whenever I choose. The fewer things I own and worry about and carry with me, the more freedom I have. And the more freedom I have, the more happiness I feel. Peaceful, internally generated, externally independent and easily fueled happiness.
My new life and the peace it provides has allowed me to really focus my attention on the battle against the demons in my mind. I must admit that it is really convenient and helpful that at anytime I really need to, I can call a time-out and go watch “Horton Hears a Who” or all five seasons of some random British crime drama (because, let’s be honest…they’re all good and NO GUNS!). I know how fortunate I am to have the means and opportunity to quickly and easily create a space in which to rest where my demons can’t antagonize me. So many people are intimately familiar with the kind of battle I’m describing and don’t have the same kind of relief and I can’t imagine.
So I don’t want to appear ungrateful for having the time and money to lie on my couch in a beachside condo and watch videos all day but, having become so much happier in life, the days that I do have to spend being a human sloth in the black hole of Amazon videos in order to avoid my mind have begun to feel distinctly lacking and downgraded; not imprisoned but not free either, not unhappy but happy-less. Now that I’ve tasted this “happy” thing, I’m addicted and I don’t want to experience a day without it.
I can only imagine what life might feel like if I’m able to discard the thoughts I carry around with me in my mind in the same way I shed my belongings. To have a mind that is free from the past and doesn’t require escapes into nothingness is just…yes. And since my life became a happier life once I freed myself of what I carried around within it, I can’t help but feel excited about the possibilities of what my entire existence will feel like once my mind joins my life in the free world and this whole “happiness” thing goes into unicorn glitter rainbow mode. (For lack of a better way to describe it because I can’t even imagine! But sitting here and having just made that up to describe my life goal, I have just in this moment decided that is the name of the battle I am fighting to liberate my mind from my toxic thoughts that hold it hostage. Operation Unicorn Glitter Rainbow. When I win, there will be t-shirts.)
So the index cards are working so well in letting me vault whatever comes to my mind, I now have a stack of cards in every room including a stack next to the toilet. In this battle, these cards have become my weapon and I am ready to rumble no matter what room I’m in or what I’m doing (except the shower…I haven’t quite figured out the shower.) These are 300 cards to each pack and I’ve already used three packs and have five more new packs waiting. I imagine my demons shaking in their demon boots the last time I was shopping and chucked every single packet of index cards the store had into my basket. lol If I don’t win the battle, I’ll die fighting and Operation Unicorn Glitter Rainbow will have to be more of a celestial thing…in which case, I guess there won’t be t-shirts.
Well my butt has gone numb again and I am really annoyed that while I was betting it was my lungs that would take me out of this world, it really does seem like my ass wants a shot at me, too. Who would ever want to live past 50? Entirely too many things start to ache, fall out and stop working at this chronological point in life. I have thought many times how unfortunate it is that when I was younger I spent so much money on my face, hair and clothes but bought cigarettes and cheap food and shoes. Truly…I’ve never been good with investments.
With that I’ll say goodbye so I can stand up and get the blood flowing to the booty again. That’ll make my knees hurt but, well…
Until next time,